petek, avgust 27, 2004

US Ambassador interviewed in Večer

Katja Šeruga interviewed outgoing US Ambassador to Slovenia Johnny Young in the 27 August issue of Večer. As of 17 September, his three-year mandate expires, and he will be replaced by Thomas Bolling Robertson. Young intends to retire upon his return to the US.

Asked about Slovenia's position on the war in Iraq, Young told Seruga: “Slovenia made it clear that it is not a part of the Coalition of the Willing. We were disappointed, and we do not hide that. We hoped that you would join us, but we respect your decision. In the wider context, in the war against terrorism, we are cooperating wonderfully and it should stay this way, since this is the only way we can engage these provocations of the new world. Iraq of course is still not a finished story, and we now want to establish peace and stability there and Slovenia is trying to play a role in that.”

Seruga points out that the second contingent of Slovene soldiers has recently left for Afghanistan, and she asked Young if the US expects more. Young responds, “The more that you do, the better off you will be.”

Moving on to one of the big problems between the US and Slovenia, Seruga asks, “What would you say about the decision of the Slovene Supreme Court which supported Krka and not the US company Merck? You have strongly defended the interest of American pharmaceutical companies in the past” [more at: Krka press release / 17.08.04 /
End of dispute between Krka and Merck].

Young’s response: “The Supreme Court’s decision did not surprise me. My goal was very simple: for Slovenia to comply with what must be done in order to enter the EU. The country passed a law on the protection of intellectual property, and the influence of the domestic pharmaceutical industry was shown when parliament decided to limit the legislation. And my goal was to return to the previous situation. In the end, everything ended well and the Slovene pharmaceutical industry did not lose any money. Quite the opposite, it earned some money in the US [more on US pressure on the Slovene pharmaceutical industry: SB / 02.02.02 /
Pfizer intends to appeal. SBW / 21.01.02 / Parliament Adopts Amendments to the Pharmaceuticals Act].

Seruga also asks Young about his reaction to a composite photo of him published in
Mladina, which juxtaposed his face on the body of a grotesquely well-endowed man wearing only a star-spangled condom. [see: SB / 02.02.02 / Mladina's international incident].

He responded, “I think that if an American magazine had done the same thing, it would not be done with such distaste and racism. The fact is that some magazine publishes a caricature of me does not bother me, but if it is racist, then it bothers me very much.”

* The full interview, “
Razočaran, da nismo v koaliciji voljnih,” can be found on the Večer website.

* Report of Young’s arrival in Slovenia: SB / 19.10.01 /
New American ambassador takes post].

* Another interview with Young by Wes Eichenwald: LL / 01.02 /
Ljubljana Life Interview: U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia, Mr. Johnny Young].

* US pressure on Slovenia to sign a bilateral treaty exempting US citizens from the International Criminal Court (which did not come up in the Večer article) can be found at: SB / 20.06.03 /
US exerts pressure, Slovenia stands strong and at SN / 10.06.03 / Ljubljana to Follow EU Lead on ICC].

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