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Voice of America, 99-09-02

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

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


  • [01] CN-061 KOSOVO

  • [01] CN-061 KOSOVO

    MAIN:CN-061 KOSOVO Serb residents are blocking a main road in a town southeast of Kosovo's capital Pristina, as ethnic tensions continue to simmer in the Serbian province. The Serbs used cars and trucks to block passage through the town of Gracanica late Wednesday to protest the disappearance of a compatriot earlier this week. The protesters accuse Kosovo Albanians of kidnapping the Serb and insist they will maintain their blockade until he is returned. NATO officials report at least six people, mostly ethnic Albanians, were injured in scuffles at the roadblock.


    Gracanica, a town with a large Serb population, is the site of an important Serbian Orthodox monastery and the seat of the Serbian Archbishop of the area. // end opt// Meanwhile, ethnic Albanians continue an 11-day blockade of roads leading to the western town of Orahovac, barring entry to Russian peacekeepers. The Albanians say they fear the Russians will favor the town's Serbs during the mission. But Serbs in the town say only the Russians can protect them. NATO officials also report five deaths since Wednesday in continued ethnic incidents. They say four members of a Gypsy family were shot and killed outside the northwestern town of Istok and a Serb was reported killed in an ambush in northern Kosovo. (reu afp,ap,fbis) ens/kes/reb HEAD:CN-061 KOSOVO Serb residents block a main road in a town southeast of Pristina as ethnic tensions simmer in the Serbian province. SUMMARY:CN-061 KOSOVO Serb residents are blocking a main road in a town southeast of Kosovo's capital, Pristina, as ethnic tensions continue to simmer in the Serbian province. The Serbs blocked passage through the town of Gracanica late Wednesday to protest the disappearance of a compatriot earlier this week. The protesters accuse Kosovo Albanians of kidnapping the Serb and insist they will maintain their blockade until he is returned. Meanwhile, ethnic Albanians continue an 11- day blockade of roads leading to the western town of Orahovac barring entry to Russian peacekeepers. Ens/kes/reb 02-Sep-1999 08:46 AM EDT (02-Sep-1999 1246 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The main highway through Yugoslavia's central Kosovo town of Gracanica remained under tight control by British peacekeepers (Thursday). Tim Belay reports from Pristina that the increased security follows a violent protest by ethnic Serbs, which injured at least five Kosovar Albanians.

    TEXT: The protest by ethnic Serbs, who make up nearly the entire population of Gracanica, began in the middle of the day Wednesday. The Serb protesters are angry about reports that a member of their ethnic community was kidnapped. Colonel Gil Prowse speaks for the British NATO contingent, which is responsible for security in that region. Colonel Prowse says members of the kidnap victim's family started the protest.

    /// ACT PROWSE ///

    They gathered together in the village center to protest about his kidnapping. And at the same time as they gathered together, an Albanian drove through the village, which upset them, and they threw stones at him. And that really was the catalyst for the protest to get bigger on both sides.

    /// END ACT ///

    Witnesses say five ethnic Albanians and a Bulgarian woman, who is married to an Albanian, were hurt when the protesters stoned their car and beat them with sticks as they entered the town. Colonel Prowse says the incident did not escalate into a full-scale riot because British peacekeepers set up roadblocks. They kept additional ethnic Albanians from entering the area. Colonel Prowse says about a dozen Serbs have partially blocked the Gracanica road, which passes in front of one of Kosovo's best-known monasteries, but Colonel Prowse says travel through the town is being controlled by the NATO-led peacekeeping force known as K-FOR.

    /// ACT PROWSE ///

    Because the traffic is controlled by K-FOR, it's difficult to describe it as a roadblock because there is only the odd (i.e. infrequent) car trying to get through.

    /// END ACT ///

    Residents of the mostly Serb-populated town of Gracanica accuse ethnic Albanians of kidnapping several members of their community over the past weeks.

    /// ACT PROWSE -OPT ///

    The Serbs in this particular village were aggrieved about the kidnap that had happened and wanted to remonstrate about that. And we've got lots of other Serb villages in out area of responsibility, and we patrol these areas regularly and frequently to try and stop these standoff positions happening.

    /// END ACT - END OPT ///

    A member of the group at the Gracanica roadblock says the Serbs will continue to maintain it until they are guaranteed freedom of movement. (Signed)
    NEB/TB/GE 02-Sep-1999 15:22 PM EDT (02-Sep-1999 1922 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo has been involved in a range of community service activities since arriving in the province in June. Tim Belay reports from Pristina.

    TEXT: NATO-led peacekeepers have been doing more than trying to keep the peace in Kosovo these past several weeks.


    They have repaired schools, distributed textbooks, provided fuel to farmers for harvesting, collected garbage, and even facilitated a trade of tractors for pigs. Critics of the high-profile community service work complain it can interfere with NATO's main mission here -- providing a safe and security environment in Kosovo. But a spokesman for the mission, Roland Lavoie, disagrees with the critics.

    /// LAVOIE ACT ONE ///

    Obviously, our core mission is to provide security in Kosovo and maintain law and order. Having said that, however, these projects are excellent to build a good relationship with the population, to make them trust us. Plus, it allows us to use our know-how to support projects that could be totally impossible sometimes to realize without our support.

    /// END ACT ///

    Military trainers say it can sometimes take up to 100- days to retrain soldiers so they are combat-ready after an assignment which is heavy on community service. Major Lavoie says he also disagrees with this argument.

    /// LAVOIE ACT TWO ///

    Before each mission, we have to be trained specifically for that mission. The training is ongoing in the military. It is a non-stop thing, it is the responsibility of the members to keep in shape and to continue their own individual training.

    /// END ACT ///

    Major Lavoie says many projects that help the community in Kosovo also can help provide security in the province.

    /// LAVOIE ACT THREE ///

    Because if the kids return to school, they are not in the streets anymore. If you repair the electrical power over Pristina and there is light at night, you might have less criminal activity.

    /// END ACT ///

    Major Lavoie says community service projects may be more visible in Kosovo than in previous NATO missions. But he says such activity is becoming more common for alliance troops in the post cold war Europe. (SIGNED)
    NEB/TB/JWH/RAE 02-Sep-1999 11:12 AM EDT (02-Sep-1999 1512 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem (JEM) is in London for consultations with his British counterpart, Robin Cook. Britain and its European Union partners are expected to respond generously to Turkey's request for economic aid to rebuid after a devastating earthquake. V-O-A correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from London on renewed British support for Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

    TEXT: Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says he will bring up Turkey's membership bid when E-U foreign ministers meet this weekend. But he says any candidate for E-U membership must meet all the basic requirements, including a clean human rights record.

    ///COOK ACT///

    The candidate status for Turkey should be on the same basis as any other country that aspires to be a member of the European Union. And that must be on the same test - and no other test - as any other candidate.

    ///END ACT///

    Turkey's Foreign Minister told a leading British financial daily that his country would make only one more bid to join the European Union, after 30 years of trying. Turkey was outraged two years ago when it did not appear on the list of candidates, but emerging democracies of Eastern Europe and Greece-led Cyprus did.


    A dialogue between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers, launched about two months ago, has renewed hopes that Greece will eventually end its veto of Turkey's E-U application. Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem calls the trend positive.

    ///CEM ACT///

    I'm not pessimistic on that subject. I think for matters directly linked to the Turkish-Greek relationship, I'm not pessimistic.

    ///END ACT///

    The quick Greek response with assistance for Turkey's earthquake victims also has helped ease tensions between the neighbors. (Signed)
    NEB/LMK/GE/KL 02-Sep-1999 09:14 AM EDT (02-Sep-1999 1314 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Parliament is continuing a series of confirmation hearings on the nominees for the European Commission. Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels the nominee for External Relations Commissioner, Christopher Patten, is well known in China.

    TEXT: One of the concerns expressed by deputies in the European Parliament is whether Christopher Patten's reputation in Beijing will weaken his ability to represent E-U interests there as External Relations Commissioner. Mr. Patten says he is not obsessed by China. As Hong Kong's last British governor between 1992 and 1997, he continually clashed with Chinese authorities about democracy. Mr. Patten says the European Union has to be engaged in China, but that does not mean keeping silent about human rights.

    /// PATTEN ACT ///

    I am very much in favor of developing a strong and effective relationship with China. I am very much in favor of China being a member of the W-T-O (World Trade Organization) on sensible terms but I do not think the price that we should pay for that is to take a vow of omerta (silence) on human rights in China.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Patten also notes that China has a huge trade surplus with the European Union, and that China will be the only side damaged by a rupture of economic relations that might result from human rights criticism. In his testimony, Mr. Patten also warns Indonesia of the consequences in its relations with Europe if it does not stop the violence in East Timor.

    /// PATTEN ACT ///

    I think that Indonesia, at present, is poised on the high wire between reform and riot. Between democratic reform and violent chaos. It can not be of any great assistance in stabilizing the situation that so many social problems have arisen in Indonesia over the last year or so.

    /// END ACT ///

    While Mr. Patten says in general he opposes using economic sanctions to influence political events, he praises the American ban on investment in Burma. He recalls canceling British projects in Burma when he served as Britain's Minister of Overseas Development in 1989. The European Union has refused to meet with the Association of Southeast Asian nations when representatives of the Burmese military government are present. Mr. Patten says he plans to continue that policy if he is confirmed in his position. The European Parliament is scheduled to vote to confirm the entire European Commission September 15th. (SIGNED) NEB/RP/GE/LTD/RAE 02-Sep-1999 08:22 AM EDT (02-Sep-1999 1222 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were down today (Thursday) as inflation and interest rate fears returned to Wall Street. V-O-A Business Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10- thousand-843, down 94 points, almost one percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed at 13-hundred-19, down 12 points. The NASDAQ index lost one-half percent. Analysts say stock traders were upset by comments from Edward Kelly, a governor of the U-S central bank. Mr. Kelly said it is "premature" to rule out another interest rate increase next month. Mr. Kelly said the central bank will continue to monitor economic statistics for signs of inflation. Some traders worried about the monthly U-S employment report which will be released Friday.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Michelle Laughlin of the Prudential investment company says the employment report could be the key to action by the central bank.

    /// LAUGHLIN ACT ///

    If it (employment report) is stronger-than- expected then the "fed" may use that as a reason to raise interest rates. I think it scared a lot of traders and a lot of them just decided to get out now.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    Also causing inflation worries was a government report, which said U-S labor productivity slowed in the second quarter. Lower productivity sometimes leads companies to raise prices to cover higher labor costs.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The stock of Sears, Roebuck, the second-largest retailer in the United States, fell sharply after the company warned its quarterly earnings will fall below expectations. Campbell, the largest soup-maker in the United States, says its quarterly earnings were down 30 percent from last year and short of Wall Street expectations. Campbell says the costs associated with a major restructuring program caused the earnings fall. Williams, the largest natural gas transmission company in the United States, is warning that its quarterly earnings will fall below estimates. Williams blames high costs associated with its venture into the fiber optics data transmission business. The Boeing Aircraft Company says it will take a 225 million dollar charge against earnings because of disappointing sales of its F-15 fighter jet. Boeing failed to obtain hoped-for orders for the jet from Greece and Israel. Anheuser-Busch, the U-S-based brewing company, is recalling almost six million bottles of beer sold in 12 European countries. There is nothing wrong with the beer but the company says a defect in the bottles could cause shards of glass to break off when the bottles are opened. Thursday was the 30th anniversary of the invention of the computer Internet. Originally funded by the U-S government as a way to link scientific research, the Internet provided the first means for two separate computer systems to communicate with each other. Those who were involved in the creation of the Internet concede they had no idea it would evolve into one of the most important economic and cultural forces of this century. (Signed) NEB/BA/LSF/TVM/JO 02-Sep-1999 17:21 PM EDT (02-Sep-1999 2121 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: There are more critical editorials this Thursday concerning new revelations about how federal law enforcement officers carried out a raid on a religious cult near Waco, Texas six years ago. Other popular topics include: East Timor's election; Secretary of State Albright's trip to the Middle East; the anti-Democratic tide in Venezuela; Panama's new lady president; and the internet celebrates its 30th birthday. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look at some commentaries in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Two of the nation's most influential newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post carry lead stories about the Waco, Texas incident Thursday. On Wednesday, U-S marshals seized evidence from another group of federal law enforcement agents, the F-B-I, pertaining to the case. In the 1993 incident, after a siege of 51 days by federal agents of a farmhouse outside Waco, a fire consumed the Branch Davidians complex, killing about 80 people, including 25 children. At issue is who started the fire. The New York Times is calling for an independent investigation of the incident.

    VOICE: Louis . Freeh, the F-B-I Director, has urged his boss, Attorney General Janet Reno, to appoint a qualified group of outsiders to investigate the agency's failure to keep Ms. Reno and Congress fully informed about all aspects of its role in the 1993 siege . in Waco . This is the right thing to do, since it would be an appalling conflict of interest to have the F-B-I and the Justice Department investigating themselves. . The House of Representatives, which also feels badly misled by the F-B-I, is talking about two investigations . A wiser course would be for Justice to go first, while Congress monitors the process and the final report.

    TEXT: In Texas, The Houston Chronicle is also calling for a high level, independent, investigation.

    VOICE: It would be hard to argue that the Waco tragedy doesn't need to be looked at again. And the F-B-I investigation of the case needs to be investigated itself. However, someone with some credibility, and that probably means from outside the immediate Washington establishment, needs to be called in for that job. Someone like a retired attorney general, for example. Credibility and confidence need to be restored in this incredible mess. [Attorney General Janet] Reno needs to get on with finding the right investigator and then get out of his or her way.

    TEXT: Along with front page stories of new violence in East Timor, come more editorials about Monday's referendum, or plebiscite, for autonomy within, or independence from, Indonesia. Wednesday afternoon's Honolulu Star Bulletin worries that the results of the plebiscite are being threatened by the violence.

    VOICE: The plebiscite . on the future political status of East Timor produced a heavy turnout . and was relatively peaceful. But a resurgence of activity by anti-independence militiamen raised fears that the little island territory in eastern Indonesia might be plunged into chaos. The situation is highly volatile. . The Indonesian army appears to be backing the militia in its attempts to intimidate supporters of independence. The army is said to fear that secession would encourage separatists in other parts of the archipelago and lead to dismemberment of the nation. Another separatist movement is gaining momentum in Aceh in northern Sumatra. . Indonesia held national elections earlier this year and seems on a path of democratic reform after decades of authoritarian rule. East Timor is a major test of the strength of the reform effort.

    TEXT: The opinion of Hawaii's Honolulu Star Bulletin.

    /// OPT ///

    Today's Chicago Tribune laments the growth of new, and very poor nations, before noting that at least in the case of East Timor, independence would be good both for the islanders, and for Indonesia.

    VOICE: For one thing, East Timor is a largely Roman Catholic region where people have been persecuted by the military of mainly Muslim Indonesia. Up to 200- thousand people have perished - 10-thousand by military force, the rest from famine and disease - since Indonesia annexed East Timor in 1976. . the vote is a test for Indonesian President B. J. Habibie. How he handles this test will signal the strength of his government and his reach as an international player. So far, [Mr.] Habibie is failing the test.

    ///END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Mideast is back in the news, with an apparent impasse in the latest talks between the Israelis and Palestinians over implementing the Wye River accords. The Washington Post comments on the Secretary of State's current trip to the region.

    TEXT: Secretary Albright's first task is to loosen the knot that Prime Minister Barak's predecessor and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat tied in the Wye agreement. Wye provided, among other things, for further but partial Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank - withdrawals that Mr. Barak is now asking the Palestinians to adjust in size and time so that Israel can feel better positioned to address the big peace issues-borders, refugees, a Palestinian state, Jerusalem and the like. . In the Middle East as elsewhere, the overpowering need is to catch up with the positive values and opportunities that grew out of World War Two: They are summed up in the world freedom. If it is not done now in the region, there may not be another opening for a generation. No one can want to try to tally the possible costs of obstruction and delay.

    TEXT: To this hemisphere now, and ongoing worries about the direction of Venezuela's President. The Forth Worth, Texas Star-Telegram exclaims:

    VOICE: . President Hugo Chavez's "virtual coup" is almost complete. It's taken only seven months, but the last vestiges of democratic legitimacy in Venezuela are in tatters. Since taking office in February, President . Chavez has imposed exactly what he promised: a social revolution led by a constitutional assembly with broad powers to rewrite the constitution. . he has undermined one oligarchy in favor of another, one more amenable to his Napoleonic pretensions. . [President] Chavez is achieving through the ballot box what he failed to achieve with pure military might. It is a chilling portent in a region marked by fledgling democracies, wrenching poverty and watchful military leaders.

    TEXT: The views of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. Still in the region, today's Sun in Baltimore, has some qualms about the woman who is now president in Panama, as the U-S military prepares to depart the Canal Zone for good.

    VOICE: Mireya Moscoso . elected in May, heads a party that is weaker in the legislature than its opposition. In recent days, she hammered out agreements with minor parties to give her a bare working majority, vulnerable to defections. . Ms. Moscoso heads the Arnulfista Party, named for her late husband. Arnulfo Arias, the most popular politician in Panama's history. . Her politics are leftist and intentions honest but abilities may be in question.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The situation in Colombia, where armed militias exert great influence in large areas of the nation draws the attention of The Orlando [Florida] Sentinel.

    VOICE: . Virtually no one anticipated the crisis now shaking Colombia and sending reverberations all the way to the United States. Drug traffickers, teamed up with anti-government rebels, threaten Colombia's very government. The situation has worsened in recent months, demanding that the United States re-examine its Colombia strategy. . Something essential is missing from U-S policy: a greater sense of urgency. If the United States can focus significant attention on Kosovo, which has no direct effect on the United States, why not Colombia, which directly affects this country?

    TEXT: The Houston Chronicle, is voicing concern about the way criminals and officials appear to be siphoning off millions -if not billions of dollars-from Russia's treasury.

    VOICE: Allegations that unidentified Russians laundered billions of dollars through the Bank of New York have raised questions about the value of U-S aid and "who lost Russia?" As to the last question, Russia was not lost by the United States or any U-S administration. Russia was lost by its succession of communist leaders who refused to allow the freedom and democracy that made the West prosperous after World War Two. . Even if Russian officials and U-S aid are found to be involved in a massive money-laundering scheme, the United States has little choice but to make similar modest efforts to stabilize the Russian economy, just as it could not ignore Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union puts tens of thousands of nuclear warheads . up for grabs.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Lastly, one of the great technological innovations of late 20th century turns 30 years old today. And in Nebraska, The Omaha World Herald takes note.

    VOICE: . Today can reasonably be said to be the 30th birthday of the internet. It was on September second, 1969 that two computers first "talked" to each other. The term itself says a lot. Computers communicating with other computers don't talk in the strict sense, but all computer jocks [users] use the term. Computers and the "Net-global-mail, in particular- have become so much a part of so many lives that it's hard not to attribute human characteristics to them. . For ill or for good, there is no going back. We're going faster. We're learning more, learning it earlier, sharing it more thoroughly, and finding answers to problems in all disciplines at a pace that scarcely could have been imagined a generation ago.

    TEXT: With those reflections from The Omaha World Herald we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 02-Sep-1999 12:11 PM EDT (02-Sep-1999 1611 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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