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Voice of America, 99-10-06

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

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





    INTRO: A new Serbian movie about the NATO bombing campaign this past summer mirrors the growing self- doubts in Yugoslavia about the country's aims in Kosovo. The film, "Wounded Land," also looks at how the Serbian people have been isolated by their own leaders and the international community. Philip Smucker spoke with director Dragoslav Lazic. BEGINS.

    /// ACT SOUND OF MOVIE PREVIEW. BOMBS AND INTRO..... "Wounded Land" combines human drama with real news footage of NATO air raids. It focuses on the fears and patriotism of group of Serbs citizens in a Belgrade bomb shelter. Director Dragoslav Lazic says the bomb shelter highlights the Serbian people's isolation from the international community.
    The shelter is the metaphor for the Serbian people who were forced into a shelter by this isolation that lasted for ten years and it was done partly by its own mistake and it was also a greater fault of the international community.

    /// END ACT ///

    While the movie glosses over most of the root causes of the conflict in Kosovo - as well as earlier conflicts with Bosnia and Croatia -- it comes across as a harsh critique of the Belgrade government's claims of victory since the NATO bombing campaign ended this summer. Serbian troops were forced to withdraw completely from Kosovo, an outcome that has embittered most Serbs, who still consider the region an integral and historic part of their homeland. Many Serbs have still not reconciled themselves to the defeat. In the movie, A psychotic elderly woman who keeps repeating "Serbia, Victory! Serbia, Victory!" becomes a symbol of the country's war aims and its seeming refusal to recognize failure. Many in Serbia supported the idea of fighting for Kosovo when the war with NATO broke last spring. But as the NATO bombing campaign intensified, many Serbs lost hope and began blaming the government for leading them to defeat. In another key scene of the movie, an angry young Serbian reporter who returns from witnessing the bloodshed caused by a stray NATO cruise missile, tells a colleague he is sick of the killing. But significantly, he also says he is sick of hearing the Yugoslav government's repeated claims that "we are right, that we are innocent." Film director Lazic says the scene shows a gradual transformation of Serbian emotions from simple fear of an enemy that has much greater firepower to one of rebellion against their own government for getting them into an unwinnable war.
    Well yes, this is important scene. All the people during the bombing pass through several phases of reactions. The initial reaction of almost all the people was fear. But later, that emotion changed and at some stage it came to some kind of rebellion and he asks the questions why did they have to have at all, and did it have to happen at all, and could it have been different.

    ///END ACT ///

    "Wounded Land" mirrors growing doubts about the country's role in the Kosovo fighting, doubts shared even by some of Serbia's military elite. Col. Dragan Vuksic, a senior army intelligence officer, speaking this week in a television interview, was critical of what he said were propaganda campaigns conducted by both NATO and his own government. He said the government fought a losing battle from the beginning and now does not want to discuss its failure. However deep these doubts may be, many Serbian analysts believe the conflict with NATO has only made it more difficult to deal with the root problems that drew the country into war in the first place. And despite movies such as "Wounded Land,'' opposition politicians warn that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is still able to persuade many Serbs that the outside world is still their enemy. (SIGNED)
    NEB/PS/JP 06-Oct-1999 18:42 PM EDT (06-Oct-1999 2242 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Talks are taking place in Washington on the amount of compensation that German industry should pay to the victims of Nazi forced labor during the second world war. Jonathan Braude in Berlin has this report on the German position.

    TEXT: The talks in Washington may be overshadowed by a threat from the victims' lawyers to walk out of the discussions unless the German side increases the offer to compensate the victims of Germany's forced labor program. The companies are reported to be offering a total of about four billion (U-S) dollars. The German side says the more than 20-billion dollars demanded by the lawyers is absurd. Both sides fear that failure could be costly and damaging not only for German industry, but also for United States-German relations. An estimated 10-million people were forced into service as slaves to the Nazi war effort. Some were Jewish concentration camp victims. Many others were the ordinary citizens of European nations occupied by Germany. Working conditions were grim, and the death toll of the forced laborers was high. The little money paid out by German industry for its unwilling workforce went to the S-S, Hitler's hated security police, not to the victims. The arguments now are over who should be responsible for compensating the victims and how much the vixctims should be paid. The talks between German industry, East European, German and U-S government representatives and the victims' lawyers is an attempt to reach an agreement on paying up to 2.4-million survivors. The German government says it is prepared to pay for those forced to work for the municipalities. German companies also will have to contribute. But industry spokesman, Wolfgang Gibowski, argues that compensation is a matter for the German government. Industry, he says, could only meet rigorous wartime production goals by using forced labor.

    /// Act Gibowski ///

    People who have claims against Germany have to claim against the German state not against the companies. What the companies are doing is that they provide a foundation to help those who suffered in the Nazi time and they do it because they feel humanitarian reasons.

    /// End act ///

    But Count Otto Lambsdorff, the chief German government negotiator, says industry is well aware that it has to come up with reasonable compensation. Failure to reach agreement, he warns, could lead to more than a lawyers' walk-out at the talks. It could escalate into a United States - German trade war.

    /// Act Lambsdorff ///

    The result would be that the German government must protect the German interests and that can only be done via (through) the European Union and the W-T-O (World Trade Organization). Then we have a trade debate and trade disruption between the U-S government and the German government. And these trade disputes spill over into the general political relations between the U-S and the federal republic (of Germany).

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Lambsdorff says German industry is aware of the dangers of a possible U-S consumer boycott of German goods or intervention by the U-S Congress. That is why, he says, German industry offered the compensation.

    /// Act Lambsdorff ///

    The whole thing was started by the initiative of the German industry and this initiative has to be applauded in my view. It responds to the moral and historic obligations which German companies do have. It's a voluntary step. Nobody is forcing them. No, this is of course seen by German industry.

    /// End act ///

    For the moment, however, industry spokesman Wolfgang Gibowski says he does not believe the dispute will escalate into a trade war. German industry, he adds, is prepared to make humanitarian payments to the victims of Nazi forced labor, provided the payments are reasonable. (Signed) NEB/JB/GE/LTD/JP 06-Oct-1999 11:37 AM EDT (06-Oct-1999 1537 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were up today (Wednesday) as investors seemed to shift their attention from interest rates to corporate earnings expectations for the quarter. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 187 points - a one-point-eight percent gain - to close at 10-thousand-588. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed up 24 points, at 13-hundred-25. The Nasdaq gained two percent. Some analysts say stock prices rose on optimism that U-S businesses will report solid profit growth for the third quarter.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Analyst Chuck Hill, who tracks corporate earnings, says business in general looks very good, at least for now:

    /// HILL ACT ///

    Over last year's third quarter for the S&P's 500 should be about 22 percent. That's going to be the best we've seen since the beginning of '95. But it's going to be the best we'll see for a while going forward, too.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    Many economists expect uncertainty over U-S interest rates will rear its head again. This could hurt corporate profits, and the market in general, for the rest of the year. On the U-S economy, figures show the U-S manufacturing sector continues to do well. New factory orders rose one-point-three percent in August.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Among those reporting quarterly earnings, number two U-S soft-drink maker, PepsiCo, says its profits are up more than six percent, on higher sales of its Tropicana juices and Frito-Lay snacks. Alcoa, the world's biggest producer of aluminum, says its third-quarter profits jumped 19 percent. But sales actually declined, offset by lower costs and higher prices. Investors apparently thought Alcoa should have done better. Alcoa shares lost over three percent. There was more activity in the U-S telecommunications industry. A-T and T is seeking to expand its nation- wide network. The largest U-S long-distance telephone company and Dobson Communications, a rural wireless company in the American Midwest, have formed a joint venture to buy American Cellular, a wireless telecommunications service provider. The price tag is said to be two-point-three billion dollars. Analysts say this is part of A-T and T's strategy of "build or buy." Seven of the 11 biggest business deals in U-S history have involved either telephone or cable T-V companies. Pharmaceutical giant American Home Products is restructuring its Cyanamid Agricultural Products business, eliminating hundreds of jobs. American Home has been beleaguered by thousands of lawsuits over its now-recalled diet drugs. And U-S retailer J-C Penney says it is ending its operations in Chile because the business was not profitable. However, J-C Penney says it is still committed to expansion plans for Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Brazil. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/ENE/gm 06-Oct-1999 17:06 PM EDT (06-Oct-1999 2106 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: At midweek, U-S editorial pages continue to discuss the rapidly approaching vote on the Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty. Another popular topic is the merger between telecommunications giants M-C-I and Sprint, respectively, the second and third-largest U-S long-distance phone companies. There is also comment on the Russian assault in Chechnya; an alleged U-S massacre in South Korea during the Korean War; implementing the peace accord between the Palestinians and Israel; India's election; and a feud between the President and a White House reporter. Now, here is ____________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: President Clinton signed the latest nuclear test ban treaty several years ago, but since then the Senate has chosen not to ratify it. Now, in a sudden move that has caught both the White House and congressional democrats by surprise, a vote has been scheduled for next week, after only limited debate. The U-S press is generally upset. Here is The [Minneapolis Minnesota] Star Tribune.

    VOICE: The usual conservatives -those who have never met an arms control treaty they liked-are arrayed against the CTBT. To hear them tell it, this is the treaty from hell ... Senate Majority Leader [Trent] Lott offered their typical hyperbole when he said it would "unilaterally disarm" the United States. [Mr.] Lott's claim is total bunkum [rubbish]. The United States hasn't conducted a nuclear test since 1992 and has no foreseeable need to test; computer simulations suffice to keep this nation's nuclear arsenal in top shape. This treaty is to keep others from testing.. Ratification by the United States is critical .

    TEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle worries that:

    VOICE: Cynical politics threaten to undercut a landmark treaty to ban nuclear testing around the world. . Senate Republicans now want a hurry-up vote by the end of next week . Because they believe the votes for approving the treaty aren't there, and GOP leaders want to hand President Clinton a big-time drubbing [defeat.]

    TEXT: And in Chicago, The Tribune says it is "Time to Ratify the Test Ban Treaty." ///OPT /// adding:

    VOICE: No treaty is perfect, but the potential benefits of this one far exceed its costs, and it is far too important to America's -and the world's- security to let partisan differences scuttle it.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to domestic business news, a 115- billion-dollar merger proposed by two of the nation's largest long-distance telephone companies, M-C-I and Sprint, has drawn attention in the editorial columns. The Los Angeles Times is urging caution:

    VOICE: This is the biggest yet in a string of mammoth mergers. The two companies and industry analysts believe . the merger, announced Monday, makes good business sense and will benefit stockholders of both companies. The federal regulators must make sure this is a good deal for consumers as well.

    TEXT: In Kansas City, where Sprint has a major operation, The Kansas City Star says the merger creates hope but also uncertainty.

    VOICE: [The] merger . is an event of worldwide financial importance. [with] the potential to dramatically affect the future of competition in the entire communications industry, plus the quality of telephone and Internet services available to billions of people. But today, up to 15-thousand Kansas City area Sprint employees ... and business leaders . are much more concerned about less global matters. ... What will happen to Sprint employees in the metropolitan area?

    TEXT: While in Chicago, The Chicago Tribune says of the proposed merger:

    VOICE: It really isn't about long distance service. It's about being able to offer customers a complete range of telecommunications services.

    TEXT: Turning to international developments, Russia's assault on Chechnya draws this comment from Wednesday's Baltimore Sun.

    VOICE: Three years after Russian troops were driven out of Chechnya, they are pushing back into the Islamic breakaway republic. As of yesterday, they had retaken a third of the mountainous region surrounding the capital of Grozny. This success has emboldened Moscow: What started as an operation to form a security buffer along the Russian border is turning into an attempt to wipe out the rebels altogether. [However] the deeper Russian ground troops push, the more exposed they become. That may be the goal of Chechen rebels.

    TEXT: The alleged massacre of South Korean refugees at the start of the Korean war by U-S army troops, and the resulting furor over the incident, draws this rebuke from The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World.

    VOICE: Here we go again. The crowd that former U-N Ambassador Jeane Kirikpatrick called "blame America first" are having a revisionist field day over the [allegations]. Did any American soldiers kill civilians in Korea? Probably, just as some Vietnamese civilians were killed during the Vietnamese war. But people sitting in comfort looking back one events of 50 years ago have no right whatsoever to pass judgment without trying to learn the circumstances of the unanticipated, murderous invasion of South Korea by North Koreans ...

    TEXT: Turning to the Middle East, The [Forth Worth [Texas] Star Telegram hails the new highway linking the West Bank and the Gaza strip as a: VIOICE: . major milestone on the road toward a lasting Middle Eastern peace agreement. Palestinian officials have hailed the agreement on the "safe passage" across Israel as tangible evidence of an improved atmosphere in the peace negotiations.

    TEXT: Turning now to the general election in India, The Chicago Tribune notes:

    VOICE: India's national parliamentary elections, . completed Sunday, were neither a welcome event nor a pretty sight. . Indians . were forced to shoulder the burden not because of any deep popular desire for change, but because a single small party defected from the ruling coalition, abruptly bringing down the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. . Unfortunately . at least two candidates were murdered, and one village leader who had the nerve to cast a ballot had his hand chopped off by leftist insurgents. . But the marvel is not how much went wrong but how much went right. In poor, problem-ridden societies, political violence is not uncommon, but democracy is.

    TEXT: Turning again to domestic issues, the presidential election campaigns continue to draw a lot of attention. As regards Vice President Al Gore's campaign headquarters shift away from Washington and to Nashville, Tennessee, The Pittsburgh Post- Gazette says:

    VOICE: Try as he will, Mr. Gore's wheels seem to be stuck in the mud, while [former New Jersey Senator, and Democratic candidate Bill] Bradley and [George W. Bush, the Republican front runner,] are picking up speed. And now [ethics] questions have been raised about his campaign manager, former U-S Representative Tony Coelho. Moreover, there's the Clinton thing. Vice presidents who have sought the White House in this century have all had to contend with resolving their relationship with the previous chief executive. That burden is complicated for Mr. Gore by the residue of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

    TEXT: And lastly some sharp criticism of President Clinton from The Augusta [Georgia] Chronicle, for his angry outburst at a news reporter, Washington bureau chief Paul Sperry of the Investment Business Daily, who asked the president to answer questions about "illegal money from China and the campaign finance scandal."

    VOICE: "I don't like your accusatory tone" the president angrily responded. "It sounds like you've already got the story written." [Mr.] Sperry . politely repeated the public wants answers "about the allegations of illegal contributions from China . to influence the 1996 election." At this point, say reports, the president went ballistic, [became intensely angry] shouting, "I've been all around this country, and you are the first person to ask me about it. Not one person has brought that up." Of course not because, as [Mr.] Sperry had pointed out, the president won't hold press conferences. He confines his appearances to admiring friends and cronies, avoiding exposing himself to critics."

    TEXT: With that, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 06-Oct-1999 11:55 AM EDT (06-Oct-1999 1555 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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