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Voice of America, 02-02-19

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

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

SLUG: 5-51118 Macedonia Aid Worries DATE: NOTE NUMBER:





    INTRO: Though the International Monetary Fund declines to lend it more money, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is nevertheless about to receive a substantial infusion of foreign assistance, at a donor's conference next month. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports aid donors are ignoring what the I-M-F considers to be the Macedonian government's lax economic policies in order to reward it for taking a bold political stance.

    TEXT: After being delayed four times, the donors' conference for Macedonia is scheduled for Brussels on March 12th. Donors, mainly in Western Europe, are expected to commit 173 million dollars in aid for this year. Much of the cash -- some already distributed --will be used to repair infrastructure in areas damaged during last year's insurgency by ethnic Albanian rebels. Typically, the I-M-F decides whether a government's policies are stringent enough to assure that aid money will be productively used. The I-M-F does not believe that is the case in Macedonia, where enterprise restructuring lags and the government's budget deficit is very high, mainly because of increased military spending. Nevertheless, other lenders are willing to support Macedonia because they believe the government should be rewarded for taking the political heat from the implementation of an unpopular peace agreement giving new powers to the Albanian minority. Sam Vaknin, an Israeli economist who last year was an advisor in the Macedonian finance ministry, worries that the new aid money will be misused.

    ///VAKNIN ACT///

    Previous funds provided by the European Union and even by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and in a series of donor conferences, have been squandered. The money has not been used properly. In a single case of funds provided for the construction of a railway, it was found in an audit, that more than 90 percent of the funds have vanished.

    ///END ACT///

    Biswajit Bannerjee has been the I-M-F official responsible for Macedonia for the past three and one- half years. He says that because the I-M-F is not lending to Macedonia, the responsibility for monitoring how the aid money is used shifts to the donor countries. Mr. Bannerjee cautions Macedonian policy makers to resist pressures for profligate spending.


    The challenge will be to reverse the fiscal expansion of 2001 and continue to strengthen the fiscal balances. Because, over the medium term, policy tensions will arise because of new expenditure needs directly out of the peace framework agreement...There will be a lot of temptations to have an expansionary fiscal stance. And I think those demands will have to be rebuffed.

    ///END ACT///

    But Sam Vaknin is not optimistic. He notes that with an election coming later this year, fiscal discipline will be particularly hard to achieve. He is unsettled by the absence of the conditions that accompany an I-M-F-approved loan.

    //VAKNIN ACT///

    The I-M-F has been sidestepped and sidetracked for political reasons. This undermines not only the I-M-F's ability to monitor funds given through a donors conference, it also undermines the message the I-M-F has been sending to Macedonia for the past decade. A message of reform, institution building, and the construction of a free market economy.

    ///END ACT///

    Worse, Mr. Vaknin fears that instead of taking responsibility for its economic future, Macedonia is becoming dangerously dependent on outside assistance.

    ///VAKNIN ACT///

    This is the continuation of the former republic of Yugoslavia, where Macedonia benefited from unilateral transfers from Belgrade to the tune of 40 percent of its gross domestic product. So Macedonia is a welfare case. So instead of weaning Macedonia off its addiction, the forthcoming donors conference is going to enhance this addiction and entrench it.

    ///END ACT///

    Biswajit Bannerjee of the I-M-F is less pessimistic. He notes that donors seek continued I-M-F engagement in Macedonia and that if government policy becomes more disciplined, the I-M-F could resume lending in the second half of this year. (signed)
    NEB/BDW/FC SLUG: 0-09715 Editorial - Iraq Must Meet Obligations DATE: NOTE NUMBER:


    Anncr: Next, an editorial expressing the policies of the United States Government: Voice: The United States is committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect itself and its allies from terrorists and the states that sponsor them -- especially those with weapons of mass destruction. And President George W. Bush has been very plain about the need to fight the war on terrorism wherever terrorism is found. Right now, the U-S is focused on Afghanistan, but threats exist elsewhere. When Mr. Bush referred to "the axis of evil," he cited North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Iraq is governed by the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. His regime supports international terrorism. It is also seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction. For these reasons, and others, the U-S is, in the words of Secretary of State Colin Powell, also "examining options with respect to regime change because the people of the region and the people of the world and the people of Iraq will be better off with a new regime." Iraq has never met its international commitments, except when confronted with military force. After Iraq lost the Persian Gulf War in 1991, it agreed to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to monitor the dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction. Since 1998, Iraq has refused to admit U-N weapons inspectors, much less provide the full cooperation that is required. Every year that goes by and the U-N inspectors are not allowed in, Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction proceeds. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq is coming closer to a time when it will have developed weapons of mass destruction "in a form that is more threatening than it [was] the year before or the year before that." The United States will continue to monitor the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush has said that he'll "reserve whatever options" he has. "Make no mistake about it," said President Bush, the U-S "will take necessary action to defend the American people." Anncr: That was an editorial expressing the policies of the United States Government. If you have a comment, please write to Editorials, V-O-A, Washington, D-C, 20237, U-S-A. You may also comment at www-dot-ibb-dot-gov-slash-editorials, or fax us at (202) 619-1043. SLUG: 2-286631 Turkey / al-Qaida (L-O) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: Turkish police say (Tuesday) they have foiled a planned suicide attack against Israel after arresting three suspected terrorists (Mustafa Hasan yusuf Fehim, Firaz Suleyman Ali Hejr and Ahmed Muhahammed Mustafa) in Turkey's eastern province of Van. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, the suspects were captured after entering Van illegally from neighboring Iran.

    TEXT: A police spokesman in Istanbul said the detained men -- two Palestinians and a Jordanian -- are part of group called Beyyiat el-Imam. The spokesman for Turkey's security directorate, Feyzullah Arslan, said all three suspects had been trained at al-Qaida camps run by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and that they had been planning to mount suicide bomb attacks against Israel. Mr. Arslan said the three had planned to get to Israel via Syria, which borders Turkey to the south, and Jordan. The men were captured by police in Van after refusing to stop at a checkpoint. A police spokesman said various fake identity cards and documents in Arabic were found in the suspects' car. The case is now being handled by a special state security court in Van that handles "terror crimes." Turkish television says at least 10 Turkish nationals in Van who allegedly helped smuggle in the detainees from Iran are also being held in police custody. Initial statements by the detained men led Turkish police to broaden their investigation to Istanbul, where six more men accused of links with the group were detained late Tuesday. The detentions follow reports in the Turkish press that two Tunisian-born Canadians allegedly linked to al-Qaida might be in Turkey. /// OPT /// One of the men is thought to be Al Rauf bin Al Habib Bin Yousef al-Jiddi. He was recently identified by U-S Attorney General John Ashcroft as one of five men who recorded video messages pledging to carry out suicide attacks. The messages were uncovered by U-S forces after they seized al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan. /// END OPT /// CIA Director George Tenet recently included Turkey among a list of countries considered high risk for U-S citizens likely to be targeted by terrorists. They include some 3,000 troops stationed at the Incirlik base in southern Turkey from which British and U-S fighter jets patrol the no-fly zone over Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/KL/MEM SLUG: 6-125571 Editorial Digest (02-19) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: As the nation returns to work after the President's Day holiday, the U-S press is busy commenting on President Bush's Asian trip. Other commentaries continue to discuss the Olympic ice skating scandal; and the Secretary of State has some frank words about teenage sexuality. A grisly discovery in the State of Georgia is drawing a good deal of comment; while internationally the tragedy of child soldiers in Sierra Leone also gets attention. Now, here is __________ with a closer look and a few samples, in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: President Bush's trip to Asia, where he has visited Japan and South Korea and will go to China is drawing plenty of comment. Alabama's Birmingham Post-Herald assess the visit this way:

    VOICE: While terrorism will be high on the agenda in all three capitals, [Mr.] Bush's visits mark a return to something like normal diplomacy. In China, he will renew administration efforts to reassure the Chinese that his proposed national missile defense is purely defensive in nature ... Trade will [also] be high on the agenda ... In Japan, he faces the delicate task of trying to prod Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi into taking more forceful measures to refire the economy and shore up Japan's tottering banking system without appearing to meddle or preach.

    TEXT: Charleston's [South Carolina] Post and Courier is pleased at Japanese support for Mr. Bush's worldwide anti-terrorism campaign.

    VOICE: ...after their Monday meeting in Tokyo Mr. Koizumi endorsed President Bush's "axis of evil" formulation, saying Mr. Bush has been "very calm and cautious vis--vis Iraq, Iran and North Korea." ... Mr. Koizumi's words have laid to rest, for now at least, any concern that the president's hard line might cause friction because of Japan's proximity to North Korea...

    TEXT: Taking a distinctly different view of that "axis of evil" remark, is U-S-A Today, the national daily published in a Washington D-C suburb, which says the early battles in the war of words are "not going well."

    VOICE: In longtime ally South Korea ... his comments about North Korea have provoked street protests against the United States and a scuffle on the floor of parliament. Even pro-U-S government officials are voicing fears that [Mr.] Bush's attack on the North Korean regime undermines South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's modestly successful ... policy ... of engagement with the reclusive and mercurial North. In Iran, [Mr.] Bush's hostility has backfired so fiercely that the country's turn toward moderation appears to have reversed ... and in Iraq, the result has been generally positive for Saddam Hussein. Gulf War allies as diverse as Canada and Russia are saying they won't support a new war to evict [Mr.] Hussein.

    TEXT: The views of U-S-A Today. And lastly on the trip, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City marvels that:

    VOICE: On the eve of President Bush's visit to Communist China 30-years to the day after Richard Nixon's historic journey there it is remarkable how relations between the two countries have changed, although significant challenges remain.

    TEXT: On to the Olympics, where the couples ice skating dispute continues even after the awarding of dual goal medals to Russia and Canada. Northern New Jersey's [Bergen County] Record comments:

    VOICE: The most that one can say about the recent Olympics figure-skating flap (dispute) is that officials moved swiftly and made the best of an embarrassing situation. ... But it had better not be the end to this scandal. Only dreamers think ... this incident was a one-time occurrence.

    TEXT: Calling the "judging mess ... an ugly, ongoing flaw in the Olympics, today's Detroit News suggests that choosing judges far in advance of the Games is part of the problem and should be discontinued. Lastly on this, today's Chicago Tribune reminds us all that: "... if dubious conduct were enough to disqualify a sport, you could hold the quadrennial festivities in a two-car garage. Scandals and controversies are as much a part of Olympic tradition as those interlocking rings." Domestically, Secretary of State Colin Powell has caused a flurry of editorial comment after his suggestion on a nationally televised discussion with young people that condom use is an important part of teenage sexual orientation. Oklahoma's Tulsa World praises the General for his:

    VOICE: ...guts [in coming] right out and [saying] what most reasonable people really believe ... that condom use ought to be among the approaches encouraged for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

    TEXT: Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel calls the Secretary's remarks "sound advice" while The Palm Beach Post cheers the Sectary for "[stating the] truth." In Georgia, the grisly discovery that a commercial crematorium has been discarding bodies in the nearby woods for years rather than burning them has brought forth several adverse comments. Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution wonders how such a thing could happen.

    VOICE: Compounding [the families] grief, relatives apparently received wood ashes and concrete dust masquerading as "cremains" as bodies piled up ... behind a North Georgia crematorium serving dozens of funeral homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

    TEXT: The paper also bemoans the facts that only two inspectors are assigned to regularly check Georgia's 736 licensed funeral homes and crematoriums. In Tennessee, where families were also victimized, Chattanooga's Free Press complains:

    VOICE: To the grief of loss by death is now added heart-rending uncertainty. For many, the horror is having the abuse of the body of a loved one specifically identified. For others the horror is not knowing, and perhaps never knowing, what really took place.

    TEXT: Internationally, The Los Angeles Times writes of another tragedy, the use of child soldiers, often on drugs, in the Sierra Leone civil war. It tells of one such child, Ishmael Beah, eventually rescued, who is trying to help his nation with advocacy in this country.

    VOICE: ...[Mr.] Beah has joined the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force ... that is calling on ... the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support ... ratification of an international agreement to prohibit armies from enlisting children as soldiers. ... The Senate should push for that action.

    TEXT: On the Middle East, in a pair of editorials, the Orlando Sentinel says: "President Bush is right to push ahead with a plan for toppling Saddam [Hussein]" ... adding that the move marks:

    VOICE: ...a welcome break from a long period of inaction and half-measures in U-S foreign policy. ...The rebirth of U-S resolve in the second Bush administration should deter other terrorists and dictators from targeting Americans.

    TEXT: In one other Middle Eastern comment, today's Chicago Tribune praises a "quietly negotiated ... new peace plan" between Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres and the speaker of the Palestinian parliament Ahmed Qureia. The paper says the pan should be given a chance to work by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon since the alternative is "...more war, death and destruction." Today's New York Times laments a worsening attitude toward the world's 35-million-or-so refugees, in what the paper says is the misguided perception that terrorists arrive as refugees. "Even as wealthy countries cut back their financing for good, health and education in refugee camps, they are also taking in fewer people. On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Tuesday's press.

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