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Advice and Comment

Ambuaaudnriul viaiI ahinca u


lighI nn Ihc divcrac rnlca nI
U.S. diplnmucy.
By TimnIhy B. Clurk
T
he U.S. diIomafic cors is one of
governmenfs eIife insfifufions,
reresenfing fhe Unifed Sfafes
in many counfries wifh diverse
cuIfures, Ianguages and ersec-
fives on worId aairs. Ifs hard fo gef info
fhe Foreign Service, and even harder
fo become an ambassador, whefher as
a career diIomaf or as a residenfiaI
aoinfee. The imorfance of ambassa-
doriaI osfings is reecfed in fhe require-
menf for Senafe conrmafion.
U.S. Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick
and his wife, Kafe Waff Sedgwick, are
af fhe fi of fhe diIomafic sear in fhe
SIovak ReubIic, a nafion of .6 miIIion
eoIe af fhe cenfer of Euroe. When
NOTES FROM BRATI SLAVA
Amcricu
Abrnud
fhey invifed me fo join a smaII grou
visifing fhem in BrafisIava fhis sring, I
jumed af fhe chance fo have an u-cIose
Iook af fhe ambassadoriaI Iife.
We fook fhe oorfunify fo visif
Budaesf, Vienna and Prague, in addi-
fion fo BrafisIava during a Iu-day fri.
Tracing fhe fragic hisfory of fhis region,
we saw many monumenfs commemo-
rafing fhe miIIions of eoIe who had
suered reression and sIaughfer af fhe
hands of fhe fascisfs and fhe commu-
nisfs over ve decades of fhe 2ufh cen-
fury. We were reminded foo during our
fraveIs of fhe ower of efhnicify in fhese
areas, fhe occasionaI sfirrings of un-
savory nafionaIism and fhe Iimifs on fhe
ower of fhe Unifed Sfafes fo inuence
oIificaI frends.
Sedgwick is onIy one of many ambas-
sadors in BrafisIava who comefe for fhe
fime and affenfion of SIovak aufhorifies.
Buf he is robabIy firsf among equaIs,
given fhe oIificaI and economic ower
of fhe Unifed Sfafes, ifs sway in NATO,
and ifs sfrong connecfion arising from
waves of immigrafion fhaf have resuIfed
in hundreds of fhousands of Americans
cIaiming SIovak descenf.
Affer Hungarian ruIers began a
eriod of reression in I848, a quarfer
of fhe SIovak ouIafion immigrafed
fo Norfh America. Poverfy af home
broughf anofher wave fo fhese shores
in fhe I98us. Many seffIed in Wesfern
PennsyIvania, abIe and wiIIing fo fake
on fhe fough mining and indusfriaI
jobs af comanies Iike U.S. SfeeI, a Iead-
ing emIoyer fhere. Headquarfered in
Piffsburgh, fhe comany is now Ied by
Chairman and Chief Execufive Officer
John P. Surma, who is of SIovak descenf.
U.S. SfeeI is fhe Iargesf rivafe emIoyer
in SIovakia, having faken over a big
roducfion faciIify near fhe easfern
fown of Koice in 2uuu.
U.S. comanies are big emIoyers in
BrafisIava as weII. This cify has become
a magnef for fechnoIogy gianfs Iike
Amazon, Cisco, DeII, GoogIe, HP and
IBM, which have faken advanfage of fhe
counfrys Iow fax rafe and Iabor fIex-
ibiIifies on issues Iike hiring and ring
fhaf were adofed by SIovakias cenfer-
righf governmenf. SIovakias fechnicaI
schooIs churn ouf rogrammers and
ofher seciaIisfs fo be emIoyed by
fhese comanies, and demand for fheir
skiIIs is beginning fo oufsfri fhe suIy.
Sedgwick has been seaking in favor of
greafer invesfmenf in educafion fo meef
fhaf demand.
On a Monday morning, we are invifed
fo fhe chancery fo hear fhe ress brieng
a rundown of whaf IocaI news oufIefs are
saying of consequence fo fhe embassy.
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U.S. Ambassador Theodore Sedgwicks job ranges from meetings with heads of state to homegrown American hospitality.
Advice and Comment
This is a daiIy meefing conducfed by fwo
of fhe embassys 7u SIovak emIoyees
for senior American sfa. Ifs fhe begin-
ning of a big day for Sedgwick fhaf wiII
incIude visifs fo fhe residenf and fhe
rime minisfer.
The embassy sfa of abouf 8u Ameri-
cans incIudes economic om cer Roberf D.
King and informafion officer Maffhew
MiIIer. King, an inferesfing examIe of
changes in Sfafe Dearfmenf recruifing,
joined nine years ago affer a fwo-decade
career in nance and oerafions for fhe
Liberfy MufuaI insurance rm.
MiIIer is younger, having joined soon
affer coIIege, and he boasfs five osf-
ings ranging from Haifi fo Cameroon.
King served in Greece, India and Mexico
before coming fo SIovakia fhree years
ago. Hes fhus had severaI journeys
fhrough fhe dearfmenfs infensive
24- fo 44-week Ianguage fraining ro-
grams, as has MiIIer.
Sedgwicks high-rofiIe aoinf-
menfs shed Iighf on fhe ambassadors
work. The morni ng meefi ng wifh
Presidenf Ivan Gaarovi, is aII abouf
fhe NATO summif coming u wifh-
in fhe week. Sedgwick wanfs fo heI
Gaarovi in his inferacfions wifh
senior U.S. officiaIs in Chicago and is
sending severaI U.S. exerfs from his
embassy sfaff fo fhe NATO summif.
The ambassador nofes fhaf SIovakia
has mainfained ifs commifmenf fo
fhe NATO Afghanisfan mission: 8u
high-vaIue seciaI-forces froos and
exerfs in exIosive ordnance disosaI.
Ofher NATO Iayers, nofabIy France,
have been cuffing back on fheir com-
mifmenfs. AIso on fhe NATO agenda is
fhe idea of cooerafive defense among
fhe Visegrd FourHungary, SIovakia,
PoIand and fhe Czech ReubI ic
and ofher NATO nafions, a difficuIf-
fo-achieve idea fhaf wouId require
seciaIizing in cerfain kinds of equi-
menf and fraining, IikeIy af fhe exense
of a more rounded force. Sedgwick is
among American om ciaIs who are ress-
ing Euroean nafions fo boosf fheir
defense sending from fheir currenf,
rock-boffom IeveI of sIighfIy more fhan
I ercenf of gross domesfic roducfa
fough seII when Euroean aufhorifies
are affemfing fo ca budgef decifs af
8 ercenf of GDP.
The affernoon aoinfmenf wifh
Prime Minisfer Roberf Fico is abouf
deveIoing nucIear ower generafion
in SIovakia. Of fhree comefifors vying
for fhe consfrucfion work, one is from
Russia and one from France. The fhird
is Wesfinghouse, Iong an American
icon buf since 2uu6 owned by Toshiba
Grou of Jaan. Sedgwick accomanies
a ranking Wesfinghouse execufive fo
fhe meefing wifh Fico wifh fhe infen-
fion of saying IiffIe buf demonsfraf-
ing by his resence fhe inferesf of fhe
U.S. governmenf, righf u fo fhe Whife
House, in fhe jobs fhe confracf wouId
creafe in PennsyIvania.
Lafer, in a conversafion wifh a Iead-
ing SIovak arIiamenfarian, I ask if U.S.
comanies are disadvanfaged by our
I977 Foreign Corruf Pracfices Acf,
under which fhe Jusfice Dearfmenf is
Ievying heavy nes on rms fhaf engage
in bribery abroad. Yes, he says, observ-
ing fhaf Germany and ofher nafions
firms are adef af hiding aymenfs fo
officiaIdom in hard-fo-defecf accounf-
ing arfices. Corrufion is rife in many
counfries, and U. S. ambassadors do
whaf fhey can fo discourage if. SIovak
aufhorifies ay affenfion, Sedgwick
says, fo enfreafies fo crack down on sex
fram cking by criminaI nefworks deaIing
aIso in narcofics.
Theres a muIfinafionaI efforf fo
imrove honesfy and fransarency in
fhe counfrys judiciaI sysfem. Among
fhe ambassadors riorifies is fo heI
SIovak aufhorifies guard againsf nucIear
frafficking. U.S. governmenf exerfs
have been working wifh Iu SIovak agen-
cies fo revenf cross-border smuggIing
of nucIear maferiaIs, and in mid-June
U.S. officiaIs wiII conducf fraining for
rosecufors and judges who deaI wifh
whaf fhe ambassador caIIs a signifi-
canf robIem.
The Unifed Sfafes is encouraging
SIovakia fo become a benign acfor on
fhe worId sfage. Wifh ifs unruIy democ-
racy, free ress and free eIecfions, fhe
counfry can offer racficaI Iessons fo
neighbors Iike Monfenegro, Sedgwick
says. Hes excifed by SIovakias arfici-
afion in fhe Communifies of Democ-
racy rogram, in which deveIoed,
Iess-deveIoed and deveIoing coun-
fries feam u fo romofe democrafic
governance. SIovakia, in fhe second
cafegory, has joined fhe NefherIands fo
heI Tunisia as if emerges from decades
of dicfaforshi. Sedgwick nofes fhaf
an American ambassadors job reaches
beyond issues ecuIiar fo any singIe
counfry fo encomass fhe more generaI
ideaIs of democracy, fransarency and
human righfs. His monfhIy coIumn in
Hospodrske noviny, fhe IocaI equivaIenf
of The Wall Street Journal, and weekIy
osfs on his Facebook age reecf fhese
ideas. InferesfingIy, abouf 2 miIIion
SIovaks, more fhan a fhird of fhe ou-
Iafion, are Facebook users. So far fheyre
nof much info Twiffer, so fhe ambassa-
dor isnf Tweefing yef.
Sedgwick wanfs fo rojecf fhe oen
and weIcoming fraifs of fhe American
ersonaIify. He has ersuaded fhe Sfafe
Dearfmenf fo fund consfrucfion of a
nice, wroughf-iron fence fo reIace fhe
grim mefaIIic cage fhaf rofecfs fhe
embassy from assersby on HviezdosIav
Square, a grand bouIevard of mighfy
frees and eIeganf buiIdings Ieading u
fo fhe SIovak NafionaI Theafer.
And fhe ambassador was found i-
ing burgers recenfIy af a cookouf on
fhe square for SIovak youfhs sIafed fo
arficiafe in a work-sfudy rogram
sfafeside fhis summer.
In an amusing scene af fhe residence,
Sedgwick hosfs a racfice session for fhe
soff rock band for which he Iays iano.
The band incIudes fhe orfIy Greek
ambassador, NicoIaos D. KaneIIos;
fhe muIfi-insfrumenfaI Romanian
ambassador, FIorin Vodifa; an American
exaf who has been a fransIafor here for
I years; fwo IocaI fhink fank Ieaders,
one of fhem heaviIy faffooed; and, on
fhis day, yours fruIy on bIues har.
The grou erforms af high-visibiIify
funcfions across fhe counfry. Sedgwick
aIso makes a oinf of arficiafing in
charifabIe evenfs, such as a recenf fen-
nis fournamenf, and making aear-
ances in many ofher seffingson fhe
Woody AIIen fheory, he says, fhaf 8u
ercenf of success is showing u. Thaf
seems a good aroach fo rojecfing
American vaIues in fhis smaII corner of
fhe worId.
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With its unruly
democracy, free press
and free elections,
Slovakia can offer
practical lessons
to neighbors
like Montenegro, U.S.
Ambassador Theodore
Sedgwick says.