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Voice of America, 00-06-14

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

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





    INTRO: Turkey's Prime Minister says the return of the gunman who attempted to kill Pope John Paul the Second could help shed light on several political murders that have remained unsolved for 20-years. Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara.

    TEXT: Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's remarks follow Italy's surprise decision to extradite Mehmet Ali Agca to Turkey. Italy pardoned Agca for the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul the Second in St Peter's square. Agca served nearly 20-years in an Italian jail and his motives, and those who may have ordered the killing, remain unknown. Speaking to members of his Democratic Left Party in the Turkish Parliament, Mr. Ecevit described Agca's return as a significant event that could help resolve the mystery of some past murders in Turkey. Prime Minister Ecevit was referring to a series of political murders, which took place before the 1980 military takeover. The military intervention was prompted in part by street violence between left-wing students and the ultra-nationalist right-wing group known as the Gray Wolves. Agca is widely believed to have been a member of the Gray Wolves. He was arrested and jailed after being convicted of involvement in the killing of a prominent left-wing writer, Abdi Ipekci. But Agca succeeded in escaping from an Istanbul jail in November 1979. His death sentence, which was handed down in absentia, was commuted to 10-years imprisonment. Agca is now in a maximum-security prison in Istanbul, where he will serve out the remaining years of that sentence. Turkish Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk says there is no question of Agca being freed under a draft amnesty law before the Turkish parliament. Mr. Turk says Agca will also face trial for an outstanding armed robbery charge for which he could receive a maximum sentence of 20-years. But the Justice Minister says Agca will not undergo further interrogation over the attempted assassination of the pope and the Ipekci murder. That raises questions about how his return can - as Prime Minister Ecevit put it - help illuminate the dark pages in Turkey's recent past. (SIGNED)
    NEB/AZ/GE/RAE 14-Jun-2000 12:55 PM EDT (14-Jun-2000 1655 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Officials in Hungary are expressing concern about the reopening of a Romanian goldmine that triggered a major environmental disaster earlier this year. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest.

    TEXT: Hungarian officials say they are upset that neighboring Romania restarted operations at the Aurul gold mine that was responsible for a massive cyanide spill in the Danube and Tisza rivers in January. Hungary estimates that at least 1200 tons of fish and other species were killed by the cyanide, which polluted rivers in Romania, Hungary and nearby Serbia. Zsuzsanna Kocsis-Kupter, a legal adviser to Hungary's Tisza River commissioner, expressed surprised that her government was not informed in advance that the gold smelter was being reopened.


    We did not get an official statement, an official notification of the reopening. And as far as I know the foreign ministry, the Hungarian foreign ministry, is getting on touch with their Romanian colleagues.

    /// END ACT ///

    She says the Romanian environment ministry had promised Hungarian officials they would be invited to examine safety conditions at the plant before it would be reopened. Romanian government officials did not have any comment on the mine opening on Wednesday. But the Australian company Esmeralda Exploration, which is a partner in the gold mine together with the Romanian state-owned firm Remin, confirmed the mine has restarted, including a gold smelter, after approval from the Romanian authorities. Esmeralda stressed, however, that environmental safety was now the number one priority and that better monitoring procedures and emergency plans were in place. The re-start of the mine seems to overshadow Hungary's campaign to attract tourists to the Tisza River region. Hungary wanted to lift a ban on fishing in the river this month, but environmentalists have questioned that decision. A spokesman for the World Wide Fund for Nature in Hungary, Tibor Farago, says not enough is known about the effect cyanide pollution may have on the food chain.

    /// FARAGO ACT ///

    The question is for everybody who likes to eat fish, where this fish comes from. So if they simply come from the ponds and not from the Tisza, then I can imagine that they are not contaminated.

    /// END ACT ///

    Experts are concerned that spills from Romania's Aurul goldmine will aggravate Hungary's already high cancer rate. The Hungarian government has launched legal against the Australian company and the Romanian firm that own the mine. (Signed)
    NEB/SB/KBK/KL 14-Jun-2000 17:27 PM EDT (14-Jun-2000 2127 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The U-S stock market had mixed results today (Wednesday), as Wall Street received some mixed signals on inflation. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 66 points, less than one percent, closing at 10-thousand- 687. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed one point higher. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite dropped almost one and one-half percent, giving back more than half of its gains from Tuesday. The latest on the U-S economy shows consumer prices inched up a mere one-tenth of one percent in May. But this data does not reflect rising gasoline prices, which will likely show up in the next monthly report. Analyst Walter Frank said investors were cautious on the mixed signals:

    ///FRANK ACT///

    It's very tough. There are a few counter- currents going on, but nobody really wants to make any strong stand either way, given the conflicting news about inflation.

    ///END ACT///

    Analysts predict more lackluster action for the market, as investors wait for the next meeting of the U-S central bank at the end of the month.

    ///REST OPT for long///

    Microsoft shares edged almost four percent higher. The software giant has appealed an earlier court ruling ordering a breakup of the company. Microsoft says it remains optimistic it can win on appeal. Meanwhile, talk about a takeover has boosted shares of Seagram - the "spirits" and entertainment company. Vivendi of France and its pay T-V subsidiary, Canal Plus, are said to be offering to buy Seagram in a deal that could be worth about 40-billion dollars. Vivendi owns France's largest publishing house, some Internet service providers and 49 percent of Canal Plus. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 14-Jun-2000 17:09 PM EDT (14-Jun-2000 2109 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Change is in the air in two of the world's most troubled regions - the Korean peninsula and the Middle East -- and U-S editorial writers are commenting on developments in both places. Another topic is the coup in the South Pacific island nation of Fiji. Domestically, another serious security breach at the Los Alamos nuclear lab is coming in for scrutiny, as are several developments in Latin America. They include the Mexican election; justice for former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet; and another call for an end to the Cuban embargo. Now, here with a closer look at those and other commentaries, is ____________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The historic summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean President Kim Jong-Il is now in its second day. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, today's Star Tribune begins by commenting on the cordial reception that the North Korean leader gave to President Kim Dae-Jung when he arrived in Pyongyang.

    VOICE: South Koreans who watched their leader set foot in North Korea Tuesday must have felt the way Americans did when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. In fact, the event may have carried more meaning, because President Kim Dae-Jung carried with him the emotions and hopes of families divided for half a century. Through the lifetimes of most in the South, North Korea has been, like the moon, impossibly remote even when visible. Yet it has also provoked a profound yearning - - for long-lost relatives and a unified homeland. ...The summit offers the best reason yet to hope that North Korea will live up to its commitments to rein in its weapons programs and join the world community. /// OPT /// Better still, it may hasten the day when the name "Korea' requires no reference to the compass. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune noted the long and cordial handshake the two presidents exchanged at the Pyongyang airport, before voicing cautious optimism on the substance of the talks.

    VOICE: Where they go from here will be difficult and uncertain, but clearly the reclusive, Stalinist regime of North Korean President Kim Jong-Il is trying to ease the isolation of his famine-ravaged hermit kingdom and start a cautious process of reconciliation with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung. /// For democratic South Korea, living across the 38th parallel from one of the most dangerous and unpredictable regimes in the world, it is also very much in Seoul's interest to end the state of war that has existed since the 1950-53 Korean War. /// END OPT /// ... It is too early to talk of normalizing relations, but if North Korea's conduct continues to improve, there may be hope for ending one of the Cold War's last battles.

    TEXT: In South Florida, the Miami Herald explains and lauds what is going on in familial terms.

    VOICE: Most feuding couples understand the principle: Talking is better than fighting; discussions are better than fuming. This simple notion undergirds our hope that the current three-day summit between North ... and South Korea signals a beginning to the end of this century's longest unresolved war -- a war that claimed 36-thousand American lives and still costs American treasure. North Korea President Kim Jong Il's willingness to talk may reflect his desperation for an economic stimulus, or it may represent recognition that isolationism isn't working. /// OPT

    /// President Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea, whose country is a thriving example of capitalism, wisely has dangled the carrot of economic assistance. He also boldly has asserted his vision for reconciliation and reunification of the two countries. /// END OPT
    /// ... No one should expect these talks to result in any dramatic new initiatives. If they only set the stage for further discussions and contact, much will have been accomplished. /// OPT /// An entrenched and belligerent adversary will have been persuaded to try peaceful dialogue. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The death of Syrian ruler Hafez al-Assad draws this comment from Hawaii's Honolulu Star-Bulletin about his son and likely successor, Bashar al-Assad, :

    VOICE: It's not clear whether the younger Assad can institute changes in Syria's policies, particularly toward Israel. ... With the death of such an enemy of Israel, the outlook for peace might be expected to improve. But the succession of [Mr.] Assad's 34-year- old son is clouded with uncertainty. There is no reason to assume that the ruthless hold on power of the father can be easily transferred to the son.

    TEXT: In Connecticut, Waterbury's Republican-American uses a geopolitical comparison to paint a rather grim picture of what could happen.

    VOICE: If you liked post-Tito Yugoslavia, you'll love post-Assad Syria. Under the iron hand of Josip Broz, Yugoslavia endured. ... But his death in 1980 released pent-up religious, ethnic and regional enmities that led to Yugoslavia as we know it today - a collection of dirt-poor, semi-autonomous armed camps where hope is a distant memory. ... Like [Mr.] Tito, [President] Assad possessed the energy, cunning and personal magnetism to hold together a nation of diverse, often hostile factions. ...The forecast for post-Assad Syria is indescribably grim. Civil and religious factions will vie for supremacy, using guns and bombs rather than debates, campaign ads and soft money. If all goes well, from the standpoint of Syria's region and the rest of the world, the conflict will stay within Syria's borders.

    TEXT: A somewhat less severe warning comes from today's San Francisco Chronicle, about expectations for Mr. Assad's son.

    VOICE: Push the young president for rapid changes in Syria's pushcart economy, relations with Israel, or occupation of Lebanon, and big trouble could follow. The creaky floorboards underlying the country's government could easily collapse if too much pressure is applied at once.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Still in the Middle East, dealing effectively with Iraq's Saddam Hussein is on the mind of the Charleston [South Carolina] Post and Courier.

    VOICE: Saddam Hussein has survived U-N sanctions for nearly ten years while successfully evading efforts to force him to destroy his arsenal of chemical, biological and, possibly, nuclear weapons. As the latest meeting of the Security Council made clear, the United Nations has run out of ideas, while also lacking the will or unity to prevent Iraq from re- emerging as a threat to the Middle East and world peace. Britain and the United States will have to take on a larger role in keeping an eye on Saddam if the Security Council continues to shirk its self- imposed duty as a watchdog.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to other world developments, several papers are using the term "trouble in paradise" to describe the now nearly month-old coup in the South Pacific Island nation of Fiji. Today's St. Louis Post- Dispatch despairs at the ethnic nature of the trouble.

    VOICE: Fiji was once a model polyglot nation. On a visit ... in 1986, Pope John Paul the Second was so moved by the racial harmony that he hailed Fiji as "a symbol of hope to the world." That was before a small band of armed men, led by a failed businessman with a shady past, stormed the office of Prime Minister Mahendar Chaudry. The ringleader, George Speight, took Mr. Chaudry and several ... cabinet members hostage. Attempts to negotiate a settlement have been fruitless ... Indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians have lived side by side for more than a century. The Indians ... now make up 45 percent of the 800-thousand population ... [dominating] Fiji in ... commerce, education and, more recently, government. Some native Fijians say ... they are becoming second-class citizens in their own land. But such friction doesn't justify a policy that would disenfranchise a people who have every right to live in Fiji and who have helped build that country.

    TEXT: Domestically, there is concern in several papers about the loss of two computer files from the top secret Los Alamos, New Mexico, nuclear lab, files that contain information on defusing primitive nuclear bombs. The Portland [Maine] Press Herald says the "breach at [the] nuclear lab presents [a] serious threat," while today's Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal, by reminding readers about the case of a former Los Alamos employee who was suspected of stealing nuclear secrets, says this is not the first security problem at the laboratory.

    VOICE: When the Wen Ho Lee scandal broke last year, a contrite Energy Secretary Bill Richardson vowed to Congress and the nation that tougher controls would be imposed at U-S nuclear weapons labs ... Apparently, those promises contained little but the hot air that circulates over New Mexico's desert. [Mr.] Lee is the former Los Alamos scientist who was fired in March 1999 and subsequently charged with mishandling government secrets. ... On Monday ... officials disclosed that at the same lab where [Mr.] Lee worked, two computer hard drives containing detailed nuclear weapons data disappeared from a supposedly secure vault ...[perhaps] lost or misplaced when parts of the lab were evacuated in May when a forest fire threatened. ... The F-B-I and Energy Department are trying to find the missing drives... At least as important is the need to bring to Los Alamos something it doesn't seem to have: an attitude that genuinely respects the need to protect vital information.

    TEXT: Turning to Latin American affairs, Mexico's presidential race comes in for praise from Boston's Christian Science Monitor.

    VOICE: In less than ten years, Mexico will buy more from the U-S than Canada, predicts Herminio Blanco, Mexico's secretary of commerce and industrial development. It already usurped Japan as the Number two customer of the U-S two years ago -- even though the Japanese economy is 11 times the size of Mexico's. ... Given Mexico's long history as a highly protectionist nation, this is an astounding turnaround. ... [It's] ironic that such economic success comes just when the political party that has led Mexico for 71 years faces its most serious threat in a presidential election.

    TEXT: The Monitor also points out the birth rate in Mexico has dropped precipitously in the last 25 years and soon will reach the "replacement rate" wherein the population will stabilize. Turning to Chile, where the former dictator General Augusto Pinochet has been stripped of his immunity from prosecution, the Los Angeles Times says of the move:

    VOICE: Whatever the ultimate outcome of the case [against him for the disappearance of 19 of his alleged victims] the new decision restores the credibility of the Chilean justice system and repudiates the regime of [General] Pinochet and his cronies.

    TEXT: Lastly, the St. Petersburg Times criticizes Greece for what the paper says is laxness on terrorism.

    VOICE: The recent unchecked and underinvestigated violence of the November 17 group is souring Greece's relations with its allies in NATO and the European Union, damaging its economy and threatening to wreck the two-thousand-four Olympics. Last week, N17 gunned down Brigadier Stephen Saunders as he drove to work at the British Embassy. It was broad daylight, on a crowded Athens street, yet two gunmen on a motorcycle were able to fire four shots into the diplomat's car and then simply disappear into traffic. Brigadier Saunders was N17's 23rd victim...

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial columns of Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 14-Jun-2000 12:35 PM EDT (14-Jun-2000 1635 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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