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Voice of America, 00-08-16

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

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





    INTRO: Another part of Yugoslavia is threatening to erupt. Montenegro is seeking more autonomy or perhaps independence, while Belgrade is determined to prevent it. Will Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic resort to military force? No one knows for sure, and how the west would react is unclear. VOA's Ed Warner reports the deepening crisis in this isolated, mountainous, defiantly proud region of Yugoslavia.

    TEXT: On a recent trip to Montenegro, Jeffrey Gedmin of the American Enterprise Institute found tensions rising:

    /// GEDMIN ACT ///

    There are people who work for the foreign ministry who are of non-military assignment who wear civilian clothes who pack small machineguns in their briefcases. As one journalist described it to me: "Everything is calm, and chaos could break out at any moment."

    /// END ACT ///

    Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has increased the pressure on Montenegro to halt its westward drift. Some 15 thousand Serbian troops stand ready in Montenegro to enforce his will, if need be. They are matched in numbers, if not in training, by police loyal to the republic. For the moment, neither side is forcing the issue, but Mr. Gedmin thinks the deadlock must eventually be broken:

    /// GEDMIN ACT ///

    How does it promote economic development in a situation where Montenegro remains a part of Yugoslavia and where foreign investment will simply not be attracted for that and other reasons? It seems to me it is an uneasy balance where sooner or later (Montenegro President Milo) Djucanovic is either going to have to pull away or internal forces, perhaps provoked directly by Milosevic, will say, "Enough with this pro-western flirtation. He has got to go."

    /// END ACT ///

    The result, says Mr. Gedmin, could be a more devastating war than in Kosovo or Bosnia. Montenegrins remain sharply divided. After some successes in local elections in June, Milosevic supporters now control seven of twenty-one municipalities, and surveys show substantial opposition to independence. The Yugoslav leader has already won much of the battle, says David Serwer of the U-S Institute of Peace in Washington. Montenegrins have been steadily isolated:

    /// SERWER ACT ///

    They have essentially no influence any longer on anything that happens in Yugoslavia. They are impoverished in part by an economic blockade, and they can do nothing to remove his army from their territory. So in many respects he has already achieved a good deal of his objectives. What is unclear is whether he will go beyond that to try to get rid of Djucanovic and to establish direct personal control over Montenegro probably through one of his proxies.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Serwer says Milosevic is unlikely to act until after the September 24 Presidential election that he is expected to win. The Montenegrin government is refusing to participate in what it considers a rigged vote. Mr. Milosevic may also count on some backing from Russia:

    /// SERWER ACT ///

    Russia has been showing inclinations under Putin to use Serbia to aggravate the West and NATO in particular. They do not seem to have any particular sympathy with Milosevic, but he is a thorn in the side of NATO. But I think Moscow would have no reason to be happy with a Serbian crackdown on Montenegro, which might then precipitate another NATO intervention, which would show Russia in a bad light.

    /// END ACT ///

    Would NATO intervene in a showdown in Montenegro? That too, remains a matter of conjecture. The west has warned President Milosevic not to attack Montenegro, notes Mr. Serwer, but then he has had twenty-one final warnings since 1990 and may not take this one very seriously. Mr. Gedmin expects a replay of the west's response to Bosnia and Kosovo. Nato will wait for others to act, and then it will react. It devoutly hopes nothing bad will happen and for the moment, nothing is. But can it last? (Signed)
    NEB/EW/TVM/PT 16-Aug-2000 17:28 PM EDT (16-Aug-2000 2128 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Wedneday). Correspondent Larry Freund reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 58 points or half-of-one-percent, closing at 11-thousand- eight. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index was down four-and-one-half points, one-third-of-one- percent. But the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite was up almost 10 points or one-quarter-of-one-percent. The government released two economic reports, one on inflation, the other on housing. U-S consumer prices were up in July, but only a relatively modest two- tenths of one percent, within the range of what had been expected. And construction of new homes and apartments was down in July to the lowest level in 32 months, a response to higher interest rates. Analysts say the two reports, taken together, indicate a cooling economy with modest inflation and suggest central bank policymakers will not raise interest rates when they meet next Tuesday.

    /// REST OPT ///

    While that is considered good news for U-S stocks, analysts say investors also face the prospect of reduced corporate profits. Ed Peters is the chief investment officer of the PanAgora investment services company.


    A slowing economy also means lower earnings growth. And the market is not priced for that. So there is quite a bit of confusion since many investors have never faced a growth slowdown in earnings and don't quite know what to make of it.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    But Charles Blood of the Brown Brothers Harriman banking firm says a rising stock market depends on a slowing economy.


    If the economy has in fact not slowed down, if it is still perking along later this year, then I think we're going to have trouble getting into positive territory. But if the slowdown is real and interest rates have really turned lower, then that sets the stage for further advances.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    Wednesday's trading on Wall Street, with the Dow Industrials going in one direction and the Nasdaq Composite in the opposite direction, has been a familiar pattern to traders. Michael Driscoll of the Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette securities firm, says the split represents a battle between new age and old age.


    I do not necessarily think the divergence is going to go away any time soon, because what is necessarily good for some of the big cap (capitalization), old-line-type retailers may not be as good for Amazon or EBay or any of the new-age-type retailers.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    The weather is also having its effect on stocks. One analyst cut his growth estimate for PepsiCo because the cool and rainy summer in the northeastern United States has reduced sales of the company's soft drinks. While the analyst did not reduce his estimate for Coca Cola, the company's stock - one of the 30 Dow industrials - was down about two percent. (Signed)
    NEB/LSF/TVM/PT 16-Aug-2000 16:59 PM EDT (16-Aug-2000 2059 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: With the American political season in full swing, editorial writers in the United States are taking aim at the problem of money in politics. Also discussed in America's newspapers are the controversial remarks by North Korea's leader about his country's ballistic missile program, independence day anniversaries this week in India and Pakistan, the fate of the stranded Russian submarine and what one editorial writer sees as an ironic twist on the legacy of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    TEXT: The Republicans took criticism earlier this month for what some observers saw as the unseemly contributions American corporations made to their convention in Philadelphia. Now it is the Democrats' turn. The Los Angeles Times takes note of what it terms "gaudy" parties for the Democrats in Los Angeles and lavish tributes for Republican office-holders in Philadelphia, sponsored by private corporations and special interest groups. The newspaper says each of the contributors has a political agenda.

    VOICE: "The shameless gobbling at corporate the new point of political conventions. Each party gets a 13-million dollar public subsidy to hold its national convention, plus goodies from the host city. Why isn't that enough?... At least the Republicans are being true to their anything-goes campaign finance platform plank. The Democrats, who vow to clean the swamp, are the worse hypocrites... From here on in, let's make the parties pay for their own parties.

    TEXT: One month ago North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il suggested to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Pyongyang might give up its ballistic missile program in exchange for other nations' help in launching North Korean satellites. The statement was taken by many observers as a new effort by Mr. Kim to reduce tensions, until recently when he told South Korean media executives that he made the suggestion "laughingly." A Washington Post editorial says the comments show the hopes sparked by the June summit between the Koreas were from the start, "unrealistic."

    VOICE: He (Kim Jong Il) seemed to revel in the international clout his basket case of a country has gained by brandishing its arsenal: `Why would I need to (court) bigger countries? If I sit here in Pyongyang, many from powerful nations come to me.' The North Korean leader who seemed so surprisingly charming on that occasion has reverted to steely type. More than that; he is surprisingly open about the until-now undeclared strategy of extortion that he has pursued with such success. It seems there will be no quick fix to the North Korean missile threat, after all.

    TEXT: Both India and Pakistan this week celebrated the anniversaries of their independence from Britain in 1947. The Dallas Morning News writes that now it is time for the two nations to free themselves from what it calls "their entrenched positions" on the disputed territory, Kashmir.

    VOICE: India and Pakistan remain locked in a dispute with dangerous ramifications for the rest of the world. U.S. intelligence puts the chances of a conventional war at 50-50 and believes that the chances of it escalating to a nuclear war are increasing. India and Pakistan need to end their reluctance to enter into direct negotiations. Both must take into account Kashmiri expressions of autonomy or independence from both countries. And India needs to overcome its aversion to outside mediation. The United States should continue to work hard behind the scenes to bring the parties together. Nobody wins if the fighting in Kashmir goes nuclear.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune is commenting on what it calls the "democratic legacy," of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Last week Chile's Supreme Court stripped General Pinochet of his immunity-for- life from prosecution. The newspaper sees the court decision as the latest in a string of events that has helped the country emerge as Latin America's "most solid democracy."

    VOICE: The era of fearful silence regarding the Pinochet era has come to an end. The formerly docile judiciary is prosecuting the guilty, including the general himself. The new president (Ricardo Lagos) is reasserting his power of the army. The business community no longer sees the military as the essential guarantor of the social order. In what must be a bitter irony to the general, l'affaire Pinochet has strengthened Chilean democracy and lessened the chances of a return to the days of military dictatorship.

    TEXT: And finally, editorial writers at the Houston Chronicle, reflecting on the Russian submarine accident and the human drama being played out in the Barents Sea, express gratitude that the incident is not being seen through the prism of the Cold War.

    VOICE: Twenty years or so ago, the accident that has befallen the Kursk might have been chalked up as another Cold War point for the West. is difficult to think of those men as anything but fellow human beings caught in a hellish plight.
    NEB/FC/KBK 16-Aug-2000 13:27 PM EDT (16-Aug-2000 1727 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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