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Voice of America, 00-01-25
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From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>
 CROATIA POLITICS BY RON PEMSTEIN (ZAGREB)DATE=1/25/2000
INTRO: After nine years of nationalist, autocratic rule, Croatia is now faced with a new center-left government and a choice between two pro-Western candidates for president. V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reports from Zagreb, following the first round of presidential elections on Monday, that a sharper presidential campaign is expected before the run off election on February 7th.
TEXT: On the surface, there is little to distinguish Stipe Mesic and Drazen Budisa. Both presidential candidates favor Croatia's effort to join the European Union and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Both men favor Croatian national interests, but both men had their differences with President Franjo Tudjman about his autocratic presidential rule and Croatia's intervention in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina. President Tudjman's death in December has unleashed the Croatian voters' rejection of the political party he founded. The Croatian Democratic Union was not only reduced to a minority in parliamentary elections, but also will not have a candidate in the second round of presidential elections that will take place on February 7th. While Western countries may be pleased with this turn of events in the Balkans, supporters of Mr. Mesic and Mr. Budisa are getting ready to wage a personality battle over the next two weeks. In the first round, Mr. Mesic won nearly 42 percent of the vote to Mr. Budisa's 28 percent. Ivo Skrabalo, an adviser to Mr. Budisa, says his candidate plans to accentuate his advantages over Mr. Mesic to make up the difference in the second round. One of those differences is about which candidate was the first to disagree with President Tudjman's policies in Bosnia.
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NEB/RP/GE/JP 25-Jan-2000 14:49 PM EDT (25-Jan-2000 1949 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
 CROATIA ELECTION OVERNIGHTER (L) BY RON PEMSTEIN (ZAGREB)DATE=1/24/2000
INTRO: Croatia faces a second round of voting two
weeks from now to choose a successor to President
Franjo Tudjman who died last month. Ron Pemstein
reports from Zagreb, Croatian voters have again
demonstrated they want a change from President
Text: In the space of less than two months since
President Tudjman died, a political earthquake has
struck Croatia. His former ruling party has already
been reduced to a minority in parliament and two
opponents of Mr. Tudjman's policies will meet in the
second round of presidential elections two weeks from
now to decide which man succeeds him as head of state.
If there was any doubt about the intentions of
Croatian voters to have their country emerge from
political and economic isolation, Monday's first round
of presidential elections has removed it. Stipe Mesic
has come back from political oblivion to lead the
balloting with 41-percent. The election rules require
50-percent for a first round victory.
Mr. Mesic was the last President of Yugoslavia's
collective presidency before Croatia's war of
independence. He later split with President Tudjman
about Croatia's policy in Bosnia. Mr. Mesic has
promised to end Croatian interference in neighboring
His opponent in the second round will be former
student leader Drazen Budisa. He opposed President
Tudjman's nationalist policies and had the support of
Croatia's new Prime Minister Ivica Racan. Mr. Budisa
won 28-percent of the vote in the first round.
Mr. Mesic says he will continue his campaign in the
same easy-going manner that has catapulted him to
become the favorite to succeed President Tudjman. Mr.
Budisa acknowledges he has a lot of ground to make up
in the next two weeks but he adds his comeback cannot
Eliminated by the first round is Croatia's Foreign
Minister Mate Granic, the candidate of the party
President Tudjman founded, the Croatian Democratic
Union. Mr. Granic tried to separate himself from the
now unpopular party but he agrees his move came too
late in the campaign. He finished third with 21-
percent of the vote.
The Croatian Democratic Union is likely to split apart
now that the party is shut out from power. Following
his loss in the first round, Mr. Granic announced he
is leaving the party anyway because of all the
divisions in the party that has dominated Croatian
politics since independence in 1991.
No matter whether Mr. Mesic or Mr. Budisa wins the
presidency in the second round, both men can be
expected to support the new government's intentions to
reform Croatia's political and economic policies. One
of those proposals is to limit the extensive powers of
Croatia's President and turn Croatia into a
parliamentary democracy. Both contenders support
Croatia's bid to become a member of the European Union
and NATO, two organizations that shunned Croatia when
President Tudjman was in power. (Signed)
24-Jan-2000 20:58 PM EDT (25-Jan-2000 0158 UTC)
 BOSNIA WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)DATE=1/25/2000
INTRO: A Bosnian Serb charged with murdering and exterminating Muslims has been arrested by NATO-led troops in eastern Bosnia. He's now in the custody of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, from where Lauren Comiteau reports.
TEXT: Forty-five year old Mitar Vasiljevic didn't
know he was wanted for war crimes before his arrest
Tuesday morning in the eastern Bosnian town of
Visegrad. The charges against the former waiter-
turned-paramilitary fighter were kept secret until his
capture. But prosecutors say the crimes Mr. Vasiljevic
committed in and around Visegrad were some of the
earliest and worst of the Bosnian war.
Visegrad became infamous for the corpses that floated
down the Drina River--and prosecutors are charging Mr.
Vasiljevic with the murder of five Muslim men on the
river's banks. He is also charged with extermination,
persecution, and the mass murder of some 135 Bosnian
Muslims. Prosecutors say Mr. Vasiljevic was one of
the men who locked the Muslims--including young
children and babies--in two houses before setting them
on fire. As they tried to escape, Mr. Vasiljevic
shined a light so his partner could shoot them. All
but six people locked in the house were killed,
including 46 members of a single family.
Tuesday's arrest is the third by NATO-led troops in
the past two months--a warning to other war crimes
suspects, said NATO's Secretary General Lord George
Robertson, that it's time to surrender. (Signed)
25-Jan-2000 17:41 PM EDT (25-Jan-2000 2241 UTC)
 NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY JOE CHAPMAN (NEW YORK)DATE=1/25/2000
INTRO: U-S stock prices wandered through most of the session today (Tuesday) then roared back to close higher for the day. V-O-A's Joe Chapman reports from New York.
TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 21 points, just a small fraction, to 11-thousand-21. The broader and more representative Standard and Poor's 500 finished up eight points, about one-half percent, to 14-hundred-10. The high-technology Nasdaq Composite, down more than one-and-one-half percent during the session, closed up 71 points at four-thousand-167. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 115 points during the session, but shot up behind sharply-higher prices for American Express and the Disney entertainment company.
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Source: Voice of America
 TUESDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)DATE=1/25/2000
TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
INTRO: The U-S presidential election campaign has the attention of many editorial page writers. In a related development, there are several editorials regarding a Supreme Court decision on limiting campaign contributions. Internationally, there is more comment on the latest developments with the little Cuban boy, the focus of a debate about his returning to his father in Cuba; the weekend coup in Ecuador; and the scourge of AIDS in Africa. Lastly, the rape and murder of a little Albanian girl by a U-S soldier assigned to the Kosovo peacekeeping force is also deplored in several commentaries. Now, here is __________ with a closer look in today's Editorial Digest.
TEXT: "USA Today", published in a Washington, D-C suburb studied the Iowa results briefly and then pondered:
VOICE: So who won? Spinmeisters [spokesmen] for candidates who came up short in Monday's Iowa caucuses will be busy today trying to argue that their losers are really winners. ... But the most obvious interpretation of Monday's caucuses is the right one. The winners were the ones who got the most votes. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush. And not just because Iowans like them, but because time is running out for their challengers to dent the front-runners overwhelming leads in national polls. ... Real math, adding up the delegate votes state by state, is what counts, not political baloney about expectations.
TEXT: "The New York Times" also waited until results were in before commenting:
VOICE: The solid Iowa victory of Vice President Al Gore and the shakier win for Governor George [W] Bush sustain their front-runner status, but hardly insulate them from New Hampshire's upset- minded voters next week. Steve Forbes ... and Alan Keyes ... demonstrated that conservative Republican voters could be pulled away from Mr. Bush. Their surprisingly strong showing portends a tough fight for Mr. Bush in the New Hampshire primary...
TEXT: "The Dallas Morning News" assesses the results, and notes the pull of most candidates toward the political center.
VOICE: ... the center is alive and well in this year's race. Members of both parties readily acknowledge that all four top presidential contenders are relatively mainstream figures. ... This situation is quite different from, say, 1992 when Democrats Bill Clinton and Paul Tsongas waged war to break their party away from its traditional liberal moorings. President George Bush also had to battle back a rightist challenge that year from columnist-turned-GOP insurgent Pat Buchanan.
TEXT: In related news, "The Fort Worth Star-Telegram" is criticizing Governor Bush for briefly curtailing news conferences after being hounded by reporters' questions about his abortion views. Then the campaign relented and said the candidate would continue to be available to the press, eliciting this from the paper:
VOICE: Good. Access is important. ... The country has had too many evasive answers and finger-to-the wind opinions from chief executives. What is needed from all candidates in this year's election is more, not less, access to their views and opinions.
VOICE: A Supreme Court decision to uphold limits on campaign contributions is being hailed by the "Boston Globe" as "A victory for reform." The paper says the court is:
VOICE: ... taking a stand for voters and against influence peddlers. It was a welcome decision, since opponents of campaign finance reform had hoped the case would eliminate all limits on political contributions, federal and state.
TEXT: Internationally, several papers are commenting on the coup in Ecuador, and how a semblance of civilian governance has been quickly restored. But the "Miami Herald" also wants the coup leaders brought to Justice, noting: Military solutions to crises are not acceptable among the burgeoning democracies of Latin America.
VOICE: Ecuador's brief coup ended on a positive note this past weekend, with the junior officers behind it overseeing a constitutional transfer of power to Vice president Gustavo Noboa. But if the message from this experience is to be that military solutions to crises are no longer acceptable among the burgeoning democracies of Latin America - as it must be - then the new president and the senior military leadership in Ecuador must.. Punish those who led the coup.
TEXT: "The Sun" in Baltimore laments Quito's political change. It says aside from a new president, all the country's pressing problems remain.
VOICE: South America's evolution from military juntas to electoral democracy began 21-years ago in Ecuador, when the army declared free elections. Few people want to see the trend reversed there. ... [But] Despite oil and banana exports, Ecuador ... has been in the grip of depression, inflation and bank failure, its G-N-P shrinking and its people getting poorer. ... President [former Vice President Gustavo] Noboa swears by the policies of former President Mahuad, including introduction of the dollars as the official currency. [However] The economic distress is no better, the government no stronger.
TEXT: Still with Latin American affairs, are comments regarding the visit of two grandmothers of the little Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, to the United States in an effort to get him home to Cuba. "The Orlando Sentinel" is frustrated at the prolonged battle between the U-S government and anti-Castro Cubans in Miami, trying to keep him here.
VOICE: Wisdom appears to be slipping beneath the waves as the tussle over Elian Gonzalez escalates. This time it is certain members of ...Congress who want to throw the young Cuban shipwreck victim's future an anchor instead of a life preserver [by granting him] citizenship. ... the bottom line is this: They are playing politics with a little boy's life. Elian already has citizenship - Cuban citizenship. He needs to step away from the limelight and go back to being a little boy in Cuba. If not for adults acting foolishly, that is where he would be now.
TEXT: Turning to Africa and a Clinton initiative to focus attention on the twin plagues there, of civil war and AIDS infection, "The Washington Times" is criticizing the White House for duplicity.
VOICE: Unfortunately, the Clinton administration appears more inclined to offer Africa catchy sound bites than constructive proposals that will significantly help the continent. ... In 1997, South Africa passed a bill which would give it license to import and produce generic pharmaceuticals at a fraction of what they would cost to purchase from the U-S firms that produce these drugs under patent protections. Since its passage, Mr. Gore has pressured South Africa to revise the law by threatening to withhold U-S aid. Mr. Gore's pressure ... incensed some AIDS and homosexual activists and leaders of the black community - two important sources of Democratic support.
TEXT: Turning to the Balkans, the brutal rape and murder of an 11-year-old Albanian girl, allegedly by a U-S Army soldier in the peacekeeping forces, is drawing attention from the editorial columns, including "The San Francisco Chronicle".
VOICE: The very public acts of contrition by U- S leaders in Kosovo about the death of 11-year- old Merita Shabiu speak well of this country's humanity. They also underscore the fragility of the postwar environment in Kosovo. ... [This] is the type of barbaric incident that could quickly erode public confidence in the NATO-led force. ... /// OPT /// The circumstances of the killing remain a mystery. The military still has not provided an explanation on how a soldier apparently wandered so far away from the tightly regimented environment. Was the Army actually enforcing its strict rules against leaving the base when not on patrol or official duty? Was [Army Staff Sergeant Frank] Ronghi allowed to leave the base by himself? /// END OPT ///
TEXT: "The Florida Times-Union" in Jacksonville adds that this is not the only complaint about U-S forces serving in Kosovo province.
VOICE: Not only was the crime about as horrible as can be imagined, the girl's neighbors portray it as part of a bigger picture of abuse. American soldiers, they say, improperly touch young Albanian girls when searching for weapons - a complaint they claim the U-S command has chosen to ignore.
TEXT: And lastly, more thoughts on that harsh criticism of the United Nations delivered last week, in person by Senator Jesse helms, one of the world body's severest critics. Here's "The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World":
VOICE: ...[Senator] Helms' appearance ... was not as bad as some might think and, in fact, could be considered a success. [Senator] Helms raised some eyebrows when he complained that the United States spent billions of dollars on the United Nations. Yes, the United States does spend a lot of money. But, the United States is a wealthy country. The contribution of, say, Bangladesh - although smaller . is a much greater monetary sacrifice. ... But [Mr.] Helms makes a good point: "The money we spend on the United Nations is not charity. To the contrary, it is an investment - an investment from which the American people rightly expect a return." ... So the United Nations has met one of its harshest critics. And the critic has met with his once-faceless adversary. And both came away with a little more understanding of the other.
TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of
comment from Tuesday's U-S press.
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