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Voice of America, 01-09-27

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

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

SLUG: 2-281089 Macedonia (L-O) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:





    INTRO: In Macedonia, NATO says it will quickly begin deploying a new security mission now that ethnic Albanian rebels have disarmed. Jeff Bieley reports (from Tirana) that the move comes as the leader of the rebels has announced his group is formally disbanding.

    TEXT: NATO political leaders have given the go-ahead for the deployment of a one-thousand-strong force to Macedonia, to follow-up the disarmament of ethnic Albanian rebels there. The new mission, to be led by Germany, will protect teams of unarmed international monitors overseeing the return of the police and army to rebel-held areas. The NATO decision came after last minute talks that resolved disputes with the Macedonian government over the size and mandate of the force. The government insisted that the operation, called Amber Fox, be limited to three months, though it could be extended at the end of that period. The government says the number of active troops in the mission is also limited to 700, with the remainder in reserve only in case of an emergency rescue operation for the monitors. NATO officials are promising the force will deploy at what they are calling, "light speed" to quickly replace the 45-hundred troops now in Macedonia. They say rapidly setting up the new mission is intended to bolster confidence in the peace process and prevent extremists from using a gap in security to restart the conflict. Meanwhile, the leader of ethnic Albanian rebels says his National Liberation Army (N-L-A) has been formally disbanded. After handing in nearly 39-hundred rifles, mortars and grenade launchers to NATO forces, N-L-A chief Ali Ahmeti told his soldiers they must now return to civilian life. However, an expected amnesty for rebel fighters has not yet been enacted into law. The move - strongly urged by NATO Secretary General George Robertson - was promised by Macedonia's president as part of the peace agreement. The Macedonian parliament has not yet ratified any of the provisions of a peace accord signed last month. A series of constitutional amendments granting greater rights to ethnic Albanians has been given preliminary approval, but faces a tough battle to secure a needed two-thirds majority in parliament.

    /// OPT ///

    One provision of the accord has come under attack by the Macedonian Orthodox church, which argues that it should retain the special status it now enjoys in the constitution. The head of the church, Archbishop Stefan, has threatened to ex-communicate lawmakers who vote to give Islam and Catholicism equal treatment under the law.

    /// END OPT ///

    NEB/JB/GE/RH SLUG: 2-281087 Turkey/Prisons DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: In Turkey, the death toll in a 10-month long hunger strike by opponents of prison reforms has risen to 37, with the death of a woman hunger striker in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul. Amberin Zaman in Ankara has the details.

    TEXT: Zeynep Arikan died Wednesday in an Istanbul house where 10 other left-wing activists are keeping up what they call a death fast to protest prison conditions in Turkey. The 33-year old was a former prisoner and a member of the left-wing People's Revolutionary Liberation Front. She had begun her fast while in prison and continued it after her release in July, refusing all food and subsisting on a diet of sugared water and vitamin pills. She died on the 340th day of her fast. Hundreds of prisoners in Turkey, as well as some of their supporters outside prison, have been refusing to eat for months now. They are protesting the forcible transfer of inmates from large dormitory-type wards, which house up to 60 inmates, to new maximum-security jails with one to three-person cells. The Turkish government continues to resist prisoners' demands to return to the dormitory-style prisons, saying they had become training and indoctrination centers for extremist groups. In December, Turkish security forces raided over 20 prisons across Turkey in a bid to end the mass hunger strikes. At least 30 inmates died during the operation which Turkish authorities called "Return to Life." Human rights groups have since produced evidence based on forensic reports showing that many of the inmates died as a result of police violence and not because they had -- as claimed by the authorities -- set themselves on fire. There is little public sympathy for the hunger strikers because of their affiliations with armed extremists groups that are blamed for a series of terrorist attacks. Two weeks ago, the People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, the group Ms. Arikan belonged to, claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in central Istanbul. Four people, including an Australian tourist, died in that attack. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/KL/MAR SLUG: 2-281081 Pope/Armenia DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: Pope John Paul wraps up a six day trip to the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Armenia today (Thursday). V-O-A's Rebecca Santana in Moscow reports the Pope called on people of all religions to overcome their differences.

    TEXT: On his last day in Armenia, Pope John Paul paid tribute to the one-point-five-million Armenian Christians who were killed in what Armenia refers to as genocide by their Turkish neighbors. Armenia says the Christians were killed during a campaign to drive them out of eastern Turkey beginning in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire collapsed during World War One. Many Armenians call it genocide and have demanded an apology from the Turkish government. Turkey denies the charge, saying the figures were inflated and those Armenians who were killed perished as a result of civil unrest in the Ottoman Empire. The Pope shied away from using the politically charged word "genocide" when he visited a memorial to the Armenian victims on Wednesday and in his statement on Thursday. Instead, the Pope used an Armenian word to refer to the killings, which can be interpreted as meaning genocide or simply crime. In a statement on Thursday, he said the killings are generally referred to as the first genocide of the 20th century. Reconciliation between religions was a major theme for the Pope on his trip to mostly Muslim Kazakhstan and to Armenia. He traveled to Armenia to take part in celebrations marking the 17-hundredth anniversary of the country's adoption of Christianity, making Armenia the oldest Christian nation. During the almost week-long trip, the Pope kept up his rigorous schedule of early morning mass and numerous meetings. But the 81-year-old's health seemed frail at times. At one point, he had to stop reading a speech after five minutes. But Pope John Paul went ahead with the trip despite worries over his personal safety after terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11th. Although he did not mention the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York specifically, the pontiff did call Thursday on all people in the world to make a choice between good and evil and between humanity and inhumanity. (Signed)
    NEB/RS/GE/MAR SLUG: 2-281078 Pope/Armenia DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: Pope John Paul wraps up a six-day trip to Kazakhstan and Armenia today (Thursday). V-O-A's Rebecca Santana in Moscow reports the Pope has called on peoples of all religions to overcome their differences.

    TEXT: While visiting Armenia, a desperately poor country in the former Soviet Union, Pope John Paul signed a declaration commemorating the more than one-million Armenian Christians who were killed early last century in what Armenia refers to as genocide by their Turkish neighbors. Although the pontiff shied away from using the word genocide himself - since Turkey vehemently denies the charge - he did visit a memorial on Wednesday to the Armenians who died as the Ottoman Empire collapsed during World War One. The Pope was on a three-day trip to Armenia, which is celebrating the 17-hundreth anniversary of the proclamation of Armenia as a Christian state. During the trip, the 81-year-old's health seemed frail, and at one point he had to stop a speech after only five minutes. (Signed)
    NEB/RS/GE/MAR SLUG: 6-12478 Thursday's Editorials DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: In the United States press a debate over the arming of airline pilots continues in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks using jetliners as flying bombs. Other editorials this Thursday include other security issues; geopolitical alliances in Central Asia against terror; the law enforcement versus civil liberties debate and the president's newfound popularity. Other topics include the deteriorating peace effort in Northern Ireland; improvements in relations between the Israelis and Palestinians and Michael Jordan's return to playing basketball. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look and some quotes in today's U-S Opinion Roundup.

    TEXT: After hijackers crashed four passenger jets, three of them into buildings causing great loss of life and human casualties, aircraft security is very much in the news. A proposal by the largest airline pilots union to carry guns continues to generate editorial debate. "Keep guns out of the cockpit" says The San Francisco Chronicle.

    VOICE: Airline pilots should not be cast as the nation's last line of defense against suicidal terrorism. ... There are many objections to such a desperate measure... the whole idea of pilots trained shoot potential hijackers takes away from [their]... responsibility to safely fly ...the aircraft.

    TEXT: "Arm the pilots" counters today's Washington [D-C] Times, which calls the proposal "reasonable" and adds:

    VOICE: Giving pilots the means to defend themselves is an idea whose time has come. It certainly more cost-effective than hiring armed "sky marshals" and placing one on every commercial flight. Armed flight crews ...provides some much-needed leveling of the playing field between ...good guys and ...bad guys.

    TEXT: In Chicago today, President Bush is expected to announce several new safety measures for passenger aviation, and the Chicago Tribune says:

    VOICE: [He] is expected to announce that airlines will install nearly impregnable cockpit... doors to protect pilots. The plan may include video cameras in the cockpit to relay ...activity the ground... and pilots may be permitted to carry stun guns. ...Airport security - arguably the weakest link - - is likely to be taken over by some form of private agency working ... with the U-S Department of Transportation. ... All this is likely to get a warm reception in Congress...

    TEXT: Today's Dallas [Texas] Morning News urges Congress to consider the idea, but adds, better doors and arming pilots will "leave passengers to fend for themselves." On to the financial war against alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, The Tacoma [Washington] News Tribune lauds President Bush's freezing of related accounts, but warns:

    VOICE: ... freezing assets and shutting down terrorism's money pipeline domestically should only be the start. ... [Mr.] Bush ... should insist that U-S investigators have the right to track ...terrorist money ...through the financial records of foreign [banks]...

    TEXT: Bio-terrorism and American preparedness occupies the San Jose [California] Mercury News which suggests: "It's clear terrorists would use weapons of mass destruction; germ warfare is tough to pull off [Editors: slang for "execute successfully"], but preparedness is crucial nonetheless." In Georgia, The Augusta Chronicle, outlining increased U-S army patrols at some area dams, but no security for the city's water supply, laments that we "Can't guard everything." Portland's Oregonian laments the profiling of Middle Eastern men on aircraft, but concedes: "it isn't an incomprehensible response, either." The paper concludes however, a narrow focus on any one group could be fatally short-sighted." As regards the alleged terrorist lair, The New York Times says this country must prepare for some "nation-building in Afghanistan," warning:

    VOICE: As President Bush draws up plans to deal with Afghanistan, apparently the first target in the war against terrorism, he must do a better job than some of his predecessors in thinking through the potential consequences of American intervention. There are a lot of tripwires on the road to Kabul.

    TEXT: The Times says a U-S misstep could cause a civil war in neighboring Pakistan. Whatever he does, Mr. Bush is riding an unprecedented wave of popularity, notes today's Dallas Morning News which cites a USA Today/CNN poll giving Mr. Bush a job approval rating of 90 percent. Says the Dallas daily:

    VOICE: He is more popular than Harry Truman was as the curtain closed on World War Two, and more popular than was Franklin Roosevelt after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. ... [The] President should use his political capital wisely."

    TEXT: The San Antonio Express News is pleased that one consequence of the terror attacks is that this country is finally paying its overdue 582-million-dollar U-N dues. As regards the post-attack economy, the Chicago Tribune notes the country stopped in its tracks on the eleventh of September and the economy is only now approaching pre-attack levels. It cautions:

    VOICE: The worst mistake ...government could make right now is hastily passing measures that undermine the long-term fiscal health of the nation.

    TEXT: Noting Pope John Paul's just-completed visit to Kazakhstan, New Hampshire's Union Leader is heartened by the holy father's understanding of a U-S military response to the attacks. The paper calls the Pope's comment "a small miracle" agreeing with his view that "self-defense sometimes means using violence." Briefly to comments on other topics, including the deteriorating peace process in Northern Ireland, where, the Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer says the "tenuous peace unravels at an ever-increasing rate. ... The alternative ... is a return to sole British rule, an outcome all parties move closer to each day.' Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette criticizes the Irish Republican Army for its failure to disarm, the heart, it says, of the problem. Good news from the Mideast, as peace talks there appear to be gaining ground, in the wake of the U-S terror attacks, which has had a "sobering influence on the ...conflict" according to the Charleston, South Carolina Post and Courier. The return to professional basketball with the Washington Wizards, of legendary super star Michael Jordan is being greeted with cheers from some, caution from others. The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee sums up this way: "If Jordan can get this [terrible] team into the playoffs, he can fairly add "miracle worker" to his ...accolades. On the other hand, at the end of [the] grueling season, he may be just a beat-up old guy who unretired once too often."

    TEXT: Finally, a word about Yom Kippur, today's Jewish Day of Atonement, from Pennsylvania's Greensburg Tribune Review.

    VOICE: If one is so disposed, this ritual of self-examination and re-dedication to principle gentles the spirit and strengthens the character. One hopes that we are a l l so disposed on the eve of our nation's great test ...

    TEXT: That ends this editorial sampling from Thursday's U-S press.

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