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Voice of America, 00-02-17

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

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>


CONTENTS

  • [01] ALBRIGHT / CROATIA (L) BY KYLE KING (WASHINGTON)
  • [02] KOSOVO VIOLENCE BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)
  • [03] KURDS OFFER TO TURKEY BY ED WARNER (WASHINGTON)
  • [04] E-U / AUSTRIA (L ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)
  • [05] E-U / SAF (L ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)
  • [06] NORTHERN IRELAND (L ONLY) BY LOURDES NAVARRO (LONDON)
  • [07] CLINTON - N-IRELAND (S) BY DEBORAH TATE (WHITE HOUSE)
  • [08] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)
  • [09] THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

  • [01] ALBRIGHT / CROATIA (L) BY KYLE KING (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259277
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:
    /// Eds: The Secretary departs Andrews AFB about 3:30 PM EST, arrives Zagreb Friday 7 AM local. Overnights Zagreb. Flies to Tirana Saturday for six hours then returns to Washington. ///

    INTRO: U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will attend the inauguration of Croatian President Stipe Mesic Friday before making her first visit to Albania since the war in Kosovo. V-O-A's Kyle King is traveling with the secretary and files this report.

    TEXT: Secretary of State Albright's visit to Croatia will be her second this month and underscores U-S support for the newly elected government. Officials say Ms. Albright will use the visit to congratulate the Croatian people for choosing the path of economic and political reform that is necessary for Croatia to re-integrate with the rest of Europe. Croatia's new pro-Western government has quickly moved to sweep away a decade of hard line nationalistic policies engineered by the late President Franjo Tudjman. U-S officials are hoping this year's Croatia's democratic elections will serve as an example for the people of neighboring Serbia, where Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic continues to cling to power. Friday, Ms. Albright will head the U-S delegation at the inauguration of President Elect Stipe Mesic before making a brief visit to Albania on Saturday. In Tirana, the secretary will meet with Albanian officials to thank them for the role they played in support of the international community during the crisis in Kosovo. Albania hosted thousands of refugees from Kosovo last year, putting a major strain on the country's economy, which is one of the poorest in Europe. Officials say Ms. Albright will use the visit to try to develop ways to promote greater prosperity in Albania. The secretary had wanted to include a stop in Albania during previous trips to the region, but officials say security concerns prevented an earlier visit. (Signed)
    NEB/KBK/LTD/JP 17-Feb-2000 13:08 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 1808 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [02] KOSOVO VIOLENCE BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP
    NUMBER=6-11688
    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS
    TELEPHONE=619-3335
    CONTENT=

    INTRO: Since the beginning of this month, violence between Serbian and Albanian residents of the Kosovo town of Mitrovica has been escalating. Last Sunday, two French army peacekeepers were wounded and an Albanian sniper was shot to death. Newspapers around the world are beginning to wonder whether the overall NATO peacekeeping effort in the war-torn Yugoslavian province is "progressively deteriorating," to use the words of one major daily. We get a wider sampling now, from ________ in this week's World Opinion Roundup.

    TEXT: Mitrovica, in the mountainous north of the province, is divided by a river, with Serbs living on one side and Albanians on the other. All the minorities of the two ethnic groups who used to live among the majority populations have fled to refugee areas among their own groups, due to the intense animosity. French forces trying to keep the peace between them have been criticized for not asserting themselves more forcefully. The escalating violence peaked with a street riot on Sunday [2/13]. That accelerated speculation in some newspapers that the overall situation in Kosovo is deteriorating, and that Mitrovica is the "time bomb" that might set it all off. We begin our sampling in Western Europe, where the famed French daily Le Monde commented: VIOICE: What happened on Sunday in Kosovo illustrates the dangers of the status quo... The U-N resolution which led to KFOR and UNMIK [the two official U-N designations for its forces there] ... was accepted only because it avoided raising the essential question of Kosovo's status... The resolution did not touch on the political future of the province, which officially continues to be under Serb rule... the Albanians, who want Kosovo's independence ... feel that the resolution is being imposed on them... In Mitrovica, which remains a Serbian stronghold, Albanians are the targets of terror, probably under the direction of Belgrade...

    TEXT: Le Figaro, also from Paris, sums its view up succinctly:

    VOICE: It is time to revise the policy governing Kosovo.

    TEXT: Another Paris daily, L'Humanite, mentions a different side of the conflict.

    VOICE: ...seven months after the end of the war, the different mafias are using the province as a major center for all sorts of illegal traffic.

    TEXT: Turning to Germany, in the financial center -- The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung suggests:

    VOICE: Things appear to be clear for the Americans: They had to carry the main burden during the Kosovo conflict, and now it is up to the European NATO partners to push along the process of rebuilding and establish order in Kosovo. At first sight, the implied criticism behind this attitude seems plausible. The E-U has neither shown great readiness in providing financial support so far, nor has it come anywhere near fulfilling the U-N request for... at least 47- hundred policemen. Moreover, there is a perceptible lack of confidence-building among the various factions involved in the conflict.

    TEXT: Meanwhile, the Berliner Zeitung opines:

    VOICE: Eight months after the end of the NATO attacks on Yugoslavia, peaceful co-existence between Kosovo-Albanians and Serbs is not in sight. The hostilities ... are now causing casualties, and KFOR is unable to stop this...

    TEXT: For the Italian view, we pick up L'Unita in Rome, which sees a different focus in Europe and the United States:

    VOICE: ... Beyond the chapter of sanctions, it is on the more general strategy to be adopted in the Balkans that the discussion among E-U nations risks becoming complicated... We can expect some friction ... The difference is increasingly clear between the positions of the Americans, who are more inclined to favor the evolution of the area toward independence, and the Europeans, who are concerned with the disastrous consequences that such a solution may have.

    TEXT: In Russia, Izvestiya, in Moscow takes the side of its fellow Slavs with this view of the situation:

    VOICE: Only NATO peacekeepers can protect Serbs. But now they have to pay for their `unwarranted impartiality.' The leaders of the Kosovo Albanians are maximalists. To them, it's either white or black, friend or foe. If you don't let them get even with the Serbs, you are an enemy, and they will have a sniper ... take you out, even though you saved them a year ago. Nobody cares what was a year ago. Life is tough in Kosovo these days.

    TEXT: To Athens now, where the large Greek daily Kathimerini expresses this view:

    VOICE: The E-U foreign ministers' decision ... announcing a general lifting of the flight embargo against Yugoslavia, is a cause for celebration. ...The adoption of this Greek proposal by its E-U partners is an indirect and partial vindication of the position held by the Greek people and their political representatives during and after NATO's war against Yugoslavia, when they openly sided against Belgrade's isolation and the use of military force against Serbia.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: For the views from southern Europe, we check in with El Pais from Madrid, where this is the opinion.

    VOICE: The progressively deteriorating situation in Kosovo... clearly demonstrates that winning a war is one thing, and bringing peace to a place submerged in implacable hatreds is something else again.

    TEXT: To the southeast, Turkey's business newspaper Dunya, published in Istanbul, suggests:

    VOICE: Following the NATO operations, [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic seemed to remain quiet. But soon after, he started a political cleansing, and the surest sign of this was the suspicious murder of Arkan... And the recent assassination of Defense Minister Bulatovic is part of the Milosevic-controlled operation as well. ... [Mr.] Milosevic is trying to rush things because of the possible Hague War Crimes Tribunal action against him. By killing off the members of his tight-knit team, he thinks he will be able to get rid of his crimes before he stands trial.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this week's World Opinion Roundup on the deteriorating situation in Kosovo, especially the town of Mitrovica. NEB/ANG/gm 17-Feb-2000 16:46 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 2146 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [03] KURDS OFFER TO TURKEY BY ED WARNER (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-45477
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The fighting has ended in southeastern Turkey, and the rebel Kurds say they want peace with democracy. The Turkish Government has not formally responded other than demanding that the Kurds disarm. But there are signs the Turkish majority may finally be willing to accept Kurdish participation in the political and cultural life of the country. That would bring to a close a 15-year armed conflict that has taken 30-thousand lives, kept Turkey in turmoil, and hurt its reputation abroad. V-O-A's Ed Warner in Washington reports some views of a new hopeful period.

    TEXT: Convening in a cave somewhere across the Turkish border in Iraq, the armed Kurdish rebels, or P-K-K, made a momentous decision in January: They would stop fighting the Turkish Government. That is contingent, they emphasized, on sparing the life of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who was captured in Kenya a year ago. Although he has been condemned to death, the government awaits a review of his sentence by the European Court of Human Rights. Since Turkey is anxious to join the European Union, the sentence is not expected to be carried out. This is a dramatic development, says Dogu Ergil [`doh- goo `her-gill], professor of political science at the University of Ankara:

    /// FIRST ERGIL ACT ///

    It seems that the P-K-K proper has relinquished armed struggle, giving up its claim to land and independent social formation, and is now taking on the task of engaging in conventional politics for the promotion of Kurdish rights.

    /// END ACT ///

    Professor Ergil says the P-K-K prevented the emergence of more peaceful Kurdish groups that would have preferred a political solution. P-K-K violence was matched by the Turkish Government, which was determined to suppress any overt display of Kurdish identity:

    /// SECOND ERGIL ACT ///

    There was a convergence of opinion on both sides. Neither the Turkish Government nor the P- K-K evinced (showed) the determination to take on other methods of dealing with the problem, which I have always defended (considered) a social conflict because anything that involves so many people is a wider conflict, which has to be tackled with other methods than mere violence.

    /// END ACT ///

    Officially, the Turkish Government has not responded to the P-K-K offer. It still calls the rebels terrorists and insists on unconditional surrender. But there are signs here and there of compromise on the Kurdish issue. For instance, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem recently said the ban on Kurdish language television broadcasts should be lifted. Turkish obduracy is not what it seems, says Michael Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University:

    /// FIRST GUNTER ACT ///

    This is the opening gambit of the Turkish Government, but we have seen an implicit process of bargaining going on ever since Ocalan's capture. We will continue to see this bargaining going on between the two, and I look forward to it because it means the democratic process has actually begun.

    /// END ACT //

    Times change, says Professor Gunter, and what he calls notorious terrorists like Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat end up winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Can Ocalan undergo a similar conversion? he asks. Given peace and democracy, he says, anything is possible:

    /// SECOND GUNTER ACT ///

    The Ocalan capture last year signaled a whole new beginning not only in the Kurdish struggle for democracy, but for the Turkish struggle for democracy. This is something that involves all of Turkey. What the P-K-K is asking for is a democratic republic, and this is something that I think everybody in Turkey can agree to and it will be a win-win situation for everyone in Turkey.

    /// END ACT ///

    Professor Gunter says the P-K-K, having lost the military battle, will aim to win the political one. But it will have to compete with other Kurdish groups. Bringing Kurds into the political process, says Professor Ergil, will strengthen Turkey within and improve its relations abroad. (signed) NEB/ew/gm 17-Feb-2000 17:36 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 2236 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [04] E-U / AUSTRIA (L ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259268
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The European Commission -- the executive board of the European Union -- has invited Austria's president to speak at its regular meeting in March. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels that the 20-member commission will ignore the political isolation called for by Austria's 14 partners in the European Union.

    TEXT: European Union foreign ministers made clear this week there will be no business as usual with Austrian officials as long as the right-wing Freedom Party, led by Joerg Haider, takes part in the Austrian government. A statement agreed by the other 14 E-U governments says contacts with Austrian officials will be limited to the technical level. But, the European Commission has taken a different view. Austria remains a member of the European Union, the commission has said, and its government should be judged by its actions. That is why when Austrian President Thomas Klestil asked Commission President Romano Prodi if he could come to Brussels to meet the Commission, Mr. Prodi responded, according to his spokesman "immediately and enthusiastically." The spokesman, Ricardo Levi, notes President Klestil forced Mr. Haider and Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to agree to a statement on human rights and European values before he approved their coalition government.

    /// LEVI ACT ///

    I really want to stress that no one forgets the role that the Austrian president played in the recent Austrian crisis in defending European values and making strong efforts to bind the new Austrian government to a respect of European values.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Klestil will be received with honors at the commission headquarters in Brussels, but the Belgian government that led the effort to put Austria into political isolation will ignore the Austrian president. That was after Mr. Haider had called the Belgian government "corrupt" and said it was a place where parents have to protect their children. Mr. Haider later apologized for making those remarks and he is taking no personal role in the new government. He remains governor of the southern Austrian province of Carinthia. Earlier this week, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferraro-Waldner appealed to her colleagues to ignore Mr. Haider and to deal only with those who speak officially for the country.

    /// FERRARO-WALDNER ACT ///

    There are three people who can speak for the Republic -- the Federal President, the Federal Chancellor, and normally in normal business, it's the minister of foreign affairs that I am now, myself. So leave Mr. Haider where he is.

    /// END ACT ///

    Despite the foreign minister's appeal, the other 14 ministers reconfirmed their bilateral sanctions against Austria as long as Mr. Haider's party remains in the coalition. (Signed) NEB/RDP/JWH/LTD/JP 17-Feb-2000 10:34 AM EDT (17-Feb-2000 1534 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [05] E-U / SAF (L ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259270
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: South Africa has agreed to drop the European names it uses for some of its liquor products and has cleared the way for a long-delayed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union to go into effect. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels.

    TEXT: It took almost four years of negotiation and 24 rounds of talks before the European Union and South Africa reached their free trade agreement last March. It has taken nearly one more year to finally solve the last issue, the names South Africa uses for the liquor it produces. South African President Thabo Mbeki has accepted a demand by the European Union to phase out using European names for liquors produced in South Africa within five years. It took most of last year to work out language to satisfy Spain and Portugal that South Africa will eventually stop exporting wines with the names of sherry and port. However, the whole agreement was held up again by Italy, which wanted protection for the grappa it produces, and Greece, which wanted an end to South African production of ouzo. It was not because South Africa produces a lot of ouzo and grappa for sale but the principle of the European Union's telling South Africa what it could and could not make that held up ratification of the agreement. E-U Development Commissioner Poul Nielsen hails South Africa's agreement to make the concession and says he looks forward to a constructive and fruitful partnership with South Africa in the weeks and months ahead. His spokesman, Michael Curtis, gave details of the final concession to reporters here in Brussels.

    /// CURTIS ACT ///

    The terms grappa, ouzo, korn, kornbrand, jagertee, and pacharan will not be used as names for any spirits produced in South Africa. Also after this five-year period, only products originating in the E-U will be able to be sold under these names in South Africa.

    /// END ACT ///

    Germany produces korn, jagertee and Pacharan. Mr. Curtis says both sides have agreed to provisionally implement their 10-year Free Trade Agreement worth an estimated 17-billion dollars. When negotiations resume next month they are expected to put the agreement into force by September. This was the first free trade agreement the European Union has reached with a country outside Europe and the Mediterranean. Last month, the European Union reached a provisional trade agreement with Mexico. In the South Africa agreement, 86 percent of European exports to South Africa will be free of customs charges for 12 years. The agreement eliminates customs duties on 95 percent of South Africa's exports to the E-U for 10 years. Both sides recognize that the World Trade Organization could still rule illegal the European Union's insistence that South Africa not use European names for the liquor it produces. (Signed) NEB/RDP/JWH/ENE/KL 17-Feb-2000 12:14 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 1714 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [06] NORTHERN IRELAND (L ONLY) BY LOURDES NAVARRO (LONDON)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259262
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland say they see no speedy solution to the latest deadlock in the Northern Ireland peace process. But they say urgent talks will continue. As Lourdes Navarro reports from London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern made the comments after talks (Wednesday) with leading Northern Ireland politicians.

    TEXT: After the talks in London, there were few encouraging signs from Northern Ireland's politicians or the British and Irish leaders that this latest crisis would be over soon. Britain suspended Northern Ireland's power-sharing government last week after a report said the Irish Republican Army, or I-R-A, had not begun to hand over its weapons -- a key requirement of the province's 1998 peace accords. In response, the I-R-A announced it would no longer meet with a commission specially set up to monitor when and how the province's terrorist groups give up their arms. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, whose party is the political wing of the I-R-A, warned after Wednesday's meetings that dissolution of Northern Ireland's cabinet had left a political vacuum in the province where violence could flare up. The Protestant Ulster Unionists sounded even less upbeat, saying they would make no further compromises and that the next step is up to the I-R-A. With each side blaming the other, British officials warned that there is no quick fix (settlement) in sight. But U-S President Bill Clinton sounded one positive note that he says may open the window for compromise.

    /// CLINTON ACT ///

    The I-R-A has given no indication whatever that they will (return) to violence. And that means that they still think no matter what the rhetoric says that all the parties really believe that they ought to find a way to work this out.

    /// END ACT ///

    The Irish and British prime ministers are expected to remain in telephone contact to discuss the framework for future talks. But Protestant Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has flown to the United States for a week of engagements. And Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has made clear that right now, his party has no desire for further negotiations. (Signed) NEB/LN/JWH/LTD/ 17-Feb-2000 08:52 AM EDT (17-Feb-2000 1352 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [07] CLINTON - N-IRELAND (S) BY DEBORAH TATE (WHITE HOUSE)

    DATE=2/16/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259245
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: President Clinton says he hopes the parties to the deadlocked Northern Ireland peace process can find a way to break the stalemate. The president made his comments at a White House news conference shortly after the parties ended crisis talks in London that failed to make progress on the dispute over disarmament. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White House.

    TEXT: Mr. Clinton - who has played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process - called the Irish Republican Army's decision to end its contact with the commission supervising disarmament a very unfortunate development. That decision was in retaliation for Britain's suspension of the province's 72-day old power-sharing government Friday - a move that was sparked by a disagreement over disarmament. Despite the setbacks, Mr. Clinton found a way to accentuate the positive.

    /// CLINTON ACTUALITY ///

    A year ago at this time the Irish had had no taste of what self-government was like, and now they have had it and they like it, positive point number one. Positive point number two: the IRA has given no indication that they will revert to violence.

    /// END ACT ///

    These two points, he said, are evidence that the parties really believe they ought to find a way to resolve the impasse. He said his administration is working hard to help them do that. (Signed) NEB/DAT/TVM/gm 16-Feb-2000 19:18 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 0018 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [08] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259292
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:
    /// EDS: For more on Mr. Greenspan's comments, see CR 2-259285 ///

    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Thursday), as Wall Street focused on the expanding U-S economy and interest rates. Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, in remarks to a congressional committee, signaled the U-S central bank will be taking more anti-inflation action this year. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 46 points, less than one-half percent, closing at 10- thousand-514. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained less than a point. And the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite closed at its first record high in a week, up two-and-three-quarters percent. Mr. Greenspan's testimony on Capitol Hill ended an early Dow Jones rally. The Industrials pared their gains quickly as Mr. Greenspan talked. However, analysts concluded the chief U-S central banker said exactly what they thought he would. There were no surprises. Short-term interest rates are likely to go up, at least once but probably twice more this year.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Mr. Greenspan warned that increasing productivity, which has been the wellspring of U-S economic growth, is likely to create dangerous imbalances in the economy, with consumer demand getting ahead of supply:

    /// GREENSPAN ACT ///

    A rise in structural productivity growth has its counterpart in higher expectations for long-term corporate earnings. This, in turn, not only spurs business investment, but also increases stock prices and the market value of assets held by households, creating additional purchasing power for which no additional goods and services have yet been produced.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    Ironically, Mr. Greenspan's comments came as new economic data showed no inflation growth, at least at the wholesale price level.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The consumer price index - considered a critical inflation barometer - is due out Friday. NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/gm 17-Feb-2000 17:07 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 2207 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [09] THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=2/17/2000
    TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
    NUMBER=6-11686
    CONTENT=

    INTRO: Several U-S papers are focusing on tomorrow's [Friday's] election in Iran in their editorial columns. The faltering peace process in Northern Ireland is also a popular topic, as well as the U-S presidential primary in South Carolina on Saturday. There are other comments about secrets from Chile's dictatorial past and U-S aid to Colombia. Now, here with a closer look is ________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Millions of Iranians will flock to the polls tomorrow to chose a new parliament, and several U-S papers say more reformers may be elected, which would buttress President Mohammad Khatami. Boston's Christian Science Monitor writes: Voice: After 21 years of official piety, violent repression, and a failed economy, the world's first Islamic state has embraced a reform it once denounced: open democracy. Iran's 38 million voters choose a parliament Friday. A win for reformers has the potential to be as revolutionary as the 1979 overthrow of the Shah. It could shake the globe once again due to Iran's pivotal role in oil, theology, and geopolitics. /// OPT /// ... From Algeria to the Philippines, Muslim extremism has largely failed or proved unpopular. And now - - in the place that fired the first shot of Islamic fundamentalism heard `round the world - - a humbled clergy may be forced to accept that majority rule works better.../// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune says the end is near for the mullahs as the ruling force in Iran.

    VOICE: For more than two decades, Iran's 180-thousand Muslim clerics led privileged lives and commanded the respect, if not the affection, of Iran's 65-million people. Now many mullahs are on the defensive ... Despite all [their] ... efforts to promote their oppressive, humorless and autocratic theocracy - - and to halt ... reform ... reformers appear headed toward a worthy victory on the strength of their advocacy of greater personal freedom, a civil society and closer ties to the West. ...

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times is also hopeful, noting:

    VOICE: Reformers indicate that if they win a parliamentary majority they are prepared to act cautiously but purposefully to broaden human rights and otherwise move Iran toward the civil society that [President] Khatami says he wants to establish. That would be good for Iran and helpful to its relations with the world beyond its borders.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning now to Northern Ireland, where the failure of the Irish Republican Army to begin disarming has placed the peace process in jeopardy. Maine's Portland Press Herald says: "Only by disarming can peace be realized. The I-R-A should give up its weapons forever and without further condition." Newsday, on New York's Long Island says "It's Politics, Not Guns, That Can Repair N. Ireland."

    VOICE: For the time being, the province's agonizing progress toward self-government has been not just halted but reversed, and it's not likely to resume until the Irish Republican Army gets serious - and quite specific - about disarming. ... Self- righteousness is rife on all sides of this tangle of conflicting ultimatums, but the I-R-A's plaint that the unionists "seek a military victory" is particularly disingenuous.

    TEXT: Domestically, there is plenty of comment on the Republican Presidential race and Saturday's South Carolina primary pitting Texas Governor George Bush against Arizona Senator John McCain. The [New York] Daily News is sharply critical of Mr. Bush's latest campaign tactics.

    VOICE: If you look closely, you can see [Mr.] Bush sweat. ... It's a little late for a makeover. And a little late to be getting religion [Editors: coming around to an opposing point of view] on one of [Mr.] McCain's signature issues... campaign-finance [reform].

    TEXT: In Nebraska, The Omaha World-Herald criticizes Senator McCain for not giving enough details on his various positions.

    VOICE: Until his education speech, [Mr.] McCain had seemed to gloss over some other issues of concern to the public. When asked about the role of HMOs, [Health Maintenance Organizations], for example, [Mr.] McCain generally provided answers that are as devoid of details as they are of passion. Yet polls indicate that health care stands as one of the top issues for many voters this year.

    TEXT: Internationally, the recent revelation that the U-S State Department hid files on the deaths of two Americans in Chile when General Augusto Pinochet took power, is angering todays Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

    VOICE: In complying with the Freedom of Information Act by releasing documents to the public, the federal government may black out portions on the grounds of national security and executive privilege. However, these exemptions can be abused ... The State Department clearly engaged in such abuse in denying knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the killing of two American men in Chile. ... Charles Horman ... and Frank Teruggi ... were killed during the 1973 overthrow of the Chilean Socialist government of Salvador Allende by the forces of General Augusto Pinochet. ... Spurred by [General] Pinochet's 1998 arrest in Britain on charges of human-rights abuses, President Clinton ordered the declassification of all documents shedding light on human-rights abuses during the Pinochet era in Chile. Finally, documents. ... have made clear that the State Department knew from the beginning that the Pinochet government ...killed the two Americans. Moreover, the documents reveal ... the C-I-A might have played a role.

    TEXT: The Houston Chronicle is clearly worried about a new C-I-A report showing that Colombia is capable of producing twice as much cocaine as it has been. The paper supports President Clinton's request to Congress for an additional one-billion-three-hundred million dollars in anti-insurgency and anti-narco-trafficking aid. The Chronicle writes:

    VOICE: Drug lords, communist rebel groups and right- wing death squads are tearing Colombia apart. And cocaine and crack cocaine are tearing America apart. ... President Clinton's request for one-point-three- billion dollars in aid.... should be granted by congress. Fear that the United States might be drawn into a civil war between guerrilla forces and the government in Colombia is real, but such a possibility is small.

    TEXT: The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, is concerned about what it detects as a new, more antagonistic tone in a Russian National Security document released last month. It quotes a press briefing by Alexei Arbatov of the reformist Yabloko party and deputy chairman of the Duma [parliament's lower house].

    VOICE: Russian observers continue to profess alarm at the antagonistic attitude detected in the [document]. ... Mr. Arbatov insisted that the new concept, though dealing with the same general subjects, was so strongly different in tone and wording that it marked a major departure. The idea of partnership with NATO and the U-S was dropped, and both now appear as potential security threats to Russia. This represents a major shift for the worse in relations.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 17-Feb-2000 12:00 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 1700 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


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