Romania Stands Apart From the Fray
In the opinion-page article, "On the Brink," Feb. 11, the author lumps Romania with Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania - nations that are witnessing the kind of upheaval that Romania has not seen for years.
Last November, Romanians peacefully and freely elected a democratic government, the third transfer of power since the fall of communism. Committed to economic and social reform, the government promises to move ahead by launching an ambitious privatization and structural reform program. This effort has been applauded and supported by international financial institutions and Western governments, including the United States.
Recent polls indicate that the Romanian people are committed to these reforms and to supporting the new government's efforts at any cost.
The Romanian economy is far from stagnant. Economic growth for 1997 is estimated to reach almost 5 percent, and foreign investment is expected to increase by $1.5 billion this year alone. Foreign investment proves that Romania is stable and moving forward. As a top priority, both President Emil Constantinescu and Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea have taken steps to create a friendlier business and legal climate and to fight corruption and international crime.
Finally, geographically Romania is not a Balkan country but rather a Central European country in the vicinity of the Balkans. It is traditionally and culturally close to Central and Western Europe, and we look to the West for direction and association. We are confident that our hard work and commitment to Western values have pushed Romania toward our most important goal - rapid admittance to NATO and the EU.
Mircea Dan Geoana
Ambassador of Romania
French opposition to immigrants
Regarding the article, "Immigrant Bill in France Splits Elite From Masses," Feb. 26: I object to your defining Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front Party as being "anti-immigrant." It is correct that the party is against immigrants, but it is also more specifically opposed to nonwhite immigrants and their offspring, many of whom were born in France. As such, the National Front is clearly a party of racism and fascism. Your coverage ought not to shy from telling this truth. You run the risk of making the party's policies appear more reasonable and palatable, unwittingly colluding in its politics of hatred.
As for equating anti-National Frontists with career intellectuals, I spoke to a French friend this weekend by telephone. He had just attended the antiracism demonstration mentioned in your article. His occupation? A roadsweeper.
To build and demolish in Israel
Though the article is titled, "This Time, Israeli Move in Jerusalem May Not Inflame," Feb. 28, Israeli destruction of another 700 Palestinian homes in the West Bank could very well inflame a Palestinian reaction.
Since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 2,500 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. According to the Ramallah-based "Al Ayyam" newspaper, another 700 built without permits are scheduled for destruction. It is sometimes impossible for Palestinians to get permits, even for building on property that has been in their families for generations. Particular targets for destruction are homes and land in the way of the massive network of roadways being constructed to connect Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Living in Hebron in 1995, I witnessed how these roads cut through Palestinian farms and olive groves, and how families lost their homesteads to highways. Members of the Christian Peacemaker Team, who have provided a nonviolent presence in downtown Hebron since June 1995, have begun a 700-hour public fast on behalf of the 700 families scheduled to lose their homes. They welcome others to join in prayer and fasting.
Traverse City, Mich.
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