The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

40 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL mindset of the country’s oldest and largest trade union (almost a million members). I decided to nominate CNSLR President Ciorbea for a month- long International Visitor Program grant in the United States. The embassy IVP committee approved the nomination, and the ambassador and deputy chief of mission sufficiently trusted my judgment to sign off on the proposal, though both were initially reluctant. Washington also approved the nomination despite misgivings on the part of the AFL-CIO and the Free Trade Unions Institute. The AFL-CIO declined to meet Mr. Ciorbea at its Wash- ington, D.C., headquarters, but many of its affiliated trade union officials did meet him in various parts of the United States and freely imparted their knowledge and advice. The CIA, however, made clear its opposition to the IVP grant, apparently believing that no communist tiger can ever change its stripes. In the autumn of 1996, two years after I’d left post, Romania held presidential and parliamentary elections. It was the country’s first post- revolutionary election, which international observers certified as free, fair and credible, and the democratic opposition won. When the new government was being formed, the victorious democratic political parties selected the CNSLR president to serve as its prime minister, an honor he accepted. I met Mr. Ciorbea again just prior to the 1996 elections during a temporary assignment to Bucharest, where he was then serving as mayor. Among other things, he told me the IVP tour was one of the most influential experiences of his life, and solidified his belief that Romania’s future lay with the democratic institutions and market-based economic systems of the West. Victor Ciorbea did not singlehandedly change the course of Romanian politics, but he was part of a small, growing cadre of Romanian officials and opinion leaders who shook off the national tendency to look towardMoscow and instead put the country firmly on course to rejoin the West. Anthony Kolankiewicz is a retired State Department political of- ficer. He is currently accompanying his wife on assignment to U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem. U.S. Embassy Preserves Belgium-Zaire Relations Zaire 1967 • By Hank Cohen It was April 1967. I was chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa, Republic of Zaire (now the Congo). We were between ambassadors, and the deputy chief of mission was traveling. Zaire’s President Mobutu Sese Seko, who had taken power two years earlier in a military coup, made a surprise announcement declaring that he was nationalizing the copper mines owned by the Belgian company Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK). These mines provided more than 75 percent of the government’s revenue. What made the announcement even more significant was the statement that Zaire would not pay compensation. This, of course, constituted a major violation of international law. The Belgian government reacted immediately, cut- ting off all royalty payments from copper exports, leaving Zaire with virtually no flow of revenue. The Belgians also requested that the World Bank and other international organizations stop all economic assistance programs to Zaire. They all complied, and Zaire was in real trouble. President Mobutu, of course, was unable to cave because he would lose credibility with his own people. When he made the announcement, by the way, university students marched from the campus to downtown Kinshasa singing Mobutu’s praises for strik- ing a blow against imperialism. In the embassy, I called a brainstorming session with the economic section and the U.S. Agency for International Develop- ment. Did anyone have any ideas?There was one idea staring us in the face. The mines were nationalized, but the Zairians had nobody qualified to manage them. There were some students at the Colorado School of Mines who would eventually become managers at the mines, but they were a long way away from being ready. One of the USAID officers came up with the obvious solution: Hire a Belgian company to run the mines under a management “ ” He told me the IVP tour was one of the most influential experiences of his life, and solidified his belief that Romania’s future lay with the democratic institutions and market-based economic systems of theWest. –Anthony Kolankiewicz