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Voice of America, 00-05-02

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

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





    INTRO: U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said today (Tuesday) the United States welcomes the new spirit of cooperation among many nations in southeastern Europe. VOA Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: Noting that peace and stability in southeastern Europe is in the interest of the United States, Ms. Albright says the cooperation between Greece and Turkey and between Hungary and Slovenia as well as improved relations among other nations in the region are welcome. She says private sector investment in those nations will be the key to sustainable economic growth and urges them to continue economic and political reforms as a way to attract investment. Although generally optimistic, Ms. Albright observes that Serbia is left out of the widespread revival in the region but says that will not always be true.

    ///Albright act///

    Recently 100-thousand Serbs took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with (President) Milosovic and show their desire for freedom. One of the ruling parties responded by saying that "Serbs are used to suffering." But defeatism is no substitute for democracy. We should plan now for how we can help a democratic Serbia recover from the devastation wrought by the past decade of misrule.

    ///end act///

    Ms. Albright spoke to a conference of the East-West Institute, a private group that promotes development in southeastern Europe, Russia and Eurasia.

    ///Rest opt///

    The Institute is jointly honoring Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Turkey's Foreign Minister Ismail Cem as its "Statesmen of the Year." The mutual cooperation of Greece and Turkey during last year's earthquakes seemed to be the catalyst for improved relations. Mr. Cem says the new relationship between his nation and Greece is having economic benefits.

    ///Cem act///

    The recent political developments between Greece and Turkey seem to be contributing strongly to a more secure investment climate.

    ///end act///

    Mr. Papandreou agrees, saying cooperation with Turkey is expanding on many levels.

    ///Papandreou act///

    We are opening up cooperation not only in areas of business but specifically in areas of tourism, in shipping and in areas such as environment, education, culture and cooperation in fighting crime, narcotics, terrorism, illegal migration and so on.

    ///end act///

    Mr. Papandreou also hailed the increasing contacts between average Greek and Turkish citizens.(Signed) NEB/UN/BA/LSF/PT 02-May-2000 18:56 PM EDT (02-May-2000 2256 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America




    INTRO: The general who led NATO's 78-day bombing campaign during last year's Kosovo conflict says a few signs of ethnic tolerance are growing in the Serb province's scorched earth. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports General Wes Clark spoke on his last day as commander of U-S forces in Europe, right after an emotional visit to Kosovo.

    TEXT: In his farewell speech, General Wes Clark said the NATO bombing campaign that drove Serb forces out of Kosovo, and the tens-of-thousands of international peacekeeping troops that followed, are changing some minds in the Serbian province.

    /// CLARK ACT ///

    You could see among the people there, (an) increasing sense of security, the indicators of recovery from the trauma of ethnic cleansing, and even some first budding signs of willingness to tolerate ethnic differences and cooperate among ethnic groups.

    /// END ACT ///

    On a visit Monday to Pristina, General Clark said NATO-led K-FOR peacekeeping troops are working hard to protect minority communities, but can not guard everyone.

    /// OPT ///

    Ethnic violence flared in Kosovo in recent years as Serb-dominated Yugoslav troops and police waged a campaign of arson, terror, and murder that drove about one-million ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo. Albanian-speaking Muslims were a majority of the population there, but ethnic Serbs dominated the economy and ran the security services. When throngs of Kosovar refugees threatened to overwhelm the region, NATO began a bombing campaign to drive the Serb troops and police out of the province and allow the refugees to go home. Since then, about 40-thousand NATO-led international troops from 28-countries have been trying to keep the peace between the returning Kosovars and the Serbs.

    // END OPT //

    Continued ethnic violence prompts critics in Congress to ask if the program is working, and if the nearly six-thousand Americans troops can ever leave. Top Pentagon officials admit it could take years to overcome the trauma of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. One young Army officer who works closely with Kosovo's various ethnic groups says they - have a lot of things to un-learn. Meanwhile, General Clark has been ordered to give up his command of U-S troops and NATO forces.
    The 19-gun salute was part of an elaborate ceremony near Stuttgart, marking the end of General Clark's tenure as head of 109-thousand U-S troops. His successor is Air Force General Joe Ralston who will take command of all NATO military forces from General Clark in a ceremony Wednesday in Mons, Belgium. General Clark made it clear during the Kosovo campaign that his operations were hamstrung by political constraints, and he is stepping down several-months early to make way for General Ralston. Pentagon officials insist the early departure is purely for administrative reasons, denying Clark's leadership style has irritated the Clinton administration. (SIGNED)
    NEB/JR/RAE 02-May-2000 12:00 PM EDT (02-May-2000 1600 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: In Armenia's ongoing power struggle, President Robert Kocharian has dismissed two of his major opponents, the prime minister and the defense minister. On a trip to Moscow, they had just agreed to accept a Russian army division that is scheduled to withdraw from neighboring Georgia. This would add to the some 10-thousand Russian troops already in Armenia and heighten tensions between a pro-Moscow faction and one that leans westward. V-O-A's Ed Warner in Washington examines the internal disputes that keep Armenia in turmoil.

    TEXT: On October 27 last year, five gunmen burst into the Armenian parliament and started shooting. Before they were finished, the prime minister, the parliament chairman and six other top officials lay dead. The assassins shouted that their "patriotic deed was a sacrifice for the nation." It has not helped the nation. With those murders, Armenia started unraveling, said its foreign minister, Vartan Oskanian, in a recent speech at the private Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington:


    The events of October 27th last year created tremendous problems for Armenia domestically, and we are still struggling to achieve the unprecedented stability that we had. In any other country probably, that kind of an event would have thrown the country into chaos and even civil war. Armenia successfully circumvented that.

    /// END ACT ///

    But Mr. Oskanian says the killings seriously weakened President Robert Kocharian and divided the government. Armenia is awash in intrigue. Two camps are contending for power, says Vladimir Socor, senior analyst of the Jamestown Foundation, which closely follows events in the Caucasus. One consists of the defense ministry and its allies in parliament who seek closer ties to Russia:

    /// FIRST SOCOR ACT ///

    That side in the Armenian power struggle is unilaterally relying on Moscow, whereas [Mr.] Kocharian and his ally, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, are trying to strike a more balanced course. It is [Mr.] Kocharian and [Mr.] Oskanian who made considerable progress last year in direct unmediated bilateral negotiations with Azerbaijan, bypassing the ineffective mechanism of the O-S-C-E [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe]. But the outbreak of the struggle in Armenia has paralyzed that negotiation.

    /// END ACT ///

    Solving the territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh is the key to regional peace and stability, says Mr. Socor. But President Kocharian is under too much political pressure to try to reach a compromise with Azerbaijan. Even so, Mr. Socor thinks the president, while lacking strong constitutional powers, is making a comeback.

    /// SECOND SOCOR ACT ///

    [Mr.] Kocharian does not command military power in any effective sense. Most of the guns are in the hands of his opponents. But [Mr.] Kocharian is proving adept at political maneuvering, and in the last few weeks, he has scored a number of political gains against his opponents, which has given him a psychological advantage.

    /// END ACT ///

    With a sinking economy, Armenia badly needs direct foreign investment. Mr. Socor says the United States is encouraging privatization of industries that might otherwise wind up in Russian hands. It is also urging a reluctant Armenian military to engage in joint exercises under the Partnership for Peace program. In his Washington speech, Foreign Minister Oskanian said Armenia must strike a balance among the greater powers. It is too small and isolated to risk antagonizing any of them.


    We cannot ignore Russia's direct and immediate interest in the Caucasus. That would be a big mistake. I think our neighbors are making a mistake and unnecessarily creating a tension and polarization in our region. We should also recognize the United States' commercial and other interests in the region. We must try somehow to reconcile these interests and make them coexist in harmony in our region.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Oskanian said during the Cold War, it was necessary for Armenia to choose between east and west. Now it is not. (Signed) NEB/ew/gm 02-May-2000 16:23 PM EDT (02-May-2000 2023 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A U-N report says Europe's economic prospects are looking better than at any time in recent years. Lisa Schlein in Geneva says the study by the UN's Economic Commission for Europe predicts strong growth for many European countries.

    TEXT: The report says that among the four major economies in western Europe, France and Britain are likely to experience the strongest economic growth. But it says growth also is accelerating in Germany and Italy, where the business climate improved markedly early this year. The report attributes western Europe's strong economic performance to several factors. These include the end of problems caused by the financial crises in southeastern Asia and in Russia, the continued strength of the U-S economy, and the drop in value of the single European currency, the Euro, which has made exports more competitive. Senior U-N economist Paul Rayment says countries should not ignore the potential problems of inflation. But, he says they will benefit more from getting their economies moving.

    /// RAYMENT ACT ///

    Despite all the talk about inflexible labor markets and so on, one of the major factors for reducing unemployment is to have a healthy rate of economic growth. And, certainly something about two-and-a-half percent is what is necessary to get unemployment down. So, a period of three percent growth in western Europe will make a significant impact on these high levels of unemployment.

    /// END ACT ///

    The report says short-term prospects for the so-called "transition" economies of central and eastern Europe this year are considerably better than they were one year ago. The U-N economists expect strong and steady economic growth to continue in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia. They also expect an economic upturn in the three Baltic republics. And they foresee a fragile recovery in Russia of up to two percent. The report says that although the direct impact of the Kosovo conflict was less than feared, the damage was still significant. And it says the economic situation in southeastern Europe remains weak. The report says economic and social problems in the "transition" economies and in republics of the former Soviet Union have led to a sharp drop in births. A U- N population expert, Misoslav Macura, says these countries have the lowest birth rates in Europe and the world.

    /// MACURA ACT ///

    If those fertilities do not recover substantially, that is recover by let's say point-two to point-four children on average in these countries, than by 2050, we're likely to see the populations of many of those countries being cut by one-third.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Macura says Italy, Spain, and Greece also have extremely low birth rates. But he says the reason people in those countries are having fewer children has more to do with life style than with the economy. (Signed)
    02-May-2000 14:18 PM EDT (02-May-2000 1818 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower today (Tuesday). Trading volume was relatively light again, with analysts noting a lack of conviction and fears about the economy on the part of investors. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 80 points, three-quarters of one percent, closing at 10- thousand-731. The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell 22 points - one and one-half percent. And the Nasdaq composite dropped more than four percent. The Dow Jones came under pressure due to weakness in one of its major components. Shares of U-S long- distance phone carrier A-T and T fell over 14 percent. The company came in with first-quarter earnings in line with expectations, but then lowered its earnings estimates for the full year. This comes at a time when A-T and T is supposed to be expanding into an Internet and cable-TV company. Microsoft affected both the Dow and the Nasdaq markets. After a modest recovery Monday, Microsoft shares edged five percent lower.

    /// REST OPT for long ///

    Investment strategist Marty Cunningham sees investors moving cautiously until the U-S central bank meeting in mid-May. He says inflation news has not been very good lately and the specter of interest rate hikes has come back to haunt Wall Street:


    You've got in the background this eerie silence based on a real lack of conviction on the "buy" side. I think we find ourselves with investors looking towards the 15th, the 16th of May as it relates to the "Fed" Open Market Committee meeting, and wholesale and retail prices, and waiting for some proverbial "shoe to drop."

    ///END ACT///

    The latest on the U-S economy shows new home sales in March rose four-point-five percent - above expectations and the highest level in more than a year. Analysts say higher interest rates apparently are not making an impact on the housing market. Meanwhile, leading economic indicators - which look ahead to future business activity - inched up one- tenth of one percent. Analysts had expected no change or a flat reading. In other news, two big names and rivals in the U-S hotel business are forming an alliance. Marriott International and the Hyatt Corporation are creating a separate Internet company to supply the hotel industry with everything from soap to electricity. The new online business will get started later this year. Analysts say the Marriott/Hyatt venture steps up competition in the suddenly "red-hot" hotel-supply industry, which is now filled with thousands of smaller companies. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 02-May-2000 16:41 PM EDT (02-May-2000 2041 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Among the editorials in Tuesday's newspapers are comments about the Internet's effect on privacy and about the breakup of the huge U-S software company, Microsoft. There are also editorials on a looming telecommunications trade battle between Mexico and the United States; aid to Colombia; and the pending confrontation over the U-S Navy bombing range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Now, here with a closer look and some quotes is ____________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: President Clinton is proposing new laws to protect the privacy of consumer's financial records. Today's Los Angeles Times is one of several papers watching developments.

    VOICE: Information technology offers many benefits, from higher productivity to better medical care, but it comes at a price: the gradual loss of privacy. ... What consumers need is help from legislation that would give them some control over the use of the information already collected. ... President Clinton's ... proposal to strengthen the protection of consumers' financial privacy is the right measure.

    TEXT: In Michigan, the Detroit Free Press offers a chilling example of how this free flow of personal information could be very detrimental.

    VOICE: Suppose you go on-line to read about the drug AZT or about health care for pregnant women. Somewhere in cyberspace, somebody's software may flag you as a possible AIDS victim or a candidate for diapers and a crib. Do you want this information floating around where who-knows-who can access it? ... Internet privacy rules are an idea whose time has come. Any hint of regulating the Internet brings out the wailers who claim government intervention will cause the cyber-economy to collapse.... E-tailers are smart enough to make a buck without invading people's privacy without their consent.

    TEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle disagrees, suggesting the president's proposal is a good idea and needs public support.

    VOICE: The Clinton plan ... would require banks, insurers and securities firms to get your permission before sharing personal details about you among their subsidiaries. ... [Mr.] Clinton said ... "Your information doesn't belong to just anyone." Many Americans, upon learning of this enormous gap in privacy law, probably would agree wholeheartedly with [Mr.] Clinton.

    TEXT: The day's other big domestic topic continues to be the debate over breaking up the computer software giant Microsoft into two or more separate companies. The Justice Department is planning such a move after a Federal Court found the huge Washington State firm guilty of anti-competitive practices. Today's Philadelphia Inquirer says that while Microsoft is clearly guilty as charged, breaking it up is a risky proposition with unknown consequences.

    VOICE: Will it unleash torrents of innovation and customer bliss, or will it throw a wrench into the "new economy" at the most inopportune moment? The scary truth is: No one knows. ... Some economists and computer gurus will tell you that putting asunder what Bill Gates and company have wrought is the only solution to the monopolistic practices decried ... in a landmark ruling last month. ... Others scorn the proposal. They see a meddling agency and interventionist judge stupidly applying principles of old-style industrial economies to the dynamic "new economy." They view this antitrust remedy ... as little more than vengeful envy against Mr. Gates.

    TEXT: In Florida, the St. Petersburg Times adds that while the idea of dividing the company in two may be the best solution, it warns the move is not:

    VOICE: ... a panacea that will ensure competition in the computer arena for the long term. ... The judge may have to accept that the government has practical, if not legal, limits in shaping the market for digital products and services.

    TEXT: Lastly, a plea from the Detroit News: "Don't Break Up Microsoft," because, the big Michigan daily says, market forces are already vastly reducing the big company's control of the software and operating systems industry.

    /// OPT ///

    VOICE: Such radical action supposedly will spur competition in a software industry cowed by Microsoft. In reality, the market is way ahead of the regulators. The dominance of Windows already is mitigated by a massive shift to Internet-based technologies for which there is furious competition.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to international topics, the Dallas Morning News says it's about time someone challenged Mexico's monopolistic telephone system, Telmex.

    VOICE: The Clinton administration is threatening to sue Mexico in the World Trade Organization unless the country counters the monopolistic practices of its dominant telecommunications provider ... Good move... Opening Mexico to competition in telecommunications would benefit Mexican consumers and businesses with lower prices and improved service. And it would improve the climate for business, which today requires superior telecommunications links.

    TEXT: Turning to recent developments in Columbia's war against drug trafficking and a 35-year-long insurgency, the New York Times is guardedly optimistic about President Pastrana's latest plan. The government in Bogota wants to hand over another safe- haven region to the country's second largest guerilla group.

    VOICE: The plan would draw the group, the National Liberation Army, into Mr. Pastrana's peace talks for the first time. Colombians have learned not to expect too much from periodic negotiations, and a peace agreement is still a long shot. But the inclusion of the National Liberation Army provides the best chance in recent history to negotiate an end to the activities of a guerrilla army whose kidnappings and bombing of oil production facilities have terrorized Colombians. ... Perhaps Colombia's rebels are finally ready to negotiate in good faith.

    TEXT: Today's Hartford [Connecticut] Courant is keeping a watchful eye on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, where the U-S government is readying to forcibly evict protesters. The year-old controversy stems from an accidental death at a U-S Navy bombing range on the island, which has led to Puerto Rican demands that the range be closed. The Courant notes:

    VOICE: For the second time in two weeks, the federal government has mobilized a team of U-S marshals and about one-thousand Marines to remove scores of protesters who have occupied the Navy bombing site in Vieques ... for more than a year. Last week, federal officials canceled the operation for fear of a violent confrontation with the demonstrators. They shouldn't back down again.

    TEXT: Vice president Al Gore made a major foreign policy address Sunday, and several papers are welcoming the inclusion of foreign affairs into a presidential debate that many have criticized as far too shallow. The San Jose [California] Mercury News says of Mr. Gore's "forward engagement" policy:

    VOICE: ... [Mr.] Gore made the case for selective intervention abroad, when America can be effective and is supported by allies. Regarding Russia and China, [Vice President] Gore termed them "vital partners" with whom we must be engaged ... He called unequivocally for establishing permanent normal trade relations with China and for admitting it to the World Trade Organization. The clarity was overdue and welcome.

    TEXT: Lastly, the Omaha [Nebraska] World-Herald discusses how the new Russian security service, the F- S-B, is modeling itself on its predecessor, the K-G-B.

    VOICE: It would be viewed as scandalous and unseemly if Germany's security agencies described themselves as the proud successors to the Gestapo and SS, Hitler's infamous instruments of state terror. ... In present- day Russia, on the other hand, the Federal Security Force, or F-S-B, is repeatedly signaling that it's proud to carry on the work of the K-G-B, the security agency responsible for inflicting many of the worst horrors of Soviet repression. /// OPT /// ... Most blatant of all is a remarkable coffee-table book ... the F-s-B has put out to market itself. The book is called "Lubyanka: From the History of the Fatherland's Counterintelligence Service." /// END OPT /// ... U-S leaders should be wary. With Russia's largest security agency trumpeting its admiration for the K-G- B, Americans can entertain legitimate doubts about the depth of the leadership's commitment to constructing a free society.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorials from the pages of Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 02-May-2000 11:49 AM EDT (02-May-2000 1549 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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