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Voice of America, 99-10-08

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

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





    INTRO: NATO's British commander of the K-FOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo, Mike Jackson, has handed over his duties to a German general, Klaus Reinhardt. V-O-A Correspondent Laurie Kassman watched the ceremonies in Pristina.


    /// MUSIC - FADE UNDER ///

    With proper but simple military flourish, NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark supervised the handover of K-FOR's command in Kosovo. He thanked General Mike Jackson for a job well done, and underscored what NATO has been able to accomplish so far.

    /// CLARK ACT ///

    Look around today. The cease-fire holds. Serb military police and paramilitary are out. Refugees have returned in the largest spontaneous peacetime return since the World War Two era.

    /// END ACT ///

    But General Clark stressed that more still needs to be done to ensure a secure environment to rebuild Kosovo. The international community has pledged to help Kosovo build a multi-ethnic democracy. General Mike Jackson said that will depend on cooperation between Kosovo's civilian leaders, K-FOR and the U-N mission to combat the violence that continues between ethnic Albanians and Serbs who live in Kosovo.

    /// JACKSON ACT ///

    While K-FOR can curtail violence, we cannot prevent the intent to commit violence. It requires strong leadership, tolerance, and a willingness to work together for the benefit of both communities in Kosovo.

    /// END ACT ///

    K-FOR's new commander, General Klaus Reinhardt, said his model for overcoming that ethnic divide is already evident in the K-FOR operation itself.

    /// REINHARDT ACT ///

    When I look around my forces, I see soldiers, airmen, and sailors of 29 countries, and some of their nations have fought in the Second (World) War against each other in the bloodiest war in history. Since then, they have put their differences behind them and learned to live and to work together in helping to create a peaceful and prosperous new world. It is my hope, and it is my belief that the same peace and prosperity can be brought to this part of the world, too.

    /// END ACT ///

    There is no time limit for K-FOR's presence in Kosovo. General Jackson said that will depend on the timing of elections and the establishment of a political administration that can assume the responsibility for Kosovo's security and stability. (Signed) NEB/LMK/JWH/rrm 08-Oct-1999 13:52 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 1752 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Russian forces are carrying out more air strikes against what they describe as terrorist bases inside the breakaway republic of Chechnya. But as correspondent Eve Conant reports, refugees fleeing from Chechnya to the neighboring Russian republic of Ingushetia tell another story -- that the air strikes are targeting civilians, not Chechen fighters. More details from Nazran, in Ingushetia.



    A Chechen boy at the makeshift refugee camp at Kantsheva chops wood that will be used by his family to boil potatoes for dinner. There are mostly women, children and the elderly at this dismal camp in the regional capital of Ingushetia -- a small, impoverished republic that borders Chechnya. Several hundred Chechen refugees have fled here over the past two weeks, joining the tens of thousands seeking shelter from Russian artillery and shelling. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said military forces were only targeting terrorist bases inside the breakaway republic. But the small crowd gathered here break into shouts and tears at the suggestion that only strategic targets are being hit.


    "It's not true," one woman shouts. "You can go and look for yourself. They haven't touched a single terrorist." Malika Gilyaeva, who warms herself by a fire, has taken her two children and fled here. She says she left the men in her family behind to protect their home, and that her village is no longer safe.


    "They [Russian forces] say they're bombing Chechen fighters, but they're really just bombing civilians," she says, adding: "Women and children were dying in front of our eyes." Russian military officials have suggested a plan to partition Chechnya -- occupying and supplying the northern part of the territory with food and electricity, while leaving southern regions to flounder. Officials say this might encourage Chechens to appreciate Russian leadership. But one of the few men in the camp, Sulim Zygbaraev, says there is no way Chechens will ever trust Russia again.


    "This is not a war against bandits," he shouts. "It's a war against the Chechen people. They want Chechnya to be free of all Chechens." And there is little help for them once they escape Chechnya for Ingushetia or other neighboring republics. The cash-strapped Ingush government can barely cope with the influx of refugees, and has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if it does not receive help soon. Authorities say they lack a basic supply of blankets, food, and medicine and that many people are hungry and are forced to sleep outside. A presidential spokesman says more than 125-thousand refugees have sought shelter here and more are expected by the day. (Signed) NEB/EC/ENE/JP/WTW 08-Oct-1999 17:13 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 2113 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Union says it is ready to provide assistance to Serbian cities run by opposition politicians. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Szeged, Hungary, about a conference organized by the Balkan Stability Pact.

    TEXT: The Balkans Stability Pact combines the European Union with other countries interested in helping southeastern Europe. For the first time, it is trying to come up with practical ways to help opposition mayors of Serbian cities, such as Stevan Vrbaski fo Novi Sad and Velimir Ilic of Cacak. Their needs are clear. They want energy supplies to help them through the winter. And they need reconstruction from the NATO bombing. The mayor of Lopovo, a town in central Serbia midway between Belgrade and Nis, says he is skeptical of these kind of conferences because they deal with complicated political issues instead of how to deal practically with the humanitarian needs of tens of thousands of Serbian refugees. Hungary's foreign minister, Jonos Martonyi, speaking through an interpreter, says practical help is what these democratic politicians from Serbia need.


    I don't think we need a theoretical conference. I don't think that theoretical issues should be discussed here. But I think concrete action is needed here, and we look forward to all the concrete proposals, recommendations that will lay down the foundations to (implement) concrete acts.

    /// END ACT ///

    About all the concrete acts emerging from Szeged came from the Hungarian government. Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced a fund equivalent to one-and-one-half- million dollars to be given to local governments in Serbia. The chairman of the Balkans Stability Pact, Bodo Hombach, says the major accomplishment of this meeting was in establishing twin-city relationships for the opposition-run towns in Serbia with other European cities. He says it also is important to get the Serbian opposition mayors to cooperate with each other. Mr. Hombach says European Union foreign ministers will announce practical measures to implement their energy- for-democracy plan when they meet Serbian opposition figures in Luxembourg on Monday. The ministers want to help the people of Serbia without helping the Yugoslav government at the same time. Hungarian Prime Minster Orban says, through an interpreter, that his country knows from its history the importance of helping people without helping the state.


    I very well remember 10 or 15 years ago how bad it was for Hungarians, how unacceptable it was for us. If a country of the international community said that we have to keep in touch with your official government and there is nothing we can do for the Hungarian population. Although the clashes between the government and the democratic forces was not dramatic as it is now in Yugoslavia, we are very well aware what it is like when the state power and the government with all the instruments deprives (people) of their rights. If you have that feeling, if you have gone through that process, you can't turn a blind eye to the processes going on in your neighborhood.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Hombach reminds reporters that the efforts to help democratic politicians in Serbia will be difficult and long. The mayors of Serbia at this conference say they are in a race to help their people through the coming winter. (Signed) NEB/RDP/JWH/rrm 08-Oct-1999 12:43 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 1643 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were up today (Friday) as traders brushed aside a suggestion of wage inflation. V-O-A Business Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10- thousand-649, up 112 points or one percent. For the week, the Industrial Average gained 376 points or close to four percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed Friday at 13-hundred-36, up 18 points. The NASDAQ index gained almost one percent. The latest U-S employment report offered a mixed picture on inflationary pressures. The number of new jobs created in September actually fell for the first time in more than three years. But, average hourly wages shot up by seven cents, the largest one-month gain in 16 years. Stock traders apparently decided that, on balance, the employment report was not bad. Some analysts say they expect strong corporate earnings to lift stock prices in the coming weeks.

    /// REST OPT ///

    But others, such as Harold McKenney of the Fleet Investment company, do not expect the overall stock market to gain much for the rest of the year.

    /// McKenney act ///

    Generally I do not think the market will go a lot higher. There will probably be some groups of stocks that do well on perhaps a daily basis, but long term, I do not think the market is going much higher.

    /// END ACT ///

    The stock of the Xerox office-equipment company plunged almost 25 percent after the company warned its quarterly earnings will be far below expectations. Several Wall Street analysts downgraded Xerox stock, saying Xerox's competitors seem to be gaining ground. The Chase Manhattan Bank will cut 10 percent of its New York City work force, or about 35-hundred jobs. Most of the positions will be moved to the state of Florida, where wage rates are substantially lower than in New York. Volvo of Sweden is forming a joint venture with Mitsubishi Motors of Japan to create one of the world's largest truck and bus producers. Analysts say the deal is a good break for Mitsubishi, which is currently struggling with more than 16-and-one-half- billion dollars of debt. U-S trade negotiators are pressing Japan to open its auto market. The Americans say that although Japan has made progress, more needs to be done to fulfill the agreements made in a 1995 U-S - Japanese auto trade deal. The stock of a leading internet research company received an enthusiastic greeting on Wall Street. The stock of Jupiter Communications, which measures use of the internet, more than doubled on its first day of trading. (Signed) NEB/NY/BA/LSF/WTW 08-Oct-1999 17:44 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 2144 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: As the work week draws to a close in the United States, with a Senate vote just days away on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, editorial columns continue to focus on the pact. India's election results also come in for a good deal of comment, and there are more thoughts on the assault against Chechnya by Russia. A new program to inform Americans about their Social Security status draws a reaction; and the potential lessons to be learned in the British train wreck are also discussed. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look and a few samples, in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The Senate is still scheduled to vote on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty next Tuesday, and three divergent positions have emerged. Those "in favor" and those "against" have been joined by those favoring postponement of the vote until after next year's presidential elections. In today's press, that last option, delay, appears to be gaining support. However, The Miami Herald is calling on the President both to push for a vote, and for the treaty's ratification.

    VOICE: President Clinton must stand firm in insisting that the Senate vote next week on the ... treaty. Let the onus fall on the Senate's Republican majority if it refuses to ratify the world's best hope for freezing further development of nuclear weapons. Ratification of this treaty ... is simply too important for this and future generations to be sacrificed on the altar of political brinkmanship in the U-S Senate. The New York Times is now casting its vote and voice, for a postponement.

    VOICE: If the nuclear test-ban treaty fails to win ratification next week, as it probably will, Senate Republicans will deserve much of the blame. The Republican leadership has behaved in a narrowly partisan fashion that paid little heed to America's International interests. ... But the White House failed to put together a coherent strategy for assembling the needed two- thirds Senate majority, and then allowed itself to be outmaneuvered into a compressed timetable that left too little time for an intensive lobbying campaign. ... The goal now should be to try to [keep] ... open the possibility that the Senate can be persuaded to ratify the treaty in the months to come.

    TEXT: Today's Philadelphia Inquirer says "...the wiser course -- no matter how one assesses the treaty's merits -- is to postpone any form action." However, The Washington Times, which opposes the treaty on grounds it is unverifiable, welcomes next week's vote.

    VOICE: // OPT // The Senate should proceed with its three days of debate and its vote on Tuesday. There has been plenty of time to study the subject of nuclear testing. // END OPT // After due consideration, the nuclear test ban has been concluded by many experts to be, on the one hand, detrimental to the U-S nuclear stockpile, while, on the other, insufficiently verifiable to be a real safeguard against the nuclear tests of others. ... So, let's have the vote on C-T-B-T -- and let it be "No."

    TEXT: Lastly, in the Pacific Northwest, The Oregonian, in Portland, says: "World security and [the] test ban treaty would be better served by delaying a Senate vote on ratification," // OPT // adding:

    VOICE: Sadly, with much of the opposition entrenched, it doesn't appear that the treaty has a chance of getting the needed 67 votes for ratification any time soon. While a ratified treaty would make a better platform for dealing with emerging nuclear powers such as India and Pakistan, a defeat could make diplomacy a lot dicier. Under the circumstances, no vote is better than one that has more to do with partisan politics than security policy. // END OPT //

    TEXT: Turning to the sub-continent, and the results of India's parliamentary election, Boston's Christian Science Monitor, after marveling at India's diversity of climate, culture and language, comments:

    VOICE: ... Now, a national election has given majority rule to a newly formed, grand coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (N-D- A). This could signal a historic break with the past. India could be returning to its pre- British roots, offering a more stable future for itself. ... This coalition, including new partners from India's south and east, can serve to suppress the militancy of the B-J-P, led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. ... And as India opens to the world and sheds its British- influenced past, let's hope this diverse coalition can unleash the country's natural dynamism.

    TEXT: The New York Times, in a lead editorial, surveys the winners and losers:

    VOICE: Prime Minister ... Vajpayee ... has won an impressive election victory that gives his coalition a chance to survive longer than recent governments in New Delhi. Stability would be a welcome development after a succession of inconclusive elections. ... Meanwhile, the election dealt a significant defeat to the Congress Party, which had turned to Sonia Gandhi, the daughter-in-law of Indira and widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ... [who] had been drafted to help save the party, but after stirring up some initial excitement ... stumbled. // OPT // India's rich diversity sometimes looks like an obstacle to unity. But the latest election has proved that a commitment to resolving differences peacefully and democratically can transform diversity into a source of strength. // END OPT //

    TEXT: Moving on to the war in Chechnya, with Russian forces on the attack, and The Washington Post finding the Russian position hypocritical.

    VOICE: During NATO's war against Serbia last spring, Russian officials bitterly condemned U-S bombardments and urged negotiations as an alternative. "Sometimes you have to speak to [Slobodan Milosevic] two, three, five, 10 or 20 times," President Boris Yeltsin said. ... And [he] added ... "Morally, we are above America." Now it is Mr. Yeltsin who bombs and refuses to talk. The president of Chechnya has appealed repeatedly for negotiation; he has turned to Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, who has agreed to act as intermediary. But Mr. Yeltsin instead has sent his bombers into action against the villages and cities of Chechnya, many ... still in ruins from Russia's failed war in 1994- 96. ... It is mostly civilians who are being hurt, killed and turned into refugees.

    TEXT: Domestically, the Social Security administration has launched a new program to mail financial statements about retirement accounts to millions of Americans, instead of waiting for them to request such a tally. Boston's Christian Science Monitor calls it...

    VOICE: Good news, because it may alert younger adults to the need to begin immediately to save and plan for retirement. Social Security is not a pension plan; it's not nearly enough to live on comfortably. Bad news, because much of the information that working taxpayers receive will be just an estimate that may prove way high or way low. ... [However] if the newly available benefit statements awaken Americans to the need to reform Social Security now ... when it will be less painful, that would be the best news of all.

    TEXT: Today's Sun, in Baltimore, is hoping the terrible commuter train wreck in London this week will provide valuable lessons for this country in improved rail safety.

    VOICE: Britain depends more on rail transport than does the United States. So as [the Maryland Area Rail Corporation] tries to increase commuting in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, and Amtrak plans faster inter-city service, examining British problems might prevent the worst here. // OPT // ... The latest British crash happened on a stretch of line where another Great Western express crashed in September 1997, with seven deaths and 147 injuries. The railroad, whose driver ignored a red light, was fined. This time, Great Western appears blameless. // END OPT // ... Railroad privatization was an achievement of the former Conservative government. Its safety and punctuality record is a liability for the current Labor government. Whatever lessons may be learned in London should be heeded in Washington.

    TEXT: Lastly, commenting on a proposed multi-billion- dollar merger of telephone companies, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette muses:

    VOICE: The nation's largest corporate merger ever -- the planned acquisition of sprint by M- C-I WorldCom -- is another step in the long transition of the nation's telecommunications industry from an era of monopoly to one of across-the-board competition. And the deal's eye-popping 100-billion-dollar price tag constitutes an impressive vote of confidence by financial markets in the vitality and future of one of the nation's most critical industries.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 08-Oct-1999 13:48 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 1748 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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