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Voice of America, 00-03-03

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

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





    INTRO: Judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal have issued their harshest sentence to date: 45 years in prison for a Croatian general who planned and ordered the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from central Bosnia in 1993. General Tihomir Blaskic, the highest- ranking person to be sentenced so far, was found guilty of all the charges against him. Lauren Comiteau reports from The Hague.

    TEXT: Presiding Judge Claude Jorda said General Tihomir Blaskic may not have pulled the trigger, but as the commander of Bosnian Croat troops, he gave the orders that led to the murder of hundreds of Muslims and the destruction of their villages. Judge Jorda spoke through an interpreter.


    The crimes you committed, General Blaskic, are extremely serious. The acts of war, [were] carried out with disregard for international humanitarian law and in hatred of other people. The villages [were] reduced to rubble, the houses and the stables set on fire and destroyed. The people [were] forced to abandon their homes, and the lost and broken lives are unacceptable.

    /// END ACT ///

    As a commander, said Judge Jorda, General Blaskic failed to stop the crimes or even punish anyone for them, and must be held accountable. In a ground-breaking legal decision, judges also ruled that Bosnian Croat forces were directed from Zagreb, meaning this was an international conflict and the victims were supposed to be protected by the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which seek to safeguard civilians caught in war. // OPT // It also does not bode well for General Blaskic's associate, Dario Kordic, a Bosnian Croat political leader who is currently on trial in The Hague. // END OPT // Prosecutors hailed the verdict as the beginning of a new phase where they will be focusing on the most senior people responsible for war crimes. Deputy prosecutor Graham Blewitt was pleased.

    /// BLEWITT ACT ///

    The verdict is pleasing. All of the prosecution allegations were accepted by the court. The fact that there was an international armed conflict has also been accepted. And the sentence is a significant sentence. We're doing our job.

    /// END ACT ///

    Defense lawyers say they will do their jobs, too. They are already working on an appeal. (Signed)
    NEB/LC/GE/WTW 03-Mar-2000 10:49 AM EDT (03-Mar-2000 1549 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meets with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and top European Union officials in Lisbon today (Friday), for talks expected to focus on the situation in Chechnya. VOA's Kyle King has this report from the Portuguese capital.

    TEXT: The Secretary arrived in Lisbon before dawn. After holding breakfast talks with Mr. Ivanov, the two foreign ministers will be joined by European Union officials for a trilateral meeting. Portugal currently holds the rotating E-U Presidency. A senior U-S official traveling with the Secretary told reporters on the flight to Europe that the situation in Chechnya will be a central part of the discussions. The United States and Europe have been urging Russia to allow international monitors into Chechnya to investigate alleged human rights abuses. The official said the Secretary will use the talks to express continuing concerns and urge Russia to take a step in what he called a positive and constructive direction. During a meeting with Mr. Ivanov on Thursday, E-U officials, including French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama made clear that Russian actions taken so far were not enough. Russia has agreed to allow United Nations human rights chief Mary Robinson to visit Chechnya, but European Union External Affairs Minister Chris Patton told reporters that is not enough. Today's (Friday's) talks are also expected to focus on a wide range of other topics including, Kosovo, North Korea and Iran. It is the first time U-S, Russian and European Union foreign ministers have held such talks. (signed)
    NEB/KBK/PLM 03-Mar-2000 01:03 AM EDT (03-Mar-2000 0603 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America


    /// EDS: Updates 2-259795 new throughout

    INTRO: Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has told his U-S and European Union counterparts that Russia will allow International Humanitarian officials to visit Chechnya, where there have been persistent reports of human rights abuses against civilians. V- O-A's Kyle King reports from Lisbon, where meetings are underway between U-S, European Union and Russian foreign ministers.

    TEXT: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters the United States and European Union still have deep differences with Russia over the issue of Chechnya. Western countries have been demanding Russia allow human rights monitors to visit the battle scarred region to investigate reports of atrocities by Russian troops. Following today's talks, Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama told reporters Russia has agreed to allow a delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to visit Chechnya next week. Secretary of State Albright said Moscow has also agreed to meet with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross to discuss the issue.

    /// Albright Act ///

    Foreign Minister Ivanov told us this morning that Russia will receive the president of the International Red Cross next week to work out an agreement for the I-C-R-C's work in Chechnya. It is essential that this agreement provide access to detainees and filtration (EDS: detention) camps in Chechnya.

    /// End Act ///

    Asked how many people were being detained in Chechnya, Foreign minister Igor Ivanov said a lot of people were under investigation but he could not give a figure on detainees. In a combative exchange with reporters at the joint news conference, Mr. Ivanov challenged allegations that access to the region was being denied.

    /// Ivanov act in Russian, fades ///

    Mr. Ivanov also said he hoped Western assessments of the situation in Chechnya would be objective and would not be based on what he called false information. Secretary of State Albright said the talks focused on concrete steps needed to prevent further abuses in Chechnya, and she said it was in Russia's interest to allow monitors into the region.

    /// Albright Act ///

    The Russians would be well served if they in fact allow the kind of access we are talking about that would remove the doubts and problems that Foreign Minister Ivanov mentioned. Transparency and accountability is what is necessary.

    /// End Act ///

    Today's meeting marked the first time the United States, European Union and Russian foreign ministers sat down in a formal setting to discuss such issues. The wide-ranging talks also touched on the situation in Kosovo, arms control and the Middle East peace process. Secretary of State Albright, who held separate talks with E-U officials, was also meeting with U-S servicemen and women onboard the U-S-S Wasp, an amphibious assault ship docked in Lisbon. Following her visit to Portugal, the secretary is to make stops in the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Brussels. (signed)
    NEB/KBK/JP 03-Mar-2000 10:15 AM EDT (03-Mar-2000 1515 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The 182-member nations of the International Monetary Fund are waiting for the European Union to present a new candidate for the critical post of managing director of the I-M-F. V-O-A's economics correspondent, Barry Wood, reports the selection process is expected to move forward this coming week after Europe's earlier nominee failed to gain majority support.

    TEXT: Germany's deputy finance minister, Caio Koch- Weser, received only 43 percent of the weighted votes during an informal poll of member countries Thursday night. Two other candidates -- America's Stanley Fischer and Japan's Eisuke Sakakibara -- received 12 and nine percent respectively. Several nations abstained, including the United States with 17 percent of the vote. On Friday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder indicated that he is not yet ready to yield on Mr. Koch-Weser, who is lightly regarded by officials in the United States and several developing countries. President Clinton said Thursday he accepts the tradition that the I-M-F is headed by a European. But he called on the European Union to move swiftly in presenting a new candidate. Rudi Dornbusch, a Swiss- educated economics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says there is no shortage of qualified Europeans.

    /// Dornbusch Act///

    I certainly think that the French finance minister is outstanding. I think Trichet (Jean Claude), the current French central banker, would be a remarkable appointment that would command great respect. Certainly, from Britain, Gordon Brown, the treasury minister, would be a wonderful choice. One has to now in Europe step up a bit and find someone who goes across without anyone raising their eyebrows -- unlike the last candidate who was just not qualified.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Koch-Weser, 55, spent 25 years at the World Bank before joining the German government just over a year ago. The Americans objected to Mr. Koch-Weser on the grounds that his expertise is in development lending of the kind they hope will become less important in an I-M-F that is being reformed to concentrate on crisis prevention and emergency lending. Once a new European Union candidate is nominated, the 24-member I-M-F executive board will again conduct an informal vote as it moves toward a planned consensus on a new managing director. The selection process has been underway for four months -- ever since former French Central Bank chief Michel Camdessus announced that he would retire two years before his current term expires. Mr. Camdessus has led the I-M-F for 13 years. (Signed)
    NEB/BDW/JP 03-Mar-2000 12:39 PM EDT (03-Mar-2000 1739 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices soared today (Friday), as Wall Street received some encouraging news about the U-S economy. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average, on a five-day winning streak, gained 202 points, or two percent, closing at 10-thousand-367. The industrials are up five percent for the week. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed up 27 points and, the NASDAQ composite surged over three percent to its 14th record high this year. The latest on the U-S economy shows the unemployment rate went up to four-point-one percent in February, from four percent in January. The number of new jobs created was far below what analysts had been expecting. The data eased inflation anxiety on Wall Street, amid concerns that the U-S central bank will raise interest rates aggressively over the next few months.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Whether the new figures mean the U-S economy is actually slowing down is debatable, but not for analyst John Challenger. He says there is no doubt about it in his mind: the tight U-S labor market is slowing business expansion, and that means a cooler economy:

    /// CHALLENGER ACT ///

    Employers have gotten to the point where they just can't find the people they need. They've cut back on the job creation -- the business expansion -- because there aren't enough people out there.

    /// END ACT ///

    The Federal Reserve Board, which has raised interest rates four times since last June to try to cool what it considers an over-heating economy, is meeting again March 21st. Analysts widely expect a modest 25-basis- point rate increase.

    /// END OPT ///

    Anticipation of a slower approach to interest rates boosted the under-performing financial stocks, led by American Express and Citigroup.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Shares of Microsoft traded higher after the number-one software maker said sales of Windows 2000 have been better than expected. Retail stores reportedly have sold 500-thousand copies of Microsoft's new operating system since it was put on the market February 17th. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 03-Mar-2000 16:49 PM EDT (03-Mar-2000 2149 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The flooding in Mozambique is a major topic in Friday's editorial pages in the United States. The papers are also still commenting on the shooting of one six-year-old school child by another in Michigan. The U-S presidential primary race also gets attention just days before the dozen or so primary elections on "Super Tuesday" next week; and General Pinochet's return to Chile is another popular topic. Now, here with a closer look, is _____________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: For weeks, the southern African nation of Mozambique has been battered by bad weather. In addition to record amounts of rain, the country has also been hit by a cyclone. The lead editorials in The Sun in Baltimore and the Washington Post are about the devastation the weather has caused in Mozambique. First, The Sun:

    VOICE: Last year, Mozambique had the world's fastest growing economy. It was the success story of the international program to forgive the debt of the 41 poorest countries - - in its case, three-point-seven billion dollars worth. Inflation was modest. It was throwing off the culture of dependency. Now the southeast African country of 19 million people is a basket case through no fault of its own. The rains came all January. Cyclone Eline was a knockout blow in late February. Another cyclone is menacing in the Indian Ocean. ...Rescuing stranded people, sheltering and feeding them, is the initial challenge. Then public health. After that, it will be rebuilding agriculture and infrastructure to resume the growth.

    TEXT: The Washington Post writes:

    VOICE: Mozambique estimates ... it would cost 65- million dollars to reconstruct the flood zone, which happens to encompass the country's most heavily populated areas and its most productive agricultural lands. The figure likely understates the economic setback the country has suffered and the long-term recovery challenge it faces. Mozambique was promised three-point-seven billion dollars worth of foreign debt relief in June ... but the impact of this aid is yet to be felt.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In California, the Los Angeles Times says:"

    VOICE: Mozambique is drowning. Massive flooding has left thousands of people perched on rooftops and in trees awaiting rescue. Helicopters from South Africa have plucked many children from nearly certain death. But more helicopters and watercraft are desperately needed. ... The West helped revive flooded Central American countries last year. Surely it should do the same in this crisis.

    TEXT: Still with Africa, New York's Newsday, on Long Island, is concerned about what it calls the U-N's "timid half-measure[s]" to bring peace to the Congo.

    VOICE: It became apparent that neither international peacekeeping nor peacemaking were going to work in Congo ... So what did the [Security] Council do? It approved sending 500 peace monitors, accompanied by 5- thousand armed escorts whose sole mission is to protect the monitors. The monitors are expected to check on the progress of a cease-fire that exists only in principle. ... That means there is no peace for the monitors to observe. ...[Why] undertake such a puny and probably irrelevant effort at all? Just to show that the U-N is indeed trying to do something, **anything? ** [italics for emphasis] That's pathetic.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, the outpouring of grief over the shooting death of a six-year-old girl at a Michigan elementary school by another six-year-old, continues. "The St. Louis [Missouri] Post-Dispatch" calls the incident: "The end of innocence."

    VOICE: As long as handguns are cheap and easy to come by, American children will keep killing each other with them. This is a plain fact ... that crosses all boundaries: age, gender, class, race, geography, wealth, intent, sanity.

    TEXT: "The Boston Globe" has a chilling set of statistics about gun deaths in its editorial.

    VOICE: America's children are more vulnerable to death by firearm than any other industrialized country in the world. In 1996, 19 children were killed by guns in England, none in Japan, 153 in Canada, and 5- thousand-285 - - that is n o t a typo - - in the United States. ... So long as there is a gun for everyone in America - - 200-million in circulation - this country will top the grim charts of deadly violence. /// OPT /// ... It may not have prevented this particular tragedy, but a study by the journal of the American Medical Association found that [child access protection] laws requiring loaded guns to be stored in locked containers have reduced accidental gun deaths of children by over 20 percent. /// END OPT


    TEXT: In nearby New Hampshire, however, the "[Manchester] Union-Leader" speaks out for gun owners, suggesting no current or proposed gun-control laws would have stopped this shooting.

    VOICE: Gun control works - - but only on law-abiding citizens who deserve guns to protect themselves. The savages in society will do what they please, and the results will be more six-year-olds shooting six-year- olds unless something is done at the root level of violence. Ask the hard questions, politicians. Ask why this little boy was living in a crack house and why his parents never taught him right from wrong. ... But don't ask law-abiding citizens to give up more of their rights, in the name of "doing something" about juvenile justice down there in Washington.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Back in Missouri, "The [Kansas City] Star" is angry:

    VOICE: While lawmakers, including those from Kansas and Missouri, dodge this critical issue, citizens are dodging bullets. Or not dodging them, as when Kayla Rolland suffered a mortal chest wound at the hands of a boy her age.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The return to Chile of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, after months of house arrest in Britain, draws this comment from Charleston's [South Carolina] Post and Courier.

    VOICE: Britain's decision Thursday to return him to Chile will disappoint victims of [General] Pinochet's murderous dictatorship. But although he has escaped extradition to stand trial in Spain because of ill health, his return to Chile will set another precedent. He will no longer be above the law of his own country, despite the lengths that he went to secure immunity from prosecution by granting himself an amnesty and making himself a senator for life. Rule of law will be strengthened in the country that he terrorized.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's New York Times considers the recent statements from Beijing about taking Taiwan by force if the government there continues to delay reunification talks.

    VOICE: The triangular relationship between China, Taiwan and the United States seems to veer from one crisis to the next. The latest one was provoked ... by Beijing's threat ... Now Taiwan and its supporters in the Pentagon and Congress want Washington to provide the island government with four American destroyers equipped with sophisticated Aegis radar and antimissile technology. There must be a more constructive way to manage the sensitive issue of Taiwan's future status.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Christian Science Monitor is upset by the latest World Trade Organization ruling that U-S firms may no longer avoid paying U-S taxes on some overseas sales by channeling them through their overseas subsidiaries. Citing this country's trade deficit and generally low tariffs on imported goods, the Monitor says:

    VOICE: ... it may have seemed a low blow when ... the World Trade Organization ... ruled ... that the U-S must scrap a law allowing companies to avoid paying taxes on some overseas sales by channeling them through overseas subsidies. ... Repeal ... might add four-billion dollars or so a year to the taxes American companies must pay Uncle Sam. ... the decision won't help the reputation of the W-T-O in the U-S.

    TEXT: Maria Hsia, a leading fund-raiser for Vice President Al Gore, has been found guilty of illegal activity for raising money for Mr. Gore at a Buddhist temple in California. The New York Times calls it "a blow to Vice President ... Gore" adding:

    VOICE: There has never been much doubt that illegal fund-raising took place at the temple. The monks, nuns and others who wrote checks and were later reimbursed admitted their participation. At issue in the trial was the prosecution's charge that Ms. Hsia in effect masterminded the scheme. the lingering question is whether anyone else higher up in the fund- raising hierarchy knew what was going on.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from Friday's editorial pages of the American press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 03-Mar-2000 12:34 PM EDT (03-Mar-2000 1734 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Augusto Pinochet has just returned home after narrowly escaping a trial for human-rights abuses during his long rule in Chile. Confined to a wheelchair at eighty-four, he was declared too ill to appear in court. On arriving in Chile, he was greeted by supporters, who say he saved Chile from communism, and opponents, who accuse him of torturing and murdering thousands of people. Opinion is also divided on the wisdom on bringing him to trial. Does this kind of prosecution ultimately weaken or strengthen dictatorship? V-O-A's Ed Warner reports the debate.

    TEXT: "The case has established the principle that those who commit human-rights abuses in one country cannot assume that they are safe anywhere." That is how British Home Secretary Jack Straw sees the effort to bring former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet to justice for crimes against humanity. Though he freed Mr. Pinochet because he was too ill to stand trial, Mr. Straw said the case sets a lasting precedent that dictators, however powerful, are not beyond the reach of the law. It sets many precedents, adds Carlos Salinas, advocacy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at Amnesty International, one of the human-rights groups urging the prosecution of Pinochet:

    /// 1st SALINAS ACT ///

    The ratification of the principle of universality, of universal jurisdiction for those who have committed crimes against humanity, who have committed gross human-rights violations. I think all human-rights violators in the world have been put on notice. What we have with the Pinochet case is a tremendous new dynamic and a new possibility in the world for combating these crimes.

    /// END ACT ///

    Some of the possibilities are unfolding. Former Chad leader Hissene Habre was recently arrested in Senegal for human-rights abuses. British police apprehended a former army colonel accused of tens of thousands of deaths in the Rwanda genocide. The United States has just ordered the deportation of another Rwandan to stand trial at a U-N war crimes tribunal in Tanzania. It is good to see justice done, says Steve Johnson, a policy analyst for Latin America at Washington's Heritage Foundation. But he fears it may set a less desirable precedent:

    /// 1st JOHNSON ACT ///

    It certainly complicates the policy options of those who are trying to get dictators out of the seat of power. This has been done in a number of cases, such as in Haiti. "Baby Doc" Duvalier is now living in France, and [Uganda's] Idi Amin has been removed from power and is in Saudi Arabia. [Alfredo] Stroessner used to be the leader in Paraguay. He is now in Brazil. All of these people were ultimately encouraged to leave by achieving some kind of a deal to remain in another country.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Johnson adds that deals were also made to end the fighting in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The belligerents agreed to forget the past in order to work together for a democratic future:

    /// 2nd JOHNSON ACT ///

    When you start opening things up to deconstruct peace agreements that have already been reached, then it takes away the possibility of using that kind of a tool in the future to bring some sense of national reconciliation.

    /// END ACT ///

    Carlos Salinas responds that, deal or no deal, most dictators are forced out of office by growing public opposition. Why sweeten their departure? He says the Pinochet precedent will at least make current dictators more cautious:

    /// 2ND SALINAS ACT ///

    We would expect that this would make it very clear to even non-dictators who are involved in human-rights violations, people who are looking the other way when human-rights violations are committed on their territories or under their watch. This sends a clear message to them that the crimes shall be punished sooner or later. You will have to face a court of law.

    /// END ACT ///

    Human rights activists say they are planning legal action against other former dictators now enjoying the good life in retirement. Only it is not so good any more. (Signed)
    NEB/EW/WTW 03-Mar-2000 17:00 PM EDT (03-Mar-2000 2200 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
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