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Voice of America, 00-02-16

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

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





    INTRO: The United Nations Security Council today (Wednesday) received a closed-door briefing on the latest developments in Kosovo with a special focus on the ethnic violence there. VOA Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from the United Nations.

    TEXT: The meeting highlights the growing concern in the Security Council over the violence involving Albanian and Serb residents most recently in the town of Mitrovica. Council members received a briefing from U-N Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hedi Annabi. Although the briefing was closed to the public and reporters, U-N spokeswoman Marie Okabe offered a brief summary of Mr. Annabi's formal statement.

    ///Okabe act///

    Annabi said that the U-N Mission in Kosovo continues to be preoccupied by harassment, eviction and murder of minorities. He added that the security situation has deteriorated in early February. But he also noted the Mission's gradual progress in restoring the rule of law in Kosovo including the first round of appointments of judges and prosecutors.

    ///end act///

    Ms. Okabe said Mr. Annabi also reminded the Security Council that there are still less than half of the 47- hundred authorized international civilian police in Kosovo. Many experts say that is a serious deficiency in the U-N Kosovo operation. Although NATO troops in Kosovo have attempted to provide some police services, observers say the soldiers are far less effective than police who have specific law enforcement training and skills. The U-N Security Council is expected to receive another comprehensive briefing on Kosovo early next month when Mission Chief Bernard Kouchner visits New York.(Signed) NEB/UN/BA/LSF/PT 16-Feb-2000 17:02 PM EDT (16-Feb-2000 2202 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: NATO Secretary-General George Robertson is praising the outcome of his one-day visit to Moscow (Wednesday), in which he and Russia's leaders agreed to resume normal relations. The NATO chief (now back in Brussels) says the alliance has "turned a page" in its dealings with Moscow. Bill Gasperini reports from the Russian capital.

    TEXT: Secretary-General Robertson said he was satisfied with the results of a long day of talks in Moscow with Russian leaders. He praised the agreement reached with Russia to resume contacts and cooperation between the former Cold War adversaries. Mr. Robertson says everyone agreed to put the bitter disagreement over last year's bombing of Yugoslavia behind them.

    /// ROBERTSON ACT ///

    We've now kick-started [re-started] the dialogue and relationship with Russia, which I believe is in everybody's interest.

    /// END ACT ///

    The NATO chief spent most of the day (Wednesday) holding talks with Acting President Vladimir Putin as well as Russia's defense and foreign ministers. Afterward, the two sides issued a joint statement agreeing to focus on such things as security concepts and arms control. During his meeting with the NATO leader, Acting President Putin said Mr. Robertson's trip in itself was a sign that things are changing.


    He said to Mr. Robertson: "The very fact of your visit shows that NATO attaches importance to its relationship with Russia." Mr. Robertson later told reporters it was Mr. Putin's decision to revive Moscow's relations with NATO, which were frozen last year when Russia reacted with anger to the alliance's intervention against Yugoslavia. Despite the generally positive comments during the day of talks, differences clearly remain. The NATO Secretary-General said he told his hosts the alliance supports the need to fight terrorism. But it also opposes the brutal tactics the Russian military is using in Chechnya. Both parties agreed on the need to focus on the bigger picture, saying the talks were the first step in that process. (Signed)
    NEB/BG/WTW 16-Feb-2000 17:49 PM EDT (16-Feb-2000 2249 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Germany's political crisis has claimed another high-profile victim -- Wolfgang Schaeuble, chairman and parliamentary leader of the troubled opposition Christian Democratic party, the C-D-U. Jonathan Braude in Berlin reports Mr. Schaeuble resigned (Wednesday) and called for new leadership elections.

    TEXT: Wolfgang Schaeuble seemed almost relieved as he made his announcement. He said he had decided the C- D-U needs new leadership and a new beginning, and he is submitting his resignation as party parliamentary leader. Mr. Schaeuble said he will be calling an election for the party's top parliamentary leadership posts in the next few days, instead of waiting for annual elections in May. He said he will not be a candidate for the party's federal leadership at its annual convention in April. After three-months of ever more embarrassing revelations about the Christian Democrats' secret accounts, money laundering through banks in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and other financial cover-ups, Mr. Schaeuble said he believes someone has to take the personal consequences. He said he is resigning to allow that process of party renewal to begin. Party officials said Mr. Schaeuble's departure came as a surprise only because he had been asked to stay on by his colleagues in January when he last tried to resign. But the pressure built during the past few days to the point where it was no longer possible to resist. Mr. Schaeuble has been caught up in a damaging dispute with former party treasurer Brigitte Baumeister. Each accuses the other of being responsible for accepting and then failing to record a 50-thousand-dollar donation from arms dealer Karl-Heinz Schreiber. German authorities want to prosecute Mr. Schreiber for tax evasion. And Tuesday, Parliamentary President Wolfgang Thierse shook the party with the announcement the C-D-U would face a fine of more than 20-million dollars for false accounting. He made clear that other fines are still to come. The party announced it would fight the decision in court -- only to be chided by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The Chancellor said the C-D-U had learned nothing from the past few months. He said the party still acted as if its own interests and the interests of its leadership were more important than the rule of law. The search has begun for Mr. Schaeuble's successor. Observers say that among the favorites is party Vice Chairman Friedrich Merz. He is less well-known than other top C-D-U politicians, but at age-44, he is one of the few leaders from a younger generation not tainted by the scandals of the past. (SIGNED) NEB/JB/JWH/ENE/RAE 16-Feb-2000 10:50 AM EDT (16-Feb-2000 1550 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America


    /// Re-issuing to add dropped word in fist sentence of text: ... the I-R-A declared it will N-O longer participate ...///

    INTRO: The British and Irish Prime Ministers are to meet/are meeting in London today (Wednesday) with Northern Ireland's political leaders to try to salvage the province's battered peace process. The meeting follows the announcement by the Irish Republican Army (I-R-A) on Tuesday that it was pulling out of talks with Northern Ireland's disarmament commission. Lourdes Navarro in London reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, face an uphill battle in their efforts to resolve this latest deadlock.

    TEXT: Only days after Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson, suspended the province's power-sharing government and took over control of their political institutions, the I-R-A declared it will no longer participate in meetings with Northern Ireland's disarmament commission - dealing the peace process another blow. Prime Minister Tony Blair is holding emergency talks with his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, in London. They will also meet with separate delegations from three of the province's key parties. But hopes for a speedy resolution are reported to be running low. Late last week, Britain suspended Northern Ireland's political institutions after a report showed the I-R-A had not begun to hand over its weapons - a central condition of the 1998 peace accords. The province's largest Protestant party, the pro- British Ulster Unionists, said that they would not sit in government with Catholic Sinn Fein because its military wing was still holding weapons. Sinn Fein is the political wing of the I-R-A.


    If the Ulster Unionist's would have pulled out of the power-sharing assembly then the province's political institutions would almost certainly have collapsed. To prevent that, Britain put the government on hold, taking over what they hope will be temporary control. ///END OPT/// The Irish Republican Army's response was to withdraw from meetings with the disarmament commission. The I- R-A says that it will not hand over weapons under pressure from the British government and the Protestant parties. It also rescinded an offer made only hours after Northern Ireland's government was suspended to put their arsenal, as they put it, `beyond use'. Although that offer had been rejected as too vague, it had been deemed a positive step forward. (Signed)
    NEB/LN/GE/KL 16-Feb-2000 11:53 AM EDT (16-Feb-2000 1653 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: After only about two-months of a new, Northern Ireland Assembly, in which predominantly protestant Unionists shared power with the predominantly Roman Catholic Republicans, the whole tenuous peace apparatus appears to be coming apart. The largest single factor is the unwillingness of the Irish Republican Army [I-R-A] to disarm. The U-S press has plenty of editorial comment, and we get a sampling now from _______ in today's U-S Opinion roundup.

    TEXT: Ten-weeks ago, the British parliament handed over authority for local government to a power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly made up of all the political parties in the province. The power- sharing body was a key part of the Good Friday accord, worked out more than two-years ago, with the negotiating help of former U-S Senator George Mitchell. Continued existence of the Assembly was tied to the I- R-A beginning to turn it its weapons, and when that late February deadline was not met, the Assembly faced the walkout of Pro-British Unionists. To head that off, Britain again took direct control of the North, and the whole process is now in danger of collapse. Many U-S papers are upset at that prospect, since peace seemed so close just a few-weeks ago. We begin our sampling in Wisconsin, where "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" says:

    VOICE: Once again, old habits of fear and suspicion, joined with a traditional reliance on violence, have teamed up to damage and perhaps destroy the promise of peace in Northern Ireland...the current blow to the peace process was inflicted by the Irish Republican Army. ... This disarmament process was not only essential, but [also] long overdue, since some 36-hundred people have been killed in sectarian violence in Northern Ireland over the last 30-years. ... Late last week, when it became apparent that the I-R-A would not begin disarming ... Britain suspended the power-sharing arrangement and reinstalled direct rule, so that negotiators could end the impasse caused by the I-R-A's dangerous and cowardly obstructionism. ... It is in the arena of political confrontation that the I-R-A feels most insecure, and that is why it has refused to give up its weapons.

    TEXT: In Ohio, "The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer" has been especially vocal on the Northern Ireland issue, and laments the continued need for contacts between the British-controlled North and the Republic of Ireland in the south which could now be lost.

    VOICE: ... business people, farmers and others interested in improving Northern Ireland's economy recognize that stronger ties with the Republic are essential to their goals. Sadly, such advances maybe stalled because of Britain's decision to put Northern Ireland's new legislative and administrative bodies in limbo until an impasse is resolved over the decommissioning [the term used for disarming] of weapons by the Irish Republican Army and other terrorist organizations.

    TEXT: "The Boston Globe" is also lamenting Tuesday's [2/15] decision by the Irish Republican Army to pull out of disarmament talks. It says the move:

    VOICE: ... has damaged prospects for a permanent political settlement in Northern Ireland. While the I-R-A refusal to give up its weapons means that the Northern Irish Assembly will have to remain in suspension, the British and Irish governments need to maintain the momentum in other areas covered by the Good Friday Agreement.

    TEXT: In Florida, what makes these latest developments so hard to take for "The St. Petersburg Times", is that both sides were so close to a lasting peace.

    VOICE: ... for the past year or so, the Irish - and the rest of the world - have dared to hope that the troubles in Northern Ireland might be ending. The Good Friday Accord got ... [all sides in the conflict] to agree that the future of Northern Ireland would be decided at the ballot box, not by the gun. ... But now that bright dawn has been delayed. ... By refusing to meet the February deadline [to begin disarming] to avoid suspension of the Unionist-led government, the I-R-A is underlining its autonomy and trying to flaunt its power.

    TEXT: "The Kansas City [Missouri] Star" is also disappointed, but points out why pessimism was always warranted.

    VOICE: The situation underscores the difficulties involved in dealing with violent extremist groups. Even when things are going well - and the provincial government seemed to be off to a good start - some extremists are never happy. They yearn for conflict.

    TEXT: But "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" is hopeful a resolution may be possible.

    VOICE: Putting the provincial government in suspended animation served two purposes: to let the I-R-A know that it could not dawdle indefinitely on decommissioning its stockpile of weapons, and to make it unnecessary for the Unionist leader of the coalition government, First Minister David Trimble, to follow through with a promise to resign if there was no progress on decommissioning. Yet as the new Belfast regime was being put on political ice, there were signs at long last of a change of heart on the I-R-A's part. ...the Canadian head of a special disarmament commission ... reported over the weekend that the I-R-A had presented him with a proposed course of action that showed - the real prospect of agreement.

    TEXT: Also taking a more positive view of the latest developments is "Newsday", on New York's Long Island, which holds out hope the I-R-A is becoming ready to disarm.

    VOICE: ...Today, [2/15] after a weekend of frantic negotiations, there is reason for hope. The I-R-A has made its first formal offer to disarm, saying it is willing to put its weapons "beyond use." ... this is a big step forward and the first believable sign that the Catholic nationalist guerrillas intend to give up their arms. This opening must be exploited quickly... And the I-R-A must follow up with specifics about when, where and how the weapons will be turned over.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: Lastly, "The Detroit [Michigan] Free Press" exclaims:

    VOICE: It is time for the Irish Republican Army, which has long put its trust in guns, to put a little trust in the political process instead. Northern Ireland is heading for the collapse of its infant shared-power government, because the I-R-A will not yield a bullet on the disarmament question. // END OPT //

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from the U-S press on the breakdown of the peace process in Northern Ireland.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 16-Feb-2000 12:45 PM EDT (16-Feb-2000 1745 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Wednesday) as Wall Street digested new economic data that could lead to more interest rate hikes. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: After two days of solid gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average backed down for a loss of 156 points, nearly one-and-one-half percent, closing at 10-thousand-561. The Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped 15 points. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite - in volatile trading at the end of the day - managed to hold on for a fractional gain, driven mostly by positive earnings reports. Applied Materials, the world's largest maker of computer-chip equipment, beat analysts' expectations. The latest on the U-S economy shows new housing construction climbed a surprising one-point-five percent in January. Analysts said U-S consumer confidence is still very high, despite rising mortgage rates. Add to the mix higher oil prices, and inflation fears re-surfaced on Wall Street.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Investors generally were cautious in advance of Thursday's address to the U-S Congress by Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan. Market experts will be listening for clues on whether the U-S central bank intends to continue raising interest rates to slow the pace of the U-S economic expansion. Many experts believe those rates will go up at least twice more this year. Analyst Larry Jones says the Dow Jones Industrials, which are most sensitive to interest rate changes, will probably be confined to a narrow range until the Federal Reserve Board is finished tightening:

    /// JONES ACT ///

    We're kind of locked in a trading range between 10-thousand-500 or so on the bottom end of the Dow and 11-thousand-500 on the top end. And I think we will skate out of that tight band after we get across the rate increases in June.

    /// END ACT ///

    On the earnings front, Viacom - the media giant that is buying U-S broadcaster C-B-S - said its quarterly profits rose nearly 50 percent. On Tuesday, C-B-S reported a six-fold increase in its fourth quarter earnings. The two companies are waiting for regulators to approve their merger deal. British drug-makers Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham each reported profit gains below 10 percent in their latest earnings period. Analysts said this underscores the urgency for the rivals to combine to compete effectively in the industry. Glaxo and SmithKline announced merger plans last month. The deal will create the world's largest pharmaceutical business. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 16-Feb-2000 17:15 PM EDT (16-Feb-2000 2215 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The apparent breakdown in the peace process in Northern Ireland is among the most frequent editorial topics in Wednesday's U-S press. The newspapers also comment on the Republican presidential race, the worsening situation in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province, the stalled Israeli - Palestinian peace effort and monitoring Iraq's potential weapons build-up. Other editorials deal with the consolidation of power by Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin and a foreign aid package for Africa. Now, here is ________ with a closer look in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The Boston Globe is one of several newspapers lamenting Tuesday's decision by the Irish Republican Army to withdraw from disarmament talks. It says the I-R-A move:

    VOICE: ... has damaged prospects for a permanent political settlement in Northern Ireland. While the I-R-A refusal to give up its weapons means that the Northern Irish Assembly will have to remain in suspension, the British and Irish governments need to maintain the momentum in other areas covered by the Good Friday (peace) Agreement.

    TEXT: The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times also is concerned.

    VOICE: ... for the past year or so, the Irish -- and the rest of the world -- have dared to hope that the troubles in Northern Ireland might be ending. The Good Friday Accord got ... [all sides in the conflict] to agree that the future of Northern Ireland would be decided at the ballot box, not by the gun. ... But now that bright dawn has been delayed. ... By refusing to meet the February deadline [to begin disarming] to avoid suspension of the Unionist-led government, the I-R-A is underlining its autonomy and trying to flaunt its power.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Missouri, The Kansas City Star is disappointed as well and notes:

    VOICE: The situation underscores the difficulties involved in dealing with violent extremist groups. Even when things are going well -- and the provincial government seemed to be off to a good start -- some extremists are never happy. They yearn for conflict.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, Saturday's South Carolina Republican presidential primary election is now predicted to be very close and the candidates are becoming more combative. In a televised debate last night, Arizona Senator John McCain and Texas Governor George Bush clashed repeatedly over who was waging the least honorable campaign. The New York Times suggests:

    VOICE: At the core of the 90-minute debate was Mr. Bush's attempt to grab the label of reformer away from Mr. McCain. . The Texas governor's insistence that his approach constituted reform had a hollow ring last night, however. ... Mr. McCain appeared dignified and determined, but he did not get the knockout he surely desired as a follow-up to his New Hampshire landslide.

    TEXT: Two of the nation's larger daily newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, are concerned about the deteriorating situation in Kosovo. Both suggest the increasing violence between Serbs and Albanians in the divided town of Mitrovica in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province could signal a breakdown in the peacekeeping effort. Here is part of The Post's editorial:

    VOICE: Democratizing Serbia is especially difficult given Slobodan Milosevic's ruthlessness, his opponents' fecklessness and the indirectness of the means the West is using -- that is, economic sanctions. In Kosovo, the allies at least have 50- thousand troops on the ground and billions in pledged economic aid... Yet even there, signs of trouble are multiplying -- the most dramatic being ethnic violence in the divided town of Mitrovica, where Serbs and Albanians have traded gunfire with one another and with NATO troops. ... Mitrovica [should] be treated as a wake-up call. /// OPT /// General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, complained yesterday that U-S and other peacekeepers are just "marking time" in Kosovo. He's right. /// END OPT /// But the answer is not to pull out or begin shaping exit strategies.

    TEXT: Calling the Mitrovica violence "the biggest challenge since the air war ended," The New York Times does not minimize NATO's challenge:

    VOICE: It will take a long time and a lot of international assistance to build the kind of society in Kosovo where Serbs and ethnic Albanians can live together without fear in Mitrovica and elsewhere. But the chances of achieving that will evaporate unless the violence in Mitrovica is suppressed.

    TEXT: On now to yet another faltering peace process in a world trouble spot -- The Middle East. The Dallas Morning News, noting the lull in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and escalating attacks in South Lebanon, says Israel should focus on peace with the Palestinians.

    VOICE: It's a shame that Israel's peace talks with Syria and the Palestinian Authority are suspended.

    /// OPT ///

    The inauguration last year of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had raised expectations for peace to giddy levels ... But giddiness has been replaced by a sober understanding that the way remains fraught with obstacles. /// END OPT /// ... Mr. Barak is right to make a resumption of talks with Syria conditional on an end to the attacks by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based guerrilla organization that Syria controls. ... Since no one knows when or if Mr. Assad will create the conditions that would enable a resumption of talks with Israel, Mr. Barak should turn his full attention to the other half of his stalled Mideast peace agenda: the talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

    TEXT: On the other regional issue -- containing weapons development in Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- The Detroit Free Press is upset that two high-ranking United Nations officials in Iraq have quit their jobs recently over the economic sanctions that do not seem to be working.

    VOICE: Efforts to lift the sanctions -- which have hurt Iraqi citizens without eroding President Saddam Hussein's power one iota -- should be bolstered when two people who worked to bring humanitarian aid to Iraq leave because conditions are inhumane. In fact, Hussein seems more entrenched than ever. ... And reports are surfacing that Baghdad may be trying to develop more biological weapons. Weapons inspections must resume and Hussein must continue to be isolated from the rest of the civilized world. But that doesn't mean the United Nations and United States should further hurt innocent Iraqi civilians ... the true victims of his reign of terror.

    TEXT: Turning to Russia, the consolidation of power by acting President Vladimir Putin brings this response from the Chicago Tribune.

    VOICE: ... he has already begun to put his stamp on Russian affairs in a way that suggests he is eager to move forward on a number of fronts. These range from repairing fractured relations with NATO ... to restructuring Russia's debt so that it can once again gain access to world credit markets.

    TEXT: As to the National Summit on Africa, beginning today in Washington, The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville has some doubts about a foreign aid package for Africa that resembles the U-S Marshall Plan to help Europe after World War Two. The newspaper notes that unlike post-war Europe, conflict is raging in much of Africa.

    VOICE: Modern Africa ... is not at peace. In sub- Saharan Africa alone, at least nine countries are wracked by armed conflict ... Also, many African countries are beset by official corruption that eats away at the economy, and others lack the economic freedoms ... needed to create long-term jobs and the prosperity that comes with them.

    TEXT: With that, we conclude this sampling of comment from Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 16-Feb-2000 11:37 AM EDT (16-Feb-2000 1637 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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