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Voice of America, 99-10-29

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

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





    INTRO: Presidential elections are scheduled for Sunday in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. Tim Belay reports from Pristina.

    TEXT: This is the second presidential contest in Macedonia since it became independent in 1991. Six candidates are competing for the job now held by veteran leader Kiro Gligorov. Macedonians say the two top candidates are 43-year-old Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Trajkovski of the ruling conservative coalition and 50-year-old Tito Petkovski of the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, which was formed by Mr. Gligorov. The election may take place in two rounds. The general election is Sunday and if no candidate wins a clear majority, a run-off election between the top two finishers will be held two weeks later. Mr. Trajkovski is said to have improved his public standing during the Kosovo crisis when Macedonia reluctantly accepted around 300-thousand Albanian refugees from Kosovo. Mr. Trajkovski spoke out against the criticism that Macedonia was not being a good host to the refugees. The refugee crisis was an economic strain on Macedonia and politically tricky since the government did not want to tip the fragile ethnic balance between Macedonians, Albanians and Serbs. (Signed)
    NEB/TB/GE/JP 29-Oct-1999 10:16 AM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1416 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: President Clinton says he is concerned about the attack by ethnic-Albanian Kosovars on Serb civilians earlier this week but not ready to call for an increase in NATO's 50-thousand member peacekeeping force in Kosovo. VOA's David Gollust reports from the White House.

    TEXT: Mr. Clinton said the mob attack on a convoy carrying Serb refugees in the city of Pec concerns him, but he is not sure that adding to the peacekeeping force will solve the problem. In a talk with reporters here, the President said the peacekeepers have been doing a good job in most areas of the Serbian province, though their successes have attracted little news coverage. He said the incident in Pec, in which vehicles were burned and at least 18 Serb refugees wounded, may mean the NATO force needs to be re-allocated, rather than expanded:


    We ought to make sure that we have deployed the resources that we have there in the best possible way before we make any decision that more are needed.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Clinton also said the peacekeepers have to be in a position to act appropriately and protect civilians when they come under fire -- a reference to reports that NATO troops escorting the convoy were unable to deal quickly with the situation. He said status of both the peacekeeping operation and political developments in Kosovo are under review. He remarks concided with an appeal by senior European Union officials Javier Solana and Chris Patten in Pristina for Kosovo's ethnic leaders to end infighting and work together to build a society of tolerance. (Signed)
    NEB/DAG/KL 29-Oct-1999 13:37 PM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1737 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: More members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or P-K-K, have surrendered to Turkish authorities. Amberin Zaman in Ankara reports that the latest surrender is seen as a move by the P-K-K to show that its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is serious about making peace.

    TEXT: The eight P-K-K members were whisked away by police after their arrival at Istanbul's airport. The group was led by a member of the P-K-K's political wing, Haydar Ergul. In a news conference in Brussels on Thursday, Mr. Ergul said his group had timed its surrender to coincide with Republic Day celebrations in Turkey to prove its commitment to Turkey's unity. Earlier this month another such "peace mission" led by the P-K-K's former European spokesman, Ali Sapan, surrendered to Turkish authorities at the Iraqi- Turkish frontier. That group was arrested and its members now face trial on charges of promoting separatism. The P-K-K members began surrendering in response to a call from their leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who has been trying to present himself as a peacemaker since his capture by Turkish agents in Kenya last February. A Turkish court tried, convicted and sentenced Mr. Ocalan to death on treason charges. The P-K-K leader's appeal is being reviewed by a Turkish court, which is due to deliver its opinion November 25th. So far, Turkish officials have rejected Mr. Ocalan's peace initiatives, which include ordering his guerrillas to withdraw from Turkish territory and to end their 15-year armed struggle for Kurdish self- rule. Turkish officials dismiss the peace moves as no more than an attempt to prevent Mr. Ocalan's execution. In a statement issued through his lawyers Friday, Ocalan rejected those claims. He said his P-K-K guerrillas had targeted what he called the "oligarchic republic," not the hoped-for "democratic republic" in which the Kurds of southeastern Turkey could become peaceful and productive citizens. Analysts say the P-K-K leader is trying to position himself and his movement in time for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will be held in Istanbul next month. Human rights will be a key topic at the meeting. Turkey continues to reject any negotiations with the P-K-K, which it considers a "terrorist group." In addition, the Turkish army is keeping up its pressure on the P-K-K rebels inside Turkey as well as the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, where the P-K-K has numerous bases. Still, there are signs the Turkish government may be easing its policy toward Kurdish groups it considers non-violent - notably the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party that won elections in a number of municipalities in southeast Turkey last April. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel met with the Kurdish mayors in Ankara last month in a move that has been widely seen as recognition of their party's legitimacy. Even so, opponents are accusing the People's Democratic Party of acting as the political wing of the P-K-K. That claim got support this week when Mr. Ocalan's brother, Osman, was quoted as saying the party could not act independently of the P-K-K's wishes. (Signed) NEB/AZ/JWH/LTD/JP 29-Oct-1999 09:45 AM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1345 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: European Union scientists have unanimously concluded there is no basis for France to ban British beef on health grounds. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein in Brussels reports the European Commission will demand that all 15-member countries accept British beef.

    TEXT: France claimed there is a chance that British beef may still contain mad cow disease with a suspected danger to human consumers. The 16 scientists advising the European Commission had already ruled that with strict safeguards, British beef is now safe to eat everywhere in Europe. The scientists met this week to reconsider their opinion in the light of a 600-page French report to the contrary. The European Commissioner for health, David Byrne, says the scientists all agree there is no reason to change their minds.

    /// BYRNE ACT ///

    The committee has confirmed unanimously that there is no need to review the decision to lift the ban on U-K beef exports. This follows a very thorough examination which focused on the concerns raised by the French authorities. From my preliminary reading of the report, I can say that it is comprehensive, reasoned and balanced.

    /// END ACT ///

    The arguments between Britain and France have been anything but reasoned and balanced. British consumers have boycotted French wine and cheeses, and French farmers had inspected British trucks to make sure they carried no British beef. An internal trade war within the European Union appeared imminent. Germany had joined France in calling for the French evidence to be looked at before British beef exports could be allowed in the country. The European Commission can take countries to the European Court of Justice if they defy the European Union's so-called single market rules. Commissioner Byrne spoke to officials in both France and Germany urging them to accept the scientific advice.

    /// BYRNE ACT ///

    I am now confident that a rapid solution is in sight. I believe that the French and the German authorities should take stock of the committee's opinion and lift their national restrictions on imports of British beef. These restrictions are no longer necessary in the light of the safeguards in place. The safeguards in question were introduced on sound scientific advice. This advice has now been reconfirmed.

    /// END ACT ///

    The European Union scientists say they continually review new data on the dangers of mad cow disease and their tests were more up to date than the French tests. The chairman of the scientific committee is French. Gerard Pascal says through an interpreter, the scientists cannot rule out all risks.


    Don't ask me to say that the risk in food terms is nil. That is not the case. But our goal is to propose to the (European) Commission recommendations which will bring us as close as possible to zero risk.

    /// END ACT ///

    The European Commission meets on Wednesday to reconfirm its support of British beef exports under safeguards with the hope that legal action against its member states will not be necessary. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/JP 29-Oct-1999 14:37 PM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1837 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Officials in Berlin say Germany's government and private industry may have to increase their offer of compensation to those forced by the Nazis to work as slave laborers during World War Two. But as Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin, German industry has so far refused to budge from an offer earlier this month that was rejected by the victims' lawyers as an insult.

    TEXT: Count Otto Lambsdorff, the German government negotiator in the compensation talks, gave a stark warning to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the leaders of the main German political parties in private talks this week. He said that if the three-point-three-billion dollars offered at the last round of talks was not increased, the consequences for United States-German relations could be devastating. According to a spokesman for Mr. Lambsdorff, German companies could soon find themselves under pressure in the U-S market. And he warned that they could no longer hope to get Washington's support in trying to block new class action lawsuits in U-S courts. Party leaders from across the German political spectrum agreed that the offer should be improved. No figures were discussed, but party leaders said the government's proposed one-point-one-billion dollar contribution would have to be increased as well. Since both sides had agreed the German government should pay one-third of the bill and German industry the rest, German companies would have to raise their two-point-two-billion dollar offer. The next round of talks with United States government representative, Stuart Eizenstat, and the victims' lawyers takes place in Germany next month. But Wolfgang Gibowski, spokesman of the industry foundation for helping slave labor victims, has said the companies will not increase their offer. Despite efforts to get more German companies to join the three dozen firms already pledged to contribute to the fund, sources say more participants will not mean more money. Instead, industry officials are hoping that if more of the hundreds of German firms that used forced labor during the Second World War are prepared to take part, the amount each company has to pay in will be reduced. (Signed)
    NEB/JB/GE/JP 29-Oct-1999 10:37 AM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1437 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, made a conciliatory, if veiled, overture to the United States Friday, saying that Tehran favors improved ties. Julian Nundy reports from Paris, where the Iranian leader is completing a three-day visit.

    TEXT: Iran's President Mohammad Khatami gave a signal that he would like more open ties with the outside world -- saying that dialogue must replace the sword in the next century. The Iranian leader spoke first at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris and then at a news conference. He made several conciliatory remarks in the direction of the West in general and the United States in particular. Relations between the United States and Iran have been virtually non-existent since Islamic militants took American diplomats hostage 20 years ago, holding many for 14 months. But President Khatami said, without naming the United States, that he does not want to return to the past. However, he added that no country has the right to impose its vision on the world. Asked if Iran is ready to have trade ties with the United States, the Iranian president said Tehran has no objection. He said the absence of commercial links is largely the result of American embargoes. President Khatami's three-day visit to France -- the first by a head of state from Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution -- is seen as an important step in what some analysts view as his attempt to open Iran to the outside world. His visit was marked by a series of demonstrations organized by Iranian exiles who argue that President Khatami's apparent moderation is a sham and that human rights violations, such as executions and torture, continue as before, As President Khatami left UNESCO, a woman who shouted the words "murderer" and "terrorist" at him threw a tomato that splattered over his car. Other Iranian exiles managed to hang a banner with the words "Down with Khatami" across the Arc de Triomphe at the top of Paris's main avenue, the Champs-Elysees. (Signed)
    NEB/JWN/JWH/KL 29-Oct-1999 11:08 AM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1508 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were up strongly today (Friday) - extending a two-day rally spurred by positive news on the U-S economy. Wall Street's final surge of the week came on the 70th anniversary of the 1929 crash of the U-S stock market. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 107 points, or one percent, closing at 10-thousand-729. The industrials gained two and one-half percent for the week. The Standard and Poor's 500 index also rallied for a gain of 20 points, closing at 13- hundred-63. And the Nasdaq index rose three percent, closing at a record high. New home sales in the United States fell for the second straight month in September to the slowest pace in almost two years. Higher mortgage rates dampened buyers' enthusiasm. But this hardly dampened Wall Street's enthusiasm over earlier news that the U-S economy is growing robustly, with minimal inflation to show for it.

    /// begin opt ///

    Many analysts believe the stock market will keep going up. Al Goldman, chief market strategist at the A.G. Edwards investment firm, says there's enough momentum in the market to sustain it until the U-S central bank meets in mid-November to decide whether to raise short-term interest rates:

    ///Goldman act///

    And this is coming, in our opinion, from a market that made a bottom two weeks ago at Dow 10-thousand. So, we've come a long way in a short period of time. But the momentum you saw here will not die quickly. I think we have enough market, on balance, into - maybe a day or two before - the F-O-M-C (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting November 16.

    ///end act///

    ///end opt///

    Friday was the last day of the "old Dow Jones." Four companies are joining the Industrial Average on Monday, including software giant Microsoft and chipmaker Intel. Analysts say the move reflects the importance of technology in the U-S economy.

    /// rest opt for long ///

    Meanwhile, Intel shares were up after the company said it would meet all chip orders even though supplies are tight. Intel also said the Year-2000 computer bug would have little or no impact on its business. America Online - the leading internet services provider - announced its second two-for-one stock split of the year, effective November eighth. A-O-L shares surged on the news. Investors often interpret a stock split as a sign of management confidence in the future of the stock. Friday's rally was broad-based. But not everything went up. Shares of Lockheed Martin - the number one U-S defense contractor - took a loss. The company reported third-quarter profits fell over 40 percent and cut its earnings forecast for next year by one- half, citing increased costs and delayed deliveries of rockets and satellites. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 29-Oct-1999 17:03 PM EDT (29-Oct-1999 2103 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The assassination of Armenia's prime minister and several other officials in parliament, and the first nationally televised face-off between Democratic Party U-S presidential contenders top the list of newspaper editorial topics as the nation heads into the final weekend of October. Other topics include China's efforts to stamp out a religious sect, Pakistan's new military government, allegations of heavy-handedness by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Miami, and a dispute in Congress between a group of women and North Carolina's Jesse Helms. Now, here is _________ with a closer look, including some excerpts, in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The killing of Armenia's prime minister, Vazgen Sarkisyan, and seven other government or parliamentary officials is echoing through the editorial pages of America's daily newspapers this Friday. In Hawaii, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin feels "The attack was not a coup attempt by an organized force, but an . outburst by a few men."

    VOICE: Independence came to the small, mountainous region of Armenia following the collapse of communism eight years ago, but as in many areas of the former soviet Union, political and economic stability has been elusive. The resulting frustration appears to have erupted in gunfire that assailants called a coup but was more likely an isolated attack by a small group of angry men with little if any political following. . Given the economic condition of the former Soviet republics, such explosions should not be surprising.

    TEXT: There is also concern in New England, where The Boston Globe writes:

    VOICE: The timing of the murders could not have been more opportune for forces opposed to a peaceful outcome in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. There has been a cease-fire since 1994, but the 800- thousand Azeri refugees who fled their homes and Armenian de facto control of what had been Azerbaijan's territory have created a cycle of resentment and vengefulness, perfect fodder for extremist demagogues in both camps. . Whether or not the assassins were acting to prevent a diplomatic breakthrough on Nagorno-Karabakh, their action has made a breakthrough more difficult.

    TEXT: In the Midwest, The Chicago Tribune sees a glimmer of hope coming out of the mayhem.

    VOICE: . the way the Armenian government defused the armed takeover Thursday, not to mention the poignant last words of Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, offer at least a modicum of hope that the turbulent region is not doomed forever to violence. "Everything is being done for you and the future of your children," [Mr.] Sarkisian, standing at the parliament rostrum, told his assailant, who then killed him. [Prime Minister] Sarkisian had been working with U-S encouragement to secure a peace with neighboring Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. /// OPT /// The gunmen said they opened fire to punish corrupt officials. But their terrorist assault seems yet another convulsion sparked by Armenia's desperate poverty and isolation, and perhaps nationalistic fears [Mr.] Sarkisian would make too many concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh. ///END OPT


    TEXT: In a second editorial about violence in the Caucasus, The Chicago Tribune rebukes the current Russian attacks on Chechnya as "The Folly of Russian Fury."

    VOICE: Russia insists its brutal assault on Chechnya is an internal matter. That is true. Russia insists its weapons are aimed at Islamic militants blamed for invasions into the neighboring region of Dagestan and for a series of deadly apartment bombings in Russia. That also may be true. But it becomes increasingly hard to buy that argument as the bombardment has escalated over the past month into a full-scale assault that has thrown the entire north Caucasus into chaos and created nearly 200-thousand refugees. . The region . ultimately . must be governed. A military solution only succeeds when followed by a political solution.

    TEXT: In California's capital, The Sacramento Bee is also distressed, writing under this editorial headline: "Moscow's Myopia: Chechnya offensive risks a new disaster."

    VOICE: Russian democracy has made progress, but that could erode if Moscow mounts an all-out ground offensive. Russian casualties grow and the Kremlin is unable to hide the truth from the people. Yet at the moment, even Russian liberals are caught up in a frenzied desire to punish Chechens and restore national pride. That's a prescription for another disaster in a troubled, nuclear-armed country that can ill afford one.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Still concerning Russia, today's Florida Times- Union from Jacksonville, is worried about an even broader problem with the huge nation - that it is dwindling away. The Florida paper makes its case this way: Voice: The signs are unmistakable. In mid-year 1990, the population of Russia was 148-point-three million. By 2015, it is expected to be as low as 138-point-four million, and possibly down to around 131 million. . Maurray Feshbach, a research professor at Georgetown University [says] that some 75 percent of all pregnant women in Russia have a serious pathology during their pregnancies. Infertility reportedly is increasing by more than three percent per year, over and above the 15 to 20 percent of all couples who are infertile. New incidence of syphilis has increased 77 times since 1990 for both sexes ... For the armed forces, there has been an eleven-fold increase in the number of draftees showing up with syphilis, unfit for service, during the past five years. Malnutrition may also account for serious decreases in height and weight being found in children. . The once-proud nation, after its 70-year bout of communism, seems terminally ill, despite its vast natural resources. Whether it can become smaller and still viable like former superpowers such as Spain and England remains to be seen.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The big domestic story drawing comment is the first nationally televised encounter before a live audience of the Democratic Party presidential contenders - Vice President Al Gore and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. Both men are often accused of lacking charisma, but at least in the opinion of The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times, Mr. Bradley got the better of things Wednesday night at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

    VOICE: The Al Gore on display at Wednesday night's . appearance with . Bill Bradley resembled the smarmy host of a failing [television] game show. The vice president tried a little too hard to get personal with questioners. He told jokes that fell flat. He let them see him sweat. Alongside him, [Mr.] Bradley couldn't have been more serene. He appeared comfortable with himself and with his responses to the earnest questions offered by the Dartmouth audience. . and the understated eloquence of his responses on issues such as racial reconciliation belied his reputation as a somnolent orator. . [Mr.] Bradley helped his cause Wednesday .

    TEXT: The New York Times divides its editorial on the encounter into "Substance" and "Style," commenting, with regard, to the former that both men need to be more honest about the costs of their respective health care and anti-poverty programs. As to "Style," The Times writes:

    VOICE: Both seemed to know that in these early matches, winning or losing is less important than avoiding a crash landing. . Mr. Gore won points with his sometimes self-conscious attempts to be funny and casual. . Mr. Bradley, a former insurgent faced with showing he can breathe at the highest altitudes of political competition, displayed some new skills as well. . his well-crafted answers on race, gay rights and leadership were strikingly different from the droning set speeches of his senatorial years. . The television camera, of course, likes cool rather than hot performances, and that could spell problems for Mr. Gore in the future. Mr. Bradley . may run into a time limit on his thematic, detail-free answers.

    TEXT: The Boston Globe had a somewhat different view, suggesting that the vice president did well.

    VOICE: If [Mr.] Gore was determined, as he seemed to be, to shake his reputation for woodenness, he succeeded. Lively, animated, connecting with the questioners . [Vice President] Gore was a bundle of energy for more than two hours. . [He] deftly inserted in nearly every answer a jab at [Mr.] Bradley .. The surprise was that [Mr.] Bradley refused to engage. He acted as if he were not involved in a two- person contest . but in a conversation directly with the voting public .

    TEXT: Internationally, today's Los Angeles Times warns the government in Beijing, to keep its "Hands Off [A] Chinese [Religious] Sect" whose members are being arrested in large numbers.

    VOICE: China's three-month-old ban on the Falun Gong spiritual movement has not frightened its members into inactivity, much less extinction. /// OPT /// In Beijing this week, dozens of the sect's adherents have gathered daily to protest a law now being drafted "to combat heretic cults" like Falun Gong. /// END OPT /// . Falun Gong members who daily face arrest for their beliefs display a moral courage that commands international respect. A regime that insists this peaceful group imperils national security invites international loathing.

    TEXT: Still in Asia, the actions of two new leaders - one democratically elected, the other in power after a military coup - draw this comparison from The Sun, in Baltimore.

    VOICE: The new government, though not democratically elected, is popular because the preceding regime was so bad. The reformers pledge to end corruption, hold the country together, restart the economy and restore national honor. That could be Pakistan . It equally describes Indonesia, where Abdurrahman Wahid was indirectly elected president . last week, replacing the transitional successor to a dictator. Whether to prosecute the corrupt former ruling elite or seek national reconciliation is a difficult choice for both. . Neither military rule nor democracy are guaranteed to liberate people or banish corruption. These two revolutionary regimes moved in opposite directions toward the same goals. The United States can only hope each succeeds.

    TEXT: The Miami Herald in Florida comments on a raid by armed Immigration Service agents at a Florida factory, where dozens of potential illegal immigrants were handcuffed, but only a few were found to actually be illegally working.

    VOICE: . this raid seemed excessive. /// OPT /// To pull off this bust, the I-N-S elicited the assistance of eight agencies, including the Department of Labor, . Defense, Social Security Administration . and the U- S Border Patrol. You might expect such callous intimidation from the thugs who run authoritarian states or communist dictatorships, but not from the world's leading democracy. /// END OPT /// . I-N-S Commissioner Doris Meissner and her boss, Attorney General Janet Reno, ultimately should either answer for - or stop - raids like this where the innocent are swept up with the suspicious with little regard to human dignity or civil rights.

    TEXT: Lastly, yet another dispute in Congress involving the controversial senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, who this week ordered police to throw out a group of congresswomen who attended a hearing of his Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The women wanted Senator Helms to act on a U-N treaty that would outlaw all discrimination against women. Senator Helms has kept the treaty from a hearing since 1994. The Fort Worth [Texas] Star-Telegram is upset.

    VOICE: [Senator] Helms' deplorable conduct in ordering police to remove a group of women that included 10 House members from a committee hearing smacks of behavior from an earlier stage of biped evolution. As people from here to Afghanistan (where the Taleban regime exhibits similar behavior toward women) have heard by now, [Mr.] Helms had the . women . ejected . after they attempted to deliver a letter to him. . the incident could have been avoided if [Senator] Helms had acted like a gentlemen and had courteously granted fellow members of congress an audience on an important matter.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the pages of Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 29-Oct-1999 12:41 PM EDT (29-Oct-1999 1641 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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