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Public Papers - 1990

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Appointment of the United States Representatives to the Board of Trustees of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe


The administration today named Frank Loy, John Schmitz, and Helen Petrauskas as the three U.S. representatives to the Board of Trustees of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe being established in Budapest, Hungary. All 3 have agreed to serve as part of a 15-member board that will oversee the operations of the Center. President Bush first proposed the Regional Center last year during his visit to Budapest.

At the President's request, Congress authorized million for the Regional Environmental Center as part of the Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) Act of 1989. The United States and the Republic of Hungary signed an initial agreement in January outlining the goals and structures of the Center. Since then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been at work laying the operational groundwork for the Center. Today's appointments are effective immediately, although the Center's official opening will not take place until September 6, 1990, when EPA Administrator William K. Reilly will represent the President at the opening ceremony.

The Hungarian Government has committed approximately 0,000 for the Center's operations. When the Center's charter was signed on June 20, 1990, the European Community and The Netherlands joined as cofounders, offering financial support of .5 million and 0,000 respectively. The Governments of Austria and Norway have also indicated they will support the Center. Indeed, the list of founders is expected to grow as other governments sign the Center's charter before the official September opening.

Establishment of the Center comes as nations around the world look for ways to assist the Governments of Eastern Europe to institute economic and political reforms. The region is faced, in particular, with critical problems of air and water pollution due in large part to the region's dependency on soft coal, its lack of adequate waste treatment facilities, and the failure of centrally planned economies to give adequate priority to environmental protection.

Although the Regional Environmental Center is being funded initially by government contributions, it will be a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to finding regional solutions to the environmental challenges common to Central and Eastern Europe. It will draw on business and other private resources. As a source of information and assistance to the citizens and governments of the region, the Center will place special emphasis on the role of non-government environmental organizations in addressing these problems. The Center's charter outlines its mission in four categories: data collection and dissemination, development of institutional capabilities, education, and matching available resources with the needs in the region via a clearinghouse. The Center will focus initially on three major areas of concern: the impact of environmental degradation on health, energy efficiency, and pollution prevention.

The Center's day-to-day operations will be under the management of the Executive Director, Dr. Peter Hardi, a Hungarian who currently serves as the director of the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs and as a professor of political science at Budapest University of Economics.

Frank Loy, of Washington, DC, is the president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which sponsors several exchange programs with Eastern European countries. He is also chairman of the Environmental Defense Board. John Schmitz, of McLean, VA, currently serves as Deputy Counsel to the President for environmental and energy matters. Helen Petrauskas, of Davisburg, MI, is vice president for environment and safety engineering for the Ford Motor Co. The U.S. board members will be joined by representatives selected by the Governments of Hungary and other East European countries, the European Community, and Austria.

Also named today as the Center's first program manager was Stephen Wassersug. Mr. Wassersug is currently the Director of the Hazardous Waste Management Division for EPA Region III in Philadelphia. He has served in a number of Agency programs on air, water, and waste during his tenure with EPA.

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