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Voice of America, 00-05-08

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

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





    INTRO: European Union finance ministers have agreed to help the embattled Yugoslav republic of Montenegro with financial assistance before the republic's local elections in June. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels.

    TEXT: Montenegro cooperates with western institutions. That is why the European Union wants to assist the government of President Milo Djukanovic ahead of local elections scheduled in June. The problem is that Montenegro is the smaller of Yugoslavia's two republics. The larger, Serbia, rejects conditions for cooperation with Western Europe and the United States. This prevents the World Bank and European financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, from giving loans directly to Montenegro because it is a Yugoslav republic, not a separate country. To avoid these restrictions, European Union finance ministers have agreed to fund 20-million dollars worth of projects that help President Djukanovic's government.

    /// OPT ///

    These projects were approved during the World Bank donors' conference held here in March but no funds could be disbursed in that format for Montenegro because it is part of Yugoslavia. /// END OPT /// These projects include a bridge over the Moraca River in the capital, Podgorica, and the rebuilding of the road from the city to Podgorica Airport. The European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana says the financial aid shows Europe's interest in helping Montenegro.

    /// SOLANA ACT ///

    This is very good news, as you know. We have been trying to obtain a decision of this nature for several weeks and finally an agreement has been found between the different actors -- the (European) Commission, the General Affairs Council (E-U foreign ministers), and the Ecofin (E-U finance ministers) to help Montenegro.

    /// END ACT ///

    Formal approval by the European Parliament is needed before the funds can be released to Montenegro, but Mr. Solana says he expects the Djukanovic government will have the money by the end of this month. The local elections June 11th are considered important because one-third of the republic's 600-thousand people are expected to vote. The opposition forces to President Djukanovic favor closer ties to Yugoslavia and to President Slobodan Milosevic. Since December, the European Union has given Montenegro nearly 12-million dollars worth of food aid, support for refugees, and assistance in importing electricity. Mr. Solana says there is support among the E-U finance ministers for an additional 50 million-dollar loan to Montenegro but there are still technical details to be worked out. The European Investment Bank needs a partner to finance the package. Mr. Solana says the European Union does not support independence for Montenegro and he does think President Djukanovic advocates such a policy. President Djukanovic is expected here in Brussels on May 17th to discuss ways the European Union can support his Yugoslav Republic. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/KBK 08-May-2000 11:36 AM EDT (08-May-2000 1536 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    /// Eds: re-running with correct number ///

    INTRO: The European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana is flying to the Philippines to discuss ways to free European hostages being held by Muslim rebels. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels, Mr. Solana says he does not plan to become a mediator.

    TEXT: The Philippine Government has been concerned about suggestions that ambassadors from the captives' nations be involved in the negotiations for their freedom. The European Union is sending its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, to Manila for talks with Philippine leaders. Before leaving Brussels, Mr. Solana told reporters he does not plan to mediate with the rebels.

    ///Solana Act///

    I am not going to mediate at this stage. I will go only on a diplomatic and humanitarian mission to guarantee the life and the security of our fellow citizens, as I said.

    ///End Act///

    There are citizens from Germany, France and Finland among the 10 foreign tourists that are being held by the Muslim rebels on the southern island of Jolo. Mr. Solana says by sending him to Manila, the European Union is showing a growing commitment to a common foreign policy.

    ///Solana Act///

    That means that we are moving forward on the idea of having constructed a common policy toward the rest of the world and particularly in defending the interests and security, collectively of our fellow citizens and Europeans.

    ///End Act///

    /// opt ///

    Mr. Solana meets first with European ambassadors in Manila before he sees President Joseph Estrada on Tuesday afternoon. The E-U foreign policy chief also expects to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense as well as the Philippine negotiator with the rebels. /// end opt /// Mr. Solana expects his trip to Manila to be quick to emphasize the European Union's safety concerns. The Philippine government contends the hostage issue is a domestic matter. The European Union has pledged to spare no effort to secure the hostages' release. A statement by the Portuguese presidency says the European Union trusts the Philippine government will explore all avenues, and possible assistance from additional mediators should not be excluded. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RP/GE/KBK 08-May-2000 10:43 AM EDT (08-May-2000 1443 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Monday), as new concerns over valuations fueled a big sell-off in technology shares. The trading volume was the lightest this year, as many investors remain cautious. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 25 points to 10-thousand-603, a fractional gain. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed eight points lower, while the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite dropped almost four percent. A big part of Nasdaq's problem was Cisco - the leading maker of computer networking equipment. A key financial newspaper (Barron's) raised questions about the stock's high valuation. Cisco trades about 130 times its projected earnings for the year - much of that due to the company's aggressive acquisitions policy. Cisco shares sank seven percent. Analysts say the stock market is also especially sensitive, in advance of the expected increase in interest rates next week.

    ///REST OPT///

    Investment strategist David Katz predicts the market will continue to be volatile over the next few days:

    ///KATZ ACT///

    The market is taking its cue on a day-to-day basis by economic indicators, take-over activity and earnings news. We expect that to continue, to be good on some days, bad on others, and expect a lot of movements up and down as the week progresses.

    ///END ACT///

    In other news, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone - Japan's largest phone company - is buying the 90 percent of what it does not already own of the U-S based company Verio. Verio supplies Internet services to small and medium-sized businesses. The Japanese firm sees the acquisition as an opportunity for it to enter the business of running other companies' Web sites in the United States and Europe. British advertising giant W-P-P has agreed to buy U-S rival Young and Rubicam in a deal worth more than five billion dollars. This would create the world's largest advertising group. The agreement in principle terminates Young and Rubicam's talks with "Publicis" of France. The French advertising group says it will not submit a formal offer for the U-S company. (SIGNED) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/KBK 08-May-2000 16:53 PM EDT (08-May-2000 2053 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The U-S press is hailing the latest agreement in the Northern Ireland peace process. Other editorials today deal with a wide variety of topics, including the situation in Zimbabwe and in Sierra Leone; some hopeful signs for Indonesia's nascent democracy; the debate over normalizing trade with China and making America's overseas embassies safer. Now, here is ____________ with a closer look and some quotes in our Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The weekend announcement by the British and Irish governments that a new agreement has been reached to re-start the Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland is good news in the United States. The New York Times leads its editorial column with these thoughts:

    VOICE: The Irish Republican Army's commitment over the weekend to subject its secret arsenal of weapons to international inspection should reopen the path to peace in Northern Ireland. By ending its long-standing refusal to make a meaningful gesture toward disarmament, the I-R-A has removed a critical barrier to fulfilling the two-year-old Good Friday peace agreement and establishing a new political order in Ulster. ... With the prospect of renewed self-rule, there are grounds for optimism in Northern Ireland among the overwhelming majority who yearn for a fair and lasting peace.

    TEXT: The national daily USA Today (published in a Washington, D-C, suburb) is a bit more cautious, noting the vagueness of the I-R-A promise and the fact that the confrontational "marching season" in Northern Ireland is almost at hand.

    VOICE: Saturday's pledge by the Irish Republican Army to place its weapons "beyond use" is being greeted with something that sounds a lot like anxious optimism. If so, no wonder. ... The offer itself is pretty vague. It's not clear what the term "beyond use" means. The pledge contains no timetable or deadlines. The I-R-A did not agree to destroy the weapons or to surrender them. And the I-R-A, which considers itself undefeated, has punted [reversed course] on disarmament promises before.

    TEXT: To a pair of comments on Africa now. First, Newsday, on New York's Long Island, deplores the growing violence in Zimbabwe, as black squatters occupy white, commercial farms, with President Robert Mugabe's assent. Says the Long Island daily:

    VOICE: Desperate to maintain his 20-year hold on power in the face of a serious political challenge, President ... Mugabe ... is turning into a caricature of an African despot. // OPT

    // ... So far, the voices raised against him abroad have been few. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has deplored the actions against white farmers. The widely-respected Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said [Mr.] Mugabe showed the world the worst face of African leadership. But // END OPT // leaders of southern African countries have declined to criticize [President] Mugabe publicly. It's a less-than-honorable tradition for modern African leaders to ignore bloody outrages perpetrated by their peers...

    TEXT: In today's Chicago Tribune we read this commentary on the defeat of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Sierra Leone, where at least a hundred of the blue-helmeted troops have been kidnapped.

    VOICE: // OPT // The U-N has mounted extensive, expensive peacekeeping missions in a number of African trouble spots in recent years, including Angola, Somalia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and, incipiently, Congo. Sadly, regrettably, the record of success is almost uniformly dismal, and Sierra Leone offers as good an example as any of why. // END OPT // Quite simply, peacekeeping is failing there because there is no peace to keep and, on the part of at least one key actor, no disposition to make genuine peace. ... To send lightly armed, poorly organized and ambiguously commissioned U-N peacekeepers into such a situation is to ask for just the sort of thing that now has happened. To persist in such a mission in the face of what has happened is to commit folly -- or worse.

    TEXT: There are brighter spots in a troubled world, and today's Washington Post has found one in Indonesia, where, the paper says, democracy appears to be taking root in the far-flung, multi-ethnic archipelago of 216-million people.

    VOICE: For more than 30 years, the dictator Suharto and his military held this improbable nation together by dishing out economic benefits to loyalists and meting out repression to enemies. ... Now his first elected successor, President Abdurrahman Wahid, is trying to build cohesion through peaceful, democratic means, avoiding the sort of bloodshed that attended East Timor's separation last year. The cease- fire signed last week between his government and separatist guerrillas in the region of Aceh, where 300 people have been killed in the past four months, suggests that democracy might just have a chance.

    TEXT: Still with Asian issues, the San Francisco Examiner is pleased with a move in Congress to establish a human-rights monitoring commission on China, linked to congressional approval of normalizing trade relations.

    VOICE: Controversy over the administration's drive for permanent normal trade relations with China is yielding to imaginative solutions to problems raised by legislative opponents and those wavering on the issue. ... // OPT //

    Approval of the China trade bill also is brought closer by agreement between House and Senate conferees on terms of bill providing trade benefits for African and Caribbean nations. // END OPT // ... The aim of [the proposed] commission [to monitor Chinese human rights] is to exert continuous pressure on Beijing to comply with its trade commitments as well as improve its human-rights record. ... The China bill faces a close vote in the house, but is believed to have a safe margin in the Senate.

    TEXT: On the subject of U-S Embassy safety around the world, in the wake of several terrorist bombings, the Los Angeles Times wants the State Department to move faster to shore up diplomatic buildings.

    VOICE: The General Accounting Office recently warned Congress that the State Department is at least a year behind schedule in efforts to improve security at most of its foreign posts. Two boards appointed to investigate the East African embassy bombings [in 1998] pointed to "a collective failure by the executive and legislative branches ... over the past decade to provide adequate resources to reduce the vulnerability of U-S diplomatic missions." ... But this year the Clinton administration and Congress provided only a miserly 300-million dollars for construction. Even next year's request for a little over one billion falls short of projected needs.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Speaking of terrorism, the trial of two Libyan men accused of the terrorist bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, 11 years ago, draws this response from The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World:

    VOICE: The case against the Libyan agents ... is strong. But it took the last 11 years to persuade Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi ... to hand over the suspects. Finally the site in the Netherlands, with the trial presided over by a panel of Scottish judges and based on Scottish rules of court, was agreed upon. So now the trial ... is under way. But the end will surely leave questions and suspicions.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: A recent report by the National Intelligence Council suggested the AIDS epidemic racing through Africa and South Asia will soon pose a security risk for the developed world. The Chicago Tribune says:

    VOICE: There's little doubt that the AIDS epidemic has the potential to become more than a global catastrophe in public health (as if that, alone, were not suffidienct cause for alarm in Washington). Intelligence reports warn that AIDS could undermine social cohesion and the rule of law in many nascent democracies, turning them into hotbeds of resentment and revolution. So it is wise, even overdue, that the National Security Council -- the nation's top policy- making body on defense matters -- is setting up a working group on the AIDS epidemic. And that the Clinton administration, in a companion move, is asking Congress to double foreign aid earmarked to combat the plague.

    TEXT: The Augusta [Georgia] Chronicle feels more aid is needed, but not necessarily because the AIDS plague is a real national-security threat.

    VOICE: While taking little issue with the ... findings, congressional critics claim national security ... is not at stake and that the administration is using the report to scare up more AIDS relief for Africa -- to 254-million dollars, double what we're spending now. ... But even putting national security aside, there's still a strong case to be made to boost aid to Africa -- a humanitarian case -- and not just to combat AIDS, either. The continent is being ravaged by famine, drought and other fatal diseases.

    TEXT: On that somber note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from the pages of Monday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 08-May-2000 12:27 PM EDT (08-May-2000 1627 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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