INTRO: This week marks the first anniversary of the democratic revolution that ousted Slobodan Milosevic from power in Yugoslavia. The U-S Institute for Peace in Washington held a conference Thursday on Serbia and Montenegro one year later. V-O-A's Barry Wood was there and filed this report.
TEXT: Most speakers from Washington based non-governmental organizations were supportive of the progress that has been made by the democratic reformers in Belgrade. They commended the new authorities for their bold action in June extraditing Mr. Milosevic to the Hague, where he awaits trial for alleged war crimes. But while acknowledging significant steps towards rebuilding a society corrupted and criminalized during more than a decade of Milosevic rule, several criticisms were voiced. A representative of the International Crisis Group, the Brussels based research agency, said Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica seems intent on preserving certain nationalistic elements of the Milosevic regime. The crisis group wants Belgrade to end its financial support of the Bosnian Serb army and remove the Milosevic holdover who continues to command the Yugoslav army. Obrad Kesic of the I-C-N pharmaceutical group strongly defended Mr. Kostunica as an honest politician intent on establishing the rule of law. Mr. Kesic, whose company is locked in a legal fight with the Serbian government, called on the leaders in Belgrade to cooperate on Montenegrin independence. He said Montenegro should hold an independence referendum as quickly as possible. Mr. Kesic said new elections are needed in Serbia to resolve growing tensions within the 18 party DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia) ruling coalition. John Scanlan, a U-S ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1985 to 1989, said the needless dispute with I-C-N over ownership of a pharmaceutical company, is discouraging needed foreign investment. Mr. Scanlan said other unresolved problems hold back investment.
INTRO: Friday is the first anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. People had high expectations with his removal, and the new pro-Western government anticipated billions of dollars in foreign aid. Stefan Bos witnessed the events last year and reports that people will mark the first anniversary with mixed emotions.
TEXT: /// ACT STREET SOUNDS, FADE UNDER /// Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of Belgrade a year ago, shouting slogans against President Slobodan Milosevic, who had lost four Balkan wars, impoverished his nation, and manipulated election results to stay in power. Angry protesters set fire to the federal Parliament building as well as to a complex belonging to the state run television. To many observers, the destruction seemed minor compared to the damage caused by a NATO bombing campaign in 1999. That action was in response to the refusal by Mr. Milosevic to end the Serb-led crack down against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo. A year ago, Serbs armed with little more than flags and bravery shouted for change, believing that a change of leadership could lead to prosperity and the re-integration of the country into Europe. Analysts say the pro-Western reformers who took control of Yugoslavia's main republic, Serbia and the federal government, reflected popular opinion. But a year after the popular revolt, many people say their expectations have not yet been met. Recently, Serb Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic complained that, although his government extradited former President Milosevic to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Western donor countries have given little of the promised aid. Mr. Milosevic is awaiting trial for crimes against humanity. Yugoslavia received pledges of nearly 1-point-3-billion dollars in foreign aid and loans at a donors' conference in late June this year. However, financial experts say much of the promised foreign assistance has not been delivered quickly enough and has not been well targeted. People on the streets seem to agree. Although the reformers of Yugoslavia's main republic Serbia claim that wages increased by about ten percent since the ouster of Mr. Milosevic, salespeople in Belgrade's market say they have failed to notice the changes in their wallets. 43-year old Radica Stevanovic sells apples to support her two teenage children through the coming winter.
INTRO: A pending attack against the terrorists who attacked the United States and Afghanistan's Taleban militia, occupies a prominent spot in Thursday's U-S editorials. Other topics include the re-opening of Washington's Reagan National Airport and other airline issues; the economy; civil rights versus more law enforcement; and other post-terrorist attack thoughts. Lastly, there are editorials on the Israeli-Palestinian situation; and Russia's important economic reform. Now, here is ______________ with a closer look and some quotes in today's U-S Editorial Digest.
TEXT: The Detroit [Michigan] News says because Afghanistan's Taleban have not surrendered the terrorists, they should be ready to accept the consequences.
VOICE: ... time is up for the Taleban. It has effectively declared itself the enemy of the United States. This nation and its allies should have no scruple in acting on threats to the Taleban. It is only just that regimes that admit they willingly harbor and protect mass murderers feel the full wrath of the country whose citizens have been the victims of the murder.
TEXT: The Seattle [Washington] Post-Intelligencer is pleased that NATO for the first time ever, has enacted Article 5 of its charter which says an attack on one member is an attack on all.
VOICE: NATO's action is both heartening and sobering. It clearly expresses our allies' willingness to take up arms against a mutual enemy. But it also seems to expedite the military action and its inevitable human casualties.
TEXT: In Texas, the San Antonio Express-News hails the strong support of Britain's Tony Blair in "gracefully verbalizing the strong support of America." However in Colorado, today's Denver Post warns:
VOICE: The United States and our allies should think twice about trying to unify Afghanistan around the country's last king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, who was deposed in 1973. ... some of the Afghan leaders who oppose the Taleban's harsh rule view the aging French-educated monarch and the Northern Alliance as agents of foreign powers.
TEXT: Today's Dallas [Texas] Morning News says attacking the terrorists financial network requires a better understanding of the traditional and secret Islamic "hawala" system. This global money exchange is mostly a mystery to the West. The paper says "These operations pose serious flaws in the war against terrorism's pocketbook. Several papers, including The Saint Paul [Minnesota] Pioneer-Press and the Cincinnati [Ohio] Post are calling for an aggressive and increased aid program for the Afghan people. Adds the Post:
VOICE: The United States must also start thinking about what kind of aid and rebuilding assistance we can give to a successor government, and let it be known now that we're willing to help.
TEXT: Turning to domestic security and related issues, Washington's Ronald Reagan Airport reopens today amid much tightened security, and to cheers from the press. The Washington Post says "... the roaring of jets in and out of Reagan... will be music to the ears of...thousands of capital area residents..." while Florida's Orlando Sentinel adds that the airport "reopening ... underscores America's rebound." In an accompanying comment, the Sentinel says "[Domestic] Air-travel security can be managed without a lot of new federal workers... [Which] would unnecessarily bloat the federal government and should be ditched by Congress. The paper says leave screening in private hands, but increase training and quality of the staff. The Fort Worth [Texas] Star Telegram laments the huge financial losses being suffered by the local airport's concession businesses, while Seattle's [Washington] Post-Intelligence calls for a major funding increase for the U-S Coast Guard, currently stretched to the limit by increased anti-terror patrolling of the nation's ports and rivers. Several papers are commenting on the after-effects of the terrorism attacks on the nation's economy, and on the latest interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve. In New Jersey's capital, The [Trenton] Times suggests:
VOICE: ... monetary policy moves alone won't be adequate to strengthen the nation's faltering economy. What's needed is consumer purchasing, and that can best be encouraged through smart federal spending and broad-based tax reductions.
TEXT: Be careful of that idea, counters the Chicago Tribune, which sends this;
VOICE: Memo to Washington: You want Americans to feel secure again so they will go out and spend money? Then stop spending it for them. ... Consumers worried they won't have paychecks next month understandably want to husband their resources. That is precisely what Washington should be doing. Instead it's heading in the opposite direction...
TEXT: And the Boston Globe wants any Congressional economic stimulus package "directed toward people who have little choice but to spend it: struggling families ... and the suddenly unemployed." Another on-going debate is the conflicting interests of increased anti-terrorism law enforcement versus infringement on civil liberties. Portland's Oregonian says of the Bush administration's new proposed laws, being mulled over by Congress:
VOICE: Good criminal-justice laws are like well-made nets - - strong enough to capture the guilty ... forgiving enough to release the innocent. [Congress is helping] move the Bush Administration's sweeping new anti-terrorism legislation much closer to that elusive balance. ...If innocent people are swept into the federal dragnet and cannot get out because of laws that presume their guilt, the United States will have suffered yet another incalculable loss.
TEXT: Today's [Trenton, New Jersey] Times agrees, positing that: "Expeditious action is ... important; but so is getting it right," while The San Jose [California] Mercury News wants Congress to "write more protections into the law." In Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch is upset with domestic U-S critics who are blaming this country for the terrorist attack, due to past misdeeds. Says The Dispatch:
VOICE: ... the blamers are wrong. The essence of their argument is that thousands of Americans are dead because we failed to "understand" the terrorists, as if there is some incomprehension on our part that has "caused" them to murder us and which explains, perhaps even mitigates, the slaughter. ...what the blamers really mean ... is accepting the terrorists' excuses as legitimate and acknowledging America's error and guilt.
TEXT: On another topic, the Chicago Tribune is pleased at reports the United States government was on the verge of proposing establishment of a Palestinian State as a way to move the peace process with Israel forward.
VOICE: This is an offer [Yasser] Arafat cannot afford to waste. He has squandered every other opportunity. ... Make no mistake who has the most at risk here, and the most to lose. It is the Palestinians.
TEXT: On that note we conclude this editorial sampling from Thursday's
NEB/ANG/RH SLUG: 2-281344 EU/Macedonia DATE: NOTE NUMBER:
INTRO: Two top European Union officials are in Macedonia to warn the country's government that it can forget about reconstruction aid if it does not soon enact crucial constitutional reforms. V-O-A correspondent Roger Wilkison reports the E-U says, as long as the government does not ratify a peace deal giving ethnic-Albanians more rights, the European Union will be forced to postpone a donors' meeting for Macedonia that is scheduled for later this month.
TEXT: The European Union is growing impatient with the Macedonian Parliament's failure to put the elements of the peace deal in place. Under a so-called framework agreement signed in August, the multi-party government is obliged to make Albanian an official language in areas of the country where ethnic Albanians are the majority. It is also supposed to give ethnic Albanians a bigger role in local government. And it should approve an amnesty for ethnic-Albanian guerrillas who fought a six-month war with security forces in a campaign to get more rights for their community. These were the conditions of the peace agreement that led the insurgents to hand in nearly four-thousand weapons under NATO supervision over a 30-day period that ended last month. The European Union has sent its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and its external affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, to Skopje to tell Macedonian leaders that parliament's failure to approve the peace plan could deprive the country of needed foreign aid. Mr. Patten's spokesman, Gunnar Wiegand, phrases the warning in diplomatic language.