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Voice of America, 99-12-09

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

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





    INTRO: The U-S State Department has released a report detailing atrocities in Kosovo. The report concludes that an estimated 10-thousand ethnic Albanians were killed by Serb forces. V-O-A's Gil Butler has more from the State Department.

    TEXT: The State Department says its report on Kosovo complements a human rights report issued earlier this week by the O-S-C-E, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The State department says that by working together, a comprehensive overview of abuses against all ethnic groups in Kosovo can be prepared. The 100 page report says that while the number of victims whose bodies were burned or otherwise destroyed may never be known, adding known mass graves to credible press and eyewitness accounts leads to a conclusion that probably around 10-thousand Kosovar Albanians were killed by Serb forces. Harold Koh, the assistant secretary of state for human rights, emphasized that the report does not purport to be the final word on Kosovo.

    /// Koh Act ///

    As important as what we have learned is what we still do not know. Five months after the U-N and NATO arrived in Kosovo, we are still piecing together what is undeniably a widespread and systematic attempt to cleanse Kosovo of much of its Kosovar Albanian population.

    /// End act ///

    The report documents the forcible expulsion of one- and-a-half-million Kosovar Albanians - 90 per cent of the estimated ethnic Albanian population. It says tens of thousands of homes and at least 12-hundred towns were damaged or destroyed. This State Department report also includes accounts of recent attacks on the Serb minority by ethnic Albanians. It says two to four hundred Serbs have been killed. The O-S-C-E Kosovo report released earlier this week said revenge attacks on Serbs has accelerated in the last six months. The State Department document says the indictments of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and others in his government is evidence that comprehensive reporting of abuses can make a difference.(signed)
    NEB/MGB/JP 09-Dec-1999 14:31 PM EDT (09-Dec-1999 1931 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: European leaders are gathering in Helsinki for a two-day summit meeting that will enlarge the number of countries negotiating for membership in the European Union. V-O-A correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Helsinki that the Russian military offensive in Chechnya is moving up on the European leaders' agenda.

    TEXT: The European leaders had planned to discuss relations with Russia at their dinner meeting Friday evening. However, France suggests the situation in Chechnya is so disturbing, the discussion should take place right away, alongside the leaders' planned discussion of enlargement and the possible candidacy of Turkey. Finnish official Alec Aalto tells reporters the European Union wants to put more pressure on Russia, but that the financial sanctions suggested by Britain, France and Germany may not be approved.

    /// Aalto Act ///

    Everybody is aware of the fact that the whole basis for normal cooperation between Russia and the European Union is being seriously weakened, so that may of course call for language in that direction. But I think it might be early to talk about sanctions at this point.

    /// End Act ///

    Russia has rejected any pressure from Europe during its military drive in Chechnya, but the European Union wants to take a strong political role at this summit meeting, where it starts planning a European rapid reaction force, and to give Europe an autonomous military power alongside NATO. This is also supposed to be the so-called "enlargement summit." This is where the leaders are to announce their intention to expand European Union membership by the end of 2002. The leaders are certain to launch membership negotiations with six new countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Malta. The only uncertainty surrounds Turkey, which has applied for European Union membership without success since 1987. Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen met Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis here in Helsinki. Finnish official Alec Aalto says the meeting produced some hope for Turkey.

    /// Aalto Act ///

    My impression was that things are moving, but of course, there's a lot of work to be done. /// Opt /// Today we would hope for a solution to be reached tomorrow before lunch. /// End Opt ///

    /// End Act ///

    Greek officials are making no promises about lifting their veto on Turkey's candidacy. However, unlike two years ago in Luxembourg, this time a majority of European leaders believe Turkey should be a candidate for membership. At the same time, the European Commission has recommended that no negotiations should begin with Turkey until human rights conditions improve for Kurds and relations improve with Greece. If the language of invitation is too restrictive Turkey may reject it. If the official agenda was not complicated enough, British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to talk to French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin about France's continued ban against imports of British beef. The European Commission has begun legal action against France for violating the Union's single market rules.

    /// Opt ///

    Britain is blocking a European Union agreement on a withholding tax on savings accounts. The leaders are discussing a compromise where the names of investors in London's international bond market would be made known to finance officials, but not the amounts of their accounts. Britain believes a European Union tax would drive the bond market out of London. /// End Opt /// (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/JP 09-Dec-1999 15:17 PM EDT (09-Dec-1999 2017 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The world press has harsh words for last week's World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, calling it a failure both inside and outside the meeting hall. We get a sampling of the comments from ______________ in this week's World Opinion Roundup.

    INTRO: A majority of foreign news analysts -- whatever their particular policy preferences on world trade -- are overwhelmingly critical of the United States, suggesting that it was mostly to blame for the "fiasco." The Europeans -- generally staunch supporters of free trade -- castigated the United States for not making a strong enough case for liberalization, and for introducing divisive non-trade issues such as labor and environmental standards at the meeting. In the Middle East, the common worry was of the dangers of "savage" globalization, while in parts of Asia, some papers suggest America "seemed unable to muster the organizational ability or the political will" to defend free trade. We begin our editorial sampling with London's Financial Times.

    VOICE: President Clinton personally offered to host the W-T-O ministerial. But then, in Seattle, he killed all hope of agreement on a new round of multilateral trade negotiations by telling a journalist ... he would favor imposing sanctions against violations of labor standards included in trade agreements. ... The backlash against globalization is more a howl of pain than a rational call for change.

    TEXT: The (London) Times was also critical:

    VOICE: The [U-S] preparatory work in advance of the conference was distinctly unsatisfactory, but had the major delegations decided to proceed further, it would have been possible for them to do so. ... the world cannot wait until after the U-S elections before it again takes free trade seriously.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: Across the English Channel, Le Monde in Paris, offered this assessment:

    VOICE: If the pressure from the streets has influenced the atmosphere of the negotiations, it certainly could not turn this long-scheduled international meeting into a fiasco ... Institutions, methods, ways of thinking are still tied up with the post-war industrial model. No political leader, and ... no American in charge of the organization of this meeting, has measured this gap. This is the first reason for this failure.

    TEXT: In Italy, Milan's leading business daily Il Sole-24-Ore says in part:

    VOICE: The attitude that should prevail is ... understanding the mistakes that were made and building on them to begin new negotiations. ... It is necessary to define a much simpler agenda ... [and] for Europe and the United States to resolve in a preliminary phase the most controversial disputes ...

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In Latvia, Riga's daily Neatkariga Rita Avize ran a column making this point:

    VOICE: I congratulate those readers who have carefully followed the bustle around the W-T-O summit in Seattle - - they have seen the clearest demonstration of absurdity that the human mind could ever imagine ... It's hard to remember any other case where so many people so enthusiastically have defended ideas that in fact are harmful to achieving their goals ...

    TEXT: And in Spain, El Pais from Madrid was even more frank.

    VOICE: The meeting in Seattle was a fiasco, the biggest failure of the last 20 years in the area of international commerce.

    TEXT: In Asia, Beijing's Economic Daily ignores the demonstrations, but focuses on the lack of agreement among the delegates.

    VOICE: The wide gap between the United States and the European Union as well as Japan is an important reason leading to the Seattle meeting reaching an impasse. ... Although the Seattle Ministerial failed to initiate the "Millennium Round" W-T-O negotiations, it has made some progress in providing aid to the developing countries. Observers say after this setback, the W-T-O will continue moving towards its set goals despite the difficulties.

    TEXT: Australia's national daily, the Australian, contributed this somewhat gloomy assessment.

    VOICE: The trade fiasco in Seattle represents a failure of the international system that is a blow for the cause of free trade, a confirmation of the erosion of the United States' ability to lead, and a setback for Australia ... The magnitude of U-S ineptitude is stark.

    TEXT: Turning to Kuala Lumpur, we get a significantly less pessimistic view from Malaysia's Business Times.

    VOICE: Not everyone would view the W-T-O ministerial meeting in Seattle as a failure. Certainly not the non-government organizations, environmental groups and anti-free trade lobbies that orchestrated the street protests. Definitely not the powerful U-S and Europe-based international trade unions ... And not the developing countries whose wish was for all the promised benefits from the previous round to be delivered before the start of a fresh round of ... talks.

    TEXT: The New Zealand Herald from Auckland takes a view almost diametrically opposed from the Malaysian business daily.

    VOICE: The real losers at Seattle were not nations such as the United States, Japan and those of Europe, which already enjoy the lion's share of international business and investment ... [but the] countries still on the lower rungs of the ladder to high living standards.

    TEXT: To South Asia now where the Economic Times from Bombay offers this analysis:

    VOICE: There were two main reasons why Seattle failed to launch a new trade negotiation round. First, there were too many items on the agenda, and too little of pre-Seattle negotiations to achieve a consensus ... Second, was the attitude of the United States: It tried to use Seattle to bully countries to acquiesce. In the process, it failed to realize that what works quite well bilaterally does not [work] in a multilateral consensual system.

    TEXT: In the Middle East, the well known Egyptian daily Al Ahram, from Cairo, says, in part:

    VOICE: Small and poor nations are not the only ones opposing savage globalization. A large number of Americans have started to realize the threats, although the United States is the leader of globalization and the major beneficiary so far ... We are trapped between two pressures, the savage globalization which makes the poor poorer and the rich richer; and resisting rising poverty domestically and internationally ...

    TEXT: Briefly to Africa now, where in landlocked Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest nations, the evening daily Le journal du Soir in Ouagadougou, notes:

    VOICE: The developing countries, which were most often treated offhandedly, have said no in Seattle and demanded a profound reform of the functioning of the W-T-O. Democracy must be in place, that means one country, one voice ... This failure offers the developing countries courted by Europeans and Americans room to maneuver.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: While to the South, the Sunday World in South Africa, suggests:

    VOICE: Grassroots organizations rightly claimed that the failure of the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle ... was a victory for the people of the world over big business and corporate globalization. The historic events ... emphasized the role that can be played by such disparate groups as environmentalists, non- governmental organizations, labor unions, agriculturists and consumer watchdogs ...

    VOICE: And lastly, in Latin America, and Bolivia's La Prensa in La Paz, we read:

    VOICE: If one listens to an apostle of neoliberalism, the conference in Seattle may be deemed a success in that it has maintained its objective of making world trade even more liberal ... If, on the contrary, one listens to those who maintain that behind that nice theory of liberalism there is an entanglement of huge interests ... and that the world is in danger of becoming a village with a McDonalds' facade, then perhaps we will know that we are fooling ourselves ...

    /// END OPT ///

    VOICE: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comments from the global press on last week's tumultuous W-T-O conference in Seattle, Washington. NEB/ANG/gm 09-Dec-1999 17:13 PM EDT (09-Dec-1999 2213 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were modestly higher today (Thursday) after a volatile trading session, especially in the technology sector. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 66 points, closing at 11-thousand-134. The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose four points. The Nasdaq composite gained fractionally, during the highest volume trading day in Nasdaq history. Many of the technology stocks that have driven the market sold off. Number one computer maker I-B-M warned again of a fourth quarter drop in profits due to year 2000 concerns. I-B-M was a major drag on the Dow Jones index. Analysts said the volatility in trading showed investor anxiety that many technology stocks may be over-valued.

    /// Begin Opt ///

    But market-watcher Joe Barthel says he is looking for a solid market rally at the end of the month:

    /// Barthel Act ///

    The last five or six trading days of December historically have been back-to-back "up" days. So I think we're going to close the year with a rush to the "up" side.

    /// End Act ///

    /// End Opt ///

    The latest on the economy shows the U-S labor market remains tight. The number of people filing first-time unemployment claims last week rose by just one- thousand over the previous week.

    /// Rest Opt ///

    The U-S central bank, however, is not expected to raise interest rates when it meets December 21st. That should encourage a strong year-end surge in the stock market. Shares of Tyco International fell sharply. The maker of Curaid bandages and A-D-T security systems is under investigation by the U-S Securities and Exchange Commission for its accounting procedures related to recent acquisitions. And, number one U-S drug-maker Merck said it expects to meet the top range of earnings expectations next year. It has also ruled out mergers as a way to support new drug research. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 09-Dec-1999 16:45 PM EDT (09-Dec-1999 2145 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Russia's ongoing attacks against what it says are Chechen terrorists, and a potential all-out assault on Grozny, the Chechen capital, dominates the editorial columns of Thursday's U-S newspapers. The resumption of peace talks between Syria and Israel is the other big international story drawing comment. There is also a good deal of attention to the Cuban rafter boy and the political struggle over his future between Washington and Havana. Rounding out the commentaries are editorials on Kosovo, the loss of the Mars space probe and dealing with America's homeless. Now, here is _____________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The reported Russian military deadline for all civilians to leave before an all-out, weekend attack on the Chechen capital of Grozny has stepped up comment on the civil war in the U-S press. The New York Times is calling for an end to the "Brutality in Chechnya."

    VOICE: In the name of combating terrorism, Russian troops are threatening to destroy anyone who does not, or cannot, leave .. Grozny. Of the more than 20- thousand residents, who remain huddled in rooms without heat, light or even windows, many are too old or frightened to leave. . It is time for Russia to show restraint, to start making certain its armies observe basic humanitarian principles and to begin searching for a way out of this tragic war.

    TEXT: The Detroit Free Press warns in its commentary headline: Grozny won't be the only loser in [the] imminent attack.

    VOICE: President Bill Clinton has warned that the brutality of the assault, far from bringing peace to the Caucasus, will only encourage more rebellion and ethnic tensions in the mountain region. Moscow and the generals aren't listening. . It will harden the rebels and encourage more terrorism later. . But all roads to moderation are blocked. Grozny is lost. The question is how much Russia itself loses, too.

    TEXT: Suggesting that "the brutality of the Russian assault demands more than angry words," today's Akron [Ohio] Beacon Journal is suggesting international aid to Moscow be suspended until Chechen peace is restored, and the Russian economy righted.

    /// OPT ///

    In the Daily Oklahoman, from Oklahoma City, the paper proclaims:

    VOICE: Capturing Grozny will not end the war. The guerrillas, who themselves appear to be terrorists, can fight from rough terrain for years, it is estimated. . Following the demise of the Soviet Union, there was great hope that Russia would gradually become a thriving, relatively free land participating peacefully, responsibly and influentially in world affairs. If the worst happens Saturday, the small amount of hope that's left will be like a candle flame flickering in the wind. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: President Clinton's announcement that Syria and Israel will resume top-level negotiations toward a peace settlement centered on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is drawing early reaction. The Washington Post remarks:

    VOICE: Syria and Israel have never been at peace. They have known war and are practiced in living side by side but apart. It will take a long political leap by the two to reach just to the cold start of a relationship that at best is bound to be wary and restricted for years.

    TEXT: On New York's Long Island, Newsday sees this latest news as part of a positive continuum toward peace that is gaining momentum.

    VOICE: Taken together, the reopening of talks with Syria and the halting of settlement activity [in Israel] demonstrates that there is a real opportunity for a comprehensive peace. That will undoubtedly take the direct involvement, eventually of President Bill Clinton. But the developments this week should give [Mr.] Clinton incentive to become involved.

    TEXT: Still in the region, there is new hope of returning United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq after a year's absence. The Atlanta Constitution is all for it, but warns that certain conditions must be met.

    VOICE: The monitors must have a strong, seasoned leader; they should be adequately staffed and funded; their mission mustn't be hamstrung by restrictions imposed from on high at the United Nations; they should communicate directly with the Security Council, not through some intermediary in the world body's bureaucracy.

    TEXT: U-S-A Today, however, feels the U-S lacks the resolve to successfully push the new arms inspection plan through the United nations and calls the proposal "weak," because:

    VOICE: It sells out any remaining hard line against Iraq, leaving only the question of whether to give in on sanctions now or later. /// OPT /// And there's no assurance inspectors will be allowed in. /// END OPT /// . Having lost resolve to get what it wants with force, the Clinton administration now is considering using carrots. Yet Saddam has done nothing that merits compromise.

    TEXT: The political chess match between Cuba and the United States continues over Elian Gonzales. He is the six-year-old boy who was rescued from an ill-fated boat trip to Florida in which his mother drowned. In Cuba, the boy's father and President Fidel Castro are demanding his return, but the U-S says the Florida courts should decide. The Houston Chronicle says this should be left "A family matter, not a political hot potato."

    VOICE: The case needs to be handled as a family dispute and not the international hot potato that it is being made out to be. If we are to hold ourselves out as a superior nation with regard to the fair rule of law, there can be no other course.

    TEXT: Today's Kansas City [Missouri] Star worries that:

    VOICE: By the time the American and Cuban politicians and activists get finished with Elian, there won't be much child left in this boy. He will be weathered by the rough handling of decades of poor U-S-Cuban relations.

    TEXT: The ethnic violence continues in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province. Denver's Rocky Mountain News foreign affairs columnist, Holger Jensen, says two recent reports by the Organization for Security and cooperation in Europe (O-S-C-E) provide the chilling details.

    VOICE: The . reports . show how naive president Clinton and other Western leaders are in pleading for reconciliation. One is the most detailed account yet of atrocities Albanians endured at the hands of Serbs before and during NATO's air war . One witness recounted how a child was decapitated in front of his parents because the family tried to escape deportation from [a] village . The second O-S-C-E report details how Serbs and Roma Gypsies have become victims of Albanian revenge attacks. It, too, covers hundreds of pages with gruesome accounts of killings, arsons and abductions. .

    TEXT: Mr. Jensen concludes by suggesting that if the 30-thousand peacekeeping troops cannot keep the peace in Kosovo now, the planned 42-hundred officer Kosovo police force will not be able to either. In domestic matters, yet another lament, this one from the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska on the loss of the Mars Polar Lander Spacecraft. It went silent as it approached the red planet last week.

    VOICE: NASA plans to reassess what it is doing, as it should. At the same time, its analysts as well as the public and those in Congress who control the purse strings, should remember that it was always anticipated that under this system there would be some losses. . Still, the loss of two missions in such quick succession justifies a pause in activity and a step back to look at the bigger picture.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Houston Chronicle says the failure of the mission supports rather than contradicts NASA's decision to build smaller, less expensive spacecraft.

    VOICE: Even before all hopes have been abandoned, critics - who include some members of Congress - were quick to mutter that NASA's decision to develop "better, cheaper, faster" science missions is to blame. Nonsense. If anything, the apparent failure of the Polar Lander demonstrates the wisdom of having a series of less-expensive space probes, rather than betting the whole budget on one project.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Lastly, some praise for a new Federal study on the homeless. The San Francisco Chronicle says the thoroughness of the new study could lead to some solutions.

    VOICE: If a new federal study on homelessness reveals anything, it confirms that there is no simple explanation for why so many people are living on the streets. Homelessness can be the result of unemployment, or it can be a symptom of drug and alcohol abuse, illness - physical and mental - and childhood experiences. Or all of the above. . The results . provide a structure for forging homeless policies. Some findings indicated that in many cases, moving the homeless back into the mainstream will require only a few simple steps related to job training.

    TEXT: That concludes this sampling of editorial comment from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 09-Dec-1999 12:12 PM EDT (09-Dec-1999 1712 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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