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Voice of America, 02-01-09

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

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

SLUG: 2-285049 UN-Greece (L-only) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:





    INTRO: The Prime Minister of Greece, Costas Simitis, was in New York today (Wednesday) for a meeting with U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan. Amongst the issues the two discussed were Cyprus, reconstruction efforts in the Balkans and the situation in Afghanistan. From the United Nations, Owen Fay reports.

    TEXT: The Greek Prime Minister had what he called 'open and friendly discussions' with Kofi Annan, and said the Secretary-General remains optimistic that outstanding political issues of importance to Greece such as Cyprus- can be resolved soon. Mr. Simitis said he did foresee a time when control of Cyprus, and other outstanding diplomatic differences between Greece and Turkey can be overcome. Mr Simitis said he would go to Ankara to meet with the Turkish leadership, but not before significant diplomatic progress has been made.


    Because Mr. Ecevit was kind enough to invite me to Turkey I have said I will visit Turkey but there must be the conditions to visit Turkey. If I go to Turkey just to disagree, this is not very pleasant so I go when there work of Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Cem- has reached such a point that we can say 'now there will be something new and things will change.'

    ///END ACT ONE///

    In the next stage of his trip, Mr. Simitis will go to Washington for meetings at the White House. Discussions there are expected to touch on the war in Afghanistan and the wider campaign against terrorism. Mr. Simitis made clear his country is a strong supporter of the anti-terrorism efforts:


    President Bush and his team know very well that we are with the Americans and we are with the part of the work that has decided to fight terrorism. And we sent airplanes to Afghanistan with humanitarian help, we have agreed to send also soldiers of engineering formations in order to help and we also offered to send a military hospital but this was said to us, was not necessary.

    ///END ACT TWO///

    The Prime Minister added that he and Mr. Annan discussed a series of other issues. Among them, Mr. Simitis confirmed his country will continue to play an active role in reconstruction efforts in the former Yugoslavia and the other Balkan states. He also told the Secretary General that he has placed a priority on ensuring the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece will be Safe and secure.(signed)
    NEB/PT SLUG: 2-285038 Macedonia / Corruption DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: Europe's massive aid program for Macedonia has failed to build a civic society in the southern Balkans and did nothing to stem the country's growing corruption problem. V-O-A's Barry Wood in Skopje reports a recent European Union study confirms the worrying trend.

    TEXT: Wednesday's newspapers in Skopje feature pictures from the lavish charity ball and auction held the previous night. It was attended by the prime minister, cabinet ministers and the cream of Macedonian society. Tickets cost as much as 500 dollars with the proceeds to be used for children's playgrounds and aid for war veterans. But so strong are suspicions of corruption that virtually all of Skopje's foreign diplomatic community stayed away. The European Union's report about the effectiveness of the huge aid program for Macedonia and Albania suggests that much of the one point three billion dollars it has allocated over the past decade has been wasted. The Macedonian government of Prime Minister Ljubco Georgieveski won elections three years ago on a promise to clean up corruption. And yet there have been no significant arrests of those accused of corruption. Financial irregularities led to the resignation of the defense minister last year but no charges were filed. Mikhail Petkovski, economics professor at Skopje University, concedes that corruption is a huge problem. It has gotten worse, he says, because of unstable situations in neighboring countries.


    For example, we had the U-N blockade against Serbia (under Milosevic). It simply produces corruption or some kind of illegal behavior (like smuggling). We had many Greek blockades (against Macedonia). We had the war around our borders (in Kosovo). And one of the problems is this gray zone around us.

    ///END ACT///

    Mr. Petkovski says Macedonia has been adversely affected by the criminal elements that he believes operate freely in Albania and Kosovo. Stephen Haynes of the U-S Agency for International Development directs the American assistance program in Macedonia. /// OPT /// The U-S aid effort is the largest from a single country, although smaller than the total amount coming from the 15-nation European Union. /// END OPT /// Mr. Haynes says corruption keeps away foreign investors.

    ///HAYNES ACT///

    I think you just have to show people that if they want to increase business and become part of the global economy, corruption is something that is just not acceptable. So if you want your economy to grow it is something you have to tackle sooner or later.

    ///END ACT///

    /// OPT ///

    Skopje University's Mikhail Petkovsky blames the international community for failing to crack down on corruption in Kosovo, which is administered by the United Nations.

    ///PETKOVSKY ACT////// OPT ACT ///

    We have in Kosovo and Albania the E-U ideal of open borders. Only it means drugs and prostitutes. They are flowing freely. They are entering in and out. So the point is that Macedonia can not fight corruption, even in its own country, if the international community doesn't support it.

    ///END ACT////// END OPT ///

    U-S A-I-D mission director Haynes says linking Macedonian aid to effective anti-corruption measures could be very difficult.

    ///HAYNES ACT///

    When problems like corruption are ingrained, it's hard to root them out. And I guess you'd have to say that different donors have different agendas. So I'm not sure that you could get the donor community together on any one issue, even corruption, even one as important as corruption.

    ///END ACT///

    Diplomats, analysts and aid workers worry that the widespread perception of corruption in Macedonia will give rise to cynicism and indifference among Macedonians toward their government. This at a time when Macedonia faces the enormous challenge of reducing inter-ethnic tension and building a multi-ethnic society. (Signed) NEB/BW/GE/MAR/
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