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Voice of America, 00-02-27

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] KOSOVO ATTACK (S&L) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)
  • [02] TURKEY/KURDS (L-ONLY) BY AMBERIN ZAMAN (ANKARA)
  • [03] GERMANY/ELECTION (L-ONLY) BY JONATHAN BRAUDE (BERLIN)
  • [04] AUSTRIA-SCHUESSEL BY STEFAN BOS (VIENNA)

  • [01] KOSOVO ATTACK (S&L) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)

    DATE=2/27/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259616
    INTERNET=YES CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Yugoslavia is preparing to send more police to the southern region of Serbia near the border of Kosovo province, where ethnic Albanians reportedly ambushed a Serbian police patrol. Belgrade says a Serbian policeman and an ethnic Albanian were killed and three police officers wounded in a shootout following the ambush. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest that Serbian officials have accused Albanians in Kosovo of mounting a campaign of terror.

    TEXT: The Interior Ministry of (the Yugoslav Republic of) Serbia says a group of what it describes as "Albanian terrorists" entered Serbia from Kosovo late Saturday, and attacked a Serbian police patrol with automatic weapons and hand grenades. Serbian officials say the incident ocurrred near the village of Konculj, 280-kilometers southeast of the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade. The Interior Ministry says the police patrol returned fire, killing (Fatmir Ibisi) a member of the Kosovo Protection Force, which is made up of soldiers of the officially disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army. On the Serb side, a policeman (Slavisa Dimitrijevic) was reportedly killed and three other police officers were wounded by the Albanian attackers. Yugoslavia's state-run television network showed footage of a police van riddled with bulletholes. Since NATO peacekeepers were deployed in Kosovo in June, the boundary area has seen an increase of ethnically motivated incidents.

    /// REST OPT FOR LONG VERSION ///

    Saturday's attack came a day after an explosion rocked the center of Serbian town of Bujanovac, also in the border area near Kosovo. Serbian authorities say the latest incidents show that Kosovo Albanians are trying to create conflict inside Serbia proper, in a region where ethnic Albanians make up the majority of the population in many villages. The ethnic Albanian head of Serbia's Presevo district in the troubled border area, Riza Halimi, told an independent news agency that ethnic Albanians are beginning to form guerilla units, similar to the Kosovo Liberation Army. The Albanian official said that if Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic sends in additional police reinforcements, it could trigger even more violence. NATO peacekeepers already have difficulty dealing with renewed tensions in Kosovo -- especially in the town of Mitrovica, where in recent weeks at least nine people were killed in clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. There is widespread concern that a new flash-point elsewhere in Yugoslavia would be difficult to control for the NATO peacekeepers. NATO officials are closely watching reports that Yugoslavia's second army corps -- stationed in the second and smallest Yugoslav republic of Montenegro -- has raised its combat readiness in an area near the border of neighboring Albania. In the past, President Milosevic has accused Albania of supporting the armed uprising of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and other regions. (Signed). NEB/sb/gm 27-Feb-2000 18:22 PM EDT (27-Feb-2000 2322 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [02] TURKEY/KURDS (L-ONLY) BY AMBERIN ZAMAN (ANKARA)

    DATE=2/26/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259599
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Lawyers for three Kurdish mayors arrested for their alleged links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or P-K-K, say their clients deny all the charges. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, four mayors from the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party were suspended from their duties Friday and are being held at a maximum security prison in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

    TEXT: In comments published in the pro-Kurdish newspaper, Ozgur Bakis, Mayor Feridun Celik of Diyarbakir, who was suspended from his duties together with the mayors of neighboring Agri, Bingol and Siirt over alleged links with the P-K-K, denied charges he had met with a senior P-K-K military commander in Europe. Mr. Celik said he was blindfolded during four days of interrogation at police headquarters in Diyarbakir and subjected to physical harassment. If convicted, the mayors could face more than four years in jail. The arrests have provoked strong protests from European governments. And western diplomats in the capital, Ankara, acknowledge that the crackdown on leaders of the pro-Kurdish group known as Hadep does not help Turkey's efforts to join the European Union. On Friday, Hadep leader Ahmet Turan Demir told a news conference the P-K-K should be allowed to operate as a political party now that it has called off its 15-year armed struggle for an independent Kurdish state carved out of southeast Turkey. Demir and at least 12 other Hadep officials, including the mayor of Agri, were sentenced to nearly four years in prison by a Turkish court Thursday for staging a hunger strike in 1998 in support of condemned P-K-K leader Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan was sentenced to death on treason charges by a Turkish court last year. But the Turkish government agreed to postpone the execution pending a review by the European Court in Strasbourg. Since his arrest over a year ago, Ocalan has sought to transform his campaign for Kurdish rights into a political movement. P-K-K rebels are accused of killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children, during their insurgency. Both Turkey and the United States have labeled the P-K-K a "terrorist group." According to Turkish analysts, the crackdown on Hadep shows the government is not willing to allow advocacy of Kurdish rights by legitimate political groups either. Some 37 Kurdish mayors won office on Hadep's ticket during nationwide elections last year. The party is facing closure, however, on charges of acting as a "political front" for the P-K-K. Party officials deny the charges but make no secret of their sympathy for Ocalan and his movement. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/ALW/JP 26-Feb-2000 10:01 AM EDT (26-Feb-2000 1501 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [03] GERMANY/ELECTION (L-ONLY) BY JONATHAN BRAUDE (BERLIN)

    DATE=2/27/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259615
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Exit polls in elections in Germany's northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, suggest the ruling Social Democrat-Green Party coalition will stay in power. They also indicate Christian Democrats Union leader Volker Ruehe will find it that much harder to campaign for the opposition party's national chairmanship. Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin.

    TEXT: These are not the final figures, but the outcome, is clear - Heide Simonis, Schleswig- Holstein's Social Democrat chief minister, will serve another four-year term. Early results give her party more than 41-per-cent of the vote. Her coalition partner, the environmentalist Green Party - which feared it might fail to make it into parliament this time - did well enough to stay in the coalition. The Green Party won more than seven- percent, which makes it the fourth largest party. And the Christian Democratic opposition stays in the opposition. Its 35-percent result is not only too small to give it a majority even in coalition with the Liberal Free Democrats, it is also proof of the damage done by the slush-funds scandal that has destroyed the party's popularity nationwide since November. And that, according to his earlier statements, will also be enough to stop the C-D-U's Schleswig-Holstein leader, Volker Ruehe, from running for the party's national leadership. But that may not be his final word. Commentators say one reason for his poor showing in Schleswig-Holstein has been his frequent changes of mind during the national leadership campaign. The favorite to win the national chairmanship when the party votes in April is the C-D-U's general secretary, Angela Merkel. (SIGNED)
    NEB/JB/ALW/RAE 27-Feb-2000 13:53 PM EDT (27-Feb-2000 1853 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [04] AUSTRIA-SCHUESSEL BY STEFAN BOS (VIENNA)

    DATE=2/26/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-45526
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel says there was no other alternative than the formation of a new Austrian government including the controversial, far-right, Freedom Party. Mr. Schuessel made the remarks in an interview with V-O-A news following weeks of protests against Austria's new government coalition. As Stefan Bos reports from Vienna, the Austrian chancellor also called on the European Union and the United States to end the diplomatic isolation of his country.

    TEXT:

    /// Act sound of demonstration, establish, fade under ///
    Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has not had much rest in recent days. Almost a week since what was described as Austria's largest protest since World War Two, young anti- government demonstrators still crowd the streets of downtown Vienna. In front of Mr. Schuessel's office, and not far from the balcony where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler held a speech 62 years ago, thousands of people shout slogans against fascism. The demonstrators argue that Mr. Schuessel put his own ambition above the good of the nation by forming a coalition government with the far right Freedom Party, or F-P-O. The F-P-O leader, Joerg Haider, once praised Hitler's employment policy and other aspects of the Nazi era. Though Mr. Haider has since apologized expressing such sentiments over the past decade, his critics say the apology was little more than a political ploy to make his party a legitimate partner in government. In an interview (with V-O-A News), Chancellor Schuessel said he would have preferred to form a government with the Social Democrats, or S-P-O, which ruled Austria for decades. But Mr. Schuessel says he changed his mind after the Social Democrats refused to sign a government agreement.

    /// Schuessel Act ///

    We had a fully negotiated (government) treaty of 110 pages, a full program for the next (Governing) period. And on the 21st of January, the Social Democratic Party (chose) not to negotiate with us anymore. And then they tried to form a minority government with silent support from the Freedom Party. It did not work. And now, the only alternative was to build a coalition between the Freedom Party and the Christian Democrats.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Schuessel adds that he did not think calling new elections would have changed the result of last October's balloting. In his words, this would have meant "even more votes for Mr. Haider."

    /// Opt ///

    The Austrian chancellor says he explained the situation to U-S State Secretary Madeleine Albright and other U-S officials who expressed concern about Austria's political climate. /// End Opt /// Mr. Schuessel says he has told U-S officials that his rightist government intends to develop a program to help victims of the Nazi terror during World War Two, when Austria was a close ally of Nazi Germany. Such a program, he says, would be designed to ...

    /// Schuessel Act ///

    ... deal with our past, to offer something, to offer compensation to the Nazi forced labor, to do something regarding Holocaust-related issues what previous governments did not do.

    /// End Act ///

    /// Begin Opt ///

    Austria's vice-chancellor, Susanne Riesspasser, the Freedom Party's senior representative in the new government, told V-O-A she hopes that these kind of measures will reduce concerns about Austria's political direction. Ms. Riesspasser also says she hopes Israel will reconsider its decision to recall its ambassador to Austria.

    /// Riesspasser Act ///

    I would like to say to the Israeli government what I say to all our critics -- that they should really take a look at what the situation in Austria really is. No Jew in Austria has to be afraid of this government or of the F-P-O.

    /// Sub-Opt ///

    This a peaceful country. This is a country without extremist groups. We have no neo-Nazis attacking foreigners like in other European countries for example. People should just have a look at what we do, you know, and not have prejudices against this Government that are not justified. /// End Sub-Opt ///

    /// End Opt ///

    But despite such reassurances, officials in many European Union governments are concerned that with its new right-wing coalition, Austria may be less friendly toward the rest of Europe. East European countries seeking to join the 15-nation European Union are especially worried about Austrian demands that workers in eastern Europe achieve relative equality of pay before their countries can be considered for full E-U membership. Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel says the pay differential between workers in the East and West was behind controversial remarks made by Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider. Those remarks, say Schuessel, reflect what he calls "understandable widespread sentiments" in Austria, especially among trade union members.

    /// Schuessel Act ///

    What Haider said was that he repeated the positions of the unions, which have some concerns about the labor market.

    /// End Act ///

    But for now, European Union nations remain skeptical. And if the continuing demonstrations outside the government offices in Vienna are any guide, so are many Austrians.
    /// Act Sound of demonstrators establish fade under ///
    (SIGNED)
    NEB/SB/JP 26-Feb-2000 10:21 AM EDT (26-Feb-2000 1521 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America
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