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Voice of America, 99-08-06

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: NATO officials today (Friday) warned against attacks on their forces as Russian troops came under fire in the east of Kosovo. In three separate attacks on their sandbagged checkpoints, unidentified assailants fired shots at Russian soldiers. Details from reporter Philip Smucker in Pristina.

    TEXT: NATO officials say that Russian troops came under fire three times Thursday night after a quiet day across Kosovo. One Russian soldier was shot in the arm and taken to an American military facility in eastern Kosovo. Russian officials say that ethnic Albanians had fired on the soldiers. Vladimir Ulasevich, a political adviser to the Russian army, says the violence stemmed from rising tensions between the Serbs and the Albanians in the town of Kamenica. Both U-S and Russian soldiers guard checkpoints there and patrol the town. Albanian citizens in Kamenica began demonstrations two weeks ago aimed at forcing the Russians to leave town. The Kosovo Albanians see the Russians as close allies of the Serbs, despite assertions by their officers that they are engaged in neutral peacekeeping. But most of the casualties in the town of Kamenica have been Serbs. Since NATO and Russian troops arrived in Kosovo in June, 17 Serbs have been kidnapped in and around Kamenica. Relatives of the missing believe they are dead. The bodies of nine other Serbs have been discovered and identified. Most of them are elderly males over 55 years of age. Russian forces have vowed to defend Kosovo's Serbs. But the Serbs in Kamenica are now critical of the Russians for not acting more aggressively to end the violence. On most mornings in Kamenica, Albanian residents of the town chant "Russians go home" during the demonstrations that sometimes turn into rock- throwing contests with Serbs living near Russian posts. The demonstrators are well organized by men in black, who wear red armbands -- a sign that they have close ties to the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army. American special forces' officers acknowledge the violence is getting worse, but say it is too early to condemn the Russians for inaction. They say the Russians are just beginning to adjust to the challenging environment in Kamenica. (Signed) NEB/PS/PCF/rrm 06-Aug-1999 09:01 AM EDT (06-Aug-1999 1301 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    /// Good for weekend use ///

    INTRO: British Defense Secretary George Robertson is expected to take over the post of NATO Secretary- General in mid-October. In this report from Washington, National Security Correspondent Andre de Nesnera discusses some of the main issues he will face during his four-year tenure.

    TEXT: Traditionally, the post of NATO Secretary- General is reserved for a European - just as the alliance's top military commander is always an American. British Defense Secretary George Robertson was offered NATO's top job after his German counterpart, Rudolph Scharping turned it down. Paul Beaver - senior defense analyst with the British publication "Jane's Defense Weekly" - says despite the fact that Mr. Robertson was not the first choice to head the alliance, he is perfectly suited for the job.

    /// BEAVER ACT ///

    The first reason is that he is good trans- atlanticist - in other words he has a very good relationship with the Pentagon, with William Cohen, the Defense Secretary of the United States in particular. He is trusted by the Americans. Secondly, he is trusted by the Europeans. He speaks fluent German and the French like him. He even has a German Honor (Award) - he is a "Grand Commander of the Order of Merit" of the Federal Republic. So he has all the right credentials from the European perspective and really, it is those three countries which are the important movers and shakers within NATO.

    /// END ACT ///

    The 53-year-old Robertson - a former labour union official and long-time member of the British Parliament - takes over as NATO Secretary-General at a time when the Western alliance is redefining its role. The recent military campaign in Kosovo has brought increasing demands for Europe to share more of the military burden within NATO and not rely so heavily on the United States. Michael O'Hanlon - NATO expert with the (Washington- based) Brookings Institution - says Mr. Robertson is keenly aware of the need to reorient the European defense capabilities within NATO for the post-Cold War era - something he has tried to do with the British military.

    /// O'HANLON ACT ///

    We know that European militaries in NATO collectively have twice as many people under arms as the United States and yet they probably only have somewhere between one-seventh and one- tenth as much useful military power for outside their own borders. These are territorial armies, often conscription-based armies. They are not properly configured for the needs of the post- Cold War world and Robertson took a huge step in getting Britain ready and making Britain even more the prototype, avant-garde European country for this kind of thing than it already was. So that is very important from the point of view of U-S interests, burden-sharing and just producing a more equitable distribution of military labor within the alliance.

    /// END ACT ///

    Another difficult issue facing Mr. Robertson is repairing NATO's relationship with Russia. Moscow was strongly critical of the alliance's bombing campaign against Serb forces in Kosovo - and relations between Russia and NATO are still quite strained. Jonathan Eyal - from London's Royal United Services Institute - says Mr. Robertson has had experience in dealing with Moscow.

    /// EYAL ACT ///

    In his tenure as defense minister in London, he has shown both an ability to talk directly to the Russians, but also to ignore the Russians when the price that Moscow demanded for their cooperation was considered unacceptable. For instance - he did not have any compunction in supporting the American position about bombing Iraq last December or indeed in supporting very strongly the military effort in Kosovo, despite the fact that everyone knew that that would result in a worse relationship with Moscow. So I think the Russians ought to be prepared for a relationship that is - shall we say - more real, as opposed to the theoretical friendship that existed up to now.

    /// END ACT ///

    During his four-year tenure, Mr. Robertson will also have to deal with the future expansion of NATO - another source of friction with Moscow. Mr. Robertson takes over from Javier Solana - the man credited with keeping the 19 members of NATO a cohesive unit during the Kosovo campaign. Mr. Solana will become the European Union's first High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and in that capacity he is expected to work closely with his successor at NATO - George Robertson. (Signed) NEB/ADEN/kl 06-Aug-1999 11:32 AM EDT (06-Aug-1999 1532 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Turkey's new coalition government, led by leftist Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, has pledged to enact a set of sweeping reforms aimed at curbing widespread human-rights abuses. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, both Turkey's Western allies and non-governmental human rights organizations have applauded the proposed legislation aimed at preventing torture. But they all agree the proposals must be put into practice.

    TEXT: That very point was stressed Thursday in an Ankara press conference called by the U-S assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Harold Hongju Koh.

    /// KOH ACT ///


    We welcome and support the commitment of Prime Minister Ecevit, Foreign Minister Cem, Justice Minister Sami Turk, and State Minister for Human Rights Irtemcelik to end the practice of torture. //END OPT// The government has authorized surprise inspections of detention facilities and called for initiating legal procedures against security forces accused of abuse. Only by thoroughly implementing these measures can the government begin to address this problem, which I was told remains widespread.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr Koh's remarks followed a week-long fact-finding mission, which took him to Ankara, Istanbul and the mainly Kurdish southeast region. The remarks raised the hackles of [irked] Turkish officials, who publicly accused him of insensitivity, but have been welcomed by rights groups. They point out that as Turkey's most important ally, observations by the United States Government may well be criticized, but can never be entirely ignored. Turkey's newly appointed minister for Human Rights, Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik, readily acknowledges that abuses do exist in his country. Mr. Irtemcelik, who is at the forefront of legal reforms aimed at cracking down on human-rights violations, insists, however, that his government is determined to enact these measures -- not because Western governments are asking Turkey to do so, but because Turks want a better democracy for themselves. Yavuz Onen is the chairman of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation. He says abuses -- in particular, torture and curbs on freedom of expression -- continue under the new government.
    Like most human-rights defenders, Mr. Onen says he welcomes the government's initiatives to crack down on abuses. But he remains cynical about just how successful the government can be in terms of implementing such reforms.


    Mr. Onen points out that just days after Prime Minister Ecevit issued a warning to police last June against using torture, two people died in the western provinces of Cannakale and Izmir, respectively, under police custody. Both men's bodies bore the marks of torture.


    According to Mr. Onen, nearly 400 people have applied so far this year to his Foundation's torture rehabilitation centers to receive physical and psychological therapy. //END OPT// The most widespread abuses, according to rights groups, continue to occur in the largely Kurdish southeast region, where rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party have been waging a 15-year- long armed campaign for Kurdish self rule. The rebels have been blamed for some of the worst violations.


    These include murdering the families of Kurdish militia allied with the state. Women and babies are rarely spared. //END OPT// Hopes of an imminent end to the Kurdish conflict, which has claimed over 30-thousand lives, were triggered by the P-K-K's announcement Thursday that it will abide by their condemned leader's call to abandon their armed campaign. Abdullah Ocalan, the P-K-K leader who was sentenced to death by a Turkish court last June on treason charges, appealed to his fighters on Tuesday to stop their violence and to pull out of Turkey. Ocalan said Kurdish insurgence constituted a major obstacle toward achieving peace between Turks and Kurds. Human-rights groups say the rebels' decision to follow their leader's call constitutes what they term an historical opportunity for the Turkish government to respond to the Kurds' demands for linguistic and cultural rights. Turkish leaders insist, however, that they will not negotiate with what they term "terrorists." The U-S government shares that description. But as Assistant Secretary Koh puts it, "one can oppose terrorism and still support human rights."

    /// SECOND KOH ACT ///

    The United States has always supported Turkey's right to defend itself against the P-K-K, a group responsible for many egregious human- rights abuses in Turkey, including the murders of thousands of civilians. But one can oppose terrorism and still support human rights.


    No once can deny that most Kurds in Turkey do not support the use of violence. They want to remain Turkish citizens, while enjoying the basic human rights guaranteed to all people under international law, including freedom to express one's language and culture and freedom to organize political parties that represent their interests. //END OPT//

    /// END ACT ///

    But human-rights defenders like Mr. Onen emphatically point out that abuses in Turkey are by no means limited to Kurds; they are committed against thousands of Turkish citizens across the political and geographical spectrum. All the more reason, he says, to end such abuses once and for all. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/PCF/WTW 06-Aug-1999 13:31 PM EDT (06-Aug-1999 1731 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were down today (Friday) reflecting continued concerns about inflation and interest rates. V-O-A Business Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10- thousand-714, down 79 points. For the week the Industrial Average gained 59 points. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index closed Friday at 13-hundred, down 13 points. The NASDAQ Index lost three-quarters of one percent. As they have all week, inflation worries gripped Wall Street. The government reported that both the number of new jobs created in the United States, and the average wages of American workers, both exceeded expectations last month. The figures convinced most analysts there is now little doubt that the Federal Reserve Board - the U-S central bank - will raise interest rates later this month.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Bruce Steinberg of the Merrill Lynch investment company says interest rate worries will probably keep stock prices in check for the near future.

    /// STEINBERG ACT ///

    I think the markets are going to remain very sloppy for the rest of August. You have an imminent Fed (Federal Reserve Board) tightening and worry whether they are going to do it more than once.

    /// END ACT ///

    President Clinton has nominated Federal Reserve Board Governor Roger Ferguson to be the vice chairman of the Board. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Ferguson will become the first African-American to hold the vice chairman's job. Mr. Ferguson generally supports the economic philosophy of central bank chairman Alan Greenspan. Deutsche Telecom of Germany will pay 13-point-six- billion dollars for One2One, a British mobile telephone firm. It is Deutsche Telecom's first major step toward becoming a global telecommunications company. Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant, reported an eight-percent increase in quarterly earnings, largely because of continued economic recovery in Asia. The Associated Press has acquired the radio news business of United Press International. The price was not disclosed. Analysts say General Motors may become the first U-S auto company to build vehicles in Japan since before World War Two. G-M currently owns major stakes in two Japanese motor firms (Isuzu and Suzuki) and a G-M spokesman says the company will build on those ties to develop a new strategy in the Japanese market. Volvo, Sweden's bus and truck company, says it will buy Scania, another Swedish vehicle firm for seven- and-one-half billion dollars. The acquisition will create the world's second-largest heavy truck maker. Volvo has been negotiating to buy Scania ever since January, when Volvo sold its auto business to Ford of the United States.(Signed) NEB/NY/BA/LSF/gm 06-Aug-1999 17:11 PM EDT (06-Aug-1999 2111 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Comments about the Boy Scouts of America fill the editorial pages of America's daily papers after a New Jersey Supreme Court ruled the group cannot exclude homosexuals. Another popular topic is the potential disintegration of Colombia. There is also concern about a new North Korean missile and tensions with China over Taiwan. Other commentaries include criticism of the United Nations, a plea for peace on the West Bank, reducing American debt and Britain's Queen Mum celebrates her 99th birthday. Now, here is __________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week that James Dale, an exemplary Boy Scout, and then a Boy Scout leader was illegally removed from the organization because he is a homosexual. The Boy Scouts are coming in for a good deal of criticism on the issue. We go first to The Trenton Times, in New Jersey's capital, where the paper calls the unanimous court ruling "a gratifying victory for fairness and individual rights."

    VOICE: Because of the Boy Scouts' large size and broad membership, the court properly rejected its claim to be "selective" and private. As Chief Justice Deborah Poritz wrote, the organization is congressionally chartered, some 87 million boys and men have joined since 1910, and churches, police and fire departments and other community organizations routinely sponsor local troops. She pointed out that the scouts ... teach tolerance and the understanding of differences in others, and that exclusion is contrary to the group's charter and bylaws.

    TEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle says the New Jersey court has "done the nation a major service," while the national daily USA Today, published in suburban Washington, D-C, chides the group saying:

    VOICE: The Boy Scouts still don't get it [Editors: slang for "do not understand."] They want all the perquisites and support due a welcoming, public- service organization -while retaining a [19]50's - style right to discriminate against minorities. /// OPT /// Fortunately, most similar organizations understand by now that it's wrong to invite the public in, use taxpayer-financed facilities and then claim the right to act like a small and sectarian private club. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: However, The Washington Times sides with the Boy Scout leadership, and insists the U-S constitutional guarantees all citizens the right to associate or not with whomever they chose.

    VOICE: The land of the free just got less so. . the .court decided to update the Bill of Rights, stripping from it a freedom of association that has served the United States well for a few hundred years but which the justices decided was hopelessly and embarrassingly backward. . Justice Alan Handler [said] `One particular stereotype that we renounce today is that homosexuals are inherently immoral. That myth is repudiated by decades of social science data .' Judges are free to parade their moral superiority over the poor, benighted rubes [people] who dare to disagree, and they are free to attempt to raise the consciousnesses of the lower orders of humanity in keeping with the latest social science data. The constitutional problem comes when they chain otherwise free peoples to a view with which they disagree and compel them to bow before it. . And where does the court draw the line at behavior it considers legitimate by social science data? Boy Scouts officials say they will appeal the decision to the U-S Supreme Court and well they should. If they aren't free to associate, they aren't free to exist.

    TEXT: Turning to international news, several papers continue to worry about the twin problems of continuing guerilla insurrection and narcotics trafficking in Colombia, including today's St. Petersburg [Florida] Times, which says in its headline "Colombia's war is not ours."

    VOICE: For a nation that claims a war on drugs as its primary goal, the United States is treading on the verge of Vietnam-like involvement in Colombia's ever- growing political violence. Offering financial and logistical support to curb drug trafficking is one thing. Intervening with American troops in an internal guerrilla war is another entirely. . American troops don't belong in the jungles of Colombia. It's not our war to fight. A simple history lesson can teach that much.

    TEXT: To Asia now and worries about that new, long- range North Korean missile possibly being readied for a test launch. The San Francisco Chronicle writes:

    VOICE: Even as peace talks aimed at finding a final settlement to the 1950-53 Korean War resumed in Geneva yesterday, North Korea was threatening a long-range missile test and sounding belligerent. Pyongyang's plan to launch a Taepodong Two missile, with a [Editors: note this is the m a x i m u m ] range of almost six thousand kilometers, has cast an ominous pall over the peace talks attended by North Korea, China, South Korea and the United States. . The civilized world has few attractive choices except to prepare for the worst. If North Korea proceeds with the missile test, it will confirm its status as an outlaw nation and should be treated accordingly.

    VOICE: There is also concern about China and its recent actions toward Taiwan. The Chicago Tribune suggests China is acting like someone's grouchy old aunt.

    TEXT: It's don't touch auntie's Taiwan cabinet.' Or `Don't do your spiritual calisthenics in auntie's living room' And, for heaven's sake, `Don't ask how your expensive nuclear device ended up in auntie's treasure chest. Don't. Don't. Don't. All this, of course, with the implied threat that if auntie gets really ticked off, [editors: angry] there will be hell to pay [Editors: very dire consequences]. Maybe so. But maybe not. Maybe what auntie really needs --for her sake and the rest of ours-is to be treated like a regular person, a regular member of the family. No tiptoeing about and sitting on pins and needles. Frank talk and straightforward behavior.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Kansas City [Missouri] Star is also concerned about the China-Taiwan-U-S issue, and says a "Firmer U-S approach [is] needed on Taiwan."

    VOICE: Beijing will no doubt recall the administration's deployment of aircraft carriers to the area in 1996, when the Chinese were having fits and lobbing missiles into the sea near Taiwan. That memory, however, would be more vivid if the administration would stop leaning so heavily in Beijing's direction. Washington should make it clear that it has no intention of abandoning its military commitment to Taiwan. Fear of how U-S forces might react should continue to exercise a restraining influence on Chinese policy.

    TEXT: Turning briefly to the Middle East, and the U- N's efforts to control arms proliferation there, the [Honolulu] Star-Bulletin has this response to sharp criticism by former U-N weapons inspector chief Richard Butler of Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    VOICE: While the world's attention was focused on Kosovo, the continuing problem of Iraq was overshadowed. But now Richard Butler, the former chief U-N weapons inspector, who left his post in June, points out that there have been no arms inspections in Iraq for 12 months. Saddam Hussein could be trying to make nuclear, biological and chemical weapons again for all anyone knows. [Mr.] Butler . accuses Russia, China and France, Iraq's allies on the Security Council, of lying about a tiny quantity of VX nerve agent . used to test Iraqi materials [that] were left in the laboratory when [Mr.] Butler ordered UNSCOM inspectors to leave Baghdad in mid-December on the eve of . air strikes. Even though France, China and Russia knew the test standards were harmless, [Mr.] Butler charged, they urged the Security council to have [them] analyzed, intimating that UNSCOM inspectors may have laced [illegally contaminated] Iraqi warheads with the VX agent. .These are disturbing charges, a reminder that the United Nations Security Council remains an unreliable defender of world peace.

    TEXT: The opinion of The [Honolulu, Hawaii] Star Bulletin.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The New York Times, examining the current situation in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province, proclaims it still "lawless and violent" after two months of NATO peacekeeping, and warns:

    VOICE: If the criminal violence pervading Kosovo is not soon ended, the province's economic assets will be controlled not by the most able and entrepreneurial but by the most ruthless and heavily armed. Fair elections will become impossible. . NATO did not drive Slobodan Milosevic's brutal occupation army out of Kosovo to allow a new era of disorder to commence.

    TEXT: The Clinton administration has announced a plan to buy back some of this nation's highest cost public debt by retiring U-S bonds with a premium payment. The Dallas Morning News likes the idea:

    VOICE: The plan is politically and fiscally prudent. Today's dollars will retire debt that would be a drag on the economy in future years. Congress needs to make sure it leaves room for this initiative as it sorts out budget and tax options for the next few years. As Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan argues, lowering the debt is preferable to deep tax cuts.

    TEXT: Finally, a tribute to England's Queen Mother, Elizabeth, wife of the former monarch, who has now turned 99 years old, from The Tulsa World, who calls her "Queen Of Hearts."

    VOICE: All of jolly old England shared the celebration with this enduring figure. In white high heels and with nary a stumble she walked across the cobblestones in front of her London home Wednesday to talk with a crowd gathered to wish her well. She has made her way through life in much the same way - keeping her balance among the good times and the bad. The respect of her countrymen was won in World War Two. . The Queen Mum . is a crown jewel. Elizabeth, even more than the late Princess Diana, is Britain's true Queen of Hearts.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 06-Aug-1999 12:13 PM EDT (06-Aug-1999 1613 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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