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Voice of America, 99-08-29

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

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





    INTRO: Richard Holbrooke, the veteran Balkan troubleshooter, has returned to Kosovo in his new role as U-S Ambassador to the United Nations. Tim Belay reports from Pristina that Mr. Holbrooke's first stop was the village of Orahovac where local residents have been blocking a main highway for the past week to keep Russian peacekeepers away.

    TEXT: Albanians living in Orahovac say they will not let the Russian troops in because they believe Russian mercenaries helped the Serb side during the war in Kosovo. Mr. Holbrooke said, (Sunday) in Pristina, he was surprised by how strong the villagers' emotions were running.


    They raised the issue of the Russians and began to recount all sorts of stories about Russian advisors . during the war, and they knew for a fact Russians had been there. Now these are not items that I can substantiate or not, but what struck me . was their passion on the subject.

    // END ACT //

    General Mike Jackson, commander of the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, says the alliance has to take the villagers' complaints seriously.

    // JACKSON ACT //

    I fear we may have a situation where beliefs are rather more awful than the actual facts. I refer here to the emotion and the difficulties which the local Albanian population have there, regarding alleged Russian mercenaries.

    // END ACT //

    Mr. Holbrooke says he believes NATO peacekeepers will eventually resolve the standoff. He says he is confident they will also be able to end tensions in Mitrovica, where Serbs and Albanians have clashed almost every day since the war ended. Mr. Holbrooke's three-day visit to Kosovo ends Monday when he goes to Sarajevo to visit another NATO peacekeeping mission. He told reporters there are important differences between the two operations.


    History I believe will record Bosnia and Kosovo as a single historical event . Now there are some core differences in Bosnia. NATO is implementing an agreement that was forged in Dayton, and here (Kosovo) there is no political agreement yet.

    // END ACT //

    General Jackson says the task of protecting ethnic Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo is complicated, but he says the province is becoming safer.


    The serious crime rate continues to go down. I do hope and believe that the security situation is stabilizing and that those members of the Serb population of Kosovo who have felt frightened may begin to feel that their place really is here.

    // END ACT //

    General Jackson says the mass exodus of ethnic Serbs from Kosovo has stopped and small numbers of Serbs who had fled are beginning to return to the province. (SIGNED) Neb/tb/dw 29-Aug-1999 11:20 AM EDT (29-Aug-1999 1520 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Leading experts say most of the 13-thousand deaths recorded so far in Turkey's devastating earthquake last week could have been avoided. They charge that a lack of enforcement of building codes and cost-cutting by contractors were responsible for more than 90 percent of the destruction. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Istanbul.

    TEXT: The chairman of the Earthquake Engineering Department at Istanbul's Bosphorous University, Moustafa Erdik, says electronic monitoring shows that although the ground motion of the earthquake was one of the strongest this century, the structures that were built correctly, like roads and bridges, withstood its force. He says the damage was directly linked to poorly constructed buildings.

    ///ERDIK ACT///

    Although we see lots of damage in the area, that damage is due to structural deficiencies rather than the size of the ground motion.

    ///END ACT///

    Professor Erdik says many of the buildings that collapsed were residential apartments more than four stories high. In addition, in many of them, the walls on the bottom floor had been removed to make shops. He says these factors weakened the structures. The leader of a U-S team of earthquake specialists that has been assessing the quake, Les Youd, says most of the damage was due to poor quality construction and a lack of enforcement of building regulations.

    ///YOUD ACT///

    If the buildings had been built in accordance with the building code, and Turkey's had a good code since 1975, these buildings would not have fallen down. This is a tragedy that didn't need to happen.

    ///END ACT///

    Professor Youd notes a similar earthquake in (Northridge) California five years ago caused about the same amount of damage as in Turkey last week. But he says only 60 lives were lost, rather than thousands, because most buildings were built to code. He says making a building earthquake-proof costs an additional five percent.

    ///REST OPT///

    Professor Youd also notes there have been nearly one dozen earthquakes in this part of Turkey in the past 60 years. And he warns that the epicenter of the quakes has been moving west toward Istanbul and its 12-million inhabitants.

    ///YOUD ACT///

    Unfortunately, now they're at the door. So the next one is likely to break much closer to Istanbul and the similar kind of shaking would cause similar kinds of damage in Istanbul. But the size of the community is so much larger that the damage would many times dwarf what we're seeing in this earthquake.

    ///END ACT///

    Experts say in order to avoid another tragedy, the government must strengthen public structures. And although they acknowledge it will be difficult to reinforce the thousands of private residential buildings in Istanbul, enforcing the building code on new buildings will help over time. (SIGNED)
    NEB/SB/DW/JO 28-Aug-1999 11:14 AM EDT (28-Aug-1999 1514 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: In Turkey, officials say the death toll from the earthquake is approaching 14-thousand (ED'S: 13,895) with more than 27-thousand injured and thousands more unaccounted for. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Istanbul that relief efforts continue to build nearly two-weeks after the disaster.

    TEXT: Relief officials concerned by unhealthy conditions in the camps after a week of rain, are using gravel, wooden pallets, and even blankets to dry out the soaked tents of the homeless. U-S troops from ships offshore began setting up hundreds of watertight tents. And a visiting team from Japan promised to send one-thousand prefabricated houses used after the earthquake in Kobe (Japan) five- years ago. The U-N Children's Fund sent latrines, showers, and water purification tablets. UNICEF spokeswoman Margherita Amodeo says sanitation is a major concern.

    /// AMODEO ACT ///

    We are really doing a big push to get the hygiene part well under control until the government sets up its more permanent services

    /// END ACT ///

    The official said UNICEF this week will establish play zones in tents for the homeless children. The head of the UNICEF assessment team, Rune Stuvland, says these play tents are to help children overcome the shock and trauma of their experience.

    /// STUVLAND ACT ///

    Priorities now are, from the psychological point of view are, one, to help normalize life as much as you can. Meaning that in the tented camps and other places to create some recreational activities, to support some play activities, so that children can start to process their experiences through the normal developmental tasks

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Stuvland says psychologists also need to train other professionals, like teachers and health workers, to provide psychological support to the most traumatized.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The head of a special task force of the Turkish Psychological Association, Nail Sahin, says 100 specialists were sent to the area (Sunday). He says the sheer number of victims poses the first great challenge. He says the second will be to provide long-term psychological support.

    /// SAHIN ACT ///

    We have to set up a system that can continue to provide these services for some years to come. This is a major disaster. And the number of people left homeless is estimated to be 600- thousand at the moment. And you can imagine the range of destruction and the magnitude of the task we are facing.

    /// END ACT ///

    More then 60-countries responded to Turkey's call for help. One of the most noted was Greece, whose relations with Turkey historically have been strained. The Greek deputy foreign minister has been touring the region and said relations with Turkey are improving, after Turkey welcomed Greek assistance. (SIGNED) Neb/sb/dw/RAE 29-Aug-1999 12:28 PM EDT (29-Aug-1999 1628 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: After a marathon 11-hour meeting -- winding up six months of attempted takeover bids -- France's banking authorities ruled Saturday against a merger of three leading banks. Had it been approved, the merger would have created the world's largest bank. Julian Nundy reports from Paris.

    TEXT: The committee governing French banking, headed by the governor of the Bank of France, made a decision that is generally being hailed as the right one. The committee ruled that the B-N-P bank, one of France's main retail banks, cannot keep the 37 percent of shares it accumulated during its hostile bid to take over a rival, the Societe Generale. The six-month battle, depicted as one that would change the face of French banking, ended in victory for no one. The original plan was for a friendly merger between the Societe Generale and Paribas, a bank specializing in corporate accounts and foreign exchange transactions. That was in February. Then, apparently fearing that his bank stood to lose, B-N-P chairman Michel Pebereau launched a hostile takeover bid of both Societe Generale and Paribas. The bank committee decision means that B-N-P has gained control of Paribas -- the bank it did not want and lost out in its bid for outright control of Societe Generale -- the bank it coveted. The final result nonetheless means France now has the world's third largest bank with B-N-P's takeover of Paribas.


    When the results of the bids were announced two weeks ago, B-N-P insisted it had effective control of Societe Generale. But the Bank of France-led committee decided otherwise and has told B-N-P it cannot take up the offers of Societe Generale shares it received during six months of bidding.

    //END OPT//

    Banking analysts welcomed the committee's ruling, saying this respected the will of the markets. So did labor unions, saying the decision should save thousands of jobs. Even B-N-P's chairman said the decision showed that the French state is no longer as interventionist as it used to be and had now allowed the markets to decide. And the chairman of Societe Generale welcomed the fact that his bank is keeping its independence. However, for some -- including a leftwing faction in France's Socialist-led coalition government that criticized the authorities' final ruling -- Societe Generale is now ideal prey for a foreign bank (takeover). They say Societe Generale is unlikely to keep its independence for long. (SIGNED)
    NEB/JL/DW/JO 28-Aug-1999 10:39 AM EDT (28-Aug-1999 1439 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
    Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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