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Voice of America, 99-11-16
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From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>
 ROMANIA / INTELLIGENCE CENTER (L-ONLY) BY STEFAN BOS (BUDAPEST)DATE=11/16/1999
INTRO: An international team of intelligence, customs and police experts has opened a regional center in Bucharest for combating organized crime throughout Eastern Europe. The United States is lending major support to the anti-crime effort. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest, the new agency's headquarters is in the huge building that once the palace of Romania's former Communist dictator.
TEXT: The gigantic marble palace of former dictator
Nicolae Ceausescu will house the American-backed
"Regional Center for Combating Trans-Border Crime."
Romanian officials say the new agency, a project of
the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative, will
function as an intelligence agency. Its main
objectives are to combat the traffic of women,
children and drugs in the Balkans, which has seen a
dramatic increase in illegal activity since the
collapse of communist rule 10 years ago.
Romania was chosen a site for the anti-crime effort
because it is seen as a crossroads for organized-crime
activity in Eastern Europe - much like neighboring
Hungary, where the U-S F-B-I [Federal Bureau of
Investigation] has set up a police academy.
Experts say Romania is known in the intelligence
community as a transit point for illegal drugs,
weapons and other goods traveling between Russia and
Speaking at Tuesday's opening ceremony in Bucharest,
U-S Ambassador Richard Schifter said the new regional
center could have a crucial influence on economic
development in the former Communist countries of the
Ambassador Schifter, who heads the Southeast European
Cooperative Initiative, says the crime problem
discourages foreign investment in the region.
Officials from the United States and 10 Balkan states
that have joined the Southeast European cooperative
group are to work together in the new regional center
with international customs, intelligence and police
Plans cal for cooperation with the international
police organization Interpol, the World Customs
Organization and police agencies throughout Eastern
Switzerland, Italy and Austria also are providing
technical support to the center.
Ambassador Schifter says the goal of the regional
anti-crime center is to bring more peace and stability
to southeastern Europe. (Signed)
 CZECH ANNIVERSARY (L ONLY) BY ALENA KENCLOVA (PRAGUE)DATE=11/16/1999
INTRO: The Czech Republic is honoring five former leaders who played important roles in the fall of communism ten years ago. Alena Kenclova reports from Prague.
TEXT: Former U-S President George Bush and former
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev are among the ex-
leaders in Prague for the tenth anniversary of what
became known as the "velvet revolution."
The so-called revolution started with a street protest
in Prague on November 17th of 1989. The protests grew
in size and strength almost daily, finally bringing
down Czechoslovakia's communist government several
weeks after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Also taking part in the anniversary events are former
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, former British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Poland's Lech Walesa
whose Solidarity labor union helped weaken the
communist government in his country. Danielle
Mitterrand is representing her late husband, Francois,
who was president of France at the time.
Czech President Vaclav Havel will award state honors
to the former leaders in ceremonies on Wednesday. And
they will take part in an academic conference, "Ten
Years After: An International Perspective."
Meetings, photo exhibitions, book publications, and
other events recalling the anniversary are underway in
the Czech Republic. The main events are organized by
the former students who planned the first protest
strike ten years ago Wednesday. (Signed)
 E-U / BEEF (L ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)DATE=11/16/1999
INTRO: The European Union has begun legal proceedings against France for its refusal to import British beef. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels the E-U acted despite hopes that Britain and France will settle their dispute within the next few days.
TEXT: The European Commission had set November 16th
as the deadline for France to obey European Union law
and end its ban on British beef.
But, the French have not done that because they say
they are worried there is still a risk British beef is
not safe to eat - despite strict European Union
controls on the exports.
So, E-U Health Commissioner David Byrne opened legal
proceedings against France for violating European
Union law. But, at the same time, Mr. Byrne told the
European Parliament he hopes the two countries will
soon reach a negotiated settlement that will allow
British beef to be sold everywhere in the European
As a first step, Mr. Byrne is asking France to submit
its response within two weeks. That brought
complaints from British members of the European
Parliament who demand quicker legal action. But, Mr.
Byrne explained a series of legal steps have to be
followed before the case can be referred to the
European Court of Justice.
At that point, the legal case could last two years or
more. Mr. Byrne reminded the parliament that if the
British government can persuade France about the
safety of its beef, the better the chances those
British farmers will be able to sell their beef in the
European Union scientists have declared British beef
to be as safe as any beef sold in Europe. But, France
relied on the advice of its new national food agency
in refusing to end the ban. The E-U scientists, led
by a Frenchman, looked at the French agency's evidence
and said there was no reason to change their
The European Union allowed Britain to start exporting
beef last August following a three-year ban imposed
after an outbreak of so-called mad cow disease. There
have been links between mad cow disease and a fatal
brain disease in humans.
Germany has been no more eager than France to import
British beef. The Germans blame their refusal on the
individual German state governments.
Health Commissioner Byrne is sending a letter to
Berlin asking the German federal government for a
timetable on when Germany will be able to import
British beef. (Signed)
 NORTHERN IRELAND (L) BY LAURIE KASSMAN (LONDON)DATE=11/16/1999
INTRO: In Northern Ireland, Unionist and Republican leaders have issued public statements denouncing violence and promising cooperation to implement the 1998 Good-Friday agreement. The statements are seen as a breakthrough to get the peace process back on track. Correspondent Laurie Kassman in London reports the statements open the way for the next phase of the peace process.
TEXT: Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble says his party is committed to full implementation of the peace agreement in all aspects. And he agrees to cooperate with Nationalists despite their different view of Northern Ireland's future.
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NEB/LMK/JWH/RAE 16-Nov-1999 08:39 AM EDT (16-Nov-1999 1339 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
 GERMANY / SLAVE LABOR (L ONLY) BY JONATHAN BRAUDE (BERLIN)DATE=11/16/1999
INTRO: The German government has increased its proposed compensation for victims of Nazi slave labor programs -- stepping up the pressure on industry to also increase its offer. But, as Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin, German industry is resisting.
TEXT: The German government complained for weeks
about the amount of money the nation's industries are
prepared to contribute to a fund for compensating the
victims of Nazi slave labor programs.
As a new round of compensation talks started Tuesday,
the government announced it will increase its
contribution by about 550-million dollars, -- raising
the whole government-industry compensation offer to
just under four-billion dollars.
But if the government's move was intended to push
companies into increasing their offer, the reaction so
far has been negative. A spokesman for the industry
negotiators, Wolfgang Gibowski, merely urged the
government to increase its contribution even further.
The German government is not satisfied with the two-
billion-200-million-dollars offered by the industry
side. Neither are negotiators for the Israeli and
eastern-European governments taking part in the talks
nor the lawyers for the tens-of-thousands of victims
of Nazi slave-labor policies. The lawyers described
the offer as an insult after the last round of talks
in Washington in October.
But with only 17 companies openly prepared to
contribute -- and roughly the same number said to be
waiting to see what an agreement will cost them --
there is no sign German firms are ready to increase
That could change during two days of intensive
negotiations that began Tuesday in Bonn. But the
talks could just as easily break up in angry
recriminations as they did last month.
Participants expect the meetings to be tough and often
bad-tempered. One German official said it was going
to be one big "horse-trading" session.
Meanwhile, researchers at a German university estimate
that the real amount of money owed to victims may be
closer to 100-billion dollars. That sum -- according
to research by Germany's Bremen University -- is
roughly the profit, in today's prices, that German
industry, state-owned and private, would have made out
of using forced labor during World-War Two.
The victims' lawyers, who up to now have been hinting
at a sum nearer 10-billion dollars, have suggested the
new research might be the basis for later claims if
the current negotiations break down.
The talk of 100-billion-dollar claims has upset the
German government. One angry government official said
that level of payment would cause bitter resentment
among Germans across the country and really encourage
the extreme right. (SIGNED)
 N-Y ECON WRAP (S & L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)DATE=11/16/1999
INTRO: Stock prices in the United States rallied strongly today (Tuesday), even as the U-S central bank the Federal Reserve Board - raised short term interest rates 25 basis points to five and one-half percent. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:
TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 171 points, or one and one-half percent, closing at 10- thousand-932. The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 25 points to 14-hundred-20. And the Nasdaq Composite closed in record territory again - up over two percent. Reaction to the increase in U-S interest rates was largely positive. Many analysts said the action showed the Federal Reserve Board is trying to stay ahead of the inflation curve by keeping the U-S economy from over-heating, and that inspires confidence among investors.
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Source: Voice of America
 TUESDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ERIKA EVANS (WASHINGTON)DATE=11/16/1999
TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
INTRO: Following the landmark U-S - China trade deal signed in Beijing yesterday, many U-S editorials are discussing the agreement. Other topics of interest are the U-S debt to the U-N and Pakistan following the military coup. Now here is _________ with a sampling of comment in today's Editorial Digest.
TEXT: After 13 years of off and on negotiation, China and the United States have reached an agreement that paves the way to China's entry into the World Trade Organization. While Beijing will still have to reach agreement with the European Union and Canada, the U-S / China negotiations were considered the biggest obstacle to China's entry into the global trading organization. Under the agreement, China promises to give American exporters the right to distribute goods and open up Chinese markets to American farmers, banks, insurance, telecommunications and Internet companies. The Wall Street Journal offers its view of a deal the newspaper believes will benefit China.
VOICE: Barring unpleasant surprises, the news of Monday's agreement is worth celebrating. .The major winner is China. (U-S President) Mr. Clinton underlined that truth yesterday, noting that, "Today, China embraces principles of economic openness, innovation and competition that will bolster China's economic reforms and advance the rule of law." The president had it backward in a way: without rule of law, competition and competitive tendencies will wither on the vine. But the fact is if China wants to surge forward, the W-T-O is the vehicle most likely to help it arrive on time.
TEXT: That was the opinion of the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post, however, appears less optimistic and warns of the dangers of trusting China's promises to allow free trade.
VOICE: China has frequently flouted the international agreements it has signed. Just compare its commitment to honor the United Nations treaty on political and civil rights with its actual persecution of peaceful religious and political dissenters. If it now fails to live up to its open-trade promises, while the United States plays by the rules, the trading relationship will become even more unequal than it now is. That's one danger. The other, perhaps more troubling, is that China will work to reshape the W-T- O away from the kind of open, rules-based organization whose influence the administration hopes will be so benign. The W-T-O is in its infancy, and much of its authority - with respect to antitrust law, labor and environmental regulations and more - is still unclear. China, with its 1.3 billion people, will now have a large say; and with its corrupt system of Party rule, its interest and America's will not be the same.
TEXT: Despite the potential problems, the New York Times remains convinced that the agreement will serve more good than harm. VOCIE: There are critics who say that China will not live up to its trade promises, and that the trade organization is incapable of forcing it to do so. Perhaps. But with China outside the organization, the United States has no real leverage. With Chinese membership, the United States can marshal international sanctions for violations. Besides, the imposition of the rule of law on trade might strengthen the hand of domestic forces fighting for the rule of law for the rest of Chinese society.
TEXT: The Daily News in New York is turning some attention to another deal being made by U-S President Clinton and Congress that calls for paying off the nation's dues to the U-N.
TEXT: The credibility of the world's biggest superpower is seriously challenged when it is also the world's largest deadbeat. That is why President Clinton's deal with Congress to finally make good on the United States' long unpaid United Nations dues is so important. To hold out any longer would have seriously damaged America's influence around the world.... In the scrambled new world order, the U-N - even an inefficient, wastrel U-N - is more vital than ever. It will succeed only if the U-S is actively involved as a paying partner.
TEXT: Finally, Newsday in New York is focusing on the condition of Pakistan in the aftermath of the military coup on October 12. Newsday is critical of the nation's new leader and actions that may inhibit the restoration of democracy.
VOICE: Following the military coup, Pakistan is now treading a dismally predictable course that bodes ill for the return of democracy to that troubled nuclear- armed nation. The army chief and self-appointed national leader, General Pervez Musharraf is now bringing treason charges against (Prime Minister Nawaz) Sharif that are likely to result in his execution. For (Mr.) Musharraf to choose this brutally authoritarian route puts the electoral process on indefinite hold. Washington and other governments with friendly ties to Pakistan must condemn this decision in the strongest terms and try to persuade (Mr.) Musharraf to reverse it. .The general's actions cannot be considered conducive to Pakistan's long-term stability. Instead, they are a recapitulation of past patterns that stunted the growth of democracy in Pakistan.
TEXT: With that comment from Newsday, we conclude
today's sampling of editorial comment from U-S
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