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Voice of America, 00-01-31

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

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





    INTRO: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he hopes a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus can be achieved this year. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the secretary general made the comment after he opened a new round of peace talks on the divided island of Cyprus.

    TEXT: U-N Secretary-General Annan held separate meetings in Geneva with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders. Mr. Annan calls the meetings very useful. He says he hopes the talks will be able to build on the foundation achieved during talks last month in New York. He acknowledges it will not be easy, but he believes discussions are moving in the right direction.

    /// ANNAN ACT ONE ///

    We are looking at a process that is likely to be complex and difficult. We are hoping to work in earnest with the parties on a continuous basis in the coming months toward the goal of comprehensive settlement.

    /// END ACT ///

    This is the latest in a long series of failed efforts by the United Nations to reunify the divided island of Cyprus. Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent the island from being unified with Greece. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash refuses to negotiate face-to-face with Greek Cypriot president Glafcos Clerides. He wants the Greek Cypriot leader to acknowledge the legitimacy of his Turkish-Cypriot government before he enters into direct talks. This is something Mr. Clerides refuses to do. Mr. Denktash's insistence on recognition of his government is seen as the main obstacle to ending the 25-year dispute. Mr. Annan says the two sides are discussing four issues -- security, compensation for lost property, and the distribution of power and territory in a proposed confederation of the new communities. The secretary general says other issues also will be discussed.

    /// ANNAN ACT TWO ///

    We are working toward a comprehensive settlement in the course of the year. It's a hope. And, I hope that I think we can achieve it if we all work hard enough and come into the discussions with a spirit of give and take and the right mood to compromise.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Annan says he believes the improved relations between Turkey and Greece is a positive factor and will help efforts to find a solution. He says he expects the two sides to meet again in a few months to continue their search for peace. (Signed)
    NEB/LS/JWH/KL 31-Jan-2000 10:47 AM EDT (31-Jan-2000 1547 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Government leaders and outside experts have expressed concern about the slow progress in implementing social, economic, and political reforms in the Balkans, as called for last year in a so-called Stability Pact for the region. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports on the discussions about the Balkans at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    TEXT: Financier George Soros says the European Union is dragging its feet in implementing its promised aid program for the region. Speaking on a panel that included the presidents of Albania and Macedonia, Mr. Soros said the much-heralded stability pact is an empty vessel, waiting to be financed and implemented.

    /// SOROS ACT ///

    It's really a question of breaking the administrative and financial logjam. And as President Trajkovski of Macedonia said, there are many donors with very different interests.

    /// END ACT ///

    Another speaker, United Nations Balkan envoy Carl Bildt, complains that because political and economic progress has been so slow in the region, there is little prospect that the 80-thousand NATO and other peacekeeping troops can be withdrawn anytime soon. Mr. Bildt said he is worried by the lack of economic progress throughout the former Yugoslavia.

    /// BILDT ACT ///

    This part of Europe, and former Yugoslavia (economically), was ahead of the pack 15 years ago -- don't forget that -- they are now way, way down. Serbia is probably the poorest of countries in Europe. None of them are even in the vicinity of where they were in 1990. People are poor, they are unemployed, and the young people in very many places don't see very much hope for the future.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Bildt says positive developments include the European Union's invitation to Bulgaria and Romania to begin membership negotiations, and the peaceful changes of leadership in Macedonia and Croatia. A newspaper publisher in Pristina, Veton Surroi, says he regrets that Kosovo is not included in the Stability Pact. Mr. Surroi said the six-month absence of a functioning infrastructure is the cause of lawlessness in Kosovo.

    /// SURROI ACT ///

    Imagine by comparison (normally tolerant) Switzerland, not six months but six days without policemen, courts, money, wages for doctors and teachers, electricity, water, and having gone through some kind of difficulty. All you need is not a whole society to turn negative. All you need is an organized group of 100 men and they will disrupt this whole society. And this is what we are facing.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Surroi says with the absence of a local police force in Kosovo, there is little deterrent for criminals as NATO troops quickly release the lawbreakers they arrest. All of the participants agreed that economic progress is the key to peace in the Balkans. (Signed)
    NEB/BDW/JWH/KL 31-Jan-2000 12:57 PM EDT (31-Jan-2000 1757 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The United States is providing more aid for democratic reforms in Montenegro, and is vowing to stand by the tiny republic in the event of military action by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. From the State Department, V-O-A's Kyle King reports.

    TEXT: Montenegro's Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic and the director of the U-S Agency for International Development [U-S A-I-D] signed a seven-million-dollar grant agreement in Washington Monday. The funds are the final installment of last year's 44- million-dollar U-S aid package. The money is to be used to support democratic institutions in the tiny republic, which together with Serbia, makes up what remains of the Yugoslav federation. Speaking to reporters at the U-S A-I-D office in Washington, Prime Minister Vujanovic said the funds open a new phase of cooperation with the United States and are important for building a civil society.


    Mr. Vujanovic says the U-S aid program is also important because it shows the United States accepts Montenegro as a partner. The United States has pledged an additional 37-million dollars this year. Montenegro's pro-Western policies have angered the more powerful Yugoslav government in Belgrade, which accuses Montenegro's leaders of undermining the Yugoslav federation

    // OPT //

    Last week, a Yugoslav court ordered Montenegro to stop using the German mark as its official currency. Montenegro's government took that action last November to protect its economy from the effects of high inflation in Serbia, the other remaining Yugoslav republic. // END OPT // The United States has repeatedly expressed concern that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may try to oust Montenegro's pro-western leaders. U-S Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering told reporters in Albania Monday that the United States will stand firm against any military action by Milosevic. Yugoslav army troops in Montenegro are controlled by Mr. Milosevic. Montenegro's pro-Western government controls the police. (Signed)
    NEB/KBK/WTW 31-Jan-2000 16:32 PM EDT (31-Jan-2000 2132 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States closed higher today (Monday), after the highly-valued technology sector rebounded late in the day from huge losses. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed out of a two-week slump. It went up 201 points, nearly two percent, closing at 10-thousand-940. The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 34 points. And the technology- weighted Nasdaq composite closed up one and one-third percent, having been sharply down through most of the trading session. Analysts say the probability of an interest rate hike this week is making many investors very nervous. And, nervous investors tend to create a volatile stock market.

    ///BEGIN OPT///

    Investment strategist Marshall Acuff of the Salomon Smith Barney brokerage firm predicts the highly-valued technology stocks will be the most to suffer in the short-term, as investors head toward cheaper stocks:

    /// ACUFF ACT ///

    It strikes me that a lot of the high-fliers (expensive stocks) have well gotten ahead of where they should be valued on future growth. This is not to say they won't be good growth companies. But I think we're going to be in a very volatile market for some period of time until we get this interest rate speculation behind us some months ahead.

    ///END ACT///

    ///END OPT///

    The latest on the U-S economy shows Americans spent more than they earned in December, with consumer spending at its fastest pace in four months. Analysts say that is almost a guarantee that the Federal Reserve Board will raise interest rates Wednesday at the end of its two-day meeting. The question now is by how much. Consumer spending has driven the U-S economic boom.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Shares of Qualcomm - 1999's best stock performer - went up as much as 15 percent after a report indicated the U-S telecommunications giant is moving closer to a big wireless deal in China. This helped reverse the sagging fortunes in the Nasdaq market. Qualcomm executives and officials of China's second- largest telephone company are said to have started talks last Thursday. Qualcomm hopes to strike a deal that would expand China's huge mobile-phone market and ensure that its own products remain dominant. NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/gm 31-Jan-2000 16:53 PM EDT (31-Jan-2000 2153 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A glance at the nation's editorial columns shows commentaries on several topics -- including tomorrow's New Hampshire presidential primary, and the President's State of the Union speech. Other topics attracting attention include the battle over the return to Cuba of shipwrecked boy Elian Gonzalez; a new peace plan for the Congolese civil war; China's efforts to build a new great wall against the Internet; and aid for Colombia, in the midst of a narco-fueled civil war. Lastly, there is concern for Christian rights in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Now, here is _____________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The country's first presidential primary election takes place Tuesday in the New England state of New Hampshire. On New York's Long Island, "Newsday" explains again why, although it has a very small population, New Hampshire matters.

    VOICE: ... the state has a higher percentage of high-tech jobs than the big, cosmopolitan states that swing general elections. Add to this sophistication the closeness of the polls, the seriousness with which New Hampshirites take their role in presidential politics and the ability of independents to cast ballots in either major party's contest, and it is clear. This time, tomorrow's first-in-the-nation primary could be a barometer for March - - and for November.

    TEXT: "The Boston Globe" is linking the President's State of the Union message with the first primary, noting:

    VOICE: ...While [Mr.] Clinton's speech was far longer than the shrinking attention span of many Americans, it was on target in returning time and again to fundamental issues that will shape the nation and the world well into the century. It set ambitious goals and proposed concrete steps toward many of them. The presidential candidates as a group have said less in a year than [Mr.] Clinton did in 89-minutes. ... The presidential candidates, by contrast, offer remedies that are timid, incremental, and seem designed not to inspire but to avoid offending. ... rarely do [they] ... betray any recognition that the nation and the world are indeed at an extraordinary pivot point in history, with economies and international relations all linked more closely than ever and changing with ever- redoubling rapidity.

    TEXT: Today's "Tampa [Florida] Tribune", carefully scrutinizing the candidates' tax plans, finds them incomplete.

    VOICE: All five of the major candidates for president tell us that the tax plans of the other four would bring financial calamity or at least cause unnecessary hardships. If they all keep their promises, the two least likely to favor big tax cuts are Democrats Bill Bradley and Al Gore. Each says the other's ambitious spending plans would unbalance the budget. Among Republicans, Steve Forbes proposes the biggest cuts, George W. Bush the second largest, and John McCain the third. ... So far, all the candidates have told us what they plan to do if the economy continues to grow but have not dared discuss how they would react to a recession.

    TEXT: Another popular topic continues to be the fate of Elian Gonzalez, the little Cuban boy shipwrecked in an attempt by his mother and others to reach the United States. His mother drowned, he was rescued and his U-S relatives are fighting the U-S government in a bid to keep him here, while his father in Cuba demands his return. The "Atlanta [Georgia] Constitution" says the - Rationale for keeping Elian is thin.

    VOICE: Elian Gonzalez's doting grandmothers returned to Cuba empty-handed, but at least they had the satisfaction of seeing and embracing the six-year-old ... in a tense, hastily arranged reunion in Miami. Moreover, it looks as if the lobbying the two of them did on Capitol Hill is having a positive effect, slowing the momentum of a campaign to pander to the rabidly anti- Castro crowd by granting Elian U-S citizenship. ...Too much time has been wasted already on empty arguments for keeping him here.

    TEXT: Turning to African affairs, "The New York Times" sees what it calls a small glimmer of hope emerging from efforts by the United States at the U-N Security Council, to obtain a cease-fire in the long- running Congolese civil war.

    VOICE: After a week of discussions that included all six heads of state currently involved in the conflict, the Clinton administration announced ... it will back Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposal for a peacekeeping operation that would include about five-thousand troops in support of 500 cease- fire monitors. No American troops would be involved. The force would be made up mostly of Africans, paid for by U-N members. ... If a modest commitment of African troops to shore up a shaky cease fire in Congo reinforces the political will of the contending parties to move forward with their own peace agreement, something positive may be achieved, not just for Congo but for all of Africa.

    TEXT: Several issues involving China are eliciting comments, including the campaign by Beijing to build a wall against what China's government feels are undesirable elements on the Internet. It will not work, says "The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World", which makes this comparison.

    VOICE: The ancient Chinese emperors believed that a wall built along China's borders would keep out enemies -- or keep the Chinese in. Although the Great Wall of China was an engineering feat of enormous magnitude, it failed to protect China from the outside world. Now, the Chinese government is erecting another wall -- in cyberspace. The State Bureau of Secrecy (really, that is its name) has issued a set of rules for Internet users aimed at protecting the government's flow of information. ...Chinese leaders hope ... a few well- publicized arrests and trials will discourage others from breaking the rules. It will discourage some. But many others, risking arrest, will continue their connection with the rest of the world. ... China ... has not had much luck with walls. This one probably will not work either.

    TEXT: In Pennsylvania, "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" is pleased that China has released Song Yongyi, a research Librarian at Dickinson college in Pennsylvania. He was jailed in China for supposedly buying sensitive papers, as he conducted research on China's Cultural Revolution.

    VOICE: Song Yongyi is back with his family in Pennsylvania. Any other outcome would have been an outrage and an irritant in U-S Chinese relations. ...It may be an indication that China is willing to bend a little in efforts to be accepted as a full partner in the World Trade Organization. ... But the [arrest] ... is a striking reminder that despite all the change in China, some things remain depressingly the same.

    TEXT: On Latin American topics, another editorial in "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" applauds President Clinton for proposing, in his State of the Union address, additional aid to Colombia, because:

    VOICE: ... Colombia is a major source of heroin and cocaine for the United States, what happens there threatens direct consequences for America, particularly the young. And Colombian democracy is in a fight for survival --a fight that it is showing signs of losing.

    TEXT: On the overall subject of foreign aid, including that proposed for Colombia, "The Florida Times-Union" in Jacksonville worries that there are problems with the recipient nations.

    VOICE: Aid to Nigeria will be quadrupled, protecting U-S trade interests, helping its "journey from dictatorship to democracy" and rewarding its new president for "protecting human rights." Indonesia will get aid to ensure that its people "do not struggle alone" in their transition to a democracy. Twice as much money will be spent on exchange programs with the Ukraine, also transforming itself into a democracy ... But the Cold War is over. The United States no longer has a vested interest in Americanizing the rest of the world.

    TEXT: The big Florida daily concludes by noting that all four countries have poor-to-terrible human rights records, and asks - of what value is democracy without human rights protections to go with it?

    TEXT: Religious persecution around the globe comes in for some new criticism from "The Florida Times-Union" in Jacksonville.

    VOICE: Anyone who doubts he is lucky to live in the United Sates, needs only to read the news elsewhere. Sixteen people, including five children, were arrested by religious police recently in Saudi Arabia for the crime of gathering to study the Bible. Twelve were released two-weeks later, but the other four remain behind bars. ... Many countries in Africa and Asia as well as the Middle East, do not allow anyone other than Muslims to seek converts. In Iran, it is a crime punishable by death to become a Christian. People are arrested for handing out religious literature in Vietnam. Christians are forced to convert in Sudan. They have been assaulted, raped, and murdered by vigilantes in Pakistan. Americans have to put up with religious bigotry, too, but at least it is not orchestrated by government.

    TEXT: That concludes this sampling of editorial comment from the pages of Monday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 31-Jan-2000 11:26 AM EDT (31-Jan-2000 1626 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Union says its members will sharply reduce their ties with a fellow member -- Austria -- if a new Austrian government includes a far-right party. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels.

    TEXT: Portugal told Austrian leaders that their country's contacts with the European Union will be downgraded if the rightwing Freedom Party is included in a coalition government. Portugal issued the statement on behalf of the other 14 governments in the European Union. Portugal holds the E-U's six-month rotating presidency. The warning was issued as Austrian President Thomas Klestil consulted the leaders of the potential parties in the coalition -- the Peoples Party's Wolfgang Schuessel and Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider. Statements by Mr. Haider insulting the leaders of France and Belgium have angered the European Union, which has already expressed concern about his anti- foreigner and anti-E-U attitudes. Mr. Haider made an attempt to withdraw those remarks after he met with President Klestil, saying he does not want a conflict with either government. The E-U statement, issued in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, says the European Union's political contacts with any government that includes Mr. Haider's Freedom Party will not be promoted or accepted. The statement also says there will not be any E-U support for Austrian candidates seeking positions in international organizations. And it says Austrian ambassadors would be received by E-U governments only at a technical level. Mr. Schuessel, Austria's foreign minister, has already made clear that Mr. Haider personally will not be part of any government he leads. Until two weeks ago, Mr. Schuessel negotiated a renewal of his party's coalition with the Social Democrats' Chancellor Viktor Klima. Those talks broke down over power sharing issues and Mr. Klima gave up trying to form a minority government by himself. The Freedom Party finished second in last October's election, just ahead of Mr. Schuessel's Peoples Party. Together the two parties could form a majority government. If President Klestil calls a new election to avoid this coalition, it is possible the Freedom Party might win. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/KL 31-Jan-2000 13:59 PM EDT (31-Jan-2000 1859 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The value of the common European currency, the Euro, has spent a third day at less than the value of the U-S dollar. Correspondent Ron Pemstein, in Brussels, reports European Union finance ministers met, but avoided expressing concern about the weakness of their one-year-old currency.

    TEXT: The finance ministers issued what they call - a common understanding - that economic growth is robust and is rooted in domestic demand. As a consequence, they say the Euro has potential for appreciation -- an increase in its value -- firmly based on growth and price stability. They say a strong economy goes along with a strong currency. The finance ministers say they will continue with economic reforms to ensure high growth without inflation in their countries. The Euro made a small gain in value after that statement, but then slumped back to be worth 98-cents. European Central Bank chief Wim Duisenberg is expressing his concern, for the first time, that the European currency's weakness against the dollar does not fairly reflect the improved economic climate in Europe and could pose a threat of higher inflation. The Euro also has reached historic lows against the Japanese yen and the British pound. Mr. Duisenberg's comments about the undervalued Euro could forecast an interest rate move by the European Central Bank as soon as its next meeting on Thursday. But German finance minister Hans Eichel says inflation is less than one-percent in his country, and he does not think an increase in interest rates is needed. The finance ministers turned their attention to unfinished business from last year, trying to agree on a unified tax system. Britain has blocked an agreement to stop tax evasion, insisting that a withholding tax on non-residents' savings will ruin investment in London's bond market. European commissioner Frits Bolkestein blames Britain for blocking efforts at a compromise.

    /// BOLKESTEIN ACT ///

    We are all agreed that all citizens resident in the European Union should pay tax due on all their savings income, but we have yet to agree on the precise arrangements for achieving this. As is well known, the main stumbling block has been the U-K's concern about the application of the proposed directives to savings withholding on international bonds. If that problem can be overcome, it should be possible to find a solution to the remaining issues.

    /// END ACT ///

    The finance ministers have set up a special committee to try to resolve Britain's concerns before European leaders meet in Portugal in June. By that time, the countries tying their single currency to the Euro hope its value will increase. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RDP/JWH 31-Jan-2000 13:56 PM EDT (31-Jan-2000 1856 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America





    INTRO: A British court has rejected a legal challenge by Belgium and six human-rights organizations in the extradition case of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet. But as Lourdes Navarro reports from London, the legal wrangling continues.

    TEXT: The presiding judge, Maurice Kay, announced his decision to a crowded courtroom, saying he knew his verdict would hurt those who had suffered, but that he must reject the appeal. Six human-rights groups and the government of Belgium had launched the legal challenge that requested access to a medical report on General Pinochet's health. Earlier in the month, Britain's Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Jack Straw, who has ultimate jurisdiction over Mr. Pinochet's case, said he was inclined to release the general. He said the report showed the general is too ill to stand trial. But he said he would keep the contents of the report private because of doctor-patient confidentiality. The human-rights groups' legal challenge was based on their contention that Mr. Straw acted unfairly by refusing to show them the report. They said they could not properly contest the findings of a report they had not seen. But Justice Kay said - in legal terms, it is none of their business. He said he is satisfied that Mr. Straw acted lawfully and fairly. Belgium has already appealed the decision. According to legal sources, the case will be heard early next week, postponing General Pinochet's release. General Pinochet was arrested 15-months ago while in Britain for medical treatment. The arrest was on a Spanish extradition order, which seeks to try the former Chilean leader for alleged human-rights abuses during his 17-year rule. Belgium, France, and Switzerland are also seeking his extradition. A plane, ready to take the former leader back to Chile, is standing by at an airport just outside London.
    NEB/LN/JWH/RAE 31-Jan-2000 11:54 AM EDT (31-Jan-2000 1654 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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