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Voice of America, 00-01-20

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

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





    INTRO: Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem says he has proposed the creation of a joint committee with Greece to deal with sensitive military issues between the two countries. Amberin Zaman in Ankara reports Mr. Cem made the proposal to his visiting Greek counterpart, George Papandreou.

    TEXT: The Turkish foreign minister told a joint news conference that what he termed good will measures being put forward by Turkey's government include reducing the number of military exercises in the Aegean Sea and disarming war planes that fly over the disputed region. For his part, Mr. Papandreou said he would discuss Turkey's offer with the Greek government before giving an answer. Both foreign ministers described their completion of a set of agreements to combat terrorism, promote tourism and joint investments, as a very positive step forward, but were quick to acknowledge that many problems remained. Territorial disputes over the Aegean Sea brought the two NATO members to the brink of war four years ago. Differences over the status of the divided island of Cyprus is another major obstacle to improving ties. Turkey says the island should be a confederation of separate Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot governments. Greece says Cyprus should be a federation between the Greek and Cypriot communities, a position that is backed by the United States and the European Union. Mr. Papandreou made clear that he expected last December's acceptance of Turkey as a candidate for full membership of the European Union to play a pivotal role in solving both the Cyprus and Aegean disputes. Greece ended its long-standing veto to Turkey's candidacy at an E-U summit in Helsinki in December. Analysts describe the move as the single most positive development to have emerged from the recent thaw in traditionally hostile relations between Greece and Turkey. The European Union has set the resolution of both issues as a precondition for acceptance of Turkey's membership. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/JWH/JP 20-Jan-2000 11:53 AM EDT (20-Jan-2000 1653 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Yugoslavia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vladislav Jovanovic, has sharply criticized a recent U-N report on Kosovo and accused the U-N administrator in Kosovo of engaging in a conspiracy to separate the province from Yugoslavia. Correspondent Larry Freund reports from New York.

    TEXT: Ambassador Jovanovic, speaking with reporters (Thursday), said a report released in late December by U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan is out of touch with reality. In that report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan said the U-N mission in Kosovo is making progress in involving the population of the province in its administration. But Mr. Annan also expressed concern about what he called an unacceptable level of violence in Kosovo. Mr. Jovanovic said the Secretary-General's report presented a rosy picture of the situation in Kosovo. The Yugoslav ambassador said since the deployment of NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the region and the establishment of the U-N mission, there have been more than 36-hundred terrorist acts and other forms of violence against Serbs and other ethnic groups, nearly 800 people killed - mostly Serbs - more than 600 people wounded and nearly 700 people abducted or missing. Mr. Jovanovic said the sovereignty of Yugoslavia in Kosovo has been undermined and challenged by new regulations introduced by the United Nations Administrator in Kosovo Bernard Kouchner.


    All of them are an integral part of an effort, of a conspiracy to separate that province from Serbia and Yugoslavia and thus help Albanian separatists/terrorists to achieve their goal which is independence and the destruction of Serbia and Yugoslavia.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    Without urgent action, the Yugoslav ambassador added, the entire U-N peacekeeping operation in Kosovo will be in serious jeopardy. Responding to the comments of Ambassador Jovanovic, United Nations spokesman Fred Eckhard defended the U-N report on Kosovo.


    I think given the large presence that the United Nations has on the ground in Kosovo, we have every basis for a realistic assessment of the situation there, which is what is contained in the Secretary-General's report.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    The U-N Security Council has expressed concern about the continuation of violent incidents in Kosovo, but after privately discussing the Secretary-General's report, it expressed support for the U-N mission in Kosovo and for the international NATO-led peacekeeping force there. (signed) NEB/NY/LSF/gm 20-Jan-2000 14:37 PM EDT (20-Jan-2000 1937 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A committee of Germany's Parliament has started an inquiry into the financial scandal surrounding former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his Christian Democratic Union (C-D-U). The inquiry is calling for evidence from 26 witnesses, including Mr. Kohl himself. But as Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin, the proceedings were overshadowed by the suicide of a C-D-U party worker.

    TEXT: The parliamentary commission of inquiry is looking not only at the secret accounts through which former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has admitted channeling more than one million dollars, but it will also be looking into whether money paid to Mr. Kohl's party in secret could have influenced subsequent political decisions. Some of the cash is known to have come from an arms dealer, Karlheinz Schreiber, who also gave about 50- thousand dollars to the C-D-U's present leader, Wolfgang Schaeuble, and came close to causing Mr. Schaeuble's downfall earlier this week. Mr. Kohl this week resigned as the party's honorary chairman, rather than name the other donors, and because so little has been revealed about them, suspicions have been aroused about how controversial political decisions were reached. Critics have asked if money was paid when Germany agreed to the sale of 36 tanks in 1991 to the Saudi Arabian military. Other questions have been raised about the sale of aircraft to Thailand and Canada at about the same time, about the delivery of helicopters to Canada's Coast Guard, and about the sale of an oil refinery and a group of gasoline stations in the former East Germany to a French oil company. Mr. Kohl, who complained Thursday that he is the subject of a journalist witch hunt, will join 25 other witnesses called to answer his parliamentary colleagues in the coming weeks. But even before the committee's work really started, the proceedings were marred by news that a senior C-D- U party official had committed suicide. Official statements had been careful not to link the death of the party's finance director, Wolfgang Hullen, with the inquiry. The C-D-U official who announced Mr. Hullen's death said the reason appeared to be personal (Signed) NEB/jb/gm 20-Jan-2000 18:28 PM EDT (20-Jan-2000 2328 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A commission set up to make recommendations for the future of Britain's House of Lords has submitted its report proposing radical reforms to the upper house of the British Parliament. The Royal Commission of Lord's Reform has recommended members be elected for the first time in the chamber's history. But Lourdes Navarro reports from London that many reformers believe the changes do not go far enough.

    TEXT: Late last year, an era ended in Britain's House of Lords when most of the chamber's 750 dukes, marquises, and earls - who had a hereditary right to sit in the upper house - were kicked out. The government of Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the institution was undemocratic. He allowed only 92 of the hereditary peers to remain, on a temporary basis, leaving the upper house mostly made up of politically appointed members, judges, and bishops. Reformers cheered the move, but it was unclear what would take the place of what they called an outdated institution. After a year-long study, the Royal Commission unveiled their report recommending that there should be elected members for the first time. But these would be a minority, disappointing many pro-reformers that wanted an entirely-elected chamber. Instead, a 550-strong upper house will be made up of largely appointed members. But the Commission said the Prime Minister would no longer have any role in choosing those appointed, ending a system in which Prime Ministers reward political allies by granting them a seat in the upper house. Commission head John Wakeham said that the new members would be chosen through an independent body.

    /// ACT WAKEHAM ///

    We want to ensure that the reformed second chamber will no longer be a source of political patronage. The Prime Minister will no longer be able to control the size, the political balance, or individual membership of the second chamber.

    /// END ACT //

    /// OPT ///

    Recommended as well is a chamber more representative of modern Britain with ethnic and religious minorities included. These new members will not necessarily have titles, breaking with centuries of tradition. /// END OPT /// The report has gone to Prime Minister Blair who will consider it, but legislation on the matter is not expected for some time. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LN/GE/RAE 20-Jan-2000 11:00 AM EDT (20-Jan-2000 1600 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were mixed today (Thursday) despite good corporate earnings reports, as investors signaled that maybe many of the big companies are too highly valued. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson has more from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones continued backing away from last Friday's record high. The Industrial Average lost 138 points, more than one percent, closing at 11-thousand- 351. The Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped 10 points. Meanwhile, the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite had another record closing with a nearly one percent gain. Quarterly earnings of U-S businesses continue to come in strong. General Electric reported a 16 percent profit increase. The company says this is due largely to its broadcasting operations and its push into electronic-commerce. G-E owns the N-B-C television network.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Analyst John Davidson believes the strong U-S economy will give the stock market a big lift this year. He also says technology, once again, will take the lead:

    /// DAVIDSON ACT ///

    While technology sold off a little bit in the first week or so in January, now that the earnings are coming through, people are focusing on that and I think that will continue to lead the market forward this year.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    Leading computer maker I-B-M reported lower profits. But its shares rose after several analysts encouraged investors to buy, saying the company's fourth quarter marked a bottom and that the worst for "Big Blue" (I- B-M) is over.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Shares of Alcoa, the world's biggest producer of aluminum, lost over five percent - helping drag the Dow Jones into negative territory. Alcoa has decided to re-open some idle production capacity. This means more aluminum on the market and, some analysts think, lower prices. Procter and Gamble - the biggest U-S maker of household goods - also traded lower. It, too, is part of the Dow Jones. Investors apparently were concerned that Procter and Gamble's possible takeover of drug- maker Warner-Lambert would depress its own earnings. Warner-Lambert invited Procter and Gamble to merger talks to offset a hostile bid for Warner-Lambert from the Pfizer drug company. Leading automaker General Motors reported a more than 30 percent drop in its fourth quarter earnings - actually less than had been forecast. Analysts say it was a tough comparison for G-M. At the same time last year, General Motors was running its plants at full steam to make up for production lost to labor strikes in 1998. The latest on the U-S economy shows the U-S trade gap widened to a record 26-point-five-billion dollars in November, as robust consumer demand led to surging imports. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 20-Jan-2000 16:59 PM EDT (20-Jan-2000 2159 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Many of Thursday's editorials in the U-S press have a decidedly domestic tone, dealing with first and foremost a controversy over the use of a Confederate flag in South Carolina and an unsuccessful missile test by the U-S over the pacific. The major international topic is opposition in the United Nations to the latest attempt to inspect Saddam Hussein's potential weapons of mass destruction. Other topics include: the demise of former German Chancellor Kohl from a money scandal; Chile's bright future; the recessed Israeli-Syrian peace talks, and a towering figure from Africa intercedes in Burundi civil strife. Now, here is _______ with some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The Confederate battle flag flying over the dome of South Carolina's capital in Colombia is causing a major controversy. For some white southerners it is a hallowed symbol of their fight against the federal government in the Civil War 140- years ago. But for most African-Americans it is a racist symbol evocative of slavery, and they want it removed. A large demonstration crowded around the building Monday, calling for its removal and the issue has projected itself into the presidential election. Today's "Milwaukee Journal" says - [Its] Time for South Carolina to join this century.

    VOICE: Nostalgia has its place . But the Confederate flag connotes too much hate and pain to fall into that category. You must not yearn for a racist past; rather you must break with it. So long as the Confederate flag flaps atop its Statehouse, South Carolina is signaling that it is still mentally mired in the slave-holding 19th century ... Besides being racist, the flag is also treasonous. Remember, the flag commemorates a period when South Carolina stopped pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes and the nation ... [but] joined others in warring against the Union.

    TEXT: In Minnesota the [Minneapolis] "Star Tribune" agrees.

    VOICE: Any way you parse it, the larger group [who supported taking the flag down] is right. South Carolina lawmakers should remove the rebel battle flag. Citizens there deserve unity and closure, not continued divisiveness over a banner.

    TEXT: In Colombia, the [South Carolina] "State" newspaper says in its headline - Removing banner is the right course - adding that survey after survey of residents supports moving the flag.

    VOICE: A really wonderful thing that the poll found - something that speaks well of the character of South Carolinians - is that this significant majority wants to move the flag even though most do not believe the state is being harmed economically by the issue. We simply want to move the flag because it is the right thing to do. ... the poll should give our state lawmakers ... a lot more to think about.

    TEXT: Pennsylvania's Greensburg "Tribune Review" takes no position on the flag removal itself, but faults the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for turning the state controversy into a national issue.

    VOICE: The outside influence has only served to dial up the rhetoric and dim the prospects of compromise.

    TEXT: Finally, the editorial page editor of "The Boston Globe", H. D. S. Greenway, noting his own great-grandfather fought for the South in the Civil War, faults Arizona Senator John McCain for failing to take a strong position on removing the flag. Mr. Greenway ends his editorial thusly:

    VOICE: There is a place for Confederate flags in museums, and the graves of Confederate soldiers deserve the flowers their great-grandchildren may place there. But the banner of that lost cause should not fly over state buildings now that we are again one Union, indivisible ...

    TEXT: Turning to military issues of this day, the Pentagon is studying why a test anti-missile missile failed to intercept its target earlier this week. In the editorial columns, plenty of verbal missiles are already being fired, such as this in "The Atlanta Constitution", which compares the test firing to a Broadway show.

    VOICE: This week's test . can be likened to a full- dress rehearsal. Every actor in the cast played a part; even a computerized battle-management system made its debut. But the finale fell flat. The interceptor missed its target, a dummy warhead. Given this last-act fizzle, a smart producer might cut his losses and fold [cancel] the show. But neither the White House nor the Pentagon have shown that much pragmatism.

    TEXT: Describing it as - A big test and a big failure "The San Francisco Chronicle" says the project is - An Anti-Missile Program That Appears Off Course. It adds that - time and credibility may be running out on the anti-missile missile... The Chicago Tribune, trying to explain the difficulty of the interception by calling it - hitting a bullet with a bullet, adds:

    VOICE: ... the test clearly demonstrated one thing: It is premature to order deployment of this 12-point- five-billion dollar shield. It is not ready. ... This is a system well worth spending the money to thoroughly research and develop - and to deploy if it can be proved to be effective in deterring or downing enemy missiles. But so far, it is not yet feasible.

    TEXT: Speaking of hostile nations, sometimes called rogue states, there is more criticism of some countries blocking a new U-N plan to inspect Iraq's potential weapons of mass destruction. On New York's Long Island, "Newsday" declares "Washington must push hard for inspections or risk facing Saddam's more lethal weapons, while a frustrated "Washington Post" exclaims:

    VOICE: the United Nations this week, Russia, France and China have been doing their best to ensure that renewed weapons inspections in Iraq are delayed or ineffective. As a result, Saddam Hussein is getting more time to build his arsenal, and the United Nations is being weakened. ... It is not too late for the obstructionists to relent or to consent to another worthy chief inspector. If they persist, they will be rendering the United Nations helpless...

    TEXT: Also under scrutiny are the charges of illicit campaign funds collected from anonymous donors by Germany's past Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and his subsequent fall from grace and power. "The New York Times":

    VOICE: Former Chancellor ... Kohl's resignation as honorary chairman of his beloved Christian democrats.... Will not stop the unraveling of his own reputation of that of his party. By defiantly flouting his legal obligation to reveal the names of donors to a secret campaign fund, Mr. Kohl compounds the damage he has already caused. ...he should disclose what he knows.

    TEXT: In Chile a new president-elect faces the return of a former dictator, and moving his nation out of recession. "The Sun" in Baltimore says the new leader's program for the nation is more important...

    VOICE: [Former strongman General] Augusto Pinochet is history. [President-elect] Ricardo Lagos is the future. The past is important, but less so than the next chapter. Chile, like South Africa, is torn between the needs of justice and reconciliation. Chileans must work out the trade-offs. ... The last thing Mr. Lagos needs is a divisive issue [General Pinochet's return] to sunder the social compact.

    TEXT: In referring to the Middle East peace talks, Maine's "Portland Press Herald" suggests - [The] U-S can still play [an] extremely vital role as broker [:] [Because] We are the people everyone talks to when they will not talk to each other.

    VOICE: As Yasser Arafat visits Washington today, the continuing trek toward a Mideast peace takes another small step. Mr. Arafat wants the Clinton administration to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to focus on what is clearly the more serious portion of [Mr.] Barak's dual-track talks on a Palestinian homeland and a treaty with Syria. ... without a Syrian delegate to talk with, [in the now postponed next round] Barak cancelled his [latest] trip [to West Virginia], leaving Arafat to visit Clinton alone. This predictable stutter-stepping proves ... the United States is still the one indispensable nation in the ... peace process.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's "Chicago Tribune" is disappointed at what it calls a backroom political deal the new Russian acting president Vladimir Putin made with the Communist party, to elect one of its members as speaker of the lower House of Parliament.

    VOICE: About a third of the 450-member Duma walked out in protest. What this augurs for passage of necessary reforms by the Duma is unclear - even the Communists are not as monolithically opposed to change as they were a year ago - but it may well galvanize opposition to [Mr.] Putin in the March ... presidential election. ... there is a larger problem here. Russia's democratic experiment is less than a decade old, its roots not yet deep, and the deputies who protested with their feet have every right to feel betrayed by a backroom deal that seemed to make a mockery of last month's balloting.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: And lastly to Africa, where the continent's towering presence, former South African President Nelson Mandela is trying to help the Hutu and Tutsi of Burundi end their long-standing civil unrest, to the applause of Ohio's "Akron Beacon Journal".

    VOICE: ...Nelson Mandela has issued a call to leadership that only a statesman of his stature can make. ... addressing the leaders with bruising honesty: "Why do you allow yourselves to be regarded as leaders without talent, leaders without vision?" he asked. Not only do they fail their people, but they also shame all of Africa, he told them. The daily slaughter is an indictment against leaders "who have reached a stage where none of you is completely right, and none is completely wrong," he said. . A few more leaders across Africa could use some dressing down from Mandela.

    TEXT: That concludes this sampling of editorial content from today's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 20-Jan-2000 11:49 AM EDT (20-Jan-2000 1649 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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