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Voice of America, 00-02-07

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

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





    ///// FIXES TO ANSWERS IN ACT 2 OF CR2-258904 /////

    /// EDS: POLLS CLOSE IN CROATIA AT 1800 U-T-C / 1 PM EST ///

    INTRO: Turnout is heavy in the second round of Croatia's presidential election to choose a successor to the late Franjo Tudjman. Correspondent Ron Pemstein in Zagreb reports voters are confident that no matter which candidate wins, their country is ready for change.

    TEXT: The two candidates, Stipe Mesic and Drazen Budisa, hold similar views that Croatia should enter the European Union and NATO as soon as possible. They also agree that Croatia should stop interfering in neighboring Bosnia. And, both candidates have been trying to distance themselves from late President Franjo Tudjman's authoritarian leadership. That is why so many voters interviewed said it was difficult to choose between the two men. Pensioner Marija Arnaric says, through an interpreter, that she made her choice based on the personalities of the two men and which one presents a better contrast in the world to the late President Tudjman.


    It has not been what they said that helped me decide, but their personality. That person will fight for Croatia in the world, and we have seen in recent history how it is to have an unpopular person representing us, and it is really harder this time to make a choice.

    /// END ACT ///

    The 65-year old Mr. Mesic appears to have the advantage in personality. The opinion polls and the first round of voting put him ahead. He held a nearly 14-percentage-point lead over Mr. Budisa after the first round. The last opinion polls show the gap has closed to four-percent. Through an interpreter, Mr. Mesic tells V-O-A he believes his positions on Bosnia are clearer than Mr. Budisa's.


    I opt for very quick actions and it is visible from some of Budisa's answers on Bosnia where he thinks there is still time to define certain things. No, there is no time. We have to act very quickly.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Mesic says he believes he is more pro-European than Mr. Budisa. But Mr. Budisa, the 52-year leader of the Social Liberal Party, disagrees. Mr. Budisa points out he is supported by liberal politicians from all over Europe and his leadership will place Croatia into the European mainstream. If the parliament changes the constitution as the government wants, the new president's powers could be restricted. That prospect does not discourage the voters. While the choice between the two candidates was difficult, the sunny weather brought out more voters than in the first round two-weeks ago when Croatia was hit by a snowstorm. Including the parliamentary elections in January, this is the third time this year Croats have been asked to vote, and every time they have voted for change. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/RAE 07-Feb-2000 09:42 AM EDT (07-Feb-2000 1442 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Police officials and independent media say Yugoslavia's Defense Minister (Pavle Bulatovic) has been shot to death in Belgrade. As Stefan Bos reports, Monday night's attack occurred less than one month after the murder in Belgrade of Serbia's most notorious warlord, (Zeljko Raznatovic) known as Arkan.

    TEXT: The independent television network Studio B and police officials in Belgrade say bullets ripped into Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic and two other men. The three victims were sitting together Monday night in a restaurant operated by the Yugoslav soccer club Rad. Police say one or more attackers opened fire through a window. Mr. Bulatovic, restaurant owner Mirko Knezevic and Vuk Obradovic, a banker, were taken to a military hospital, where the 52-year-old defense minister was pronounced dead. Special military units and police rushed to the scene of the shooting, but there was no word whether anyone was detained. Yugoslav government ministers met in emergency session later Monday evening, as word of the assassination spread through the city.

    // OPT //

    Mr. Bulatovic, who had been defense minister since 1994, was a Montenegrin national, a member of a pro-Serb faction in Montenegro loyal to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The dead man was a leading member of the Socialist People's Party in Montenegro, which opposes the republic's pro-Western government, led by President Milo Djukanovic. // END OPT // The shooting in Belgrade comes less than one month after a similar attack, in the capital's Intercontinental Hotel, killed Serbia's most notorious warlord, Zeljko Raznatovic, known as Arkan. Analysts say they are worried about further violence, because of what they describe as a power struggle within the Belgrade regime and a war among organized crime groups.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Attackers in Belgrade have killed more than a dozen prominent people, including some close to President Milosevic, over the past decade. Most of the shootings have never been solved. (Signed)
    NEB/SB/WTW 07-Feb-2000 18:12 PM EDT (07-Feb-2000 2312 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America





    INTRO: The British government has introduced legislation to suspend the government structures in Northern Ireland. In this report, former London Correspondent Andre de Nesnera looks at what suspension may mean for the British province's volatile political situation.

    TEXT: Nine-weeks after a bit of self-rule was given to Northern Ireland, the British government has introduced legislation suspending governing institutions in the British province. Parliament's lower house - the House of Commons - is expected to debate the emergency legislation during the next few days - and at the end of the week, Northern Ireland could be once again ruled directly from London. Noel Doran is deputy-editor of Belfast's "Irish News" a newspaper reflecting the views of the Nationalist community which favors union with Ireland. He says suspending Northern Ireland's government - known as "the Executive" - would not be disastrous.

    // DORAN ACT //

    But it would be very disappointing in that from November, we had our own structures, our own executive made up of locally-elected politicians from all the traditions. The crucial point is that it was a power-sharing executive reflecting the aspirations and the electoral support of people on both sides of the community. And although it was early days, I think everyone had been very impressed with the way the respective ministers had been going about their duties and been having a real impact on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, taking decisions which clearly worked to the benefit of the entire community. And in a way which - for the first time in a generation - was accountable to the electorate here.

    // END ACT //

    This latest crisis in Northern Ireland was sparked by an ongoing problem that has plagued politicians in the British province for years. It is an unresolved issue known as `decommissioning': in other words, getting paramilitary groups - such as the Irish Republican Army - to hand in their weapons. About a week ago, an international commission headed by retired Canadian General John de Chastelain reported the I-R-A failed to begin handing in its weapons. That prompted Northern Ireland's Chief Executive - David Trimble - leader of the pro-British Ulster Unionist Party - to threaten to resign as Northern Ireland's Chief Executive. In order to prevent that move, the British government was forced to contemplate reintroducing direct rule - resulting in the legislation before Parliament. London School of Economics' Irish expert Brendan O'Leary says Mr. Trimble's threat to resign is understandable.

    // O'LEARY ACT //

    It remains the case that a political understanding of some kind was reached between the Ulster Unionists and (the I-R-A's political wing) Sinn Fein in November which prompted David Trimble to go into the (Northern Ireland's) Executive ahead of any prior I-R-A decommissioning. He plainly understood that decommissioning would occur relatively quickly. That has not happened - although the I-R-A has appointed an interlocutor to talk with General de Chastelain.

    // END ACT //

    The British and Irish governments are trying to find a way to get some sort of commitment from the I-R-A to begin the decommissioning process at a time when the suspension of Northern Ireland's governing institutions is a distinct possibility. Historian Brendan O'Brien - an expert on the I-R-A and its political wing Sinn Fein (and author of the book "The Long War") - says suspension could prove to be beneficial.

    // O'BRIEN ACT //

    The optimistic scenario is you could have suspension for a limited period - an agreed period - during which people tried to put the pieces of the jigsaw together again, in order to put confidence back. In other words - confidence by the Unionists that the I-R-A will deal seriously with the de Chastelain Commission on the decommissioning of arms and confidence by the I-R-A that the (Northern Ireland's) institutions would not be threatened again. And that therefore, they can satisfactorily go the route of at least commitment on decommissioning and without appearing, if you like, to have walked into a trap.

    // END ACT //

    On the other hand, Mr. O'Brien says suspending Northern Ireland's Executive could force the I-R-A to become even more intransigent on the weapons issue. That could force pro-British politicians to pull out of Northern Ireland's governing institutions for good, ending the British province's short-lived experience with limited self-rule. (SIGNED)
    NEB/ADEN/RAE 07-Feb-2000 14:22 PM EDT (07-Feb-2000 1922 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has accused the leader of Austria's far right Freedom Party of unacceptable conduct. She says diplomatic steps taken to protest the new Austrian coalition government are the right thing to do. From the State Department, V-O-A's Kyle King reports.

    TEXT: Secretary of State Albright says she spoke to several of her European colleagues in the last two days about the latest developments in Austria. The United States and many of its European allies have taken steps to diplomatically isolate Austria since the swearing in last Friday of a new coalition that includes Joerg Haider's anti-immigrant Freedom Party. Speaking in Washington, Ms. Albright took exception to Mr. Haider's numerous apologies for remarks that appear to diminish the crimes of the Nazis.

    /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///

    Its quite unacceptable for Mr. Haider to make a statement one day and then apologize for it and then make another statement the next day. While he is not a member of the government, I think that in our line of work, that is not how we operate.

    /// END ACT ///

    Among the measures the United States announced last week, Ms. Albright has recalled U-S ambassador Kathryn Hall from Vienna for consultations. The Secretary has also instructed Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, the U-S envoy to talks on holocaust issues, to discuss with Austrian officials how they plan to deal with compensation for Nazi-era slave labor. Ms. Albright says she believes the United States and Europe are doing exactly the right thing by staying in contact on the issue and moving in the same direction. European Union member states have downgraded diplomatic contacts with Austria in a sign of displeasure over the Freedom Party joining the government. (Signed) NEB/KBK/TVM/gm 07-Feb-2000 18:57 PM EDT (07-Feb-2000 2357 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Monday), with investors still leaning toward technology. Blue- chip stocks (major stocks) continued their slide. V- O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 58 points, one-half of one percent, closing at 10- thousand-905. The Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped less than a point. But the Nasdaq composite gained one-point-eight percent, closing at another record high. Analysts say investors clearly like the high growth of technology stocks and that is where they are putting their money. However, smaller-capitalization companies made most of the gains in the Nasdaq market. Some of the large-caps (large-capitalization companies), such as software giant Microsoft, traded lower.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Overall, it was a quiet day on Wall Street, with the stock market in a narrow trading range. Philip Roth, an analyst with the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter investment firm, says some of that is due to uncertainty over interest rates:

    /// ROTH ACT ///

    We're dealing with a market that is showing highly selective strength, with the majority of stocks not doing very much. We're likely to see even narrower strength with many stocks struggling because of the interest rate environment.

    /// END ACT ///

    The U-S central bank raised short-term interest rates last week. And, many experts anticipate one or two more hikes this year, as Federal Reserve policy-makers try to cool the U-S economy.

    /// END OPT ///

    Pfizer and Warner-Lambert stocks were up, after Pfizer said it is buying Warner-Lambert for 90-billion dollars. The acquisition will create the world's second largest pharmaceutical company.


    American Home Products, which had a deal to merge with Warner-Lambert before Pfizer stepped in with a hostile bid, walked away with a one-point-eight billion dollar break-up fee. Shares of Caterpillar - the world's biggest maker of construction equipment - fell to their lowest level in more than a year, amid fears that rising interest rates will slow demand for heavy equipment. (Signed) NEB/EJ/LSF/TVM/gm 07-Feb-2000 16:47 PM EDT (07-Feb-2000 2147 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Editorial writers across the nation continue to view with alarm Austria's new government coalition, which includes members of a party suspected of Nazi sympathy. The favorite domestic topic, meanwhile, continues to be politics -- both the race for president and Hillary Clinton's formal announcement for a U-S Senate seat from New York. There is also concern about Northern Ireland's latest peace crisis; the U-S economic expansion; Mexico's economy; and the first cellphone- caused airplane crash. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is _______ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The admission of an apparently pro-Nazi political party to Austria's latest coalition government continues to draw comment in the U-S press. The [New York] Daily News laments:

    VOICE: In bringing an extremist right-wing party into its governing coalition, Austria turned its back on a united Europe and the human rights for which that entity stands. The rest of Europe is right to turn its back on Austria. Israel is right in recalling its ambassador. The United States must take equally strong steps. // OPT // ... After all, "Never Again" is more than just words. // END OPT //

    VOICE: In Florida, the Miami Herald calls the move "a worrisome right turn," adding:

    VOICE: Whither Austria? The question defies easy answers, but the inclusion of Joerg Haider's neo-Fascist, anti-immigrant Freedom Party in Austria's new government is profoundly troubling. // OPT // ... U-S officials say they are "watching" events. For now, that's appropriate. But the United States mustn't hesitate to impose its own sanctions against Austria to defend democracy and to stanch racism and bigotry. // END OPT //

    TEXT: Taking the opposite side is today's Providence [Rhode Island] Journal, which worries about an abuse of power by the European Union.

    VOICE: // OPT // Many citizens in all European countries have worried that the European Union would end up running roughshod over their nations' traditions and institutions, and that the powers-that-be in Brussels would seek ways to undermine the members' sovereign rights and responsibilities. Well, these Euro-skeptics haven't had to wait long to see some of their most dire predictions come true. // END OPT // The E-U's current attempts to intimidate Austria are frightening. ... Austria's voters believed ... they would determine the makeup of the nation's cabinet after they ... voted by secret ballot in a free and fair election. But the E-U seems to have a different theory: It thinks it has the right to tell Austrians what parties they can and cannot have in their own cabinet. ... Another important issue arises here: What right does the E-U have to ostracize a politician before he and his party have actually done anything wrong?

    TEXT: From Austrian to U-S politics now, and the red hot race for the Republican nomination between Texas Governor George Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain. The [Tacoma, Washington] News Tribune runs this assessment from Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times.

    VOICE: Arizona Senator John McCain's historic rout of Texas Governor George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary set up a pivotal Republican contest on February 19th in South Carolina, while Democrat Al Gore bolstered his position by fighting off challenger Bill Bradley. Though [Mr.] Bush's enormous advantages in money, endorsements and the national polls still make him a favorite for the nomination, a South Carolina win for [Mr.] McCain could give the senator a shot at swiping the prize, many G-O-P analysts say. // OPT // Over the past 20 years, South Carolina has played the decisive role in settling every contested G-O-P nomination. // END OPT // ... Meanwhile, although [former New Jersey Senator Bill] Bradley did better in New Hampshire than in Iowa, the New Hampshire result raised pointed questions. ... Though [Mr.] Bradley avoided a fatal blow and has the money to press on, he must overcome [Mr.] Gore's formidable lead in states such as California, Ohio and even New York, after losing the first two contests on the calendar.

    TEXT: Hillary Clinton's formal announcement over the weekend of her candidacy for the U-S Senate from New York draws this response from The New York Times.

    VOICE: Hillary ... Clinton ... started her candidacy ... with a polished speech designed to reintroduce her to New Yorkers as a capable campaigner. Her confident delivery struck a sharp contrast with the gaffes of last fall. ... Having endured months of questioning about her political skills, Mrs. Clinton will get good review for this political performance...

    TEXT: To Northern Ireland now, and concern that the Irish Republican Army's reluctance to begin turning over its weapons will torpedo [ruin] the Irish peace process. From Baltimore [Maryland], The Sun says the I-R-A and its political wing, Sinn Fein, must act now to save the peace agreement.

    VOICE: They can comply with the obligation Sinn Fein undertook in the Good Friday Accord of 1998, that its Irish Republican Army "decommission" its weapons by May 2000. Or they can forfeit Sinn Fein's standing as a political party fit to participate in governing Northern Ireland. ... Decommissioning is essential to Sinn Fein's place in responsible government.

    TEXT: In this hemisphere, The Dallas Morning News looks at the rebounding Mexican economy and notes things are not entirely as they seem.

    VOICE: Mexican officials trot out gaudy figures to show that their country has rebounded from the catastrophe of 1994 and 1995, when the economy contracted six-point-two percent and one-million jobs disappeared. Since 1996, the economy has grown at a ripping [excellent] average annual rate of approximately five-point- one percent. Inflation was 12-point-three percent last year, down from 52 percent in 1995. The central bank's foreign currency holdings are five times as big as they were in 1994. ... [However,] the surface rendering of the condition of Mexico's economy ... doesn't tell the whole story. Mexico's legions of poor are poorer than they were before ... the great collapse. Indeed, real wages remain below 1994 levels, and probably won't exceed them for several more years.

    TEXT: And now to the U-S economy, and the seemingly endless economic boom. The New York Times suggests:

    VOICE: Economic expansions do not die of old age. The current expansion, the longest in recorded history, will not end from exhaustion. A nine-year-old expansion is no more likely to end than a two-year-old expansion. Indeed, the term business cycle is a misnomer. Recoveries and recessions do not occur in regular cycles. There are ups and downs but no pattern. ... No one thinks the Fed [the U-S central bank, the Federal Reserve] can keep the economy growing forever. ... The real danger is something unseen and as yet unknown. ... The important point is that these good times have not been solely due to luck.

    TEXT: Internationally, President Clinton's forthcoming trip to the Indian sub-continent draws approval from the Houston Chronicle.

    VOICE: It is about time. The March 20th visit will be a fitting acknowledgment of the shared strategic interests that the United States has with the world's largest democracy. ... Given lingering Cold War resentments and differences between the United States and India over nuclear proliferation in recent months, the relationship, slow to warm, is in need of some warming recognition. ... It is interesting that Americans spend a lot of capital, both financial and political, in debating the merits and problems of opening up the huge and important market represented by the People's Republic of China, yet spend so little exploring the huge and equally promising market on the Indian sub- continent.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: The Boston Globe looks at the war in Chechnya and ponders the phrase"riding a tiger," which U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used to describe the risks that Russian leaders face in their handling of the conflict.

    VOICE: [Ms.] Albright's warning to [Russia's acting president, Vladimir] Putin[,] makes sense only as a reminder that the war is unwinnable. ... Nevertheless, [Ms.] Albright's lament misses the mark if [it is] taken as an explanation of the war. It should be clearer than ever that the motives for the Russian assault on Chechnya are rooted in domestic politics. The war made possible the ascent of Putin as Boris Yeltsin's successor. // END OPT //

    TEXT: And lastly, this slightly humorous or perhaps incredulous editorial from The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville about the first plane crash caused by a cellphone.

    VOICE: A security patrolman at Eglin Air Force Base was driving on a runway last November when he dropped a cellular telephone, reached for it, unwittingly turned his car's steering wheel, stepped on the gas [accelerator] and hit a parked jet fighter. The crash totaled [completely destroyed] the patrol car and caused 62-thousand dollars damage to an F-15 [fighter jet]. The driver ... suffered a concussion. ... Much has been said lately about car phones being a threat to traffic safety. ... But ... the real issue is paying attention to what you are doing. So if you drop your phone, leave it there until you stop, or you could run into a jet airplane.

    TEXT: On that cautionary note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Monday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 07-Feb-2000 12:27 PM EDT (07-Feb-2000 1727 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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