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Voice of America, 00-03-22

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

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





    INTRO: Ethnic-Albanian leaders say peace and stability in Kosovo are not possible until thousands of prisoners held in Serbian jails are freed. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the Albanians say reconciliation with the minority Serb community in Kosovo will not be possible until the prisoner issues is resolved.

    TEXT: Ethnic Albanian politicians say they are working for a just and democratic society. They say they are against ethnic violence. Bardhyl Mahmuti is vice-president of the Democratic Progress Party of Kosovo. Formerly, he was a political representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army. He says Kosovo will not be peaceful and will not be able to achieve reconciliation with the Serb minority until three-thousand prisoners held by Serbian authorities are freed.


    Mr. Mahmuti says several-thousand Albanian families live in anguish because they have no news about their family members. He says the situation in Kosovo cannot be stabilized until war criminals are brought to justice and prisoners, whom he refers to as hostages, are released. He says Kosovo Albanians want the U-N Human Rights Commission to push for the unconditional freedom of the prisoners in Belgrade. He says this would have an immediate effect on the volatile security situation in Kosovo. The Secretary-General of NATO, George Robertson, has warned that the people of Kosovo risk losing the goodwill and backing of the international community if they do not stop revenge attacks against the Serbs. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and senior U-N officials have issued similar warnings. Mr. Mahmuti says ethnic-Albanian politicians have done more than enough to lessen violence in the province.


    Mr. Mahmuti says the Albanians are aware that violence damages their image. He says they are not - as he put it - so crazy as to undertake actions which would lose them the support of the international community. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LS/GE/RAE 22-Mar-2000 10:18 AM EDT (22-Mar-2000 1518 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: In Northern Ireland, the home-rule assembly remains suspended while Unionist and Republican politicians continue wrangling over paramilitary disarmament -- or decommissioning, as it is called. V-O-A Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from Belfast on the political stalemate between Unionists, who want to remain part of Britain, and Republicans, who want independence.

    TEXT: Britain's top official for Northern Ireland suspended home-rule last month, only 72 days after transferring the powers to Belfast. The power-sharing assembly remains suspended, much to the anger and frustration of most of Northern Ireland's residents and politicians. The issue that forced the suspension is the long- standing dispute over the timing of paramilitary disarmament. Unionist leader David Trimble says he will not go back into a power-sharing arrangement with the Republicans until the Irish Republican Army makes a public commitment now to putting its weapons beyond use. Gerry Adams, who heads the I-R-A's political wing, says the Good Friday Agreement sets May as the only deadline. Protestant politician David Ervine -- himself a former Loyalist (EDS: pro-British) paramilitary leader -- warns that too much emphasis is being put on the disarmament issue.

    /// ERVINE ACT ///

    I think it's perfectly legitimate that we wish to rid our society of illegal weapons, but I think that we must understand that one of the major issues in any divided society will be governed by the fact that the minute you demand from your enemy, you guarantee no delivery.

    /// END ACT //

    Historian Michael Foy says the problem is the Unionists still do not trust the Republicans when they say they want peace.

    /// FOY ACT ///

    That's the great unknown. What is the ultimate goal of the Republican movement? Have they really changed, or is this a way of pursuing war by different means?

    /// END ACT ///

    Women's Coalition leader Monica McWilliams is angry that the simmering dispute over disarmament has forced the suspension of Northern Ireland's home-rule administration.

    /// MCWILLIAMS ACT ///

    The government is not the gift of one party. It should never have been. It belongs to all of us. It's the people's agreement and the people's government so we need to put it back. And I also think then that we have the reassurances that democracy works, politics work and takes primacy over everything else, and it is in that context that we'll get decommissioning.

    /// END ACT ///

    But, Unionists and Republicans are still talking only to their own constituencies and not yet reaching across the sectarian divide. David Ervine, who heads the Progressive Unionist Party, explains that you have to make peace with your enemies, not your friends.

    /// ERVINE ACT ///

    David Trimble cannot deliver for his people without the assistance of Gerry Adams. And Gerry Adams cannot deliver for his people without the assistance of David Trimble. It's as simple as that.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Ervine does not expect the I-R-A will respond to Unionist leader Trimble's demand for a firm commitment now to disarmament.

    /// OPT ///

    Still, Noel Doran, deputy editor of the Nationalist Irish News, says some I-R-A gesture is needed to get the peace process back on track.

    /// OPT // DORAN ACT ///

    We need some fresh thinking that people are all pulling in the same direction, that there's a renewed commitment to the Good Friday Agreement. There's a range of options and it would be wrong for anyone to specify what the minimum is required from any side, but I think we do require more flexibility than has been the case so far.

    /// END ACT / END OPT ///

    Britain's minister for Northern Ireland continues talking with all parties to the Good Friday Agreement to try to bridge the gap over disarmament and get the power-sharing assembly up and running again. But, there are few indications that will happen any time soon. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LMK/JWH/JP 22-Mar-2000 10:58 AM EDT (22-Mar-2000 1558 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: European Union (E-U) leaders are meeting today (Thursday) in Lisbon for a two-day summit meeting where they plan to set goals to enable Europe to catch up to the United States in employment and the use of the Internet to do business. Ron Pemstein reports from Lisbon that the summit also has to deal with the bad feelings associated with Austria's political isolation from the other 14 members.

    TEXT: /// OPT /// These summit meetings usually have so-called family photos, where all the leaders of Europe pose together for photographers. Today there will not be a family photo. That is because there is discord in the European family. /// END OPT /// This will be the first opportunity for Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to confront his colleagues since the other 14 leaders agreed to downgrade their relations with his government. French President Jacques Chirac put out word he does not want to stand for a photograph with Chancellor Schuessel. France and Belgium have been the most active E-U members in trying to isolate Austria since Chancellor Schuessel formed his coalition government with the far right Freedom Party. The Portuguese host has been trying to draw a distinction between the bilateral measures each country carries out against Austria and the country's participation in European Union business, like this summit meeting. The Portuguese have substituted a group photo of the European leaders with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who is in Lisbon to sign an Association agreement with the European Union. In that way France and Belgium will have to insult Mexico if they want to avoid being seen in the same picture with Chancellor Schuessel. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guetteres tells reporters he wants this summit meeting to be about how Europe can create new jobs with new technology.

    /// GUETTERES ACT ///

    Let me be very honest with you, this is not a summit about Austria, this is a summit about employment. Of course, the Chancellor of Austria is perfectly entitled to express his points of view during our dinner and I will give an answer to what I have been stressing, the positions of the 14 members about Austria but also in the full guarantee of Austria's participation in the European Union.

    /// END ACT ///

    Austrian President Thomas Klestil wrote the Portuguese Prime Minister asking his help in lifting the E-U sanctions against Austria. The Prime Minister says there are no sanctions. They are simply bilateral measures each country takes to downgrade its political contacts with Vienna. Austria remains a member of European Union institutions. Mr. Guetteres has made clear the measures against Austria will stay in effect until Austria's Freedom Party changes its nature. That means the party will have to avoid xenophobic and anti- foreigner sentiments that marked its election campaign. Chancellor Schuessel will appeal to the other leaders to judge his coalition government by its actions, not by the reputation of the Freedom Party's former leader, Joerg Haider. The bulk of this summit meeting will be about setting a target of three-percent economic growth rates for the next 10 years to allow Europe to bring down its unemployment rate of 10-percent. (Signed) NEB/RP/GE/gm 22-Mar-2000 14:47 PM EDT (22-Mar-2000 1947 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Wednesday) in volatile trading, with the "blue-chips" sliding backwards after their big run-up Tuesday. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 40 points, four-tenths of one-percent, closing at 10- thousand-866. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed up six points. Meanwhile, the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite soared for a gain of more than three percent. Analysts expect the stock market to remain volatile until the Federal Reserve Board finishes raising interest rates. The "Fed" hiked rates an expected quarter percentage point Tuesday for the second time this year.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    However, Clark Yingst - an analyst with Prudential Securities - says Wall Street, in the near term, has a small window of opportunity to stay focused on corporate profit reports. He says this should give the stock market upward momentum:

    /// YINGST ACT ///

    This market has a very short-term time horizon. The latest "Fed" decision is now behind us. We think that for the time being and at least until mid to perhaps even late April that does free the market to focus on earnings, which again we think will be generally very good and especially good in the "tech" sector.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    Biotechnology and semiconductor shares climbed, giving the Nasdaq additional strength. Number-two computer chip-maker Micron Technology went up as much as 15- percent, despite lower-than-expected quarterly earnings.

    /// REST OPT ///

    German-American auto-maker DaimlerChrysler is said to be near a deal to take effective control over Japan's Mitsubishi Motors. This would create the world's third largest car-making group. The move would give DaimlerChrysler a much-needed Asian base and some small car expertise while helping Mitsubishi with its heavy debt. In 1996, Ford became the first foreign company to gain control over a Japanese auto-maker when it bought a part of Mazda. However, Mazda is still struggling. Analysts say the strong yen is squeezing profits. Mazda is dependent on exports. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/gm 22-Mar-2000 16:37 PM EDT (22-Mar-2000 2137 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Newspapers across the United States are commenting on the latest development in the case of a little Cuban boy rescued from a shipwreck as his mother tried to escape to Florida, and now the subject of a legal and diplomatic custody battle. The Taiwanese election continues to draw comment; as does President Clinton's trip to India and Pakistan. Dealing with Iran, and the latest overture from the United States is also a popular topic. There are also comments on the mass suicide in Uganda. Now, here is ________ with a closer look and some excerpts, in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: A Federal Judge has ruled the Florida relatives of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez do not have the right to petition for his political asylum in the United States. That sets up his probable return to Cuba and his father. The boy was rescued from the sea last November after the raft he and his mother and several others were on capsized. The others perished. He became the center of a diplomatic battle between the U-S and Cuban governments, and the boy's Florida relatives. In the U-S press, there is still disagreement on what should happen to him. The Detroit [Michigan] Free Press says of the ruling:

    VOICE: While painful for his American family and many Cuban Americans, the judge's decision was the correct one, not about politics or emotions, but about a father's right to reclaim a child after his mother's death.

    TEXT: Today's Chicago Tribune is relieved the drama is finally nearing its end.

    VOICE: If Elian's Miami relatives - and the cadre of Cuban-American politicians and organization beating the drums and bankrolling the lawyers - truly love the boy as much as they say, they will abandon plans to file appeals that will only drag out this melodrama for several more months. Elian belongs back home at his father's side, and as soon as possible.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The [Minneapolis, Minnesota] Star-Tribune says: "The boy should go home, soon," adding:

    VOICE: Common sense, compassion and the law are prevailing in the sad case ... Away from the passions of Miami's expatriate Cuban community, it long has been obvious that the judge could rule no other way.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: However in South Carolina, The Charleston Post and Courier wants the lad to stay in Miami, and takes exception to the ruling. It notes that while his father is, in the court decision, the only one who can speak for his son on questions of asylum, the father is not free to speak.

    VOICE: No official explanation has been given for Mr. Gonzalez' failure to rush to the side of his ... son when he was rescued ... in the Florida Straits. ... The most likely explanation is that the Cuban dictatorship will not allow him to leave for fear ... he might defect. Reports abound to the effect that Mr. Gonzalez, who has remarried and has a young child, wanted to leave Cuba and knew beforehand that his ex- wife was taking Elian with her to Miami.

    TEXT: Taiwan's election of a president, Chen Shui- bian, from an opposition party continues to draw comment such as this, from The Chicago Tribune. Noting riots, and the Taiwanese stock market fall, that followed the election, the paper says the worst did not happen.

    VOICE: ... as the smoke began to clear Tuesday, the threat of war between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China - a war that would certainly draw in the United States - happily did not seem imminent, as cool heads appeared to prevail on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Oklahoma, The Tulsa World says the difficult balancing act of a "one-China policy" with two actual Chinas, continues.

    VOICE: Now comes the really difficult part. Much of [President-elect Chen Shui-bian] Chen's success was due to his support of Taiwan independence from mainland China. China's leaders had threatened military retaliation if [Mr.] Chen were elected. During the campaign [Mr.] Chen toned down the independence rhetoric ... but tempers could easily flare if [Mr.] Chen and the Chinese leaders can not come to some sort of understanding before [he] takes office in May. It will take the cooperation of both countries.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to President Clinton's South Asia trip, The Dallas [Texas] Morning News sets out details of the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, before suggesting the best course of action for the president.

    VOICE: He cannot afford to join India's leaders in the pretense that the rest of the world has no interests to defend in Kashmir. Not when Kashmir is the world's most dangerous nuclear flash point. Not when Kashmir causes Pakistan to ally with Islamic fundamentalists, who promise to help recover the province but who also threaten Pakistan's stability and U-S security. /// OPT /// Not when Indian soldiers and police consistently violate human rights in Kashmir. The massacre Tuesday of dozens of Kashmiris by Islamic separatists underscored the conflict's international character, since it evidently was timed to coincide with Mr. Clinton's visit. ... /// END OPT /// Mr. Clinton can not force India and Pakistan to abjure their recklessness over Kashmir. But he is right to try every lever in the effort.

    TEXT: The latest U-S overture toward Iran - ending a ban on several luxury goods including pistachios and hand-made rugs - draws this approval from The Houston [Texas] Chronicle.

    VOICE: In relaxing its ban on the importation of Iranian luxury goods, the Clinton administration has made an appropriate response to the results of the recent Iranian parliamentary elections. U-S Senator Connie Mack, Republican of Florida, decried the relaxed trade sanctions, saying ... "principled foreign policy stands up to terrorism." So it does, but the United States must acknowledge that there are two Irans and respond to both.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Ohio, The [Akron] Beacon Journal is pleased but cautious, suggesting, there are plenty of obstacles to normal relations after 20-years of hostility.

    VOICE: The helpful thing is, there is a lot to discuss. An ongoing dialogue could address financial disputes dating to the hostage crisis, not to mention the ban on American investment in the Iranian oil industry and the blocking of large loans to Iran from the international Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Of course ... normal relations ... cannot resume until Iran abandons its support of terrorism and its development of a nuclear arsenal. What has been increasingly plain is that an American policy of trying to isolate Iran has largely failed. An end to the estrangement requires small gestures at the outset. The tests grow ever larger. Iran faces the next one.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In African affairs, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin is lamenting the possibly millennium-induced mass suicide of about 400-people in Uganda at the site of a religious cult.

    VOICE: There were fears that the advent of the new millennium would spark mass suicides, and that seems to have happened in Uganda ... where 330 bodies have been found ... after a fire at the compound of the ... Movement for the Restoration of the Ten commandments of God. ... In the wake of the disaster, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni warned the nation's religious leaders against those who might endanger the lives of the unsuspecting. Such warnings seem particularly urgent in this period, when the passing of the millennium stimulates apocalyptic thoughts.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Florida's St. Petersburg Times feels that returned former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet may still face his accusers for the killings and torture he is accused of during his 17-year-rule.

    VOICE: ... now the Chilean public prosecutor's office, supported by the new president, has said it will vigorously pursue legal proceedings against [General] Pinochet. The State Defense Council wants to take over 72 lawsuits against [General] Pinochet that have so far been dealt with by underfunded, overworked human rights lawyers. ... Forcing Augusto Pinochet to go to trial for the outrages he committed against his own people would be an important step in healing the still-bleeding wounds from the reign of terror in which thousands died.

    TEXT: Taking the General's side in the defeat of socialism however, is today's Waterbury [Connecticut] Republican-American, which comments:

    VOICE: So far, 2000 has not been a very good year for leftists. In Spain, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was re-elected, and his conservative Popular Party trounced a coalition of socialists and communists to secure a majority in Parliament. ... His win came on the heels of Great Britain's release of the aging Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, who slipped through the fingers of international leftists who wanted to see him twisting in the wind for leading a 1973 coup against Salvadore Allende, a socialist dictator who had the blood of many innocents on his hands. Leftists will never forgive him [General Pinochet] for helping the West win the cold War and for restoring free- market policies to Chile.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In the Middle East, the Pope's visit to Israel and the Palestine Authority lands draws this praise from Newsday, on New York's Long Island.

    VOICE: With his act of contrition and visit to the Holy Land, the pope aims to heal ancient wounds. ... the true role that this self- effacing pontiff is fulfilling is not so much that of God's vicar as God's handyman: He wants to fix what has been broken for two millennia. He is in the right place to try to patch up the rifts that divide the world's three great monotheistic religions - and at the right moment in history. And all people of good will, be they Christians, Jews or Muslims, wish him well.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from the pages of Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 22-Mar-2000 12:43 PM EDT (22-Mar-2000 1743 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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