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Voice of America, 00-01-21

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

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




    NUMBER=5-45290 (CQ)



    INTRO: Two major earthquakes struck Turkey last year, killing an estimated 18-thousand people and causing billions of dollars in damage. This week (January 18), members of the Turkish and American business communities as well as representatives of the U-S government met in Washington to discuss how foreign investment might help Turkey's reconstruction program. V-O-A's Yonca Poyraz Dogan [PRON: 'YOHN-JA 'POY-RAHZ DO-'AHN] reports that such investment could depend on Turkey's political and economic reforms.

    TEXT: In August and November of last year, massive earthquakes hit Turkey's industrial heartland. Nearly 18-thousand people were killed and 75-thousand residential buildings were destroyed. Rebuilding after such a catastrophe is a huge task and more than 60 nations have offered to help Turkey with the job. Even more help may be on the way from the U-S government and American companies. Equity International, a U-S based international trade and investment company, brought Turkish and American business executives together at a conference in Washington this week. Among the participants was Lincoln McCurdy, president of the American-Turkish Council, who pointed out that a major factor in bringing new investments will be the European Union's decision to accept Turkey as a candidate for membership. E-U (European Union) membership requires sweeping political and economic reforms in Turkey, plus protection of human rights. This, said Mr. McCurdy, should encourage investors, especially Americans.

    /// McCURDY ACT ///

    Since Turkey has now a confirmed set of objectives, I predict that Turkey's progress in meeting these conditions for E-U membership will be done with such speed that they will shock the critics in Europe and elsewhere. The new optimism is stimulating the confidence of foreign and domestic investors about the country. And this year we will see investments increasing dramatically.

    /// END ACT ///

    At the conference, the U-S Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) announced it will provide 55- million dollars in political risk insurance coverage for a project in Turkey. OPIC Vice President Kirk Robertson said assisting Turkey's long term economic recovery after the earthquakes is a top priority.

    /// ROBERTSON ACT ///

    I want to just say that we see things really happening in Turkey like crazy right now. We doubled in the last year the amount that we've been putting on to cover in loans, in insurance in this type of coverage in Turkey.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Robertson said if other projects also go forward, it will mean over one-point-five-billion dollars more U-S investment in Turkey. Additionally, the U-S Export-Import Bank is ready to provide financing for Turkish borrowers trying to rebuild after the earthquakes. A new, one-billion dollar EX-IM Bank trade program is designed to help small and medium sized Turkish businesses purchase U-S goods and services. After last year's earthquakes, the Turkish government came in for heavy criticism that it had no plan to deal with such disasters and that it did not react adequately when the quakes struck. The government in Ankara is now looking to new financial assistance and investments - not only to rebuild homes and businesses, but also to regain the public's confidence. (SIGNED)
    NEB/YPD/JP 21-Jan-2000 17:22 PM EDT (21-Jan-2000 2222 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Anger and disappointment against former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl are pushing the opposition Christian Democratic Union - or C D U to consider court action against him. But there is relief that the suicide Thursday of one of the parliamentary party's most senior officials appears to be unconnected with the scandal surrounding Mr. Kohl. Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin.

    TEXT: The Christian Democratic Union's present chairman, Wolfgang Schauble, is losing patience with his predecessor, Helmut Kohl, and is planning legal action against him. As soon as the auditors have finished their investigation of the party's accounts, Mr. Schaeuble says he will take the former German chancellor to court to make him speak up. But Mr. Kohl is still refusing to name the donors whose gifts he handled through secret bank accounts in defiance of party procedures and German law. Mr. Kohl says he will keep his word of honor to the donors and will not reveal their names. C-D-U leaders say Mr. Kohl is putting loyalty to the donors above loyalty to the party and his country. His intransigence is felt to be destroying the party and its reputation. And now the fear is that Mr. Kohl's silence will continue eating away at the party from within, while a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of anonymous campaign gifts continues to batter away at it from the outside. The goal of the inquiry is to find out if the donations affected the C-D-U's subsequent political decisions and distorted the democratic process. Mr. Kohl feels he has done nothing wrong. But at least for now the suicide Thursday of C-D- U official Wolfgang Huellen, which many feared would uncover yet more scandals within the party, no longer looks quite as threatening. Alerted by the finance officer's suicide note, police raided his files at the C-D-U's parliamentary offices in Berlin late Thursday. But although the public prosecutor is investigating Mr. Huellen's financial affairs and is looking at a possible case of embezzlement, officials now say there is no connection with the party's own financial scandals. (Signed)
    NEB/JB/GE/KL 21-Jan-2000 09:24 AM EDT (21-Jan-2000 1424 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Earlier this week, the British government confirmed it would implement the vast majority of recommendations to re-structure Northern Ireland's police force known as the "Royal Ulster Constabulary." In this report, former London Correspondent Andre de Nesnera looks at the decision and discusses some of the concerns voiced by Northern Ireland's two communities.

    TEXT: The Royal Ulster Constabulary - or R-U-C - was created in 1922 when Northern Ireland came into being. One of its primary functions was to preserve the new state. As such, it was seen as an armed force whose agenda was heavily weighted in favor of Protestants and Unionists - those who want to keep Northern Ireland within Great Britain. The R-U-C has 13-hundred officers - more than 90 percent of them are Protestant. In its history, the R-U-C's Catholic contingent never rose above 10 percent. Since the so-called "Troubles" began in Northern Ireland more than three decades ago, more than three- hundred R-U-C officers have been killed and about eight-thousand wounded. Reforming Northern Ireland's police force was an essential component of the April 1998 political agreement commonly known as the "Good Friday Accord." A special commission was formed to look into the issue. It was chaired by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten and presented its recommendations last September. Earlier this week, the British government announced it would implement practically all of them - with some very minor changes. The key points include changing the R-U-C's name to the "Police Service of Northern Ireland." The 13- hundred member force will be reduced by half over 10 years and there will be an increased effort to recruit Catholics. Ex-terrorists - such as those belonging to the Irish Republican Army or pro-British paramilitary groups - will be banned from joining. The practice of flying the British flag over police stations will be discontinued, and officers will no longer swear allegiance to the Queen. In addition, the new police force will have different badges and symbols. Geoff Martin is editor of the daily "The Belfast Newsletter" that espouses Protestant and Unionist views. He says members of his community are angry.

    /// MARTIN ACT ///

    They feel that the stripping of the insignia, the changing of the name is simply a sop to Republicans. It is not something the people of Northern Ireland really want. It is just being done to satisfy Republicans, and Unionists happen to feel that Republicans have already had enough out of this (peace) process.

    /// END ACT ///

    Reforming the R-U-C has always been a key demand of Republicans - those who support the Irish Republican Army and its political wing, Sinn Fein. Many Unionists feel they have conceded too much to the Republicans in the course of talks on the future of Northern Ireland - and they feel betrayed by the British government.

    /// OPT ///

    Unionist politicians voiced their anger during a recent parliamentary debate involving Peter Mandelson, the British minister in charge of Northern Ireland.

    /// OPT ///

    Ken Maginnis - security spokesman for the "Ulster Unionist" party - told Mr. Mandelson about the I-R-A's continued intimidation of possible Catholic recruits.

    /// MAGINNIS ACT ///

    The intimidation will continue, because although he (Mandelson) has proposed a change in the name of the R-U-C, the one thing that has not changed is the name of the I-R-A. Sinn Fein/I-R-A. These people continue to organize. These people continue to be armed. These people continue to ride on the backs of the entire community.

    /// END ACT // END OPT ///

    There is a general rule in Northern Ireland: when one community rejects an idea, it is generally accepted by the other - and vice-versa. This is the case with reforming the R-U-C. Steven O'Reilly is assistant editor of Belfast's "Irish News," a daily newspaper espousing Nationalist or Catholic views. He says Nationalists are pleased with the British government's decision. But Mr. O'Reilly believes reforming Northern Ireland's police force is tied to another key issue - that of decommissioning, in other words, getting rid of weapons held by paramilitary groups. He says since hard-line Republicans have essentially gotten their way on the issue of reforming the R-U-C, they now have to compromise on the issue of decommissioning, which they have consistently refused to do.

    /// O'REILLY ACT ///

    Decommissioning will grow on the Republican movement as a burden and the longer they go without actually doing anything about it (that burden will increase). The publicity continues to build up. Newspapers continue to ask questions about it. Unionist politicians then continue to have the opportunity to set deadlines. The pressure grows and grows. One would hope that the decommissioning issue would be tackled bravely by the Republican movement, who should recognize now that fundamental changes have come to Northern Ireland, to Ireland as a whole - and some recognition should be made of that.

    /// END ACT ///

    Those changes include a new Northern Ireland parliament, new government structures and increased cooperation between the British province and Ireland. But many analysts agree that in order for Northern Ireland to have a lasting peace, paramilitary groups must hand in their weapons and - as many politicians have stated over the years - "get the guns out of Northern Ireland politics - for good." (Signed)
    NEB/ADEN/JP 21-Jan-2000 16:03 PM EDT (21-Jan-2000 2103 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: One man is dead and several reported injured after two car bombs exploded in central Madrid today/Friday. No group has claimed responsibility, but Spanish police believe the Basque separatist group, ETA, is responsible for the blasts. Lourdes Navarro reports that the renewed violence comes six weeks after the organization announced the end of its cease-fire.

    TEXT: The two car bombs exploded half an hour apart in an area of Madrid containing military housing. The first blast killed one army officer and injured several others. The second blast caused no casualties but went off near a children's school. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts. Spanish police blame the attacks on the Basque separatist group, ETA. The Spanish government has been bracing itself for renewed violence since the group announced the end of its 14-month ceasefire in early December. ETA has been fighting for 31 years to secure an independent Basque state and has been blamed for more than 800 deaths. There have been several attempted attacks by the group since the end of December, but all have been foiled by the police. The blasts come days after Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called a general election for March 12TH. In his election announcement, the prime minister promised a hard-line stance against the group. Spanish government officials have been warning that they expected violence before election day. ETA's last attributed killing was in June 1998. In the worst ETA bombing incident, 21 people were killed in a shopping center blast in 1987. In a separate incident, which officials say had nothing to do with the car bombs, a man was shot and killed by police near the scene of the explosions. Authorities say the man was trying to steal a car. (Signed)
    NEB/LN/GE/KL 21-Jan-2000 08:26 AM EDT (21-Jan-2000 1326 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    /// EDS: THIS REPORT UPDATES CR 2-258284 ///

    INTRO: Two car bombs exploded early Friday in Madrid, killing a Spanish army officer. Gil Carbajal in Madrid reports Spain had been bracing for a terrorist attack since the Basque separatist group ETA called off a 14-month cease-fire in early December.

    TEXT: The car bomb exploded soon after eight o'clock Friday morning, killing army Colonel Pedro Antonio Blanco Gonzalez. /// OPT /// The officer was the father of two small ch1ldren, one of whom learned of his father's death from a television report. /// END OPT /// Police say the bomb was set off by remote control as the army officer walked to meet another army officer for a ride to work. Another car bomb exploded 30 minutes later in the same neighborhood, which has a large number of military families. The second bomb exploded near a nursery school, causing panic among some 50 children. A number of cars were destroyed by the explosions, and about 30 buildings were badly damaged.

    /// OPT ///

    Spanish authorities say the car used in the first bombing had been stolen almost three weeks ago, leading anti-terrorist experts to believe that ETA continues to maintain an organization in Madrid. The car involved in the second bombing had been stolen in November, two weeks before ETA ended its truce. Since then, Spanish police have uncovered at least two major attempts to commit terrorist attacks. In December they intercepted two vans loaded with nearly two tons of explosives headed for Madrid. In early January they foiled another attack apparently aimed at a civil guard convoy near the Basque city of Bilbao.

    /// END OPT ///

    The pro-independence Basque National Party, or P-N-V, which governs in the autonomous Basque region in northern Spain, reacted by suspending cooperation with ETA's political wing until it condemns the terrorist attack. /// OPT /// The P-N-V has been governing with the radical coalition's support since regional elections last year. /// END OPT /// The Basque chief minister, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, called on Basque citizens to demonstrate outside all town halls in the three Basque provinces to call on ETA to cease its violence. The Secretary-General of the P-N-V (Javier Arzallus) had earlier warned ETA that if it killed another person, it would seriously set back the goal of Basque independence and assure victory in the March 12th general election to Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's ruling Popular Party. The leader of ETA's political wing (Arnaldo Otegi) expressed sorrow at the death of the army officer. But he stopped short of condemning the bombings. He said all political parties share responsibility for not having taken the political measures needed to prevent such attacks. The Spanish government spokesman called on all democratic parties to work together in the face of terrorism, and said ETA is mistaken to think it could attain its goals through violence. (Signed)
    NEB/GC/JWH/JO 21-Jan-2000 13:50 PM EDT (21-Jan-2000 1850 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were mixed again today (Friday), establishing a not too surprising pattern for the week. Analysts said money simply keeps moving toward the fast-growing technology sector. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 99 points, eight-tenths of one percent, closing at 11- thousand-251. The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell four points. But the Nasdaq composite gained one percent, closing at another record. For the week, the Dow Jones lost four percent, while the Nasdaq gained four percent. Analysts say investors are still attracted to the sectors that have grown the most. That means mostly technology, and - more to the point this week - oil, which is at a nine-year high.

    ///BEGIN OPT///

    The price of crude oil is raising fears of inflation. Analyst Douglas Lee says the futures markets so far show oil prices coming down after the short-term. But he warns that is not a guarantee:

    ///LEE ACT///

    They're saying very clearly that prices are going to come back closer to 20 than 30 (dollars a barrel). And as long as we believe that, people are going to be reluctant to pass those higher costs through into final product prices. But if we change our view and decide prices are going to stay closer to 30 for, let's say, three to six months, we will see some upward pressure on inflation.

    ///END ACT - END OPT///

    The board of Proctor and Gamble, the leading U-S maker of household goods, met Friday to assess merger talks with drug-maker Warner-Lambert. Many fear the union would cut into Proctor and Gamble's earnings. Proctor and Gamble stock fell over 10 percent, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average down with it.

    ///REST OPT FOR LONG ///

    Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction equipment, reported a 20 percent decline in quarterly profits due to slumping sales and prices. Caterpillar, however, still beat Wall Street expectations. U-S Airways says it expects a fairly hefty quarterly earnings loss due to rising fuel prices and uncertainty over a labor dispute. Airlines generally have reported lower profits during this current earnings season because of oil prices. Hercules, one of the world's biggest producers of chemicals for paper-making and other industrial processes, says its quarterly earnings will miss their mark by as much as 25 percent. The company blames higher costs and customer shutdowns ahead of the year 2000 for its profit shortfall. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/JC/PT 21-Jan-2000 16:56 PM EDT (21-Jan-2000 2156 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: An unsuccessful anti-missile missile test by the United States is the topic of the day in many newspaper editorial pages this Friday, closely followed by a controversy over official use of a Confederate flag. Other subjects include Indonesia's new leader; political and religious repression in China and some hope for progress toward peace on the Korean peninsula. Now, here with a closer look is _____________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The U-S military tried out its latest anti- missile missile this week, firing a test warhead from California, and the anti-missile defensive missile from an island in the South Pacific. The idea of destroying an incoming inter-continental ballistic missile with another missile has sometimes been likened to hitting a bullet with another bullet. But the test failed, eliciting a flood of comment from the nation's dailies, like this from Newsday on New York's Long Island.

    VOICE: Don't rush to deploy [a] costly missile-defense system that violates the A-B-M [Anti-Ballistic- Missile] treaty. ... There are plenty of reasons why a hasty decision to deploy an entry-level missile- defense network would be a bad idea for the United States. The putative threat it's designed to counter a desperate attack by at most a few missiles from a [rogue] state such as North Korea or Iraq - - is farfetched. The ... cost estimate, certain to increase ... even if the system is never expanded . is 12-point-7-billion dollars and counting ... Oh, and by the way, there's no assurance - - in fact there are serious doubts - - that the U-S missile-defense network could actually work as advertised.

    TEXT: In Oklahoma, the Tulsa World is discouraged at the cost and the result.

    VOICE: The idea of satellites and missiles protecting the United States from foreign nuclear attack ... persists. But it took another blow this week. For 100-million dollars the nation got to see the Pentagon take a shot at an incoming mock warhead - - and miss. . This latest test follows reports of another test in October that at first was said to be successful. It later turned out that it, too, failed. ... Should the United States continue its research and tests into such a system? Yes. After all, technology does change. But there is no need to rush into a costly and possibly unworkable system too soon.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Texas, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, notes, somewhat sarcastically:

    VOICE: The kill vehicle came "extremely close," officials said, to making an encounter of the destructive kind. Of course, they weren't pitching horseshoes; therefore, close doesn't count. ... The failed test, however, does not provide conclusive proof that such a system cannot be made to work. But it is [a] significant setback that should give President Clinton pause about his plan to approve the deployment of the system later this year.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Washington Times supports development of the system and reminds everyone:

    VOICE: ... The fact is that you test a system to see if it works, right? ... And it is not as though there aren't good reasons out there to work overtime to make [missile-defense system] functional. Last week, it was ... revealed that Iran is thought to be close to a nuclear bomb, thanks to the helpfulness of Russia ... In other words, the critics should not be so ready to rejoice. We will all live to regret it if we don't get the technology right in time.

    TEXT: Another domestic issue that continues to reverberate in the press concerns the Confederate b a t t l e flag that is flown over the state capital of South Carolina. While considered historic by many white Southerners, many African-Americans consider it racist, a symbol of the slavery era in this country and demanding its removal, as are many daily papers. The Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] Post-Gazette is one, demanding: "Furl that flag."

    VOICE: That this flag continues to fly over the capital of South Carolina is an outrageous capitulation to bad taste and not-so-subtle racial animus.

    TEXT: In Atlanta, the Atlanta Constitution suggests there is more than a racial argument to the controversy:

    VOICE: The Confederate banner doesn't belong on the same flagpole as the Stars and Stripes and South Carolina's state flag, both of which denote sovereignty; therefore, it should be moved from atop the Statehouse.

    TEXT: And in Florida, The St. Petersburg Times scoffs:

    VOICE: On December 20th, 1860, South Carolina left the Union. You have to wonder if it ever really returned. ... [And] as for divorcing the flag from 100 years of [Ku Klux] Klan marches, riots and lynchings, it can no more be done than the swastika - - which was an ancient[Indian] symbol of good luck until it was adopted by the Nazis - - can be divorced from Hitler.

    TEXT: Turning to international issues, the Los Angeles Times discusses the difficulties facing Indonesia's new leader.

    VOICE: Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has had a rotten first 100 days in office. His country, impoverished by years of economic decline, is now being racked by separatist unrest and religious violence. [President] Wahid, a moderate Muslim who has earned broad support at home and respect abroad, vows to take stern measures against civil unrest of all kind. To prevent the disintegration of Indonesia, he must do just that. ... Washington should reward [President] Wahid's every step toward political and economic reforms not only by increasing aid but also restructuring onerous debt from the past and extending new credit. The world powers should give him all the help he needs.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Dallas Morning News wholeheartedly agrees, suggesting that if more aid is not forthcoming, the religious divisions and on-going economic problems will lead to the breakup of the nation.

    VOICE: Why should Americans care? Indonesia's large expanse gives it control over the sea lanes between the Indian and Pacific oceans. American companies like Exxon and Mobil have major oil and gas operations here. ... The free election in 1999 of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, a moderate and the leader of the country's largest Muslim party, made Indonesia the world's third-largest democracy. Indonesia is important and it is in trouble.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Still with Asian affairs, today's Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal expresses its concern about repression in China:

    VOICE: Last fall, the government cracked down on independent rural Christian congregations, arresting at least 100 members of those churches[:] The government also last year rounded up members of a religious movement known as Falun Gong, calling it an "evil cult." In truth, Falun Gong is part religion and part fitness program and hardly a threat to anyone. /// OPT /// ... This month, a 14-year-old boy who holds a special place within Tibetan Buddhism endured an arduous trek to flee his China-controlled homeland and join the Dalai Lama in India. ... The Chinese government may have better luck with another boy it installed this month as a "living Buddha," especially since he's only two years old. But this latest move ... was rejected by the exiled Dalai Lama, the revered spiritual leader of Tibetans, and it is doubtful whether it will have much success. ... /// END OPT /// Unfortunately, China's leaders over the years have shown a disturbing unwillingness to allow any loosening of the reins they hold in their hands. ... U-S officials and businessmen and women must stress to Chinese leaders the indispensable relationship between a free market and a free people. Text: Jacksonville's Florida Times-Union is holding out some hope for improved relations between the two Koreas, thanks in part to some help from China. VOICED: ...the chances have never been better for a permanent peace agreement and perhaps the eventual reunification of divided Korea. The first encouraging sign was an announcement by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung that he will officially propose a summit with North Korea if his new political party wins the April 13 parliamentary elections. ... North Korea - isolated, impoverished and starving - is expected to accept [President] Kim's offer. That is significant, not only because the talks could lead to some progress but also because they would not involve the United States.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to Europe, and the multi-million-dollar campaign fund scandal involving former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his Christian Democratic Union party, the Washington Post notes:

    VOICE: What is clear is that Mr. Kohl cannot halt the slide in his personal reputation without a prompt and full accounting and that - - more to the point - - the German political system requires a rigorous inquiry into a scandal that is only beginning to take shape.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: To Latin America, where the [Minneapolis, Minnesota] Star-Tribune salutes the new president of Chile, Ricardo Lagos.

    VOICE: [Mr.] Lagos' politics and priorities may be just what Chile needs at this juncture, a blend of fiscal practicality and social compassion. Though the nation has enjoyed more than a decade of phenomenal growth, its economy is now stalling, and unemployment has risen to eleven percent. ... The fate of the ailing [former dictator, General Augusto] Pinochet is only one of the new president's problems. [Mr.] Lagos must handle a Congress stacked with lifetime members appointed by the former military regime.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 21-Jan-2000 12:21 PM EDT (21-Jan-2000 1721 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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