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Voice of America, 99-12-16

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

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>


CONTENTS

  • [01] NATO / KOSOVO (L-ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)
  • [02] KOSOVO DEATH (L) BY JIM RANDLE (PENTAGON)
  • [03] MACEDONIA PRESIDENT (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)
  • [04] ROMANIA POLITICS (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)
  • [05] ROMANIA PRESIDENT (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)
  • [06] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)
  • [07] THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

  • [01] NATO / KOSOVO (L-ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)

    DATE=12/16/1999
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-257213
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The U-N high representative in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, has brought his plea for money to the foreign ministers of NATO and their partners in the Euro-Atlantic council. Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from NATO headquarters in Brussels.

    TEXT: NATO sees the past six-months of peace in Kosovo as a success story. The 850-thousand refugees have returned home, minority Serbs are starting to come back, the murder rate has been reduced to that of large cities in Western Europe. Civil institutions are beginning to function again. Into this picture comes Bernard Kouchner, the man who runs civil affairs in Kosovo for the United Nations. He says he needs more support.

    /// KOUCHNER ACT ///

    We need money. Without money, no success. Why? Because this is very unfair to convince a teacher, coming back for the first time after 10-years of apartheid where they were teaching the children in caves, to convince a teacher to come back to the re-opened schools with only 200 (German) Marks ($100) sometimes, not every month, but sometimes.

    /// END ACT //

    By comparison, Mr. Kouchner says that same teacher needs 200 German Marks ($100) every week just to pay for food. He tells the NATO foreign ministers he also needs their help in finding news about Kosovar Albanians missing from the war. He is not talking about prisoners in Serbia. Instead, news is needed about the four to seven-thousand Albanians who simply disappeared during the war.

    /// KOUCHNER ACT ///

    How can you re-establish or build confidence, going from intolerance to tolerance, from revenge to tolerance without this news? No news. Where are they?

    /// END ACT ///

    Another demand is for more civilian police from the NATO countries and their partners. Mr. Kouchner asked for six-thousand police. He received 18-hundred.

    /// KOUCHNER ACT ///

    This is ridiculous and a scandal. If all the nations of the world, fighting for freedom, fighting to protect a minority and succeeding in protecting a minority, you cannot send me altogether six thousand police officers. What is a peacekeeping operation? What should be a peacekeeping operation? I do not want to receive any comment and critic on law and order without police officers.

    /// END ACT ///

    NATO Secretary General George Robertson says all the foreign ministers took seriously Mr. Kouchner's complaints and promised to bring them to the attention of their governments. The Secretary General had no comment when Mr. Kouchner reminded him that the money he needs could have been covered by half a day's bombing from NATO's war in Kosovo. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RP/GE/RAE 16-Dec-1999 09:20 AM EDT (16-Dec-1999 1420 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [02] KOSOVO DEATH (L) BY JIM RANDLE (PENTAGON)

    DATE=12/16/1999
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-257227
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: A U-S soldier died Thursday from injuries suffered when his vehicle hit a mine in Kosovo. Pentagon officials identify the dead man as Staff Sergeant Joseph Suponcic [pron: soo-`PON-ik] of (Jersey Shore in) Pennsylvania. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports from the Pentagon, Sergeant Suponcic was a member of the elite Green Berets.

    TEXT: Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon says the dead soldier was a passenger in a small military vehicle that triggered a blast from an explosive hidden in a road about 30 kilometers east of Pristina.

    /// BACON ACT ///

    The exact circumstances of this are under investigation. They were driving along on a road that was thought to have been cleared of land mines, but this is an area where there are many land mines, and they can shift according to weather conditions and other changes.

    /// END ACT ///

    The driver was thrown out of the vehicle [a HUMVEE] and was taken to a U-S military hospital at the American base camp. He was treated for his injuries and released. It is the first time a mine has killed a U-S soldier serving in Kosovo. Several other troops have died, mostly in traffic accidents. The injuries occurred even though the vehicle had been specially reinforced to protect occupants from mine blasts. Mr. Bacon says there has been considerable effort to clear mines from Kosovo's former battlefields, but he says "the task is far from over." The dead soldier was a member of the U-S Army's Special Forces, who are trained in parachute jumping and language skills. He was assigned to work with the Russian troops who are part of the peacekeeping force patrolling the troubled Serbian province. (Signed)
    NEB/JR/TVM/WTW 16-Dec-1999 15:55 PM EDT (16-Dec-1999 2055 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [03] MACEDONIA PRESIDENT (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)

    DATE=12/15/1999
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-257196
    INTERNET=YES CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Macedonia's new President, Boris Trajkovski, was sworn in Wednesday, pledging not to allow ethnic hatred to undermine stability in the small Balkan republic. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest that the inauguration was boycotted by an opposition party that calls him an illegitimate president.

    TEXT: The opposition Social Democrats, who allege widespread election fraud, boycotted the parliamentary ceremony where Mr. Trajkovski was sworn in. According to the official results, the new president beat his Social Democratic challenger, Tito Petkovski, by a wide margin during a runoff vote on December 5th. International observers did find evidence of election fraud at some polling stations, but they concluded that the vote was generally in order. As most suspected irregularities were at polling stations in areas where ethnic Albanians predominate, the voting controversy increased tensions between them and Macedonia's Slav majority. Ethnic Albanians -- perhaps 30-percent of the population -- have complained about discrimination in jobs and education. Western diplomats have expressed concern about the situation in Macedonia, which since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 was seen as an island of relative stability in the Balkans. That was one of the reasons why President Trajkovski stressed the need for ethnic tolerance in his inauguration speech. Mr. Trajkovski said that his republic of just over two million people should also have good relations with its neighbors, including Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia has criticized Macedonia for serving as a base for thousands of NATO troops supporting peacekeepers in neighboring Kosovo, where the United Nations and ethnic Albanian leaders set up an alternative administration on Wednesday. But President Trajkovski -- a former deputy foreign minister in the center-right government and a Methodist minister -- stressed that he will continue to extend a warm hand of cooperation to Yugoslavia and all other neighbors in the troubled region. (Signed) NEB/SB/TVM/gm 15-Dec-1999 19:11 PM EDT (16-Dec-1999 0011 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [04] ROMANIA POLITICS (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)

    DATE=12/16/1999
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-257233
    INTERNET=YES CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Romania's president has appointed a new prime minister: the governor of the country's central bank, Mugur Isarescu [pron: moo-gur ih-sah-`RESS-koo], who has no political affiliation. Many Romanians hope the new prime minister will be able to revive the country's economy. From Budapest, Stefan Bos has more on this story.

    TEXT: President Emil Constantinescu has nominated Mugur Isarescu, a 50-year-old economist, to be Romania's new prime minister. Mr. Isarescu will replace Radu Vasile, who was fired by the president earlier this week, amid continuing economic difficulties and political in-fighting. Mr. Isarescu is not a member of any political party, but President Constantinescu says he feels this will give him greater credibility. The president said he conducted wide-ranging political consultations before naming the central-bank chief. Analysts hailed Mr. Isarescu's nomination, saying Romania needs a prime minister who can introduce economic reforms, at a time when the country is preparing to apply for membership in the European Union. Mr. Isarescu has led Romania's central bank since the revolution that ousted the country's dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, 10 years ago. He has won praise for keeping the bank free from political influence during a series of government changes in Bucharest. In a recent interview, Mr. Isarescu said he practiced "the politics of reality" as the central bank governor. He predicted the prospect of European Union membership will help Romanian lawmakers decide to implement what he called "coherent" economic reforms. Bankers say Mr. Isarescu is a good diplomat -- a talent he may need in negotiations with striking workers and students, who are protesting the fall in Romania's living standards. Thursday marked the anniversary of the beginning of the protest movement that climaxed in Ceausescu's overthrow in 1989, but there were few celebrations in Bucharest. Analysts say they are not surprised, since recent opinion polls suggest that more than half of all Romanians believe their lives have changed for the worse since the country abandoned communism. (Signed)
    NEB/SB/TVM/WTW 16-Dec-1999 18:54 PM EDT (16-Dec-1999 2354 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [05] ROMANIA PRESIDENT (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)

    DATE=12/15/1999
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-257199
    INTERNET=YES CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The former President of Romania, Ion Iliescu, has described Tuesday's firing of the Prime Minister as unconstitutional and warned of more political turmoil. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest that European Union leaders, who only last weekend invited Romania to prepare for membership, have expressed concern about the situation.

    TEXT: Former Romanian President Iliescu, who is the leader of the main opposition Party of Social Democracy, or P-D-S-R, criticized President Emil Constantinescu for dismissing Prime Minister Radu Vasile earlier this week. Mr. Iliescu's comments came as the P-D-S-R walked out of parliament when it became clear that Mr. Vasile would not return as prime minister any time soon. The P-D-S-R called for early elections, but President Constantinescu said that Romania's stability is better served if the coalition government lead by a new prime minister stays in power until its mandate ends later next year. Mr. Constantinescu said he dismissed Prime Minister Vasile because he was unable to fulfill his duties as leader after a power struggle within the Government. But there are also indications that the prime minister was fired because of the perceived failure of the cabinet to speed up economic reforms. In recent weeks, thousands of students and workers have held massive demonstrations against the Vasile government, which they blamed for their declining standard of living. The crisis comes at a politically sensitive time for Romania, which was last week invited by the European Union to join the 15-nation bloc along with other former Communist countries. European Union officials said Wednesday that the present political situation could hinder Romania's efforts to improve its economic situation, which is a requirement for E-U membership. (Signed) NEB/sb/tvm/gm 15-Dec-1999 19:35 PM EDT (16-Dec-1999 0035 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [06] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)

    DATE=12/16/1999
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-257231
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were higher today (Thursday). But interest rate concerns dampened enthusiasm for almost everything except the technology sector. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average struggled for a fractional gain of 19 points, closing at 11- thousand-244. The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose five points. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite soared for a gain of two and one-half percent, setting another record high. The price of the 30-year government bond fell, pushing yields up to a seven-week high, on the news that the U-S trade deficit widened in October - in part because of higher oil prices. Also, first-time jobless claims fell last week to a 26-year low, indicating the U-S labor market remains tight. Now, no one believes the U-S Federal Reserve Board will raise short-term interest rates when it meets next Tuesday - just four days before Christmas. But the "Fed" is expected to act when it meets early next year.

    /// Rest Opt ///

    Market analyst Abby Joseph Cohen is not concerned. The influential strategist with the Goldman Sachs brokerage firm, who is known for accurate predictions, says a rate hike is not likely to be disruptive to the U-S stock market:

    /// COHEN ACT ///

    We think that the Fed will be very watchful and there's a very good chance that they will be raising short-term interest rates. But from the standpoint of the equity market, so much of this is already priced in. I also think it's important to recognize that the global economy is by no means robust. We certainly don't see any noteworthy rise in global inflation or global interest rates in the year ahead.

    /// END ACT ///

    Share prices of Microsoft went up again, after their huge run-up Wednesday. The software giant inspired investor confidence when it said its "Windows 2000" operating system is on its way to the manufacturer and will be released in February. As expected, leading retailer Wal-Mart announced an alliance with America OnLine. A-O-L will set up kiosks in Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart is starting its own Internet service access company through A-O-L's CompuServe division. And Federal Express - the parcel delivery service - reported lower earnings compared with one year ago. But its stock rose as Wall Street looked ahead to expected gains for the company from Internet shopping. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 16-Dec-1999 16:50 PM EDT (16-Dec-1999 2150 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [07] THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=12/16/1999
    TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
    NUMBER=6-11596
    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS
    TELEPHONE=619-3335
    CONTENT=

    INTRO: President Clinton is being sharply criticized for avoiding the Panama Canal turnover ceremony in many daily papers. Other editorials deal with the admission by the president that his policy toward homosexuals in the military has failed; the Israel- Syria peace talks and prodding the U-N to re-monitor Saddam Hussein's weapons development. Other editorials concern restitution for slave labor; Croatia's chance for a new beginning; and mourning for a pair of literary figures passing from the scene. Now, here is _________ with a sampling in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: President Clinton's absence at the turn-over ceremony of the Panama Canal is directly in the cross- hairs of several editorial writers this Thursday. "Clinton Missed The Boat in Panama" proclaims the headline in "The Chicago Tribune", which adds:

    VOICE: Just as its construction in the early 1900's signaled America's debut as a major world player, the turning over of the . Canal to Panama at the end of the century ought to have showcased United States at the apogee of its power - a nation confident, unafraid and willing to reshape its relationship with its Western Hemisphere neighbors. Instead, the ceremonies ... turned into a display of American churlishness, insecurity and petty politics. President Clinton should have been there ...

    TEXT: In New Hampshire, "The Manchester Union-Leader" combines criticism of Mr. Clinton with fears of some in Congress about possible Chinese influence in the canal's future.

    VOICE: .[Mr.] Clinton's decision to not attend Tuesday's ceremony turning over control of the Panama Canal from the U-S to the Chinese company Hutchison Whampoa Limited (under the supervision of the Panamanian government.) is a clear indicator of how badly this deal reeks and how embarrassing it is for the U-S. /// OPT /// Is it possible [President] Clinton felt shame about the transfer? . Just last Sunday, Colombian rebels attacked a navy base 15-miles from the Panamanian border, killing 36 people. . This is an unstable time for the region and forfeiting the canal . puts American interests in jeopardy.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In Hawaii, the president's absence is viewed as "a blunder" by the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin", but the "Houston Chronicle" insists that -- retaining [the] . Canal would have threatened stability.

    VOICE: Turning over control of the canal to Panama signals U-S recognition of history's course. It may have been our canal, but it was not situated in our country.

    TEXT: Domestically, concerning President Clinton's admitted failing policy toward homosexuals in the military, "The St. Petersburg Times" says -- Let gays serve openly in [the] military.

    VOICE: President Clinton has finally acknowledged the obvious: that his do not ask, do not tell" policy for gays in the military is "out of whack . .Before the issue becomes even more politicized, the president and the nation's military leaders should take this opportunity to do the right thing. It is time to end the military's discrimination against good soldiers who just happen to be homosexual.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: "USA Today", the national daily published in a Washington, D-C suburb says Mr. Clinton's policy, has been a failure from the start. And in Maine, "The Portland Press Herald" says:

    VOICE: In a Catch-22 worthy of the late author Joseph Heller's best satire, the U-S military has a policy that forbids harassment and discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers. That same policy, however, allows the military to discharge a man or woman who admits to being a homosexual. Gay soldiers, then, have a right to not be discriminated against, but they may only exercise that right if they are willing to risk exposure of their sexual orientation and discrimination by the military.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Internationally, several papers are talking about the peace talks underway in Washington between Syria and Israel, and a potential American price tag for success. Here is "The Houston Chronicle".

    VOICE: Talks between Syria and Israel began . amid the expected signs that the going will not be easy or quick. Yet, already the issue has been raised whether the United States would be a guarantor of any eventual agreement by providing peacekeeping troops, specifically on the hotly contested Golan Heights. The Clinton administration . is letting it be known that a multi-national peace force might be required to allay Israel's security fears.

    TEXT: Even if the U-S does not have to provide troops, "The Detroit News" is worried about a possible 18-billion dollar payment to Israel for the costs of its pullout from the area.

    VOICE: If this is the final accounting, and if it achieves lasting peace in the Middle East, it might be [worth it.] But there are good reasons to question whether Syria can be relied upon to live up to its end of the bargain -- and whether this would be the end of the American commitment.

    TEXT: Still in the region, the debate continues over how to convince Saddam Hussein's friends in the United Nations to agree to a new weapons inspection program in Iraq. "The Boston Globe" takes aim at France.

    VOICE: When the French government abruptly postponed a U-N Security Council vote Tuesday on a resolution mandating resumed inspection of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, France was not only displaying a shameless susceptibility to Saddam Hussein's petro-dollar blackmail, but also repeating the error that has haunted every effort to solve the world's chronic Saddam problem. . France and other members of the Security Council are leaving Saddam free to develop and hide weapons of mass destruction.

    TEXT: The issue of slave labor during World War Two and just compensation for its victims is back in the news, and "The San Francisco Chronicle" says of the latest German agreement:

    VOICE: German industry and the country's government have agreed in broad outline to pay five-point-two-billion-dollars to the victims of Nazi slave labor policies. . the long delay for compensation, is a shameful legacy of the century's worst war. . But to the extent that painful history can be resolved, the agreement marks progress.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to Russian affairs, "The Washington Post" decries both Moscow's ongoing assault on Chechnya and potential U-S financial support for aid to a possibly corrupt Russian Oil company.

    VOICE: After Tyumen [Oil company] gained control of a large Siberian oil field last month, depriving British-American rival B-P Amoco of ownership, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development called the transfer ownership "a sham" and "wholly contrary to the concepts of fairness and transparency." So why is the United States preparing to assist Tyumen? . [Because] . the proposed aid comes from the Export-Import Bank .. [that is] not [required] to consider the foreign policy implications of its efforts, so it is not bothered by the Chechnya conflict.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" sees the death of Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman as an opportunity for Croatia to "reform" itself:

    VOICE: . his death marks a watershed in Croatia's maturation as a sovereign state. . Though despicable, President Tudjman's record as an ethnic cleanser is often overlooked because it was his army that finally drove the Bosnian Serbs to the bargaining table at Dayton in 1995. History will remember Mr. Tudjman, who was often compared to Mussolini for his fondness of military pomp and ceremony, as the man who did NATO's dirty work in this regard.

    TEXT: Also being noted is the retirement of Charles Schulz, author of the beloved comic strip Peanuts, who says he will end the strip and retire in the New Year to fight colon cancer. Among the many laments for the Peanuts gang of neurotic children is this from Maine's "Press Herald":

    VOICE: No longer will Schroeder perform Beethoven on his toy piano as lovelorn Lucy gazes adoringly into his eyes. No longer will Linus have a blanket to hold, or Lucy dispense psychiatric advice to Charlie Brown ... Sadder still, no longer will the little red-haired girl spurn Charlie Brown's advances, nor will snoopy ever again dance with happiness around his supper dish or fly off to fight the Red Baron. ... We are going to miss the little round-headed kid and his friends. They were all our friends, too.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: "The Los Angeles Times" laments that the comic strip:

    VOICE: .provided us with something invaluable and hard to find nowadays, a sort of gentle guide to getting along.

    TEXT: While in Philadelphia, "The Inquirer" adds:

    VOICE: The strip's creator suffused it with a theological wisdom. Grace is not cheap. Grief can be good. Hope is more essential than success. To be human is to be ever willing to test whether this really might be the time you get to kick the ball.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On that farewell note, we bid goodbye as well, to this compilation of quotes from Thursday's editorials from the U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 16-Dec-1999 11:26 AM EDT (16-Dec-1999 1626 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


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