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Interview with Mayors Morial and Diekmann - 2002-04-18


MR. BORGIDA:
And now joining us live, two mayors, both attending a Washington international conference on terrorism. Here from Bonn, Germany, Mayor Barbara Dieckmann, and from New Orleans, Louisiana -- I think I said "New Orleans" right, Mayor -- Mayor Marc H. Morial, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Thank you both for joining us.

MAYOR MORIAL:
Thanks for having us.

MR. BORGIDA:
Having been in New Orleans, I know that some say "New Orleens," "New Orlins."

MAYOR MORIAL:
"New Orlins," "New Or-le-ans."

MR. BORGIDA:
We want to be as proper as we can be today.

MAYOR MORIAL:
Never "New Orleens."

MR. BORGIDA:
Never "New Orleens."

Mayor Dieckmann, you've been attending this conference. Tell us a little bit about it, what you've learned about terrorism. And has it been helpful to you, as the mayor of a European city?

MAYOR DIECKMANN:
Yes, it was a conference which was very helpful. You know, perhaps, that we met before in France and in Berlin. It's the third mayor conference. And in Lyon and Berlin, we spoke about traffic problems, health problems, migration problems, but I think 11 September changed the world, changed Europe, too. We all were shocked by this attack against the American people. But I think it was an attack against the free world, too. And I am very, very happy that we had the chance in this conference, with the participation of many mayors from all over the world, from many countries, to discuss the question of terrorism.

And I thank Mayor Morial, that he invited us. It was a real good day for us.

MR. BORGIDA:
Are there special challenges in Bonn that perhaps the Mayor of New Orleans wouldn't face?

MAYOR DIECKMANN:
Yes. In Bonn, we are an international city. The American Embassy has been in Bonn for 40 years. We have relations with the American people. Today we have the U.N. organizations in Bonn, the United Nations volunteers, the Secretariat to Combat Desertification, the Climate Secretariat, and there are many Americans who live in Bonn today. And so we are very attached to them. But there was also other problems with tourism. We have a lack of tourists from all over the world, in Germany, in Europe. But the most important for us was, yes, that we were very shocked about this situation, and we were in a real solidarity with the American people.

MR. BORGIDA:
Mayor Morial, you were here with us once before, I think a couple of months ago, to talk about how New Orleans has been dealing with terrorism since 9/11. And you probably have a better sense now, for example, of the impact of terrorism on tourism in your fine city. What has it been like the last few months?

MAYOR MORIAL:
We've rebounded rather well -- not completely, but rather well -- I think primarily because so much of our visitor base focuses on special events -- the Super Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the upcoming Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Essence Music Festival which takes place in July, the French Quarter Festival which took place this past weekend, as well as a lot of business meetings and conventions. I think one thing we've learned is that there is no substitute for planning; there is no substitute for having the resources and the manpower to do security the right way. And also the issue of aviation and airport and airline and airplane security really is at the heart of the matter. And I think a continuing focus on that is most important.

MR. BORGIDA:
Now, you are as well an international city.

MAYOR MORIAL:
Yes.

MR. BORGIDA:
I don't want to function too much as the Chamber of Commerce for New Orleans here, but how have you seen the tourism from abroad to New Orleans?

MAYOR MORIAL:
The upcoming Jazz Fest is going to be a pretty good barometer, because the Jazz and Heritage Festival brings in a lot of visitors from Europe and from Latin America, from the Caribbean, and also from Asia. But, like so many communities, we had a steep decline followed by a strong comeback. We did some things in New Orleans. We decided to focus with a new emergency advertising initiative, which focused on the region. We went in and worked very hard to reassure, through the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the business clients that New Orleans was safe.

We really focused on the Super Bowl, because we knew we would be on an international stage and that if we did security well and the Super Bowl was successful and secure, it would send a message to everyone that New Orleans is a great place to visit and a safe and secure place to visit.

But many mayors at the conference have indicated a slight downturn, but a comeback is in the offing now.

MR. BORGIDA:
Mayor Dieckmann, let's go back to you for a moment. I think, as we mentioned in our program, there is a trial in Frankfurt of some Algerian terrorist suspects. Frankfurt is not too far from Bonn. The people you represent in Bonn, how do they feel about terrorism and their level of freedom and all those issues that people in Jerusalem, for example, are facing now?

MAYOR DIECKMANN:
In Germany we know terrorism, too. In the seventies we had terrorism in Germany. We had terrorism in Italy and in Europe. We have at the moment terrorism in Northern Ireland, in Turkey, in Egypt, in Tunisia. So terrorism is a phenomenon in many countries of the world, and we try to continue our life. We have to fight against the terrorism, but I think it would be a real victory of terrorism if we didn't continue our lives. And so we have tried to do both, to fight against the terrorism but to continue with international relations, with international conferences.

MR. BORGIDA:
Speaking about the international conferences, in about the minute or so we have, have you learned anything new as a result of being in Washington? Why don't you take a quick crack at that? And then, Mayor Morial, we'll try you in about a minute. Anything new that you've learned from this conference that you didn't know before you came?

MAYOR DIECKMANN:
Yes. We spoke about the situation in the United States, about the situation in Brazil. There was a representative of Rio de Janeiro and of Ecuador. We spoke about Italy. Perhaps you know some of this description, but it's always another situation to have the possibility to discuss it with persons in the situation.

MR. BORGIDA:
Mayor Dieckmann, thanks so much.

I'll tell you what. I'll give you a chance to respond to that question the next time you're on our program.

MAYOR MORIAL:
Very good. Thanks for having us. We appreciate it.

MR. BORGIDA:
Mayor Marc Morial, of New Orleans, thanks so much. And Mayor Barbara Dieckmann, of Bonn, here for a conference, thanks so much for joining us.

MAYOR DIECKMANN:
Thank you.

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