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Voice of America, 99-10-21

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

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





    INTRO: Montenegro, the junior member to Serbia in the Yugoslav federation, is moving ahead with its plan to introduce a separate currency to protect against the steady devaluation of the Yugoslav dinar. V-O-A's economics correspondent, Barry Wood, spoke Thursday with the economist who is advising Montenegro on monetary affairs.

    TEXT: Steve Hanke, the Johns Hopkins University professor, says plans for a new currency in Montenegro are moving rapidly. Mr. Hanke just returned (to Washington) from meeting Montenegrin policy makers in Sofia, Bulgaria.

    /// FIRST HANKE ACT ///

    We are moving ahead very rapidly with the establishment of a new money and monetary policy in Montenegro. The outlines of it will be that there will actually be two legal tenders. It will be a bi-monetary system with the deutsche mark and the Montenegrin marka. The marka will have credibility because it will be an orthodox currency board, established in Switzerland, under Swiss law, with five directors - four of them from G-7 countries and one from Montenegro. There will be no lender of last resort and no capacity to regulate reserve requirements of commercial banks.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Hanke continues to advise the Bulgarian government, which in 1997 linked its currency to the German mark in what has been thus far a successful effort to bring down inflation. In Podgorica, Montenegro's trade minister (Ramo Bralic) says the government has not yet taken a decision on introducing a separate currency. Earlier, President Milo Djukanovic promised to introduce within days a second currency linked to the German mark if Yugoslavia formally devalued the dinar. The dinar continues to sink on the free market and is now trading for more than 16 dinars to the mark, even though the official rate is six to one. Dissatisfied with its political and economic relations with Belgrade, Montenegro has been discussing the introduction of its own currency for more than six months. (Signed) NEB/BDW/TVM/gm 21-Oct-1999 17:19 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 2119 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The commander of NATO air forces for the Kosovo operation says the allies should have struck sooner in the conflict and harder at downtown Belgrade and some other targets in Yugoslavia. The general appeared (Thursday) before a U-S Senate committee reviewing the lessons of the war. V-O-A's David Swan has details.

    TEXT: Senators heard testimony from three senior officers, including the supreme allied commander, General Wesley Clark. In their prepared statements, they all sought to downplay divisions or friction among the 19 NATO members. But U-S General Michael Short, who headed the allied air force in the region, was quick to answer when asked what he would have done differently.

    /// SHORT ACT 1 ///

    Sir, I'd have gone for the head of the snake on the first night. I'd have turned the lights out the first night, I'd have dropped the bridges across the Danube (river), and I'd have hit five or six political-military headquarters in downtown Belgrade. (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic and his cronies would have wakened up the first morning asking what the hell was going on.

    /// END ACT ///

    The planes did not turn out the lights, by attacking Yugoslavia's power grid, until much later. Nor did they bomb downtown Belgrade the very first night of the war, as the general wanted. General Short testified other targets were put off limits because of opposition from France, including a military airfield in (the Yugoslav republic of) Montenegro.

    /// SHORT ACT 2///

    Clearly every night and every day I was sending the kids (pilots) in through Albania understanding on their left flank sat Podgorica airfield (in Montenegro) with surface-to-air missile systems that we could not strike and interceptor aircraft that we could not strike.

    /// END ACT ///

    U-S officials have acknowledged the bombing was limited by the need to maintain unity within NATO. General Clark told senators allied political leaders did their best to meet the demands of the military. Still, there were widespread concerns about the effect on public opinion of NATO losses or Yugoslav civilian casualties. General Short says the rules of combat changed after pilots accidentally bombed and killed civilians on a bridge.

    /// SHORT ACT 3 ///

    But as a result of that, the guidance for attacking bridges in the future was "you will no longer attack bridges in daylight, you will no longer attack bridges on weekends or market days or holidays. In fact you will only attack bridges between ten o'clock at night and four o'clock in the morning." That creates a sanctuary.

    /// END ACT ///

    General Short and the other witnesses emphasize they consider the campaign a success, because it ended with Yugoslav troops leaving Kosovo province. But they make clear the allies are facing questions about how to fight such wars in the future. (Signed)
    NEB/DS/LTD/JO 21-Oct-1999 12:34 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1634 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    ///// Drops"lost" from text graf 1 of 2-255319. ////

    INTRO: A leading pro-secular Turkish writer and academic has been killed in a bomb explosion outside his Ankara home. Amberin Zaman has this report.

    TEXT: Ahmet Taner Kislali died after a bomb, which was placed on his car in a plastic bag, exploded as he reached for it. Mr. Kislali was declared dead upon arrival at Ankara's Bayindir hospital.

    /// OPT ///

    A shadowy armed Islamic militant group known as the Islamic Eastern Great Raiders Front is believed to have claimed responsibility for the attack. But Turkish officials decline to confirm the reports. /// END OPT /// Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit condemned the attack, saying it targeted Turkey's secular regime. He said such acts of madness would not alter Turkey's pro-secular course. Mr. Kislali wrote a column for the staunchly pro- secular daily newspaper, "Cumhuriyet". The newspaper's editor in chief, Hikmet Cetinkaya, said he received an anonymous phone call identifying the assailant as a woman belonging to the Islamic Eastern Great Raiders Front. Mr. Cetinkaya said he and his fellow journalists, including Mr. Kislali, frequently receive death threats from Islamic radical groups. "Cumhuriyet"'s top investigative journalist, Ugur Mumcu, was murdered in a 1993 car-bomb attack. In the last column he wrote before his death, Mr. Kislali denounced a prominent Islamic leader, Mehmet Kutlular, for blaming Turkey's rigidly pro-secular armed forces for a devastating August earthquake, which killed thousands. During a recent sermon, the Islamic leader described the earthquake as divine retribution for the army's pro-secular policies, The leader of the Islam-based Virtue Party, Recai Kutan, swiftly condemned Mr. Kislali's murder, describing it as -- a vicious act aimed at destabilizing the country. (SIGNED) NEB/AZ/GE/LTD/RAE 21-Oct-1999 10:14 AM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1414 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A Turkish appeals court has begun reviewing the appeal of the death sentence of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. From Ankara, Amberin Zaman has the details.

    TEXT: Thursday's hearing was attended by Western diplomats and relatives of Turkish soldiers who died in the 15 year long Kurdish insurgency led by Abdullah Ocalan until his capture in Kenya last February by Turkish special forces. Ocalan was found guilty last June of treason and sentenced to death. Ocalan's lawyers began the session by reading from a letter from Mr. Ocalan to the presiding judges. The letter called for a retrial on the basis of the recent peace overtures that Ocalan has made. Ocalan's lawyers argued that in commuting their client's death sentence to life-long imprisonment, the court would be seizing what they called a historic opportunity to improve Turkey's democracy and pave the way for a lasting peace between Turks and Kurds. The Turkish Parliament must approve Ocalan's death sentence before it can be carried out. The appeals court said Thursday that it would deliver its verdict on November 25. In recent months, Ocalan has dropped his demands for Kurdish independence and even autonomy. He has also called the 15 year long armed insurgency in his words - "a mistake." Last month, Ocalan called on guerillas of his outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party - known as the P-K-K to abandon their armed fight and to withdraw from Turkish territory. The P-K-K's seven member leadership council complied with Ocalan's demands. Earlier this month, eight P-K-K members, led by its former European spokesman, Ali Sapan, turned themselves over to the Turkish authorities. The move apparently was aimed at convincing Turkish officials that their leader was sincere about making peace. Turkish authorities, however, shrugged off the move as a last ditch attempt by Ocalan to save his life. And the Turkish military has vowed to keep up its fight against the rebels until - in its words - every last terrorist is neutralized. But despite the hawkish rhetoric, analysts say there are signs that Turkish leaders are willing to engage in dialogue with non-violent Kurdish groups, which, until recently, had also been shunned.

    ///Rest optional///

    For example, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Sunday will be travelling to the main Kurdish city, Diyarbakir, where he will be received by its Kurdish mayor, Feridun Celik. Mr. Celik came to power last April representing Turkey's largest pro-Kurdish party, the People's Democracy Party, also known as Hadep. Hadep is facing closure over its alleged links with the P-K-K. The commander in chief of Turkey's powerful armed forces, General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, recently said that if the Kurdish mayors elected from Hadep abide by the law, there would be no reason to remove them from power. (Signed) NEB/AZ/GE/LTD/KL 21-Oct-1999 11:47 AM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1547 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Chinese President Jiang Zemin lunched with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the third day of his official visit to London. Trade was the priority subject but they also discussed the issue of human rights. V-O-A Correspondent Laurie Kassman sums up from London.

    TEXT: A spokesman for Prime Minister Blair told reporters the sensitive issue of human rights did come up in the private talks. Britain repeated its concerns for the curbs on freedom, and again encouraged a dialogue with Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bang Zao said his government did discuss human rights but stressed that China and Britain have different histories and different interests that must be taken into consideration. He spoke through an interpreter.

    /// ZHU ACT ///

    Since 1997, China and Great Britain have had really good exchanges on the issue of human rights and have held three rounds of dialogue on human rights. And if these kinds of dialogue are held on basis of equality and mutual respect, they will be helpful to further mutual understanding.

    /// END ACT ///

    The focus of Mr. Jiang's visit has been on improving trade ties between the two countries. On Wednesday, China and Britain announced trade and investment packages worth more than three billion dollars. Chinese government spokesman Zhu also expressed his government's interest in the transfer of more advanced technology. Throughout the visit, human rights activists and pro- Tibet demonstrators have been kept at a distance from the official Chinese entourage. Human rights groups have presented the Prime Minister's office with an appeal for a public statement of concern about China's deteriorating human rights record. Demonstrators following Mr. Jiang's visit complain about rough handling by police. Ben Rowse of Amnesty International says what he calls the British police repression of demonstrators smacks of double standards. He complains that anti-China demonstrators have been stopped and searched, while pro-China demonstrators have not been bothered at all.

    /// ROWSE ACT ///

    So it seems to be one rule for some people and a different rule for others.

    /// END ACT ///

    China's spokesman Zhu described the protests as minor disruptions in an otherwise warm reception for President Jiang on the first official Chinese visit to Britain. (Signed) NEB/LMK/GE/gm 21-Oct-1999 14:50 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1850 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The leadership of the European Union (E-U) is meeting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Helsinki Friday to discuss a range of issues. V-O-A correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels that the European Union plans to discuss the conflict in Chechnya. Text: /// Opt /// If there had not been the fighting in Chechnya, the Helsinki meeting would have been notable for Mr. Putin's first trip to Western Europe and as the debut for Javier Solana as the European Union's new coordinator for foreign and security policies. In addition, Mr. Putin will meet the Finnish Prime Minister, Paavo Lipponen, who is the current rotating President of the European Union, Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, and Chris Patten, the Commissioner for external relations. /// end opt /// E-U official (/// opt /// Mr. Patten's spokesman /// end opt ///), Guenter Wiegand, says the European Union expects to receive Russia's strategy for improving relations with the European Union. At the same time, Mr. Wiegand says Chechnya is at the top of the E-U agenda with Russia.

    ///Wiegand Act///

    The main message from the E-U to the Russian authorities on this is, start, please, a political dialogue with the elected leaders of Chechnya. That means mainly with President Mashkadov.

    ///End Act///

    Prime Minister Putin has said he is ready for talks with President (Aslan) Mashkadov but he blames the Chechen leader for protecting those fighters that Russia calls bandits and terrorists. The European Union leaders hope they hear more from the Russian Prime Minister about negotiations and less about military action. The Europeans are worried about a humanitarian disaster if the Russian army moves into the Chechen capital, Grozny. The European Commission has presented a proposal to start negotiations with 12 countries by next year about becoming members of the European Union. Many of the countries were either part of the Soviet Union or major trading partners with Moscow. Russia contends it will lose 10-billion dollars worth of trade when these countries join the European Union. Mr. Wiegand says the European Union is ready for expert level talks with the Russians about E-U enlargement, but he challenges the Russian estimate of damage.

    /// Wiegand Act ///

    I'm afraid we do not agree with the Russian analysis, but we are happy to look in detail how they came to these figures. We are convinced of the contrary.

    /// End Act ///

    Another aim of the summit will be to give top-level support to a joint plan to fight crime. E-U leaders last week called for talks with Russia on stopping cross-border crime and money laundering. European leaders hope to make clear to Russia that future foreign investment from Europe depends on Russian efforts to control crime.(Signed) NEB/RP/GE/LTD/JP 21-Oct-1999 11:49 AM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1549 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were mostly lower today (Thursday) after an earnings warning by I- B-M - the world's biggest computer maker and one of the most important of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Stock Index. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 94 points, just under one percent, closing at 10- thousand-297. The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell five points to 12-hundred-83. However, the Nasdaq index closed up one-half of one percent in a last- minute recovery due to strength among Internet stocks. The day's problems were blamed mostly on computer giant I-B-M, which warned of declining sales because of year two-thousand issues.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Analyst Hugh Johnson says I-B-M made the whole market nervous:

    /// JOHNSON ACT ///

    I-B-M's news is bad. Its earnings for the third quarter, of course, are in line with expectations. But its forecast for the fourth quarter and next year suggests that there are real Y-two-K problems (year 2000) and they're going to affect sales and earnings.

    /// END ACT //

    /// END OPT ///

    I-B-M customers are expected to delay purchases until they are confident computers will make that date changeover to the year two-thousand. On the corporate earnings front -- number one U-S drug-maker Merck reported a 13 percent increase in profits. But soft drink company Coca-Cola, still hurting from a contamination scare in Europe this year, saw its profits drop 11 percent.

    /// REST OPT ///

    McDonald's - the world's biggest fast-food chain with more than 25-thousand restaurants -- reported profits up 12-percent. America On-Line (A-O-L), the world's largest Internet company, easily beat earnings expectations for the quarter as it gained one million new subscribers. And it plans on an even brighter future. A-O-L has formed an alliance with personal computer-maker Gateway to market each other's products. Profits skidded for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the world's biggest tire-maker, which reported a drop in quarterly earnings. Part of the problem apparently is a continuing weakness in Latin American markets. And, Nokia, the Finnish maker of cellular telephones, posted a quarterly profit increase of 38-percent. The company predicted a sales growth of more than 40- percent for the year. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/gm 21-Oct-1999 17:04 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 2104 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Two politicians are among the leading editorial subjects in Thursday's U-S press. One is a well-known American woman, Elizabeth Dole, who dropped out of the race for president. The other, Indonesian politician Abdurrahman Wahid, who was unexpectedly elected president of Indonesia by the nation's legislature Wednesday. There are also comments about the failure to reform campaign financing; dealing with Russian fears of a new U-S anti-missile system; President Clinton's apparent disregard for new security measures to guard U-S nuclear secrets; German government troubles; and good news about aging brains. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look and some excerpts, in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Indonesia's legislature unexpectedly chose a frail Muslim leader, Abdurrahman Wahid, as the country's fourth president. He defeated Megawati Sukarnoputri. a popular opposition leader and the daughter of former president Sukarno, who led the nation to independence from the Dutch. There is plenty of comment about this latest development in the world's fourth most-populous nation, beginning with "The Boston Globe", which calls the new leader a moderate Muslim and a respected advocate for pluralism and human rights.

    VOICE: [Mr.] Wahid will confront two interlaced challenges; to nurture the nascent institutions of democracy, and to make the structural changes needed to convert Indonesia from a thieves' paradise into a modern market economy endowed with the transparency and accountability that can attract investors, create jobs, and lift millions of people out of poverty.

    /// OPT ///

    As unruly as the selection process may have been. [Mr.] Wahid becomes the first Indonesian leader since independence to be selected in a free and contested election. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: "The Christian Science Monitor" expresses some concern about the various factions in the Indonesian body politic that showed themselves in the voting.

    VOICE: [Mr. Wahid won] . even though his main rival, a Muslim woman . Megawati Sukarnoputri, led her party to win the most seats in parliamentary elections last June. Then why did she lose the presidency? In Mr. Wahid's own words, this daughter of the nation's founding father is "stupid", not pro-Islam, and promoted too many Christians as candidates. . Has diverse and volatile Indonesia entered a post- Suharto era of bigotry? Islam and democracy have yet to mix well in most Muslim nations.

    TEXT: "Newsday", on New York's Long Island, runs an editorial headline reading -- Next 24 Hours Crucial to Indonesia's Transition -- while "The New York Times" surmises:

    VOICE: Indonesia's new democratic era got off to a wobbly but encouraging start . with the . choice of Abdurrahman Wahid . as president /// OPT /// For all the challenges that lie ahead, it is important to recognize the remarkable progress Indonesia has made. After a half- century of authoritarian and corrupt leaders, it can now move toward meaningful democracy.

    TEXT: Turning to domestic politics, the withdrawal of Elizabeth Dole from the presidential campaign, well before the first primary election, is drawing a good deal of comment. She becomes the third, well-known Republican contender to drop out of the race so far and in the Midwest, "The Detroit News" notes:

    VOICE: Although it is an axiom among the reform-minded that political success follows money, it is more often the case that money follows political success. Governor Bush's record in Texas in cutting taxes, reforming the education system and locking up criminals gave him a strong platform from which to run, while Mrs. Dole seemed content to stress her "idealism".

    TEXT: Raising the gender issue is "USA Today", which says of the withdrawal:

    VOICE: For all their progress, women are scarce among that top tier of politicians from which presidential contenders are drawn. In the United States, only three of 50 state governors, nine of 100 senators and 56 of 435 House members are women. . Nearly all Americans today say they are willing to vote for qualified women . But studies show that female candidates at all levels still find it tough to beat incumbents, at least 75 of whom are men.

    TEXT: In a related development, the failure of the Senate to vote for campaign finance reform, and stop the flow of unregulated and so-called "soft money" to the major political parties, "The Trenton [New Jersey] Times" opines:

    VOICE: For the fourth year in a row, Senate Republicans have blocked a vote on a campaign finance reform bill that is favored by a majority of senators and strongly backed in public opinion polls. The best that can be said about them is that they are consistent.

    TEXT: "The Chicago Tribune" adds:

    VOICE: The nation truly does need campaign finance reform, but not the sort embodied in the rejected McCain-Feingold legislation. . The hard fact of the matter is that there is no fair, constitutionally acceptable way to limit money in politics-assuming such a goal is desirable in the first place.

    TEXT: Following the defeat of campaign finance reform, today's "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" has this message for legislators:

    VOICE: With a truce called in the budget battle, it's time for Washington to get to work on other issues. After all the political posturing, grandstanding and defiant rhetoric, President Clinton and congressional leaders have finally started talking `to' each other, instead of `about' each other in an attempt to end the continuing budget crisis.

    TEXT: Internationally, "The New York Times" is delving into how the White House reassures Russia that its attempts to re-negotiate the 27-year-old anti- ballistic missile Treaty are harmless. The United States wants to build an anti-nuclear-missile defense system to protect itself from rogue states.

    VOICE: The interest both sides share in countering the threat from rogue states suggests that with good-faith negotiation, agreement on carefully drawn changes in the A-B-M treaty may eventually come to pass. With a new Russian government possible after next year's elections, Washington should continue negotiating with Moscow in an effort to find mutually acceptable revisions .

    TEXT: President Clinton continues to get strong criticism for failing to faithfully implement a law passed by Congress to strengthen security for the nation's nuclear secrets. He has named Energy Secretary Bill Richardson as head of a new, and supposedly semi-autonomous, D-O-E internal security post, much to the consternation of "The Wall Street Journal".

    VOICE: .in the very statement that accompanied his signing the bill into law, the President directed that "until further notice" Energy Secretary Bill Richardson would "perform all duties and functions" of the new position himself, effectively negating the law. Bottom line: no undersecretary and no new oversight of the labs. . this President has made it clear that he does not want Cabinet secretaries. What he wants are consiglieries (mafia-style advisors) who will publicly stick to the White House line even when that line contradicts the law or the truth.

    TEXT: Overseas, troubles plaguing the German government of Gerhard Schroeder cause today's "Chicago Tribune" to exclaim:

    VOICE: .after a year in power, the leader of the Social Democratic Party has run into heavy turbulence domestically as he attempts to modernize Germany's economy -- the world's third largest -- and cut back a welfare state that has hobbled Germany's growth. .His wise approach has been to propose the biggest reform package in postwar German history -- some 16-billion in budget cuts next year and an increase in gasoline taxes to ease the burden of a national debt that has tripled in a decade to nearly 900- billion dollars.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The nagging, but as yet unresolved issue of U-S debt to the United Nations, now totaling more than one-billion dollars, comes in for more criticism from Florida's "Times-Union" in Jacksonville.

    VOICE: U-N officials say the push for reform [within the United Nations] is being undercut by resentment of the U-S refusal to pay its dues. Thus a vicious cycle is shaping up: The United States will not pay its assessments because there is waste, and there may be more waste because the Americans will not pay. The president may have to make some political sacrifices of his own to get congressional approval of the dues payment.

    TEXT: Turning to the plight of Afghan women under the Islamic extremist Taliban regime, "The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World" takes this position in today's editions.

    VOICE: As bad as things are in Afghanistan since the ultra-extremist Taliban took over, things have been most difficult on the women of the country. .. Women are not allowed to hold jobs. They are not allowed to attend school. Their medical services are limited. They are not allowed to leave the house unless they are accompanied by a close male relative and are wearing a garb that covers their entire body. . International women's groups and governments, including the United States, have protested such treatment. But a government such as the Taliban's merely ignores the protests. Millions of people and many nations follow the teachings of Islam. It is an honorable religion. But even honorable religions and countries can be led astray by dishonorable people. The plight of women in Afghanistan will not improve until the Taliban softens its stance or until the Taliban is removed from power. In the meantime, the women -- and the children -- of Afghanistan must not be forgotten.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: And lastly some good news from "The Boston Globe", for those of us with aging brains.

    VOICE: Researchers think the adult brain generates new cells every day. The previously accepted theory had been that man gets a set allotment of neurons and when they go, they go. . But Princeton biologists . gave the world the happy news that in monkeys, at least -- and most likely in human beings, although that research has yet to be done -- new brain cells just keep on coming, like fresh air. They grow in the stem cell region of the brain and spread to the areas of the cortex involving memory and decision-making. .envisioning a cavalry of vigorous neurological reinforcements galloping to the aid of anyone having a "senior moment" (an annoying forgetful episode) can put a spring in a person's step and a smile on one's face.

    TEXT: On that neurologically happy note, we conclude this sampling of editorials from Thursday U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 21-Oct-1999 12:52 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1652 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America


    NUMBER=1-00790 SHORT VERSION # 1

    INSERTS AVAILABLE IN AUDIO SERVICES THEME: UP, HOLD UNDER AND FADE Anncr: On the Line - a discussion of United States policy and contemporary issues. This week, "The Baltic States and the Future of Europe." Here is your host, ---------. Host: Hello and welcome to On the Line. For nearly a decade, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been struggling to overcome the legacy of fifty years of Soviet occupation. They have made steady progress in developing market economies and democratic institutions. This has been especially true of Estonia, which was ranked in 1998 as one of the freest economies in the world by the Wall Street Journal-Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. Last year, the three Baltic nations signed a charter with the United States. Its goal is the integration of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the European and transatlantic communities. Lennart Meri has been president of Estonia since 1992. He says that Estonia's radical free-market approach to reform included the establishment of a currency board, which was one of the keys to success. Others, he says, are now following Estonia's example. Meri: I am especially proud that we, in our financial policy, had the political will to go against the advice of the International Monetary Fund. And it worked. We are proud that the Estonian currency has been a firm currency, pegged to the Deutschemark. And so far, we have been able to build up the biggest banks in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea region. We have been successful also in investing in Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. And what may be even more interesting, we will try to help the Ukrainian government with our very young specialists, especially in how to reorganize the financial system. Host: Paul Goble, communications director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, says that the Russia unintentionally helped Estonia on its path to economic independence and reform. Goble: One of the things that pushed Estonia and gave it a special impetus to achieve the ranking it has was a decision by the Russian government in early 1992 to say to Estonia, alone among what had been Soviet states, if you are going to get oil and gas from us, you are going to pay world prices. And the Estonian response was, if we have to pay world prices, we will buy oil and gas elsewhere. And the consequence of that was that immediately the Estonian economy was thrown into a deep recession for some months. But at the end of that time, the Estonian people had reoriented their economy far more quickly away from Russia to the West. Host: President Lennart Meri of Estonia says that successful economic and political reform in the Baltic countries now makes their entry into NATO possible. Their NATO membership, he says, will be good for both Russia and Europe. Meri: I have tried to explain to my Russian colleagues that Estonia and the two other Baltic countries joining NATO will mean for Russia, first of all, that her western border will be a secure border where she will have no problems like she nowadays has in the south. If we listen to those statements some extremist Russian parties have made during the last eight years, the aim of Russia is complete restoration of the frontiers of [Czar] Alexander the Second. If such language were taken seriously as an expression of the national interest of Russia, it means that Russia will never recover from her very long imperial past. And that may be a major factor in the destabilization of a future Europe. Host: Paul Goble from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty says that NATO can reach an arrangement with Russia that meets its security concerns over NATO membership for the Baltic countries. For On the Line, this is --------. Anncr: You've been listening to "On the Line" - a discussion of United States policies and contemporary issues. This is --------. 21-Oct-1999 15:48 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 1948 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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