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Voice of America, 00-05-12

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

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





    INTRO: Turkey's opposition Virtue Party holds a convention Sunday, with traditionalists and self- styled moderates struggling for leadership of the pro- Islamic party. Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara.

    TEXT: The present chairman of the opposition Virtue Party, Recai Kutan, is being opposed by a moderate party member, Abdullah Gul. It is the first time in the Islamic movement's history that a leadership race is taking place. Analysts say the outcome will have a profound impact in Turkey on Islamic politics in particular, and right-wing politics in general. The analysts say that should Mr. Gul succeed and move the party toward the center, the Virtue organization could emerge once again as the country's top party. Mr. Gul is a western-trained economist. And at age 50, he is considered young by Turkish political standards. Mr. Gul has strong support among rank-and- file members of Virtue. Still, the more moderate, reform wing of Virtue says it has no quarrel with the party's basic pro-Islamic policies. But one leading moderate, lawmaker Salih Kapusuz, says reformers believe the party needs to be more modern.

    Mr. Kapusuz says the Virtue Party needs to project a more dynamic image and fulfill the role of the country's main opposition party without appearing to be at war with the Turkish state and its pro-secular armed forces. Mr. Kapusuz insists Mr. Gul and the reformist wing of the party have no quarrel with the basic values of the party.
    Mr. Kapusuz says he and his fellow reformers are just as perturbed as the traditionalists by curbs on freedom of worship, including bans on the Islamic style headscarf at government institutions and schools. But Mr. Kapusuz says that such issues need to be taken up within the broader framework of human rights violations in Turkey. For example, he says the party also should oppose the ban on free debate of the Kurdish issue. However, the traditionalist wing of the party accuses the reformist rivals of dividing the movement at a time when Virtue is at its most vulnerable. Turkey's constitutional court is set to deliver its final verdict on whether to ban the party on charges of being nothing more than the continuation of the banned Welfare party. Mr. Gul is challenging present Virtue chairman Kutan in defiance of Necmettin Erbakan, the father of Turkey's Islamist movement. He became Turkey's first pro-Islamic prime minister when Welfare won national elections in 1995, also for the first time. Mr. Erbakan was forced to resign under pressure from the military and was banned from politics for five years on charges he sought to introduce Islamic rule during a stormy year in office. But he continues to wield considerable influence over the Islamic movement, which regrouped under Virtue when the Welfare party was banned. And he is backing the incumbent, Mr. Kutan, who has led the party ever since. (Signed) NEB/AZ/JWH/GE/JP 12-May-2000 12:17 PM EDT (12-May-2000 1617 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The euro currency of 11 European Union countries has lost 23 percent of its value against the dollar since its launch in 1999. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports that while the euro recovered a bit this week, experts are identifying some structural reasons for its chronic weakness.

    TEXT: Randall Henning, an economics professor at Washington's American University, says the euro is far weaker than it should be. Part of the reason, he believes, is that there is confusion over the interaction on exchange rate policy between the 11 governments and the new European Central Bank in Frankfurt. Mr. Henning, a long-time expert on monetary affairs, says the European Central Bank needs coherent guidance from its political authorities.

    /// Henning Act ///

    The coherence of the political authority, the council of ministers, is in doubt. In fact, the finance ministers have been making conflicting statements on exchange rate policy and the weakness of the euro and that has further undermined the confidence of the market.

    /// End Act ///

    With low inflation, accelerating economic growth, and a large external payments surplus, Mr. Henning believes the euro should be at parity with the dollar or even higher. He regards the dollar's strength as a speculative bubble. The euro ended the week at just under 91 cents. The euro was launched in January 1999 at one dollar and 17 cents to the euro. Mr. Henning believes the 11 governments need to designate a single individual to speak on behalf of all concerning market intervention to support the euro. If the euro zone is compared to the United States, the European Central Bank is analogous to the Federal Reserve Board. The U-S Treasury secretary -- representing the President -- directs foreign exchange operations that are executed by the Federal Reserve. In the euro zone, 11 finance ministers -- presumably - must agree to intervention to support the currency. The danger for the European Union is that a weak euro could undermine public support for the currency even before euro notes and coins come into circulation in 2002. The dollar is so strong that it currently trades for two German marks and 15 pfennigs, the dollar's highest level in 13 years. Neil George, an economist at the Mark Twain Group in New York, says U-S investors should use the strong dollar to purchase European assets at low prices.

    /// George Act ///

    I think the key thing is to look at the euro as being very, very inexpensive. And that the dollar basically is buying a lot of euros. And therefore, the key thing to look at is what are the areas that can overcome a weak euro and possibly even profit from it.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. George advises his U-S clients to invest in German financial institutions and blue chip European companies. (signed)
    NEB/BDW/JP 12-May-2000 17:20 PM EDT (12-May-2000 2120 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States moved higher again today (Friday), but volume continues to be light as Wall Street awaits a U-S central bank meeting next week. V-O-A's Joe Chapman reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up 63 points, about one half percent, to 10-thousand-609. For the week, the index closed up just a fraction of one percent. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed 29 points higher to three-thousand-529, but still lost more than seven percent for the week. The Standard and Poor's 500 closed up 13 points to finish at one-thousand-20, down nearly one percent from Monday. Technology stocks got a lift from Dell Computer, which moved up more than 10 percent in price after the firm reported a strong surge in both sales and profits. The Dell gains offset losses in some of other major technology shares.

    /// Rest Opt ///

    James Manfredonia, a strategist with a major brokerage firm, says despite wide swings in some individual stock prices, the stock market overall seems to be just treading water (EDS: not moving significantly).

    /// Manfredonia Act ///

    There has not been a lot to hang your hat on (use as a point of reference) for the last week or so in the markets. It's mostly numbers and prices being moved around. So the last week or two have really been much slower than in the past, truly non-descript. Everybody is waiting for next Tuesday just to see if it's going to be a quarter or a half a (percentage) point (interest rate increase), knowing even that probably won't be the end, but at least will give us a better signal than what's going on.

    /// End Act ///

    Stock market analysts say many institutional investors and smaller investors have avoided taking new positions during the past two weeks. But the analysts still believe that, overall, the market has factored in an increase in interest rates of as much as one half percent by the U-S central bank. Analysts differ about the direction of the major stock indexes in the next few weeks, but almost all agree they expect trading volume to rise dramatically after the central bank announces its decision on interest rates. (signed)
    NEB/NY/JMC/JP 12-May-2000 16:54 PM EDT (12-May-2000 2054 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The inauguration of Russia's new president, Vladimir Putin, is drawing comments from some of the nation's regional dailies this Friday, while U-S involvement in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province is another popular topic. Other topics include: the crisis in Sierra Leone and the move under way in Arkansas to take away President Bill Clinton's license to practice law because he lied under oath. Now, here with a closer look - and some excerpts -- is ___________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Even though it has been several days since Vladimir Putin was sworn in (May 7th) as president of Russia, U-S papers continue to comment on the man, and his role. In Rhode Island's capital, the Providence Journal considers it a "hopeful start," after dissecting his inaugural address.

    VOICE: Mr. Putin made two important points. To begin with, "for the first time in Russian history, supreme power in the country is being transferred in the most democratic and most simple way: through the will of the people, legally and peacefully." The brutal war against the Chechens is still being waged. But ... as a constitutional matter, Mr. Putin has said and done all the right things. ... His second point was more equivocal. "The movement toward a free society has not been easy [and] the establishment of a democratic state is a process still far from over," he said. ...

    /// OPT ///

    "We want our Russia to be a free, prosperous, rich, strong and civilized country," he said, "a country of which its citizens are proud and which is respected in the world." No one can argue with that; nor would anyone hope for anything but the best in the Putin years.

    TEXT: In Ohio, Cleveland's Plain Dealer is awed by the huge responsibility Mr. Putin has taken on.

    VOICE: It's a responsibility that challenges comprehension. The Russian Federation spans eleven time zones, encompassing a land naturally rich in oil, metals, timber and agricultural potential. It ranks first in the world with a 99 percent literacy rate, and boasts a vast number of teachers, engineers and scientists. Yet its legacy of czarist rule followed by nearly a century of Communism's command economics has left its people without an understanding of, or a legal infrastructure for, the market economy to which they now so unwillingly must adjust.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In Georgia, the Augusta Chronicle is more reserved, suggesting the new Russian leader is a real enigma.

    VOICE: Foreign policy analysts in government and the media are poring over [his] inaugural address for some clues as to where he intends to take his beleaguered nation ... It's akin to reading tea leaves. We can't recall a head-of-state of a major country taking office where so little is known about him.

    TEXT: Turning to the Balkans, several papers are discussing different aspects of the U-S involvement in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province. The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times is pleased that Europe is taking more of an initiative.

    VOICE: Ever since the first U-S troops were sent into the chaos of a crumbling Yugoslavia ... Congress and other Americans have complained that it's not our problem. It's the Europeans' problem, so let them provide the solution. Now the Europeans are beginning to do something about it. A multinational military grouping sponsored by France and Spain has taken over K-For, the international peace-keeping force in Kosovo. ... They will try to keep a lid on ever- simmering hostilities between Serbs and Albanians ... Eurocorps' lead role in K-For marks the first time NATO has allowed an "external" unit to exercise command in its jurisdiction.

    TEXT: The "Eurocorps," says the Times, "sounds like a good first step in both relieving the burden on U-S troops and encouraging greater attention to security within the E-U [European Union.] Today's Tulsa [Oklahoma] World worries that a funding cutoff for U-S troops in Kosovo 13-months from now, voted in this week, may send a signal to the warring parties they can wait out a possible American departure and resume fighting.

    TEXT: From Kosovo to an active civil war in Africa's Sierra Leone, where rebels are besieging the capital, Freetown, and Westerners have fled under protection of British paratroopers, as U-N forces collapsed. The situation draws this comment from The Kansas City [Missouri] Star.

    VOICE: ... The United States should support constructive efforts to end the fighting. For starters, Nigeria's offer to bring back its soldiers to lead the peacekeeping effort could be helpful. And a more restrictive peace pact could be fashioned so that it punishes excessive brutality by rebel **and** [italics for emphasis] government forces.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal laments what is happening in the West African nation.

    VOICE: ... Sierra Leone is roiling again, and the United Nations is scrambling for a response to a humiliating situation. The crises in this small, beleaguered country offer a window on fundamental issues of long-term stability in Africa, most urgently seen in the current problems in Congo [Democratic Republic of Congo/Kinshasa]. For, despite the best intentions, no number of trade concessions, such as the recently passed African trade bill in the U-S House, can foster progressive economic and human development while continual upheavals spread misery over large sections of Africa. A primary issue is the need for a well-trained and well-equipped international or regional force that, in view of the breakdown of a credible central government, can be given the mandate to maintain order.

    /// END OPT ///

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, Washington and 60 other cities are preparing for demonstrations on Sunday of millions of mothers calling for stricter gun control laws. However, the Detroit Free Press says, despite all the expected publicity:

    VOICE: ... the march must be just a start. To create meaningful change, these moms will have to make time, amid the chauffeuring, homework, soccer [football] games and jobs that scream for their time, too. They will have to coalesce around this issue and convince the politicians that they matter.... because they vote. ... Getting rid of the gun menace will be tougher than cleaning up mud-pie stains...

    /// END OPT ///

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The St. Petersburg Times agrees, suggesting:

    VOICE: Translating the march into concrete results, however, is a more difficult task.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On to the case of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy whose request for asylum in the United States is being contested in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The boy's Miami relatives want him to stay in the United States, while his father wants to return with him to Cuba.

    VOICE: If common sense and common law have any bearing on the ... Court [`s] ... decision regarding ... Elian ... then the three-judge panel hearing the case ought to reject his Miami relatives' appeal for an asylum hearing. And it should be able to do so without weeks of delay.

    TEXT: President Bill Clinton, who is a lawyer, is fighting a move to disbar him for lying under oath in the Monica Lewinsky affair. But The [Manchester, New Hampshire] Union Leader and the Chicago Tribune both say: disbar him! Here's the Union Leader.

    VOICE: It's about time someone introduced President Clinton to the concept of shame. He has never met this creature -- never gotten within an inch of it -- as his lawyers once again proved this week, arguing in ... briefs that ... the President ... did not out-and- out lie. ... Enough. ... the message cannot go out that it is permissible to hoodwink the court system. There must be some penalty and this one is far from inappropriate.

    TEXT: Says the Chicago Tribune: "disbarring him would be a reasonable approximation of justice."

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Portland [Maine] Press Herald is pleased that the two Libyan security agents, accused of bombing Pan Am 103 eleven years ago over Scotland have finally come to trial.

    VOICE: It's not getting much notice, but the principle that international terrorist attacks should not escape prosecution is receiving long-delayed support in The Netherlands this month. ... It'' a triumph of international law that it's being held at all, and the precedent may well help deter ...future ... attacks.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Friday's U-S press. NEB/ANG/ 12-May-2000 11:55 AM EDT (12-May-2000 1555 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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