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Diplomat c

A Business, Diplomacy & Foreign Policy Publication

MARCH – APRIL 2018 • $7.95

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David J. Hackam, M.D., Ph.D., is the Garrett Family Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University, and Pediatric Surgeon-in-Chief and co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Dr. Hackam’s clinical practice focuses on complex neonatal surgery. His laboratory is focused on unraveling the molecular mechanisms that underlie several important surgical diseases, including necrotizing enterocolitis, inflammatory bowel disease and trauma, and seeks to develop novel therapeutic strategies to prevent or reverse these disease processes. Dr. Hackam’s team have developed techniques of intestinal stem cell isolation and culture, and are working with tissue engineers and chemists towards the development of an artificial intestine, which has been tested in large and small pre-clinical models. Dr. Hackam’s work has led to the filing of several international patents, and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health as well as several industry collaborations. Dr. Hackam is passionate about training the next and current generation of clinician-scientists at all levels of training and in building the pediatric surgical services at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. His overriding goal is to ensure that Johns Hopkins remains the destination of choice to care for sick children in our region and beyond, driven by excellent clinical care that is both family centered and innovative. He is a member of the American Surgical Association, the American Association of Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and is the past-President of the Society of University Surgeons.

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Medical Experts


Anthony Kalloo, M.D. Dr. Anthony Kalloo is a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. His interests are in natural orifice surgery, therapeutic endoscopy, biliary and pancreatic diseases, and sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. After receiving his medical degree from the University of West Indies Medical School, Dr. Kalloo interned and completed his residency in internal medicine at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. He completed his fellowship training program at the combined Georgetown University, VA Medical Center and National Institutes of Health program. He was an instructor of medicine at Georgetown University prior to joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1988. He was an associate editor of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and has authored over 150 scientific papers, review articles and book chapters. He has pioneered and holds multiple patents, including the use of botulinum toxin in the gastrointestinal tract, endoscopic cryotherapy and the winged biliary/pancreatic stent. He is the pioneer of natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery, a technique that enables abdominal surgery without the use of incisions. To learn more or request an appointment:

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Anthony Kalloo, M.D.

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Medical Experts


Shaun Desai, M.D. Shaun Desai, M.D., is a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Desai’s practice focuses exclusively on plastic surgery of the face, head and neck. Within the field of facial plastic surgery, his practice encompasses a broad spectrum of both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Cosmetic procedures include but are not limited to rhinoplasty, facial rejuvenation surgery (face-lift or browlift), eyelid surgery, facial augmentation and wrinkle treatment (Botox, fillers and chemical peels). Reconstructive procedures include facial trauma management, microvascular or “free-flap” reconstruction of major head and neck defects after cancer or trauma, skin cancer reconstruction after Moh’s surgery, and the management of skin cancer, such as malignant melanoma. Dr. Desai earned his medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine and completed an otolaryngology residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He then completed a fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. To learn more or request an appointment:

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Shaun Desai, M.D.


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To contact an advertising executive CALL: 202.536.4810 EMAIL: info@diplomaticconnections.com DIPLOMATIC CONNECTIONS WEBSITE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT IMS (Inquiry Management Systems) 304 Park Avenue South, 11th Floor New York, NY 10010 Marc Highbloom, Vice President marc@ims.ca Maria D’Urso, Project Manager Mariad@ims.ca CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHY Christophe Avril; Monica and John Frim To order photos from the events go to: www.diplomaticconnections.com


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Copyright 2018 by Diplomatic Connections All rights reserved. Cover photo credits: Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Representative of the Kurdish Regional Government in the United States, Christophe Avril, Diplomatic Connections; Special Tribunal for Lebanon, STL-TSL; King Salman of Saudi Arabkia and Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri, Bandar Algaloud/ Saudi Royal Council/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images; Oprah, Frederic J. Brown/ AFP/Getty Images; NorthWest Territories, Monica and John Frim, Diplomatic Connections; Congressman Rod Blum, Slovakian Ambassador Peter Kmec, Congressman Pete Visclosky, Christophe Avril, Diplomatic Connections

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Ambassador Peter Kmec with good friends of Slovakia – U.S. Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and U.S. Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-Indiana), joint-chairs of the Congressional Slovak Caucus



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ational Day receptions are annual events in diplomatic life, but this year’s celebration by

the embassy of Slovakia was an unprecedented triple header. The event simultaneously marked Slovakia’s marriage to, and subsequent peaceful divorce from the Czech Republic – the centennial of the birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918, and the 25th anniversary of Slovakia’s independence following the separation of the two nations in 1993. In addition, both Slovakia and the Czech Republic remembered the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring, the Czechoslovak communist

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party’s bid to introduce democracy blocked by the Soviet Union. U.S. Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa), and U.S. Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-Indiana), joint-chairs of the CongreFssional Slovak Caucus, were among the guests at the well attended reception at which Ambassador Peter Kmec spoke of his country’s “transition” from Soviet satellite to liberal democracy and “integration” into the European Union and NATO. Ambassador Kmec has something to brag about: Slovakia (population: 5 million) is one of the success stories of the European Union, with a growth rate above three percent. Alone among the four members of the Visegrad 4, the regional grouping which also includes Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, Slovakia switched to the euro shortly after joining the European Union; but thanks to sound economic reforms


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(including the introduction of the flat tax) the Slovaks managed to escape the worst effects of the 2008 fiscal crisis. As an EU member, Slovakia has proved less combative than the other three Visegrad countries in its dealings with Brussels. It has even detached itself from the quartet’s united front against EU-imposed refugee quotas and -- according to an exclusive Diplomatic Connections interview with Ambassador Kmec -- has reached a compromise to admit an acceptable number of Syrians and other immigrants. Bratislava’s other challenge is managing its relationship with an increasingly aggressive Russia, following Moscow’s incursion into Ukraine, Slovakia’s neighbor. Slovakia has taken steps to diversify its gas supplies to avoid a repetition of the energy crisis in the winter of 2009, when Russia cut off its supplies of natural gas to Europe. Slovakia’s other objective, Ambassador Kmec said, is to reduce its dependence on Russia for weapons supplies that dates back to the Cold War. The ambassador also indicated that once Brexit was dealt with the EU would turn its attention to the discussion of its future, including plans for a more robust European military mechanism reflecting the growing conviction that in these uncertain times, Europe needed to be self-reliant in its own defense and security. Diplomatic Connections: I’d like to start by asking you to talk about the current state of U.S.-Slovak relations… Ambassador Kmec: The modern phase of Slovak-American relations started on January 1, 1993, so 25 years of bilateral relations, and we are preparing a series of celebrations, kicking off with our National Day reception at the Library of Congress. Diplomatic Connections: As is the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava -Ambassador Kmec: Yes, and we actually have joint celebrations with the Czech Republic to mark the centennial of Czechoslovak relations with the United States. So actually, there are two celebrations -- with Slovakia since becoming an independent entity, and as

part of Czechoslovakia. Relations have been very intense since Slovakia’s independence. Slovakia went through a transformation from a totalitarian regime to a democracy, and the United States played a very critical role in this transformation. Then there was an integration period during which Slovakia joined the European Union and NATO in 2004. The U.S. played a critical role in both. There are a number of success stories in this cooperation, including robust U.S. investment in the Slovak economy. Now the ties are really close – political, economic, cultural, but also people-to-people. Diplomatic Connections: What is the size of bilateral trade? Ambassador Kmec: We are net exporters, because of our very strong industrial base, Slovakia being the largest per capita producer of automobiles in the world. We export a huge amount of cars and machinery, and one of the primary destinations is the U.S. market. Diplomatic Connections: What are the current totals of this bilateral trade? Ambassador Kmec: The Slovak economy, of course, can’t compete in size with that of Germany or France, so we are speaking in billions of U.S. dollars rather than tens or hundreds of billions. The U.S. is in the top ten of Slovakia’s trading partners. Diplomatic Connections: You personally have served in Washington once before as deputy chief of mission between 2003 and 2005. Do you find that Washington has changed from your earlier posting? Ambassador Kmec: Every country changes, but my agenda has also changed from my first stay. When I served as DCM, my agenda was the integration of Slovakia into NATO. So my mission was to work with the U.S. Senate on the ratification [of Slovakia’s entry] and we achieved a very good result: a hundred percent of the senators present voted in favor of admitting Slovakia to NATO. We really fulfilled our criteria, and Slovakia became a full-fledged member. For me it was a mission accomplished – a big success story in my personal career. As ambassador, of course, my agenda is much broader. The bilateral agenda is our main concentration, however, through different dimensions. Mostly, the focus is on continuing to make progress in trade and economic development. Our goal is to establish an institution-based cooperation; thus, we’ve been working on the creation of a business council which was set up last year. To this extent, we have a number of companies helping us to promote a trade and innovation

agenda here in the United Sates. But also we encourage Slovak companies to be more active in the U.S. Market; subsequently, several success stories can now be told and hopefully, there will be many more to come. Diplomatic Connections: Is that difficult? Ambassador Kmec: It is difficult because of the distance. Slovak companies try to compete on the European market because it’s much easier. Diplomatic Connections: Presumably, Slovakia’s number one trading partner is the European Union, is that not so? Ambassador Kmec: It is. Eighty percent of our exports go to the European market, but we’re trying to encourage the Slovak small and medium sized businesses to enter the U.S. market because it’s a very well integrated market – highly competitive, but most rewarding. Diplomatic Connections: How big is the Slovak diaspora in the United States with which you have to stay in contact? Ambassador Kmec: All round the world we count something like two million people with Slovak roots. Given the five million population of our country, it’s a vast emigration, and most of it has been directed to the United States. We used to have around one million Slovaks in the U.S. but the numbers diminished through assimilation of earlier generations into American society. Currently, there are approximately 400,000 to 500,000 Slovaks in the U.S. The current emigration has been much lower than in the 20th century because of the economic improvement. Slovakia offers more opportunities than it did a hundred years ago, so the emigration dropped. But still we rely a great deal on the Slovak diaspora here, both the “historical” immigration, and the modern immigrants who (are employed) mainly in innovation, research, start-ups – remarkably advanced companies in the U.S. market. We don’t necessarily speak about brain gain and brain drain. But brain circulation – Slovaks using the know-how from the U.S. They don’t necessarily have to move physically back to Slovakia, but their help is enormous. Diplomatic Connections: When I said change, I was also thinking of the change in the city itself in the seven years since your last assignment. Ambassador Kmec: That’s the second part of my assessment of being in the U.S. ten years ago and now: The United States has undergone enormous changes as a result of globalization. The structure of the U.S. economy has changed: added-value jobs have increased, you lost a

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huge opportunities for Slovakia. Your question is how we dealt with and embraced those processes. Transformation and integration have been real success stories and now we’re trying to cope with globalization. Diplomatic Connections: Yes, but one question is why they were successful?

Ambassador Peter Kmec and U.S. Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-Indiana)

number of manufacturing jobs through globalization, and this is the reason for a number of challenges in the society; but most of the developed countries have faced this dilemma, how to keep the manufacturing jobs, while bringing more added-value jobs to increase earnings and make people better off. This is the challenge that the U.S. and the Western European economies have been dealing with, of course. And D.C. has changed enormously: it’s a booming capital, with a lot of new neighborhoods. The quality of life improved considerably, the crime rate has gone down, which is also due to the new jobs created in the Washington metro area. I am very impressed by the development since my previous posting. Diplomatic Connections: Slovakia is a member of the Visegrad 4, and one of the remarkable stories of the 20th century is the transformation of yourselves, the Poles, the Hungarians, and the Czechs from Soviet satellites to liberal democracies in a very short time, helped by the United States, and by European encouragement, setting up a structure to help develop your institutions. But it also required a certain amount of internal will. Where did this determination – four nations, but of course let’s focus on Slovakia – suddenly knowing where they wanted to go originate? Especially in the case of Slovakia, which is one of the good news stories of the European Union, avoiding the financial crisis (of 2008), sustaining a growth rate of 3.5 percent, and doing pretty well. How does a nation find the will to do this? Ambassador Kmec: Slovakia is a success story due to several developments, and I would combine three main components in the 1990s and (early) 2000s: One is globalization, second is transformation, and the third is integration. All these three combined actually brought 18

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Ambassador Kmec: One of the reasons is that we were lucky to have really enlightened leaders who understood the challenges of those times. The government of Mikulas Dzurinda, which was in power in 1998, understood those challenges. We had to catch up with our neighbors, because we had a difficult time embracing liberal democratic governance and the period between 1994-1998 had been very demanding from this perspective. And that motivated the public: when they saw that our neighbors had been integrated much faster than Slovakia was, they revolted against the government, and in 1998 brought to power reform forces. So the period between 1998 and 2006 was a time of significant change. Slovakia introduced economic reforms, including the flat tax – that was the very first reform of its kind in Europe. This attracted a lot of investors, in spite of the fact that our neighbors had been much more popular destinations. Diplomatic Connections: Add the fact that Slovakia was the only one of the Visegrad countries that converted to the euro. Ambassador Kmec: Yes. As soon as we joined in 2004, the political consensus in Slovakia was to deepen integration as much as possible, so in 2007 Slovakia joined the Schengen zone, and in 2009 the euro zone. Diplomatic Connections: On the other hand, there is still Russia sitting nearby. At this point, what is Slovakia’s relationship with Russia? Ambassador Kmec: Since the break, we have been trying to play a positive role to integrate a new Russia into the European, transatlantic and global cooperation. There have been ups and downs, both in internal developments in Russia and in our relationship. The occupation of Crimea and the Western Ukraine doesn’t really contribute to improving ties, and we have been holding back in our cooperation. So we have to sort out this relationship. Russia has to observe the basic rules, inviolability of borders, respecting sovereignty, and also the choice of different countries to cooperate with different players, such as the European Union and NATO. We have to emphasize these

principles, because that’s what played in our favor. Diplomatic Connections: There are various ongoing challenges in the context of Slovakia’s relations with Russia. One is energy dependence. The other is dependence on weapons supplies from Russia. So you have to deal with these on a continuous basis. The other is the issue of EU sanctions. There was a time when Slovakia and some other member states were advising the EU not to be too tough on the Russians because of the Russians could retaliate. Is that correct? Ambassador Kmec: Regarding energy security, Slovakia has made a lot of progress in terms of becoming independent from exclusively Russian Ambassador Peter Kmec and U.S. Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa) imports of gas. In the famous gas crisis of 2009 [when Moscow shut off gas supplies to imported gas, and now we are connected to the southern western countries], Slovakia was one of the most exposed pipeline via Hungary, and through the western network countries: gas deliveries from Russia through the pipeline via Austria, and we are building a connector with Poland, from Ukraine were stopped for two weeks, the Slovak to become connected with the Polish energy terminal. economy suffered, as did other countries. Since that Diversification has been implemented when it comes to time Slovakia has made efforts to diversify deliveries of supply routes. Currently there is a lot of discussion about Ambassador Kmec speaking about Slovakia’s success story – the country’s “transition” from Soviet satellite to liberal democracy and “integration” into the European Union and NATO at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) deliveries from the United States: that could be a game changer in terms of diversification of sources. The LNG terminal in Poland has been functioning as well as an LNG terminal in Croatia is being discussed. So there will be much more security when it comes to energy distribution. Concerning the subject of military, we have already made some progress in terms of modernization and phasing out the old Soviet military equipment. In recent years we have signed an agreement with the United States to buy Blackhawk helicopters to phase out the (Russian) helicopters. Slovakia has already reached 20 percent of military expenditure in terms of modernization expenditure. Diplomatic Connections: And the EU sanctions? Ambassador Kmec: Sanctions were introduced following Russia’s aggression into the Ukraine. Before the first phase there was a heated discussion both on the domestic political level and on the EU and NATO level about how not to harm our individual trade with Russia. We had some concerns about modeling the sanctions to put pressure on Russia to comply with some principles -without punishing our businesses. In the end the compliance with principles prevailed over domestic economic interests and Slovakia has supported the sanctions since they were introduced. We try to appeal (to the EU) to review the sanctions every period to determine their efficiency in pressuring Russia to comply, but our position is that sanctions should stay in place. Diplomatic Connections: What would you hope the sanctions will achieve regarding Ukraine? Ambassador Kmec: The sanctions mechanism is aimed at persuading Russia to sit at the table and discuss cooperation both with Ukraine and with the European Community. So far we have been taking very small steps towards the resolution of the conflict, so there’s a long way to go.


transatlantic structures. So we try to help Ukraine both in integration and also in bilateral cooperation. We are trying to share stories of success from our transformation process; furthermore, former prime minister Dzurinda and the former minister of finance Miklos have been advising the current government for several years. Diplomatic Connections: Do Slovaks feel nervous about their proximity to Ukraine, or do their ties to Western Europe give them sufficient reassurance?  Ambassador Kmec: We feel that being part of the European Union and NATO makes us more secure and lowers the concerns of Slovakia about what is going on in Ukraine, but we should be very cautious. Continuous dialogue and engagement with Russia can bring some positive results in the long term. So far, we have maintained good bilateral relations with Russia. Diplomatic Connections: In your view, the Ukraine hasn’t reached the stage in its transition that it can actually join the EU, has it? Ambassador Kmec: Currently we don’t speak about the date of accession [into the European Union] for Ukraine; it’s a gradual process. It will take longer than was the case of the Central Europeans when there were a number of factors that played into fast integration; but the most important thing is the political commitment of Ukraine to be integrated into Western and transatlantic structures. Diplomatic Connections: If there were a referendum in Slovakia tomorrow on staying in the European Union, would the pro-EU side win? Ambassador Kmec: I’m confident that there would be a “yes” vote. Seventy plus percent of the Slovak population fully supports our membership of the European Union. It’s been challenged by different factors – radical forces and anti-EU propaganda mostly emanating from the east – but so far Slovak membership in the EU has been a success story, so the population fully supports it.

Diplomatic Connections: What are Slovakia’s relations with the Ukraine?

Diplomatic Connections: There will be no Slovak Brexit…

Ambassador Kmec: Ukraine is our neighbor so we understand that the better our relations are the more it helps Ukraine to integrate closely with the European and

Diplomatic Connections: There are differences of approach within Visegrad towards Brussels, ranging from the Hungarian position, to the Polish position, and the Czech approach, and then Slovakia. The one issue in which you are united is refugees. All

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Ambassador Kmec: No Slexit so far…

Ambassador Peter Kmec, Defense Attaché Major General Miroslav Korba, their spouses, and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Matthew Palmer

four Visegrad members reject the EU quota system. So, in fact, does Visegrad count for much? Ambassador Kmec: It depends how you weigh the influence. For us, Visegrad is a kind of coordination mechanism of four countries on different topics. It used to be a much more important political tool when we were in transition. As soon as we joined NATO and the EU there was a period of soul-searching for Visegrad. On specific topics in the EU and sometimes on the NATO agenda we try to seek joint positions, and it has played well; therefore, coordination meetings are held before each European Council. It

Ambassador Peter Kmec with another good friend of Slovakia – Major General Courtney P. Carr, Adjutant General of Indiana

Continue to page 22 “This logo illustrates, in a very good way, the fact that several crucial moments in the modern history of Slovak people are linked to the United States. Year 2018 offers many good opportunities to commemorate all those who helped us shape our journey towards freedom and democracy. Today, we are standing together with our close ally and partner, the United States, ready to further promote these fundamental values.” Ambassador Kmec D I P L O M AT I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S E D I T I O N | M A R C H – A P R I L 2 0 1 8


has made a substantial impact for us in promoting our interests in multiple forums and in European structures. So, we decided to keep the Visegrad and it is regarded as a very important regional instrument. Diplomatic Connections: As a group, Visegrad reject the EU refugee quota system whereby Brussels allots a certain number of refugees to each member state. Is that correct? Ambassador Kmec: The quota system as a mechanism has been very controversial; all four Visegrad countries have raised their concerns. Some of them decided to challenge it in the European Court. Slovakia since its more radical position at the very beginning totally rejecting the quotas has come into some kind of understanding, discussing this very complicated issue with Brussels and the European structures on a combination of providing the financial assistance and accepting a certain number of immigrants while working on the protection of external borders. We see it as a package solution so, yes, we have moved our position. Diplomatic Connections: And the numbers we are talking about? Ambassador Kmec: No member state is meeting the required numbers. It’s very difficult to judge where we stand. Nevertheless, we have started receiving some immigrants from Syria as well as immigrants that come 22

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from Eastern Europe [Ukraine and further east]. So there is a continuous dialogue. Diplomatic Connections: In other words Slovakia is now accepting a certain number of Syrians, in addition to some from countries outside the EU. Is that the situation? Ambassador Kmec: Yes, we are now discussing with the European Union the model – how to meet certain numbers. Each country has its own immigration rules and requirements, and very often those immigrants are without documents; thus, there is an ongoing vetting process. So I can’t tell you exact numbers that we have received in relation to those we have committed to receive. Diplomatic Connections: That is a different position from the Czechs, to say nothing of the Hungarians. Ambassador Kmec: It’s not a complete change because we have been challenging the quota distribution. Our immigration policy hasn’t changed when it comes to helping asylum seekers and providing humanitarian assistance. Diplomatic Connections: For Slovakia, what would be the ideal post-Brexit development in the European Union? Ambassador Kmec: It’s difficult to envision a two-speed Europe [in which member countries follow two European

Since 2004, Slovakia is member of the NATO and the European Union

integration agendas] because it can discourage a number of countries from being integrated deeper. We want to deepen the integration in order to make the EU more competitive in the global arena, but it’s a very sensitive process. Everyone has been waiting for the German-French suggestions, so we need the German government to be in place, so that their recommendations can be discussed among the 28. Of course, Slovakia would like to remain in the core of integration, and we will be part of the conversation. Our aim is to make the EU competitive and much more efficient. And, our objective in external affairs is to play an important role in world decision making, but also to make the domestic processes much more productive. So we have to find the proper balance between the national competencies and the EU competencies. Diplomatic Connections: What about a full scale eurozone fiscal policy and a common budget? Ambassador Kmec: They are certainly subjects for discussion. The EU does not collect taxes. So a very important part of the conversation would be whether the EU should collect taxes. If the EU wants to have teeth it has to have money, so we need to discuss these fiscal and budgetary issues, as part of the bigger picture.

Diplomatic Connections: And speaking of teeth, what about the defense dimension of the EU? Ambassador Kmec: There is a very positive prospect in moving this agenda forward. The Europeans have been discussing how to enhance their military capabilities within the EU, as part of the transatlantic military capabilities. In the future we’ll see more European independence in decision making. Diplomatic Connections: Independent of the transatlantic link? Ambassador Kmec: Yes. Diplomatic Connections: Is this something the Europeans want, or something they think is inevitable? Ambassador Kmec: The overwhelming dominance in terms of a fiscal contribution by the United States needs to be balanced. As soon as we put in more financial resources there will be an increasing amount of independent decision making: so it comes hand-in-hand, Europe contributing more into defense capabilities, but also being more independent in decision making. Diplomatic Connections: Thank you, Ambassador Kmec. This has been a very insightful interview into your great nation of Slovakia. May I take this moment to personally extend my congratulations on the 25th anniversary of Slovakia’s independence.

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he date is February 14, 2005. The time is 12:55 p.m. A large truck bomb detonates near the St. George Hotel in central Beirut, Lebanon killing 22 people and injuring more than 200 in the immediate area of the blast. The target of the suicide attack, in reality a political assassination, was former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri had close ties with Saudi Arabia and played a major role in bringing Lebanon’s extended civil war to an end after the collapse of the PLO in 1992. During his two-terms as Prime Minister, Hariri played a major role in rebuilding Lebanon and restoring the country’s economy. But, Hariri came to oppose Syria’s

growing role in Lebanon and earned the enmity of Hezbollah, the Shi’a Islamist militant group, political presence and virtual shadow government in parts of Lebanon. Hariri himself was hardly without fault in the maelstrom of Lebanese politics driven by ethnic and cultural conflicts, religious divides and neighboring states with a penchant to involve themselves in the internal dynamics of Lebanon. But, in death, Hariri approached the status of martyrdom, a Lebanese leader who had devoted himself to rebuilding the country, stabilizing its economy and finessing its convoluted politics.

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A Lebanese woman prays over the grave of slain former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri in downtown Beirut on March 1, 2009. The tribunal was established to try the suspected killers of Hariri. It was created by a UN Security Council resolution and will apply both the Lebanese Penal Code and relevant international law. Students at the American University of Beirut protest Syrian presence and demand the truth concerning the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.


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Getty Images

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Soldiers guard the explosion site where former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri was killed on February 14, 2005 in central Beirut. Lebanon has vowed to cooperate with a UN commission set up to probe the his assasination.

Amid the disruption that followed Hariri’s death and a related stream of terrorist bombings, the United Nations condemned the assassination and called on the government of Lebanon “to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism and to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of this heinous terrorist act.” This triggered an international investigation of the events in Lebanon. In turn, that investigation led to a call for the creation of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), a unique international court that would operate under Lebanese criminal law and at the same time incorporate the highest standards of international justice. Growing out of the post-Cold War movement to expand the realm of international criminal justice and modeled after the example of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal following World War II, the United Nations created a series of ad hoc international tribunals where no courts had existed before. These courts were designed to deal with alleged international crimes that took place within national borders and to which individual responsibility could be assigned: ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Rwanda, atrocities during civil war in Sierra Leone, the political cleansing carried out by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and finally the Special Tribunal for Lebanon dealing with Hariri assassination. As these courts complete their work, the hope is that the nascent International Criminal Court based in The Hague will be able to deal with future such violations of international law, in part based on the procedures and precedents established by the ad hoc courts. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has been a unique experiment in international criminal justice, a hybrid court using Lebanese criminal law backed up by international law as its legal core. It is made up of both Lebanese and international judges and served by a multinational staff. It is the first of the ad hoc tribunals to deal directly with issues of terrorism and to struggle with legally defining that term. As several of the ad hoc tribunals have done, the STL places great emphasis on victims’ testimony and on protecting the safety of those who testify. The court has also established procedures for trying persons indicted for crimes in absentia, a necessary element when the accused cannot be found or will not be surrendered to the custody of the court. It is the only one of the ad hoc courts to establish a wholly independent Office for the Defense and to introduce the idea of an

autonomous pre-trial judge. As the investigation proceeded highly technical testimony regarding cell phone networks and tracking calls was adduced and new rules of legal procedure adopted for its introduction and explanation to the court. Currently serving as President of the STL is Judge Ivana Hrdlicková of the Czech Republic, now referred to as Czechia. Judge Hrdlicková began her career as a judge in the Czech courts in 1990, presiding over both criminal and civil cases. She has served on both District and Appellate Courts and on the High Court of the Czech Republic. In addition to her judicial training, Judge Hrdlicková has focused on the laws governing international financial transactions and holds a Ph.D. in International Law, exploring the interaction between international law and Islamic law, from Charles University in Prague. Prior to being appointed to the STL by the United Nations Secretary General in 2012, Judge Hrdlicková served as a Legal Expert for the Council of Europe on human rights, money laundering and terrorist financing. Her continuing legal studies also led her to expand expertise in nurturing the rule of law in post-revolutionary societies and in transitional justice, establishing new national courts based in the principles of judicial independence. Judge Hrdlicková describes the STL as “a tribunal for Lebanon: for the victims of the attack; for those affected by it; for those seeking the truth or motivated by the pursuit of criminal justice through strong and independent judicial institutions; and for the Lebanese community as a whole.” Her hope is that the STL “will leave behind an institutional legacy that extends beyond the historic, fair and impartial international trials of individuals accused of acts of terrorism, conducted within the Tribunal’s walls. It is a legacy that incorporates a new body of jurisprudence, interactions with the Lebanese authorities and legal communities, and lasting contributions to the mechanisms of international justice.” Diplomatic Connections was privileged to interview Judge Hrdlicková during a meeting of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) held in Tokyo, Japan. Diplomatic Connections: How did you become interested in law, particularly in international law? Judge Hrdlicková: I always wanted to be either a judge or a lawyer because I was interested in seeing justice done. Probably for that reason, I decided to be a judge and not a lawyer. The judiciary presented an opportunity to interpret the law, to apply it in real world circumstances and to bring

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Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) receives then former Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri (L), who resigned just briefly, at the Palace of Yamamah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 6, 2017.

justice to people who had suffered harm. In the beginning I did not think about international law.

criminal law, but it is hardly the work that every little girl dreams of doing as she is growing up.

But, it was also apparent that not all the problems, not all disputes can be solved by law. Given that realization, I started becoming interested in alternative dispute resolution and diplomacy as well. My thought was that if it were possible to find a way to combine law with conflict resolution skills the result could be both just and healing.

Judge Hrdlicková: You know I grew up reading the Perry Mason courtroom dramas and even read some of Erle Stanley Gardner’s other detective novels. I was drawn not so much into the drama and the suspense of the stories as into the idea of discovering truth and dispensing justice. The stories appealed to my adventurous side as well.

Diplomatic Connections: Your first experience as a judge was in the lower courts, that is courts of first instance?

Diplomatic Connections: How did you make the transition from national to international law?

Judge Hrdlicková: I started as a criminal judge and later moved to civil law, commercial law and a special jurisdiction to protect personal rights. My interest in international law and international relations began in 2000, just two years before my country entered the European Union. Then, of course, recognizing the realities of globalization, I concluded it is impossible to deal only with national law, and began to focus on many international projects. I continued working as a judge but also started to offer legal expertise to the Council of Europe.

Judge Hrdlicková: I did my first doctorate in procedural law. Later, while I was working as a judge, the Minister of Justice encouraged me to develop an expertise in the area of judicial cooperation. That was the bridge between my training in the Czech law and judicial system and beginning work across the national legal systems of Europe to encourage a greater degree of coordination and judicial collaboration.

Diplomatic Connections: That is a very broad portfolio. Much of this work seems a natural continuation of your interest in


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I also began to work with the European Commission’s EuroMed program, designed to enhance judicial cooperation between the European countries and the Mediterranean countries. Those meetings dealt with access to justice, judicial ethics, judicial independence, and criminal law. This

represented my initial professional contact with countries whose jurisprudence is based on Islamic law. Diplomatic Connections: Is that how you became interested in the Islamic world? Your second doctorate actually involves international law and Islamic civilization, including not only sharia law but Islamic finance as well. Judge Hrdlicková: I became quite interested in how the legal systems in predominantly Muslim countries incorporated traditions of Islamic law with European systems of law, often inherited from colonial experience. The interaction between international relations, international law and national jurisdictions where Islamic law played a significant role fascinated me. Diplomatic Connections: Do women bring something different to dispensing justice in the courts? Is a woman’s approach different from what men bring to the bench? Judge Hrdlicková: Women do bring something different, though not necessarily legally. In terms of applying the law, there should not be any difference between men and women as judges. But, every judge brings his or her personal experiences to the judicial proceedings. That is inevitable and desirable. So-called “black letter law” must always be applied to real life situations. Justice depends upon the human application of the law, filtered through the court’s experience and best judgment, and applied to specific cases and their human circumstances.

knowledge I had gained and to learn more about how the international judiciary worked, the opportunity to serve on the STL was exciting. It was a long and demanding selection process. All of my work in judicial training and consultations between different national legal systems as well as my familiarity with Islamic law led to me being named to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon by the Secretary General of the United Nations effective January 2013. Diplomatic Connections: At the time it was decided to recommend the creation of the STL was the concern either that the Lebanese courts lacked the capacity or lacked the political independence to be able to try those charged with these crimes? Why turn to the international community? Judge Hrdlicková: Since Hariri’s death and related assassinations were direct attacks on the Lebanese government, the United Nations was asked by the Lebanese authorities to assist the Lebanese courts and assure due process as these crimes were investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated. Diplomatic Connections: To be clear, the Lebanese government requested legal assistance and then signed an agreement with the United Nations for the creation of this Special Tribunal. Is that right? President of France, Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 9, 2017.

Diversity on the bench is useful and important, but it’s about the variety of experiences judges bring to the bench, not about gender itself. The judiciary should reflect real life. That is

Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

why it is very important to have both female and male judges on the bench. That’s true for all judicial systems at all levels of justice and across cultures. Diplomatic Connections: Given your experience in civil and commercial law and your developing interest in international law, how did you come to be selected for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)? Judge Hrdlicková: Because I really wanted to use the D I P L O M AT I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S E D I T I O N | M A R C H – A P R I L 2 0 1 8


Judge Hrdlicková: The Lebanese government asked the United Nations Security Council to use Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter --- which details the actions the Security Council may take to deal with “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression” --- to create a tribunal. While the idea of a tribunal is not specifically mentioned in the Charter, Article 51 does charge the Security Council with the responsibility “to take such action as it deems necessary to restore international peace and security.” Diplomatic Connections: The assassination happened in 2005. The court was established in 2009. Today it is 2017, a dozen years after the assassination. There is an old saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” On the other hand, there are those who would say that without the creation of this court there would have been no justice at all in this matter. Why has it taken so long for this court and other international criminal efforts to move ahead? Is this a denial of justice, or is it inevitable when you try to bring law and substantive procedure to bear on international events? Judge Hrdlicková: The issue of time is definitely a legitimate question. If you go back to look at each of the ad hoc tribunals, it is clear that justice has not been dealt with expeditiously. But, recognize that in each of these situations

the court itself and the accompanying legal procedures had to be created from nothing. The General Assembly resolution authorizing the STL was adopted in 2007, and the court began its work in 2009. The prosecutor indicted the first accused in 2011. The first trial started in 2014, and there are several cases in different stages. International proceedings inevitably take longer than national proceedings where long established procedures are already in place. However, the whole international community realizes that a way must be found to accelerate future proceedings. Diplomatic Connections: What other challenges has the STL faced? Judge Hrdlicková: The case being built and the supporting evidence being developed are highly technical. It brings together international and national investigation, as well as international and national judges. We are working in three languages: English, French and Arabic. Inevitably, everything takes longer than might be expected. We are the first and still the only court created to deal with anything related to events in the Middle East. We are also applying not only international law but Lebanese law in


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Muhammed Ali Akman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (Far C) and Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Far C-L) attend a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace of Baabda, east of the capital Beirut, Lebanon on December 5, 2017. Hariri, back in Beirut after a mysterious odyssey that saw him announce his resignation in Saudi Arabia, told cheering supporters that he was staying after all.

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

(L-R) Hussam Hariri, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Lara Bashir, French President Emmanuel Macron and French First Lady Brigitte Macron pose for photographer after a meeting at the Elysee Palace on November 18, 2017 in Paris, France. Saad Hariri announced his resignation on November 4; since then, he remained in the Saudi capital before accepting French President Emmanuel Macron invitation to the Elysee Palace.

a manner that tries to do justice to both. Everything we do establishes precedent. We have been very careful to include Arabic as one of our three languages because it helps people in the region understand the investigation and evidence and allows them to follow our proceedings more closely.

humanity would be subverted. Of course, if a trial is to proceed in the absence of a defendant, the accused’s rights must still be protected.

Diplomatic Connections: You have named defendants who have been indicted, charged with specific criminal acts. But, none of these persons are in custody. One of the unique aspects of this court is that you can try defendants in absentia. That is quite a departure from what we know as the right of offenders to confront their accusers.

Judge Hrdlicková: International justice must be broader than just punishing perpetrators. Bringing justice to victims is perhaps the most important principle, along with the notion of individual responsibility for specific criminal actions, which the international tribunals are establishing. Our goal is to bring justice to society and to more deeply embed and legitimate the idea of the rule of law.

Judge Hrdlicková: This is the first time since the Nuremburg Tribunals following World War II, where the international community agreed to allow accused to be tried in absentia. The Tribunal wants to send a clear message that there is no impunity for such crimes as terrorism and assassination. It is never a good idea to hold trials and try the accused in absentia. It is always preferable to have the accused in the courtroom. But, if the question is whether to hold a trial or not to hold a trial where international crimes are concerned, then I think it is better to have trials in absentia. The principles the court is seeking to uphold cannot simply be avoided by an accused’s disappearance or failure to appear. If that were the case, then the whole notion of individual responsibility for war crimes or crimes against

Diplomatic Connections: The Tribunal has paid special attention to the rights of victims and their testimony. Inevitably this must raise questions of witness protection.

Diplomatic Connections: The trials of the accused before Special Tribunal are on-going. How does Lebanon gain from this judicial process? Judge Hrdlicková: One of the roles of the court is to contribute to the rule of law and judicial culture in all the countries involved in these cases, especially the courts in Lebanon. I hope and believe that an independent judicial process and a commitment to an independent judiciary will be part of our legacy. According to our statute there are four Lebanese judges and seven international judges serving on the STL. We have Lebanese staff. We use Lebanese law, and Lebanese law has been translated into all the languages of the court. We

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Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) stands between Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed (R) as they attend the Lebanon International Support Group meeting in Paris on December 8, 2017.

employ precedents from Lebanese jurisprudence. So, the Special Tribunal’s effect is to bring Lebanese jurisprudence closer to international standards. Diplomatic Connections: What about the region more broadly? Is it your hope that this Tribunal becomes a model for courts and judicial systems around the region and across the Islamic world? Judge Hrdlicková: Courts and the judiciary throughout the region are interested in our work. Certainly, I hope that the example that the Special Tribunal sets in terms of judicial process and evidentiary procedures can be an inspiration for courts in the future. Diplomatic Connections: Do you see the developing international court system as having a teaching function, almost a role model both in terms of where the law might be applied

and in employing the best, state of the art legal procedures in developing evidence and in protecting witnesses? Judge Hrdlicková: We have to be careful not to impose international law too much. The international legal order must always be pushing at the boundaries of law; but at the same time, it must show respect for the national court systems and encourage them to enact into national law the developing principles and procedures of international law. Strengthening national judicial systems should be a primary focus of legal development across the globe. We should be enhancing the international legal procedures for investigation, the development of evidence and the principle of individual responsibility that refuses to permit

CODA: Déjà Vu for Lebanese Politics and the Hariri Family? In a strange and perplexing series of events late in 2017, Lebanon’s current Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated Lebanese Prime Minister whose death is the focus of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, was himself caught up in a web of diplomatic intrigue. Lebanon’s complex multi-cultural social and political fabric is being torn apart by the regional proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia for preeminence in the Middle East. Amid that turmoil, Prime Minister Saad Hariri represents the voice of Sunni Muslims and is strongly supported by Saudi Arabia. But Hariri is also a part of a Lebanese coalition government that


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includes the strong presence of Hezbollah, the political voice of Shi’a Islam and strongly supported by Syria and Iran. Early in November 2017, Prime Minister Hariri visited Saudi Arabia, allegedly leaving Lebanon because the atmosphere in Beirut felt erily familiar to him, similar to what he had experienced twelve years ago just before the assassination of his father. “I sense,” he explained, “that [a plot] is being woven in secret to target my life.” Within days of his arrival in Riyadh, Saad Hariri announced his resignation as Lebanon’s Prime Minister and accused Iran of seeking “to sow discord, devastation and destruction” in his country .

wrong doers, even those in the highest offices, to justify their deeds under the cloak of sovereignty. We cannot rely only on domestic judicial process. We very much need to strengthen international cooperation. There is an important role for international justice as well as national justice. But underlying both there must be a guarantee that there is no impunity for serious crimes. Diplomatic Connections: In your career as a judge and as a student of international law has the realm of international law expanded? Is international law more respected today than it was twenty years ago or is it simply selectively applied as individual states find it to their advantage or disadvantage?

Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty Images

Judge Hrdlicková: International law is definitely more respected today. It certainly has a more visible role than in the past, though the slow workings of international justice rarely make the headlines.

Judge Hrdlicková: International law is my professional life, and I would expect that to continue. Whatever I do, it will combine judicial work, international relations and the art of diplomacy. My goal is always to contribute to the pursuit of peace and justice in the world. Diplomatic Connections: Clearly, you have brought judicial, academic, and cultural learning to bear on the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. That is dramatic evidence of your commitment to the ideals of justice administered fairly and with human concern. Thank you for taking time to speak with us. Seeking to reassert France’s traditional role in Lebanon and to underscore his government’s continuing support for the Lebanese government, French President Emmanuel Macron (C) walks between Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed (R) as they arrive to attend the Lebanon International Support Group meeting in Paris on December 8, 2017.

In this age of globalization and almost instantaneous communication we cannot rely only on domestic legal systems and national courts. Perhaps it was possible decades ago, but it is not possible now. With all of the various types of transboundary criminal activities that exist today – terrorism, cybercrime, financial crimes, false information spread to create or exacerbate international problems – it is impossible to limit the application of law just to national jurisdictions. Diplomatic Connections: Eventually the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will come to an end. What will be next for you after the Special Tribunal brings its work to a conclusion?

Speculation ran rampant that the Saudi’s extracted Hariri’s resignation in order to provoke a political crisis in Lebanon and undermine Hezbollah’s role in government. Other voices insisted that, if this was Saudi Arabia’s motive, it was destined to backfire badly. Into the breach stepped French diplomacy asserting that country’s long-standing role in orchestrating in the delicate balance that attempts to make Lebanon governable and peaceful. On the surface of events, it appears that the French, following meetings between French President Macron and the Saudi leadership and a visit to France by the once and former Lebanese Prime Minister, were able to persuade Saad Hariri to withdraw his resignation and facilitate his return to Beirut just in time for Lebanon’s Independence Day celebrations.

Arriving “home” Hariri met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and proffered his formal resignation, which was refused. In response, Saad Hariri delayed his resignation and agreed to remain as Prime Minister: if, that is, Hezbollah and Iran agree to respect Lebanon’s stated policy of staying out of regional conflicts. Ironically, 2018 begins with the name of Hariri at the center of Lebanon’s political discourse once again. Sadly, if not repeating itself, history in Lebanon appears destined to rehearse old conflicts in new forms. And the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon grinds on. For additional information please see: www.stl-tsl.org AND www.hrdlickova.com

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Chef Benoît Teisseire


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I NG Short story by Christophe Avril

Jürgen and Lisel are very busy today. They are going to have their kids and grandkids for the traditional Sunday lunch. Their residence is in the little town of Springe in Lower Saxony, Germany. Oma Lisel is preparing a nice “Wiesse Bohnensuppe” (White bean soup) and a delicious meatloaf baked in a Römertopf, a pot cookery made of clay that was given to her as a wedding gift and used for special occasions, to accompany it. The food cooked in this kind of bowl requires no liquid and no fat. The result incorporates all-natural juices, the full flavor and taste, and all the essential nutrients and vitamins are retained. It always feels ceremonious when using this pot. The meatloaf drips with rich, savory juices and a heavenly aroma fills the air from the healthy, life-giving ingredients of organic vegetables like green bell pepper and sweet vidalia chopped onions mixed with some fresh, fragrant herbs and savory spices. Opa and Jürge with their two grandchildren, Emma and Jacob, are proud to have made a flavorful contribution of some fresh mushrooms that they found in the woods; it doesn’t get more wholesomely authentic than that! The dish will be served with “Kartoffelnödeln” (potato dumplings) and roasted rustic brussels sprouts. To complement this divine dish, a nice Trollinger red wine for the adults and apleshorle (apple juice mixed with sparkling water) for the kinders, this lunch will be scrumptious. But this meal wouldn’t be complete without a luxurious confection, the parents, Elisa and Matthias, brought a “Schwarwälder Kirschtorte” (Black forest cake) for dessert. Getting together with the family for the usual Sunday feast is something to look forward to, especially with such a mouthwatering menu. continue to page 45

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Rated restaurants by the Michelin guide, in 2017, On October 12th, 1810, then King Ludwig married awarded Germany to be the world’s second-most Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen. The decorated country, after France. Ten of them received citizens of Munich were invited to the festivities in three stars, thirty nine with two stars and two front of the city gates, in a field that was renamed hundred fifty three received one star. Each region has Theresa’s Meadow in honor of the Princess. Six days a different variety of “cuisine.” Germany is divided subsequent to the wedding, the newlyweds continued into 16 states; for instance, Baden-Württemberg is to be celebrated with the spectacle of horse races; well known for a variety of smoked ham produced thereafter, this sport as well as other amusements in the Black Forest region as well as plates were repeated and that was the beginning of the prepared with some of the most superb, flavorsome annual Oktoberfest tradition. In 1887, the parade and white asparagus. Another example is the state of the participation of breweries took place for the first Brandenburg, it’s called “Berlin’s vegetable garden” time. Every year attendance increased. For the 100th due to a great variety of natural and anniversary in 1910, approximately 12,000 organic products. One of the most guests showed up for the festivities famous vegetables prepared there and about 120,000 liters (31,700 is the “Spreewälder Gurke” gallons) of beer was consumed. BEER (Spreewald cucumber). The little Today, during the 17 day PORK luscious cucurbits are placed in event, 7,200,000 visitors drink PRETZEL large barrels for the fermentation approximately 6,900,000 liters process; then basil, lemon balm, (1,822,787 gallons). Obviously, wine, cherry and/or nut leaves are food can also be purchased, pork added to give the Spreewald cucumber sausages, pork shanks, beef, calf meat, its unique, distinctive taste. Lower Saxony is chicken and the famous pretzel. If you ever get also a part of Germany well known for its gourmet a chance to visit Germany during this seasonal event, culinary diversity. There are two distinguishing dishes go hungry and thirsty! from this particular region, one is the Schlachteplatte, As we all know, Germany has a lot of sausages. which consists of a variety of different meats such as It is said that there are about 1500 kinds that vary smoked pork, different sorts of sausages, and bacon between region and maker. The bratwurst and served with sauerkraut and potatoes. This plate is a rostbratwurst are made of finely minced pork and little similar to the French choucroute. And the other beef; they are usually grilled and served with sweet specialty is the Calenberger Pfannenschlag (also mustard on a piece of bread. And one of the most known as Rinderwurst) composed of a fatty black popular ways to eat it -- is to slide and serve with pudding made from porridge and boiled pork and a ketchup-curry sauce; this version is called the beef, served on bread. And, of course, the universally currywurst. The Nürnberger is smaller and flavored known state of Bavaria; this region is famously with marjoram. The blutwurst, or blood sausage, is acclaimed for the world-renowned Oktoberfest. made with congealed pig or cow blood, fat, bread or D I P L O M AT I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S E D I T I O N | M A R C H – A P R I L 2 0 1 8


oatmeal. And, in Frankfurt, it’s made with veal and some pork; this one is boiled and eaten with mustard and potato salad on the side. The complete list would be too exhaustive to mention, but we can say that you will always find the right one for you. And, of course, there is the beer! By 500 A.D., they were brewing a thin beer made from oats. This was the work of the women. When Christianity got stronger in northern Europe, the monks started to brew for their own consumption and with the progression of time even sold it. They became really good at it and the final product was better than the homemade one. This may be because they had more time to refine the making process than the housewives did. In the 13th century, hundreds of monasteries were brewing. Anyone who chose to brew could use the income as payment for taxes to the nobility. The beer we consume today is made with hops. It took many centuries for this cereal to become part of the brewing process, just because the

mixture has to be boiled for about ninety minutes. Then, beer was made of grains, hops and water. It was in 1860, with the discovery by Louis Pasteur, that the addition of yeast to the process of fermentation became part of the fabrication of this beverage. Today there are three different varieties: the wheat, pale and dark beer. Also many macro breweries make other types like IPA and Ale beer. So with about 5,000 brands produced in 1,300 industrial plants, you will have a wide range of choices… Now, moving on to another German staple that has found its way universally into the every day menus of many. In the early 18th century, at the port of Hamburg, sailors and fishermen often ate minced and chopped meat called: the Hamburg Steak. It was prepared that way because the butchers were using the cheap part of cow meat. The ground beef was simply cooked with salt and pepper and served, at this time, without bread; it was just a beef patty. By migrating worldwide, the Germans introduced it and

CHEF TEISSEIRE’S VERY ACCOMPLISHED RESUME Chef Teisseire started his journey in the diplomatic world as Chef at the French Ambassador’s Residence in Ankara, Turkey and since 2000 has been the highly-esteemed and venerated Chef at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, D.C. He was kind enough to give us a menu as well as the recipes.

• Chestnut Soup with Porcini Mushrooms Rindergulash (German Beef Goulash)

• Braised Red Cabbage & Brezelknödel (Pretzel Dumplings)

• Rote Grütze (German Berry Compote) with Vanilla Custard View the video to see the recipes teaching you how to prepare these delicious dishes. Go to: www.DiplomaticConnections.com 46

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PARIS, FRANCE • Worked and learned from one and two Michelin star restaurants

• “Commis de Cuisine” in the five star “Hotel Nikos” • Chef de Parties” at the “Le Louis XIV” restaurant • World famous“Maxim’s” restaurant • Chef in prestigious places awarded by the “Gault & Millaud” culinary guide.

the hamburg steak became a mainstream dish in the 19th century in America. Many German immigrants to the United States opened restaurants in big cities, like New York and Chicago, selling this dish for about 10 cents. It was the most expensive dish on the menu. Then, throughout time, it became the popular hamburger, that we all know today and can be found in fast food as well as top-notch restaurants. The difference between the Hamburg Steak and the Hamburger is that it is served between two slices of bread roll or bun. Generally, it is suggested to eat with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion and some mayonnaise or ketchup or other sauce. Today, there are a lot of variations of burgers; not only prepared with ground beef, but also with chicken, fish, pulled pork and bison meat. The oldest restaurant to serve this popular item – is Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut; it was establish in 1895. Legend has it that, in 1900, a client who was in a hurry requested his meal to go by putting the patty in a slide bread

roll. Louis Lassen’s restaurant is now recognized in the Library of Congress as the originator of the hamburger. The German Residence in Washington, D.C. has the reputation of having one of the best “tables” in our nation’s capital! Their secret is Chef Benoît Teisseire. Preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for anywhere from 2 to 40 guests daily, he is always giving it his best to create the most delicious and authentic plates. When he was four years old, he always wanted to help his mother in the kitchen. At the age of fourteen, he visited a trade fair about employment and opportunities in the artisan profession in Paris, France and this was when he knew that he wanted to become a chef. His career is extremely impressive.

Thank you, Chef Benoît Teisseire!

Guten Appetit!

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA • “Star’s of Jeremiah Tower” – A landmark establishment that is considered to be one of the birthplaces of California cuisine.

• “Chef de Cuisine” at the “Café Mozart” restaurant ROYAL VIKING LINE CRUISE SHIPS “Chef de Party”

ANKARA, TURKEY “The Hilton” a five-star hotel DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES “Hotel InterContinental”

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, go to: www.facebook.com/DiplomaticConnections

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Twice the height of Niagara Falls, Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories, delivers a thunderous spume.


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The road less travelled is often full of fascinating wayposts and possibilities of wonder and surprise. John and Monica Frim follow it north of the 60th parallel as far as it is drivable, then take to the sky for a bird’s eye view of the Northwest Territories’ wildest and most beautiful landscapes. From the untamed rivers and jagged mountains of Nahanni National Park Reserve to the town of Inuvik on the Mackenzie River Delta and the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean, Canada’s north boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.

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Nahanni National Park Reserve is home to some of Canada’s deepest canyons.


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n a way, Canada’s flamboyant former prime teepee owes its existence to British Columbia’s Pioneer minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, put Nahanni National Log Homes, the company that builds the palatial multiPark Reserve on the map. A photo of the spirited million-dollar log mansions featured on the TV reality show, statesman, decked out in his trademark buckskin jacket, Timber Kings. Just don’t expect that kind of over-the-top paddling down a wild and remote Canadian river is almost luxury in town. Fort Simpson’s drawing features are simple as familiar to Canadians as their national anthem. It historic cabins such as the squared-log MacPherson House was Trudeau who championed the establishment of the overlooking the Papal Grounds at the south end of the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the 1970’s, which then village, or the north-end wood-frame cabin of Albert Faille, encompassed 1,840 square miles of pristine wilderness an early gold prospector originally from Minnesota. in the Northwest Territories. The federal government later We flew into Nahanni National Park Reserve with, expanded the park to 11,600 square miles, an area roughly reputedly, the greatest bush pilot in the Northwest the size of Belgium, making it the second largest national Territories. Ted Grant is a former RCMP officer turned owner, park in Canada. president and chief pilot of Simpson Air. He bought the Yet only about 1,000 people a year visit Nahanni company in 1981 when mineral exploration and mining due to its remote location and difficult access. There were at their zenith and flights were in demand. Tourism are no public roads within the park. Those was making inroads and the future looked who manage to get there, generally rosy—until the mining industry collapsed in by chartered floatplane, are treated the 1990s and territorial government to a plethora of jaw-dropping funds for tourism were slashed. Ted waterfalls and mountaindrew on his Highland Scottish studded vistas that endorse roots and pushed through the Nahanni Park as a must-do lean times, working tirelessly bucket list destination. A to promote travel to the who’s who of famous Northwest Territories, whether visitors includes England’s for fly-in day trips or weeklong Prince Andrew and Canada’s adventures. He turned a current prime minister, Justin secluded historic cabin on Little Trudeau, who followed his Doctor Lake 60 miles west of Fort father both into politics and into Simpson into a complex of four canoes. Other park adventurists log cabins that sleeps up to 20 fly-in include ambassadors, industrialists, guests. People were hooked, with many sports celebrities and a gamut of outdoor returning year after year. He has traveled all The chair of moose antlers and animal hides made by over the world advocating for Nahanni enthusiasts from all walks of life. NWT carver Sonny MacDonald for Pope John Paul II’s Nahanni is a great social leveler—not and has received awards such as the Mike visit to Fort Simpson in 1987. a luxury resort—and any prejudices, political paraphernalia or tech toys are traded happily for hiking boots, paddles or a window seat on a floatplane. We chose the latter for a guided daylong flight-seeing tour that included three ground stops. The gateway to Nahanni is the village of Fort Simpson, a former fur-trading site at the confluence of the Mackenzie and Liard rivers. Pope John Paul II held mass at Fort Simpson in 1987 in a special chair made of moose antlers, diamond willow, moose hide and a beaver pelt, now on display at the Visitor Centre in town. The Centre also offers historic walking tours that include several heritage buildings and the Papal Grounds. There, the world’s highest wooden

Stilwell Lifetime Achievement Award from Northwest Territories Tourism and the Canadian Travel Press Lifetime Achievement Award. Ted was our man—calm, confident and with a wry sense of humor. “Nothing to hold us back now except fear and common sense,” he said as he skimmed the floatplane along the Mackenzie River, etching a telltale spray into the burnished water in preparation for lift-off. Soon the village of Fort Simpson on one side, and islands in the Liard and Mackenzie rivers on the other, gave way to a dark green muskeg laced with lakes and ponds and the shadows of clouds. Winding streams and forests crinkled a flat earth, then suddenly puckered into the mountains of the Nahanni

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Tuktoyaktuk Inuvik

Nahanni National Park Reserve Fort Simpson

Wildlife sightings prevail in the Northwest Territories. This curious black bear cub seems to be catching a few rays in the sun.

Range before easing into gentler forested slopes and karst formations (an underground drainage system that results in sinkholes and caves). Ted pointed out topographical features with ominous names like Death Lake, Crash Lake, Headless Creek and Deadman Valley as he regaled us with the grisly legends that gave them their names. Mysteries abound in these haunting lands. The story of the goldprospecting McCloud brothers, for instance, has still not been resolved. Their headless bodies were found in 1908, three years after they disappeared. Were they murdered? By whom? Why headless? The imagination grows wild with sinister possibilities. A more mundane postulation suggests they simply starved to death after which their bones were scattered by animals. Under wing, the landscape rippled and rolled. In places it cracked into deep canyons or shot skyward into jagged peaks. Streams gurgled and dribbled over muskeg. Rivers spilled into lakes surrounded by mountains, or spurted and spewed as they tumbled over cliffs and ledges. Blue glaciers licked at the Ragged Range, their reflections glinting in the surface of the aptly name Glacier Lake. Towering over the lake, the granite spires of the Cirque of 58

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Tutoyaktuk, near the Mackenzie River Delta, is the only Canadian community on the Arctic Ocean reachable by road.

the Unclimbables form daunting challenges to climbers. At Rabbit Kettle Lake, hot springs produced white tufa mounds of white and orange travertine. Magic and beauty was everywhere, humbling and glorious. In the vastness, an occasional black or white dot would, on closer inspection, turn into a moose or sheep or swan. It takes a keen eye to distinguish a beast from a rock or a stump when you’re flying, but after more than 40 years as a bush pilot, Ted had a knack. We counted on him not only for the ride but also for the show. In a land of superlatives it’s hard to pick out a favorite. Arguably, the most iconic emblem of Nahanni is Virginia Falls, a chunk of raging froth and foam that’s twice the height of Niagara. Ted flies over the falls twice so that they can be viewed from both sides of the plane, then circles back upstream for a smooth landing on the Nahanni River. He leads us ashore on an easy hike to the raging Sluice Box Rapids. Here, in plain view of Sunblood Mountain, the Nahanni River roars with momentum, then splits around a massive tower of limestone known as Mason’s rock before it plunges 294 feet into the river below. We skirt along above the river through underbrush to a cliff-top spot

overlooking the falls. Tiny mountain orchids, Alberta roses and the Northwest Territories’ floral emblem, the delicate cream-coloured mountain avens, line the path. Muskeg, which on first glance seems as unremarkable as cabbage, is on closer inspection a wonderwork of colorful lichens, squishy mosses and intricately detailed flowers. The Northwest Territories cover an immense expanse— from the 60th parallel almost to the North Pole. With 11 official languages, nine of them Aboriginal, and fewer than 42,000 people scattered over an area almost the size of France, the joke is that there are more languages in the NWT than roads. Remarkably, the first road to reach Canada’s Arctic coast opened only a few months ago, in November of 2017. Called the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH), it connects Inuvik on the Mackenzie Delta and Tuktoyatuk on the Arctic Ocean. The ITH is actually an 85-mile extension of the storied Dempster Highway, the dusty, gravel, 500-mile throughway that starts near Dawson City, Yukon, and ends in Inuvik, NWT. It is the only Canadian highway that crosses the Arctic Circle, which means that travel to Inuvik and among the NWT’s northern communities is mainly by air

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year round or on ice roads (plowed frozen lakes and rivers) in winter. Inuvik is Canada’s northernmost town, purpose-built in the 1950s to replace Aklavik as the administrative center for the western Arctic. Like Fort Simpson, Inuvik is also a gateway to spectacular landscapes. Situated on the shores of the mighty Mackenzie River’s East Channel, Inuvik is the springboard for airplane and boat tours of the complex Mackenzie Delta. The Mackenzie is Canada’s longest river but by the time it reaches Inuvik it’s no longer a single artery but a vast and crazy web of watery tentacles and bewildering channels. One needs a good guide to navigate

Inuvik’s famed Igloo Church

Kylik Kisoun Taylor, owner of Tundra North Tours, pilots a boat on a channel of the Mackenzie River Delta.

The area around Tuktoyaktuk is known for its Arctic ice dome hills known as pingos.


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through the beautiful chaos or risk erring into false channels and dead ends. Kylik Kisoun Taylor, founder and owner of Tundra North Tours is one of the best. Of European and Aboriginal ancestry, Kylik grew up in the province of Ontario but reconnected with his Gwich’in and Inuvialuit roots when he returned to the NWT at the age of 16. He quickly developed a love for the Arctic and a passion to share its untouched wilderness with the world. He began by taking visitors on boat tours to out-of-the-way places and founding his own company, Up North Tours, at the age of 20. He later expanded and rebranded the company as Tundra North

Tours and now offers a range of adventures that include boat tours, flight-seeing tours, ice road trips and reindeer herding. A tireless and passionate promoter of northern tourism, he is Inuvik’s pride and joy, a self-taught go-to man who abides by Richard Branson’s modus operandi: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you don’t know how to do it, take the opportunity to learn how to do it.” When the town needed someone to build an igloo for an event, Kylik volunteered. He wasn’t concerned about the fact that he had no idea how and no one to ask. “No one builds igloos any more. I researched how... then did it.

A Simpson Air floatplane is being secured after landing on the South Nahanni River above Virginia Falls.

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Diplomatic Connections thanks Simpson Air and Tundra North Tours for their sponsorship. Simpson Air Box 260 Fort Simpson, NT X0E-0N0 Canada Phone: (867) 695-2505 Toll Free: (866) 995-2505 simpsonair@northwestel.net www.simpsonair.ca

Tundra North Tours 28 Raven St Box 2785 Inuvik NT X0E 0T0 Canada Phone: (867) 678-0510 Toll Free: (800) 420-9652 info@tundranorthtours.com www.tundranorthtours.com

Now I am the town’s igloo guy and I build one every year.” Although he credits his grandfather and the elders for teaching him much about his culture, he still gets a chuckle out of people who ask him if he learned igloo-building from his ancestors. “I guess the truth just isn’t as good a story,” he says. Kylik was full of good stories. While boating us through the winding channels of the Mackenzie Delta he regaled us with fascinating tidbits of personal, historical and cultural information, all the while keeping a deft eye out for wildlife. Amid explanations of permafrost, the collapse of the oil industry, or the migration paths of caribou, he’d suddenly break into “Look, over there, a moose!” then carry on with his story. All the while we skimmed past changing backdrops and foregrounds. Grassy marshes, gave way to forested shores, hilly islands, then sandy flats. We saw half-naked trees along the shores, their bark ripped off by ice from the river. At Reindeer Station we disembarked to walk among the abandoned cabins of a failed mid-century government project. Kylik knowledgeably provided the backstory. At Burial Island, he switched to lore as he told of how the island got its name, while we watched peregrine falcons stoop-diving the cliff swallows that roost in the cliffside. As we neared the Arctic Ocean, where we were to continue the journey on to Tuktoyaktuk, the wind picked up and riffled the water. It was a harbinger that the Arctic Ocean would be rough—possibly dangerously rough. Kylik made the difficult decision to turn the boat back to Inuvik and fly us to Tuk. From the air the town of Inuvik came into amazingly sharp focus as the pilot circled it low—twice—so that


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passengers on both sides of the plane received equal viewing opportunity. Dominating the town, the white silver-domed Igloo Church looked even more striking from the air than from the ground. Other iconic buildings fell under bird’s eye view: the museum-like Western Arctic Regional Visitor Center, the Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre, and the humble Midnight Sun Mosque, reputedly the northernmost mosque in the world. The locals affectionately call it the Little Mosque on the Tundra. But if the town looked crisp, the sights we had stopped at earlier with Kylik stood almost unrecognizable from the air: Reindeer Station gained amazing framework seen tucked into a forested hillside. And the delta, that fascinating maze of lakes and streams and islands, swirled like polished malachite in dizzying patterns. Gradually the lakes and ponds expanded, their deep blue and brown hues fading until they merged with the pale blue Arctic Ocean. The Mackenzie River basin drains about 20 per cent of Canada, discharging about 78 cubic miles of water a year into the Arctic Ocean. The sheer amount of fresh river water coupled with thawing icebergs and low evaporation gives it the lowest salinity of all the oceans in the world. As we approached Tuktoyaktuk we could see the remnants of the Cold War’s DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line in the form of three giant golf balls towering at the edge of the ocean. Pingos—conical hills pushed up by ice under tundra—contrasted with the colorful prefab homes and warehouses that dotted the sea-soaked peninsula. Just a slight rise in the ocean level and the place would disappear. John, our insightful guide, met us at the airport and plied us with local lore and history as he showed us Tuktoyaktuk’s most distinguishing landmarks: fish-drying installations along Tuk Harbor, a 60s-era ice house, sod houses, the Trans-Canada Trail monument and the historic schooner beside the Catholic Mission. There was one last thing we wanted to do before catching a return flight to Inuvik: dip our toes into the Arctic Ocean. As expected, it felt cold… but not nearly as cold as when we plunged in whole-hog. The experience is best summed up as b-r-r-r-r…. crazily worth it for the certificate and the bucket list checkmark. Flying back to Inuvik I again looked down at the blobs of lakes and islands tossed on the tundra like jewels on a carpet. There was something magical and raw and authentic in the immenseness. It turns out that the road less travelled isn’t a road at all. It’s not even on the map. It’s the vast and open sky.

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he question itself conjures thoughts of J.M. Barrie’s “Neverland,” where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys never grow up, or Lewis Carroll’s “Wonderland,” which Alice discovers when she falls down a rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy world of inverse relationships where language and interactions constantly fold back upon themselves in the most confusing, and revealing, ways. Such beguiling riddles seem more the province of children’s literature than the stuff of real world diplomacy, however. Ironically, this confusing, revealing state of affairs is precisely the dilemma faced by the Kurdish people in the world of international relations, where the central actors are sovereign nation-states. Note the hyphen. Kurdistan is a very real place. The Kurds are an identifiable nation, a people with a unique history, language and customs, and a military presence to be reckoned with on the battlefield of the Middle East. But, that telltale hyphen demarcates a critical reality: not all nations are sovereign states. That realization has a corollary in international relations: most states are multinational. Their populations often include people from several different national, cultural and linguistic traditions. Yet, at the heart of international relations, the principle of self-determination has taken hold: included among Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points as World War I came to an end; reiterated in the Atlantic Charter adopted by Roosevelt and Churchill

in the early days of World War II; and now enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Despite its diplomatic pedigree, the principle of selfdetermination has been inconsistently applied. Even as “self-determination” has been an intellectual and rhetorical North Star of diplomatic policy statements, political realities have often dictated that not all aspirations to statehood and sovereignty can honored lest the geopolitical map be turned into a mosaic of fragmented loyalties, internecine conflicts, and untenable economies. This soft definition of self-determination has created the morass of uncertainty under which the Kurdish population, largely Sunni Muslim but including Shi’a Muslims and other religious identities, has lived throughout most of its modern history. As the map of the Southwest Asia (more commonly referred to as the Middle East) was secretly redrawn by the British and French during World War I, in what became known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), the Kurds were not granted selfdetermination, leaving them spread across not only northern Iraq, but Syria, Turkey and Iran as well. That formula has persisted for more than a century and has left the Kurds without a sovereign state and with long-standing grievances against the regimes that have governed them. Ms. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq’s “ambassador” in

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Washington, D.C. She functions just as any other diplomatic envoy might, but Ms. Abdul Rahman cannot hold the official title of “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary” because she does not represent a sovereign nation-state. Instead, her formal title is “Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States.” Though she was born in Baghdad, much of Ms. Abdul Rahman’s childhood was spent fleeing the violence of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Her parents briefly found refuge in Iran before moving the family to London in 1976. “I was raised in London from the age of eleven. On the surface,” she recalls, “I had a very British upbringing. All of my friends were British. We lived in a very leafy green middle-class suburb of London.” “Yet at home I heard about the suffering of our people. My father was a political and a military leader. My grandfather was a political activist and a strong advocate to preserve Kurdish identity. In that atmosphere, you grow up with the realization that your language is denied, your culture is denied and that just being Kurdish is controversial.” “I grew up with politics in my blood, but I did not see a role for myself in Kurdish politics while I was growing


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up.” Instead, after completing a history degree at London University, Ms. Abdul Rahman built a career in journalism. “For me, journalism was the other side of the coin to politics. I spent 17 years as a journalist in London, and for some time I was also based in Tokyo as a correspondent for the Financial Times.” “In 2004, my father, who was Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and my brother were killed in a suicide bombing in Erbil. That ugly reality solidified my determination to focus on the Kurdish cause. When I was invited to be the representative of the KRG in London that is what I chose to do. London was my first diplomatic posting. After ten years there, I was posted to Washington in 2015.” In the midst of enflamed conflict between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi central government, non-stop meetings with members of Congress and representatives of the Trump Administration as well as Washington foreign policy think tanks, Ms. Abdul Rahman was kind enough to make time to help us understand Kurdistan’s situation. Diplomatic Connections: Events are unfolding very quickly in Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan at the moment. With that in mind, could you explain the international political status of Kurdistan today? What does it mean to be a “semi-autonomous Iraqi region?” Ms. Abdul Rahman: The Kurdistan Region in Iraq has effectively been autonomous and self-ruling since the first Gulf War in 1991, when the United States intervened to expel Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait. As part of that effort, the United States, the United Kingdom and France under UN Security Council Resolution 688 established two “No-Fly Zones”: one over the north of Iraq to protect the Kurds and one in the south to protect Shiite Muslims. It was the establishment of that “No-Fly Zone” that provided the security space for the development of a functionally autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq with substantial assistance from the United States. The Kurdistan Region became officially recognized as autonomous after a 2005 referendum on the new Iraqi constitution. That document recognizes that the Kurdistan Region has a lawful and constitutional status in a federated

Iraq with its own parliament, government, a president, a Prime Minister and Cabinet, and a military force – the Peshmerga. We have 14 representations overseas, including the one in Washington, D.C. Diplomatic Connections: As we sit here in your office for this interview, you have both the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi flags side by side. Ms. Abdul Rahman: Yes, of course. As a federated region within Iraq we fly the Iraqi flag, but we also fly our own regional flag. In the U.S., when I’m in California I see the “Stars and Stripes” of the flag of the United States, but I also see the flag of California. I do not think there is an issue about that for us. Diplomatic Connections: Given the way events have unfolded, has Iraqi Kurdistan enjoyed a good deal more autonomy than the Iraqi constitution might originally have envisaged? Ms. Abdul Rahman: I don’t know about that. We believe that we are operating within the Iraqi constitution. There are accusations flying around left and right about who has violated the constitution. From our perspective, there are 55 articles of the Iraqi constitution that have been violated by Baghdad. Of course, Baghdad has its accusations against the Kurdistan Region. Actually, the Iraqi constitution of 2005 on the whole is a very good document. It is the social contract by which we all live, or by which we are all supposed to live. Unfortunately, it has not been adhered to. If it had been adhered to, we would not be where we are today. Diplomatic Connections: Who are the Kurds and what is their story? Ms. Abdul Rahman: The Kurds are a distinct people. We have our own language, customs, heritage, history, geography. The exact number of Kurds in the Middle East is unknown. We estimate that in Iraq there are about 7 million Kurds. In Syria there are possibly three million. In Iran there are 10-12 million. In Turkey the number is very large; estimates range from 15-25 million. The range is very wide because many Kurds in Turkey don’t live in the southeast, which is the Kurdish area. One to two million Kurds live in Istanbul, for example. So many Kurds have been exiled over the decades that Europe probably has 1 million Kurds spread around various countries. In North America there are 50,000-100,000 Kurds.

Diplomatic Connections: Diplomacy uses the technical term nation-state. The Kurds are by all measures an identifiable nation. But, the Kurds are a nation that has never had a state. How and why has that happened? Ms. Abdul Rahman: That is the central question and the security dilemma of Kurdish existence. If you go back in history, the Medes are the ancestors of the Kurds. The Medes were an ancient Indo-European people who lived in the region known as Media in what is the present-day Kurdistan and northwest Iran. The Medes merged with the Persian Empire. But, at a later time, Kurdistan was divided between the Ottoman and the Persian Empires. At the end of the First World War, the world powers redrew the map of the Middle East in order to break up the defeated Ottoman Empire.

The Kurds are a distinct people. We have our own language, customs, heritage, history, geography. The exact number of Kurds in the Middle East is unknown. We estimate that in Iraq there are about 7 million Kurds. In Syria there are possibly three million. In Iran there are 10-12 million. Diplomatic Connections: That was the infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and the United Kingdom which drew the modern boundaries of the Middle East, created several new countries that crossed cultural divides, and designated these new territories as either British and French spheres of influence? Ms. Abdul Rahman: Correct. When the Ottoman Empire was broken up the Kurdish nation was divided among four countries – Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Unfortunately, those countries ended up being authoritarian or dictatorships. Our history in those four countries has not been a happy one. Despite promises by the European powers that divided up the Middle East, the Kurds ended up being a subjugated minority in each of those countries. Our story over the last century has been one of cruelty, violence and silence from the outside world.

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People gather to listen to the President of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government [iKRG] Massoud Barzani’s speech as they hold iKRG flags during a rally ahead of the referendum on regional independence held on September 25, 2017. Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the U.N. all backed Baghdad in speaking out against the referendum fearing that the referendum would cause greater instability in the region. Nevertheless, Kurdish voters overwhelmingly supported independence provoking a confrontation with the Iraqi central government.

Diplomatic Connections: How would you characterize the working relationship between the KRG and the United States over the last two decades? Ms. Abdul Rahman: The United States and the Kurdistan Region have had a good relationship since 1991-92. At that time, there was an uprising against Saddam Hussein which, unfortunately, he was able to counter because he still had weapons and control of the military. Millions of people fled to the borders of Iran and Turkey, and many died of exposure and disease along the way. At that point, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey and others intervened to provide


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humanitarian assistance. “Operation Provide Comfort” was the largest and most successful humanitarian military operation up to that time. It forged a very strong relationship between the Kurdistan region and the United States. Diplomatic Connections: From that point on the relationship with the United States continued to deepen? Ms. Abdul Rahman: We fell into a civil war in the 1990s. The United States played an instrumental role brokering a ceasefire and restoring peace between the two sides. In 2003, when the United States liberated Iraq, we were grateful for this liberation because it meant that finally

Yunus Keles/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

we were out of the reach of the dictator and that Saddam Hussein’s regime was finished. Again, in 2014, the United States came to our assistance when ISIS had attacked Sinjar and was about to attack Erbil. In that case, President Obama ordered airstrikes against the ISIS attackers in an effort to protect the Yazidi people and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The military force of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Peshmerga, was also instrumental in fighting against the Islamic State [ISIS] and protecting the Kirkuk oil fields and Mosul dam from ISIS attack. Diplomatic Connections: How did ISIS enter Iraq and gain control of so much territory?

Ms. Abdul Rahman: ISIS did not come from Mars. It is a creature of Iraq. ISIS attracted foreign fighters to be sure, but it is an Iraqi entity. Why? Because the Sunni community was so disillusioned, so hounded, so subjugated by the Shi’a majority under Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad, that when ISIS came they thought: “Well, what’s the difference?” Of course, many subsequently regretted that decision. They realized ISIS was terrible. ISIS came in and everybody had to defend themselves as ISIS went on the rampage and pursued genocide. The Iraqi Army in Mosul fled. They did not defend the city against ISIS because they were Shi’a, and Mosul is a largely Sunni, Kurdish and Christian area. The situation was life or death

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for everybody. Everything was suspended while we, the Kurds, fought ISIS.

respecting our rights. That is an important realization. The Kurds should not be penalized for wanting independence.

It was Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces who protected the Mosul dam and Kirkuk. And, the Peshmerga worked together with Iraqi forces to liberate Mosul from ISIS control. Now, the Peshmerga forces have withdrawn from a number of areas disputed between the KRG and the Iraqi central government.

We should also talk about those capitals – Teheran, Damascus, Ankara and Baghdad. It is critical to recognize their conduct and their discrimination toward the Kurdish people. Why have aspirations for Kurdish independence been thwarted? What is it about the actions of these governments that fuels Kurdish aspirations for independence?

Ms. Abdul Rahman: Today we are at a crossroads because right now the Iraqi military and the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization have taken over Kirkuk and most of the disputed territories.

Diplomatic Connections: To no one’s surprise the outcome of the referendum was overwhelming support for independence from the Iraqi central government. But, the referendum seemed designed to be as challenging and infuriating to the Iraqi central government as possible. In an attempt to dramatize the cause of Kurdish independence and bring it onto the world stage, did the Kurdistan Regional Government overplay its hand? Or, was the outcome of the referendum intended to be a bargaining chip designed to protect and enhance the autonomy of the Kurdish Regional Government?

Kurdish forces had protected Kirkuk from ISIS, but the Ms. Abdul Rahman: In status of Kirkuk has 2003 when it became long been disputed apparent that the between the central United States was KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qudad Talabani met with Iraqi Prime government and Minister Haider al-Abadi on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland. They going to liberate discussed latest trends in the on-going consultations between the Kurdish Regional Government and the Iraq the KRG. Though Iraq, we had a federal government committees regarding outstanding issues between them. outside the formal choice. And, it was a boundaries of the KRG, those boundaries are themselves conversation that our leadership had: “Do we want now to are in dispute. In fact, Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution declare independence? Or, do we decide to be part of this stipulates that the future status of Kirkuk should be new Iraq?” determined by referendum. But, the central government The decision was made by our leadership to be part of has repeatedly avoided holding such a referendum. this new Iraq. Our hopes were extremely high that this Diplomatic Connections: The thing that has driven much of the would be a democratic, federal, secular Iraq that could be news regarding Kurdistan, even acknowledging the conflicts over “mid-wifed” into the world by the United States and the territory, was the referendum on independence for the Kurdistan international coalition supporting its actions in Iraq. Had Region that was held at the end of September 2017. What was the Iraqi Constitution been respected, there would not have the presumed goal of staging the referendum? been a need for a referendum. Ms. Abdul Rahman: As I have said, the countries among which the Kurds were divided all ended up not fully


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Diplomatic Connections: From the Kurdish point of view, what happened after Saddam Hussein was deposed and a new Iraqi Constitution was written?


Diplomatic Connections: With ISIS now largely pushed out of the territory it controlled, the Iraqi central government seems to have turned its attention to regaining control of territory, including territory that has been occupied and controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG]. Do you now feel that the status of the KRG itself is threatened?

Ms. Abdul Rahman: What emerged was a Shi’a majority in almost total control of the government without any real attempt to include minority voices or to rule by consent of the governed. The promise of a new Iraq unraveled before our eyes. That is not a formula for governing a country where you have three main constituencies – Kurds, Shi’a Arabs and Sunni Arabs – who have completely different demands. It is necessary to develop consensus across groups and build core support within each of the groups that are part of the country and whose rights were supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. The new Iraq did begin with consensus but eventually that disappeared. Diplomatic Connections: What is happening between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in the aftermath of the referendum? Is there a fear that instead of an Iraq whole and united the country will simply splinter and fall apart? Ms. Abdul Rahman: The problem is that all of the issues that existed before ISIS came are still unresolved. The United States, under Obama and now under the Trump administration, has been preoccupied with defeating ISIS. There has been little interest in resolving the fundamental questions of how Iraq will be governed. We have heard this phrase over and over again, “The United States and the Coalition are laser-focused on defeating ISIS.” That sounds laudable. Still, it doesn’t address the problems that existed before ISIS came. Ironically, the KRG has been pushed farther and farther away from the core of Iraq. Diplomatic Connections: What does the Kurdistan Regional Government now expect to happen in the aftermath of the referendum? Is the outcome of the referendum a demand for independence, a plea for protection and continued assistance from the United States and others, or is it a starting place for negotiations with the Iraqi central government? Ms. Abdul Rahman: The KRG decided that we wanted a referendum on independence so that our people could have their say. Self-determination is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We made it very clear that the referendum does not lead to a unilateral declaration of independence.

We talk about everything. There was not a designated timeline for these discussions. The situation presents two options. The first option is a war of independence like the United States had in its Revolutionary War against British rule. The second option is to do everything transparently, openly, step-by-step. The KRG chose the latter option. Diplomatic Connections: From the KRG’s point of view, what would be the desired response from the United States? Ms. Abdul Rahman: We are right now asking two main things. First, no more violence. Iraq and Kurdistan need the United States right now. The United States has leverage over all of us. The U.S. should use this leverage to prevent any more violence and to block any more encroachment by the Iraqi military and the Iranian-backed militias. Second, we have been asking the United States and its coalition partners — partners like Britain, France and Germany — to encourage Baghdad to open a dialogue with the Kurdistan region. We have offered a dialogue on an open agenda. We don’t have to be talking about the referendum or independence. We are willing to talk about whatever Baghdad wants to talk about. There are many critical issues that remain outstanding. These talks have started, but we need the United States to encourage everyone that solutions to these issues can be found, if all the parties involved stay the course and commit to continuing negotiations. Diplomatic Connections: There are multiple political parties and discordant voices within the Kurdistan Region and across the broader Kurdish community, sometimes resulting in deep disagreements. Can these political differences be bridged? Ms. Abdul Rahman: Disunity has been our Achilles heel but when we have united, we have been unbeatable. The KRG Prime Minister, Nichirvan Barzani, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani, who represent the two main political parties, are doing their best to bring about unity as we enter this new phase in relations between Kurdistan and Iraq. Diplomatic Connections: Thank you very much for the time and the insights you have given us.

The referendum leads to talks with Baghdad. We talk about everything. We talk about borders, assets, resources, forces.

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Oprah Winfrey accepts the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

food, but “for the work.” And, introducing the best directors category, Natalie Portman slyly announced “the all male nominees” to some gasps and laughter. This was a reference to the fact that no female directors were nominated for the Golden Globes awards. Not that the nominated films – Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, etc. – didn’t deserve the distinction. But according to a recent survey, in 2017 women comprised 11 percent of the directors working on the top grossing 250 movies. At the Critics’ Choice awards some days later, at which The Shape of Water won big (best picture, director,

Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images


or decades, the Hollywood Golden Globe awards ceremony has been the boozy, lighthearted, star-studded opening event of the entertainment industry’s annual awards season. Historically, it was just that kind of an evening; however, that’s all in the past now. This year’s Golden Globes awards turned serious as a succession of beautiful women in black denounced a culture of sexual harassment by powerful men, and of pay inequality compared to their male counterparts. What had been for years been a fun, if occasionally slightly eccentric event had now been appropriated by female activists for a historic push-back against the treatment of women in show business. The first hint that things would be different was the surprisingly wide response to the call that the women should wear black to demonstrate their support for the Time’s Up movement which is dedicated to confronting abuse of power and promoting social and gender equality in the workplace. But far from making the event too somber, the result was “one of the most elegant, genuinely chic red carpets I’ve ever seen in Hollywood,” according to New York Times fashion editor Vanessa Friedman. All the leading couture houses managed to cope with the focused demand and there was no shortage of Armanis, Guccis, Oscar de la Rentas, Diors, Miuccia Pradas, and Versaces on the red carpet. And if nothing else, the evening demonstrated that Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Dakota Johnson, Margot Robbie, Angelina Jolie, and other top female stars could be equally successful in projecting their respective personalities in black as in any other color. The evening set the tone for other awards nights in the month of January and beyond, starting with the Critics’ Choice and followed by the Producers’ Guild awards, and the Screen Actors’ Guild, reaching a climax on Oscar night in March. The 2018 awards season became, in effect, the scene of a revolution with its origins in an unfolding narrative of flagrant abuse of numerous women by insensitive and entitled male executives and TV personalities who seemed to know no boundaries. There were, however, some other more rectifiable complaints. For example, the talented Frances McDormand, best actress for her performance in the Golden Globes winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, reminded the audience that women were not there for the




Advocacy Dominates the Start of the Awards Season

production design, score) color bloomed again on the red carpet, but the same issues dominated the evening. Presenter Olivia Munn called for a tongue-in-cheek toast to “the good guys,” men who had behaved themselves in 2017. The winds of change for certain continue to blow throughout the awards season. But whether or not this represents what McDormand called a “tectonic shift in our industry power structure,” only time will tell.

Activist Tarana Burke, actors Michelle Williams, America Ferrera, Jessica Chastain, Amy Poehler, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, activists Ai-jen Poo, and Saru Jayaraman attend the 19th Annual Post-Golden Globes Party hosted by Warner Bros. Pictures on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner Dan MacMedan/Getty Images Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman


Lupita Nyong’o

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Olivia Munn

Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Mandy Moore


Halle Berry

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Leslie Bibb


RALPH LAUREN i n tr oduc ing the ultra f resh f ragrance

George Pimentel/WireImage Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Alison Brie


Brie Larson

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Dakota Johnson

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Dan MacMedan/Getty Images Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Yara Shahidi


Saoirse Ronan

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Tracee Ellis Ross

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Mary J. Blige

Margot Robbie

Renee Bargh

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Building a home in a new country involves a variety of financial and logistical considerations. For each new assignment,

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global embassy employees work with their

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diplomats prepare for the next assignment, sending belongings in

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With CORT, personnel and their family can view furnishings and make selections online prior to departure at Go.CORT.com/ Embassy. “The quality of service and product CORT offers is impressive,” said Ronnie Gitonga, diplomat, Embassy of Kenya and a CORT customer while in Washington, D.C. “The guidance


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Furniture rental eases the relocation stress for employees in

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Furniture rental alleviates the stress associated with managing,

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Browse hundreds of pieces in our online catalog at go.cort.com/embassy or visit a nearby location. © 2018 CORT. A Berkshire Hathaway Company.

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Profile for Diplomatic Connections

Diplomatic Connections Mar/Apr 2018  

Ambassadorial interviews. International politics.

Diplomatic Connections Mar/Apr 2018  

Ambassadorial interviews. International politics.

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