Read our Collection of articles on International Policy Read the Convention Relating to the Regime of the Straits (24 July 1923) Read the Convention Relating to the Regime of the Straits (24 July 1923)
HR-Net - Hellenic Resources Network Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Sunday, 14 August 2022
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Interesting Nodes
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts

Voice of America, 00-02-04

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

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





    INTRO: The United Nations refugee agency, U-N-H-C-R, has suspended a bus service for minority communities in Kosovo following an upsurge of violence in the Yugoslav province. Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva.

    TEXT: Since November, the U-N refugee agency has been operating eight bus routes for minorities stuck in isolated communities in Kosovo.

    U-N-H-C-R spokesman Ron Redmond says the agency has shut down the bus service throughout the province following a rocket attack Wednesday on a bus near Kosovska Mitrovica. He says the bus was carrying 49 Serb civilians, two of whom were killed and three wounded.

    /// REDMOND ACT ONE ///

    Those buses are aimed at facilitating freedom of movement between ethnic enclaves. We're just trying to open the situation up so people can move from place to place. They can go see relatives. They can go shopping whatever.

    /// END ACT ///

    Kosovska Mitrovica has been the scene of ongoing violence between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. And the attacks have escalated in the past few days. Mr. Redmond says the attackers also are taking out their anger at the international community. He says two U-N-H-C-R vehicles were destroyed Thursday night during unrest in the Serb north side of the city. And, as a consequence, he says staff has been temporarily relocated to the southern side. In another incident, Mr. Redmond says a private aid agency had its office trashed. Three people were reported killed and dozens injured in that attack.

    /// REDMOND ACT TWO ///

    This entire chain of events illustrates the continuing fragility of the situation in Kosovo and proves yet again that the time is not yet ripe for the safe return of non-Albanians to the province. In fact, as I reported at last Friday's briefing, we still see people leaving the province despite all of the international efforts to provide protection for them.

    /// END ACT ///

    An estimated 100-thousand Serbs and other minorities remain in Kosovo. About 200-thousand Serbs have fled the province since peacekeeping troops arrived in June. Mr. Redmond says the international community can do only so much. Ultimately, he says, no amount of international action will be able to stop the inter- ethnic violence in Kosovo. That is up to the people of Kosovo and their community leaders. (Signed)
    NEB/LS/JWH/JO 04-Feb-2000 09:09 AM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1409 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The United Nations is reacting cautiously to complaints against Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other top U-N officials, by survivors of the 1995 Serb massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica. V-O-A Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from the United Nations.

    TEXT: A lawyer representing a group of Srebrenica survivors met with the U-N war crimes prosecutor at the Hague, to accuse Mr. Annan, former Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and other U-N officials of creating conditions which led to the massacre. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims were murdered in July of 1995 when Serb forces took Srebrenica. At the time, the United Nations had declared Srebrenica a "safe area." The survivors claim U-N officials contributed to the massacre by their failure to protect Srebrenica. Asked about the accusation (Friday), the chief spokesman for Secretary-General Annan, Fred Eckhard, read a carefully-worded statement.

    /// ECKHARD ACT ///

    According to the statute for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the prosecutor is the sole authority with the power to initiate investigations and prosecutions of persons before the tribunal. There is no procedure, similar to the one existing in some national jurisdictions, whereby private citizens can initiate private prosecutions before the tribunal.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Eckhard refused to go beyond his statement. A spokesman for war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte confirmed the prosecutor had met with a representative of the Srebrenica survivors, but offered no details. The International Tribunal has already indicted two Serb leaders for the massacres, but they remain at large.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Last November, The United Nations released an extensive and highly self-critical report on its role in the massacre at Srebrenica. The report says the tragedy occurred because of serious misjudgments on the part of U-N officials. The most serious misjudgment, the report says, was the failure of U-N officials to fully recognize the "scope of evil" facing the Muslims of Srebrenica from Serb forces. After that report was released, Bosnia's U-N ambassador, Muhammad Sacirbey, praised it, saying it took courage for the U-N leadership to admit its mistakes. (Signed) NEB/UN/BA/LSF/ENE/WTW 04-Feb-2000 14:49 PM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1949 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: After four months of political negotiations, Austria has a government again -- the first one in three decades without the country's long-dominant Social Democrats. But Austria's new center-right coalition, led by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, faces diplomatic isolation because of the presence of the right-wing Freedom Party. The Freedom Party's leader, Joerg Haider, is not taking part in the cabinet, but as V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reports from Vienna, Mr. Haider's personality is the source of the controversy.

    TEXT: "The Freedom Party is no Nazi party." Austrian President Thomas Klestil had to make the point bluntly in a statement to a Vienna magazine, to explain why he approved the coalition government between the right- wing Freedom Party and the conservative People's Party. In a democracy, Mr. Klestil says, a parliamentary majority must be respected. Personal feelings do not count. The reason for the president's concern is that Austria will be damaged internationally. The European Union, the United States and Israel have all threatened to punish Austria for including the Freedom Party in its coalition government. President Klestil made changes in the cabinet list submitted by Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider. He dropped two candidates for defense minister and finance minister. The men had helped to lead the Freedom Party into second place in last October's election, by playing on Austrian fears about foreign immigration and the dangers posed by enlargement of the European Union to countries in Central Europe. Mr. Haider -- who is not taking a personal role in the new government -- led the Freedom Party's campaign. He is returning to the southern province of Carinthia where he is the governor. It was in Carinthia where, 10 years ago, Mr. Haider began to make statements praising Nazi full-employment practices. A few years later he praised veterans of Hitler's Waffen S-S as " decent men of character." Melanie Sully has written a biography of Mr. Haider. She says his remarks praising Nazi policies are welcome in Carinthia.

    /// SULLY ACT ONE ///

    He's not isolated down there, because these comments he made on the Waffen S-S, you must remember, were made in the context of a meeting in which there were Social Democrats, there were People's Party conservatives there, there were church dignitaries there. In other words, this is part of the establishment of the state in Carinthia and he was really one player amongst these. He wasn't really going against the main- stream politics in the country.

    /// END ACT ///

    Despite apologies for his pro-Nazi remarks, made as recently as last November, Joerg Haider is still internationally known as a racist with Nazi sympathies. President Klestil insisted that Mr. Haider sign a declaration rejecting racism and xenophobia as a condition for approving the government with the Freedom Party. Austrian commentator Paul Lendvai says the Freedom Party began in the late 1940's, as a way for the Social Democrats to split the conservative movement dominated by the People's Party. Mr. Lendvai says Mr. Haider has revived a fading liberal party and is a populist, not a Nazi.

    /// LENDVAI ACT ONE //

    He is not a fascist. That's not true. He is not a neo-Nazi. He is a man for all seasons. If he would be helped by a pro-foreign policy, which is unlikely, he would do that. He is like practically every politician: an opportunist.

    /// END ACT ///

    No one here has any doubt that Governor Haider is really waiting for the Freedom Party to become integrated in the Austria federal government, so he can make his own bid to become Austria's chancellor, three or four years from now. Melanie Sully, the author of the book "The Haider Phenomenon," says his parents were Nazis, but that background does not explain his politics.

    /// SULLY ACT TWO ///

    Haider himself remarked that had his parents been "big" Nazis after 1945, they would have found a job with one of the two big parties, because obviously there was a lot of wooing of ex-Nazis by all the parties after the war, to get their votes and to integrate them. And it is not unusual, therefore, for people who have had parents who were in the Nazi party or were sympathetic. He feels an obligation clearly to defend a generation from the attack of collective guilt. He would not agree with collective guilt, but individual guilt.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Haider likes to point out that much of the Freedom Party's support in the October election came from young people with no connection to Austria's fascist past. Paul Lendvai agrees, saying workers who once supported the Social Democrats are now voting for the Freedom Party because of Mr. Haider's charisma.

    /// LENDVAI ACT TWO ///

    He's a "dress man": He drives a Porsche, appears every time in a different dress shirt, different hair style, and [is someone] who can play around and kick out everybody from his party, because he is the vote-getter.

    /// END ACT ///

    Just because Joerg Haider will not be present in Vienna does not mean any less control over his party. His control is the reason Israel has withdrawn its ambassador from Austria. Mr.Haider's control is why there are 100 spare tickets for Vienna's Opera Ball next month. The Portuguese have cancelled their participation in protest. An international medical conference planned here next June has also moved its meeting away from Austria. If Mr. Haider stays out of controversy and the Freedom Party becomes a quiet partner in the Austrian government, these protests may diminish over time. Austria remains a member of the European Union, even if relations have been down-graded because of the Freedom Party. The new coalition government clearly hopes performance -- not Mr. Haider's history -- will determine Austria's international reputation. (Signed) NEB/RDP/JWH/ENE/WTW 04-Feb-2000 11:18 AM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1618 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Union is defending its decision to impose political sanctions on Austria. Joerg Haider's efforts to distance himself from his most controversial comments praising aspects of Hitler's Germany have not dampened the controversy over his Freedom Party joining the new Austrian government. As Correspondent Nick Simeone reports, the 14 other members of the E-U are not yet prepared to take Haider at his word.

    TEXT: E-U Commissioner Franz Fischler - himself an Austrian - says promises by Austria's new government for respect and tolerance are not enough. Unlike any government before it, this one, he said, will be judged by its actions. Words alone, are not enough. But that stand is drawing harsh reaction from some Austrians and others who think Europe is over reacting. John Richardson, deputy head of the E-U's mission in Washington is aware of it.

    /// RICHARDSON ACT ///

    It's clear that that is a widely held view in Austria and a lot of commentators in Europe have accepted that it's a reasonable view to hold.

    /// END ACT ///

    The uproar over Austria is becoming one of the first tests of how the E-U will handle a thorny political crisis involving the leadership of one of its own members -- and whether Europe's leaders can remain united on an issue that has potential to expose dark chapters in the histories of other European nations as well.

    /// RICHARDSON ACT ///

    It's also been suggested that this is other countries' meddling in the internal affairs of Austria. I think the interesting thing about that is that you can no longer look at the member states of the European Union as just being separate countries. They are not. The other 14 telling the Austrians something about what's going on in Austria is like the rest of America telling California something.

    /// END ACT ///

    But the Freedom Party's Joerg Haider may have succeeded in drawing a distinction between his controversial past and the new government his party will join. Even E-U commissioner Franz Fischler, a member of the ruling People's Party, says he sees no trace of intolerance or xenophobic views in the new coalition government. And Austria's new foreign minister (Benita Ferrero-Waldner) says the pressure from Europe is only offending the Austrian people. Many Austrians recall how international condemnation of Kurt Waldheim's reported Nazi past after he was elected President in 1986 only encouraged the nation to rally behind him. (SIGNED)
    NEB/NJS/ENE/JP 04-Feb-2000 16:09 PM EDT (04-Feb-2000 2109 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The United States is scaling back diplomatic contacts with Austria, in response to the swearing in of a new government that includes the far right Freedom Party of Joerg Haider. (The U-S action follows similar steps by European nations and Israel.) From the State Department, V-O-A's Kyle King reports.

    TEXT: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says she is deeply concerned that the anti-immigrant Freedom Party is now part of Austria's coalition government. Speaking to reporters following talks with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Ms. Albright said the United States will be watching the new government very closely.

    /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///

    We have decided to limit our contacts with the new government and will review whether new actions are necessary to advance our support for democratic values.

    /// END ACT ///

    Ms. Albright says she has instructed the American ambassador to relay the U-S concerns to the Austrian government, and then return to the United States for consultations. In addition, she instructed the U-S defense attache in Vienna not to attend the swearing- in of the new Austrian defense minister. The U-S actions follow similar measures by Austria's 14 European Union partners. Israel is withdrawing its ambassador to Vienna. Secretary of State Albright says there can be no place in Europe for a political party that does not clearly distance itself from the atrocities of the Nazi era. Ms. Albright accused Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider of tapping into anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiments. Despite his apologies for remarks that appear to diminish the crimes of the Nazis, Ms. Albright said his statements were repugnant and unacceptable. She said the United States has had excellent relations with Austria, but will keep its ties to the new government under constant review. (Signed)
    NEB/KBK/WTW 04-Feb-2000 14:35 PM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1935 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Germany's political opposition is in crisis. Day after day of new revelations destroy the reputations of Christian Democratic politicians at the state and at national level. And what makes it more shocking is that the apparent laundering of millions of dollars worth of illicit funds took place under the leadership of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The former Chancellor is the hero of German unification, who for most of his 17 years in office managed to maintain an air of political respectability and moral strength. Now all parties are looking at how to restore public trust in politics after scandals have tainted not only Mr. Kohl's Christian Democrats, or C-D-U, but some of the ruling Social Democratic Party, or S-P-D, as well. Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin.

    TEXT: Last November, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl confessed on television to maintaining secret party accounts to keep his Christian Democratic Union party in campaign funds. He took responsibility for accepting approximately 1 million U-S dollars from secret donors, but said he never pocketed the money himself. It had all been, he said, for the good of the party. He also said he had given his word of honor that he would never reveal the donors' names. ///Opt/// They were honorable men. But, said, Mr. Kohl, they did not wish their identity to be known. That, to him, justified running accounts that contradicted the strict letter of the law relating to party funds and acting outside the constitution. It also justified continuing his silence - even as it has since turned out, to the detriment of his party. ///end opt/// But by the time of Mr. Kohl's dramatic T-V confession, the C-D-U was in deep trouble. Unexplained funds running into millions of dollars dwarfed the amount he owned up to. And the affair grew worse. Statements by arms dealer Karl-Heinz Schreiber, a man the German authorities are trying to extradite from Canada to face charges of tax-evasion and bribery - had implicated not only Mr. Kohl but his former deputy, Wolfgang Schaeuble, now the party chairman. Mr. Schaeuble was soon forced to own up to receiving funds directly from Mr. Schreiber, and has since admitted he met the man more than once. Now even his version of how he received the money is being questioned by the woman he tried to blame, former party Treasurer Brigitte Baumeister.


    And in the state of Hesse, the local party operation admitted not only to passing funds through secret accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, but to disguising them as bequests from the wills of former German Jews. ///end opt/// Mr. Kohl, meanwhile, has had to step down as honorary chairman of the party. And increasingly his own followers are now questioning whether his version of events is true, as his continued failure to name names drags the party further and further into disrepute. Eckart von Klaeden is the C-D-U's spokesman on the Parliamentary Investigation Committee set up to look into what has become known as the Donations Affair:

    ///Act von Klaeden///

    I really don't know why he doesn't tell the people where the money comes from. He says there are some donors, but we all know the version he gave us is more or less not right. Mr. Kohl told us that he gave his word of honor to honorable people who are German citizens and have no connection to politics. But now he is in a very bad situation, and I think if there were such persons as he describes they would now go public and tell us they are some of those who gave Kohl this money.

    ///end act///

    The suspicion is growing that Mr. Kohl knew far more of what was happening in Hesse than anyone has been prepared to admit so far.


    Private statements to party leaders this week by former C-D-U accountant Horst Weyrauch - who has reportedly admitted several trips to Switzerland and Liechtenstein on the party's behalf - are also said to reveal he was doing similar business for the party at national level. ///end opt/// Mr. Kohl has denied taking bribes from former French President Francois Mitterrand in the early 1990s in a deal that allowed what was then the French national oil company Elf to buy up a former East German refinery. But there are still questions to be answered. ///Opt/// Did bribe money change hands? Who gave it? Who took it? Did it end up in party funds? And the central question since the Karl-Heinz Schreiber affair first raised police suspicions - did it affect the party's policies? ///end opt/// The Public Prosecutors' Office has been looking into it all. And, as if to show it is not only the C-D-U which suffers from corruption, the Public Prosecutor and the media have been looking into the affairs of other politicians too. The allegations of accepting advantages - mostly free airplane flights paid for by the West L-B bank - leveled at some senior politicians of the ruling Social Democrats - including the President, Johannes Rau - look small in comparison. But they have damaged the credibility of politicians even further - and shown them up as weak and unable to respond satisfactorily. Karel Mohn analyzes graft and ethical malpractice in Germany for the anti-corruption organization Transparency International.

    ///Act Mohn and reporter///

    The dimensions of the C-D-U scandal and the various S- P-D scandals are absolutely different. But they are similar - or at least comparable in at least one aspect - and this aspect has to do with the sensitivity of politicians to admit that they daily run the risk of becoming entangled in conflicts of interest. ///Opt/// And the common feature of all these politicians who have been facing allegations was to say that they don't really understand what is wrong with what they are alleged to have done. Reporter: That seems particularly true of Helmut Kohl. Mohn: Absolutely, he has a pre-democratic understanding of power. And it is shocking to see his concept of leadership. ///end opt///

    ///end act///

    That notion that power corrupts and that serving in a powerful position can make politicians lose their perspective is echoed by parliamentary investigation committee member Evelyn Kenzler of the P-D-S - the democratic successor party to the former East German Communists. She says politicians forget that the laws they feel they have to break under pressure from the interests they represent could also be used to protect them against that pressure.

    ///Act Kenzler, in German, fade under///

    She says politicians are there to represent political interests and the interests of society and to use the mechanisms of power. And there is nothing basically wrong with that, she adds. But Evelyn Kenzler warns that if there is no limit on those mechanisms and no control - then there is a risk that instead of using the mechanisms of power, politicians can abuse them. But what happens now? Most observers seem to agree with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that it is not German democracy that is in crisis, but the parties that have to restore the nation's trust in politics and politicians. Karl Mohn of Transparency International, for instance, even argues that German democracy has been strengthened by what has befallen the major parties.

    ///Act Mohn///

    I'd certainly say that it's a major political crisis. However, I'd also say that the opportunities are greater than the risks. ///Opt/// I see the media coming out of this strengthened, more in a position of performing their watchdog role - as an animator of democracy. I'd also say that the independence of prosecutors has been strengthened by the positive examples of the key prosecutors investigating these allegations. And ///end opt/// I think there is the opportunity for the political system to be more transparent, in general, ranging from freedom of information legislation to the transparency of how political parties and members of parliament are financed to the way lobbyists are exerting pressure on parliamentarians.

    ///end act///

    The question, however, is how that transparency can be restored and the trust in politicians rebuilt. The C-D-U's Eckert von Klaeden largely agrees with Mr. Mohn. He believes if everything is put on the table, and those who are proved to have broken the law or the public's trust resign, then much will have been achieved. ///Opt/// He does not see the need to change the law itself.

    ///Act von Klaeden//////opt act///

    I think the party law in Germany is a good law. It is not an argument against a law that somebody broke it. We have problems with trust in some persons, but it is not a crisis of the state or of German democracy. It's a crisis of the C-D-U of course, it's a crisis of trust in Mr. Kohl. But all the institutions of the state, the judges and those who have to investigate work very good.

    ///end act//////end opt///

    Mr. von Klaeden believes an important step would be to limit senior politicians like the federal Chancellor to a maximum two terms in office. But the chairman of the parliamentary investigation committee, S-P-D member Volker Neumann, told V-O-A he thought Helmut Kohl had acted the way he did because he did not believe he would be found out. Mr. Neumann said if the public believed its leaders were not going to obey the law, they would be voted out of office. But Evelyn Kenzler of the P-D-S says merely getting senior party bosses to sit down together to decide a few heads should roll and the quickly push through what she calls "a few little reforms," would not be enough. Evelyn Kenzler believes a more fundamental reform of politics is in order. Parliamentary democracy, she says, should be supplemented by plebiscites and citizens initiatives. Politicians and parties should be made to understand that they are not the sole arbiters of what is right, wrong and good for the country. (Signed)
    NEB/JB/GE/PLM 04-Feb-2000 06:16 AM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1116 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The British government has proposed legislation to suspend Northern Ireland's power- sharing government. Lourdes Navarro in London reports the proposal would not come into force until next week, giving the British and Irish governments crucial time to persuade the Irish Republican Army -- the I-R-A -- to disarm.

    TEXT: Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was formed only nine weeks ago, and now it is very close to being suspended indefinitely. Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson, presented a bill to parliament Friday giving him the power to take over direct control of the troubled province sometime this coming week. Whether this happens depends on whether the Irish Republican Army agrees to disarm in the near future. A disarmament commission reported this past Monday that the I-R-A had completely failed to begin handing in its weapons -- one of the requirements of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord. In response, Northern Ireland's largest Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, said Britain also should suspend the new Northern Ireland legislature, on which they sit with the I-R-A's political wing, Sinn Fein. The Ulster Unionists say if that does not happen, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble will resign as the assembly's leader. Leaders from Britain, the Irish Republic and the United States are frantically trying to prevent the suspension of the Northern Ireland government. The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland say the question of disarmament must be settled once and for all. President Clinton urged all the parties to work together to resolve the crisis, but he said he did not underestimate how difficult a resolution will be. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has called the proposed suspension disgraceful. He said it has already undermined his talks with the I-R-A, and would make disarmament even more difficult. The I-R-A has given little sign that it will hand over its cache of arms any time soon, although negotiators say there has been some progress. NEB/LN/JWH/ENE/WTW 04-Feb-2000 12:42 PM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1742 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Friday), with late day profit taking erasing early gains. V-O- A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed (lost) 49 points, less than one-half of one percent, closing at 10-thousand-963. The Industrials were up over 200 points for the week. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite gained three-quarters of one percent, closing at a record high of 42-hundred-44. The Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped less than a point. Analysts say investors are focused on growth and technology, taking a more cautious approach toward the blue-chip stocks. Rising interest rates apparently are not a big problem for those fast-growing computer- related companies. The latest on the U-S economy shows unemployment in the United States dropping to a 30-year record low of four percent. Salaries grew only slightly more than expected in January. And U-S businesses created new jobs at the fastest pace in two years.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Cynthia Latta, an analyst who tracks the economy, says the figures indicate that inflation - for now - is under control:

    /// LATTA ACT ///

    So far, we've managed to keep the unemployment rate at four percent without seeing inflation accelerate. Labor costs are pretty much under control. They're running only a little bit above productivity. So, they're still consistent with a very low inflation rate.

    /// END ACT ///

    Federal Reserve (central bank) policymakers have warned inflation may be building in the U-S economy and more interest rate hikes are possible. Wall Street has paid a great deal of attention to business activity in Europe - in particular, an announcement of the largest corporate merger ever. Britain's Vodafone Airtouch is buying Mannesmann of Germany to create a giant in the phone business. Vodafone by itself is already the world's largest wireless phone company. The deal is valued at more than 180-billion dollars and comes three months after Vodafone put out a hostile bid for the German company. Mannesmann will own forty-nine-point-five percent of the new group. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 04-Feb-2000 17:07 PM EDT (04-Feb-2000 2207 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America


    [EDITORS: Please SUBSTITUTE this World Opinion Roundup for 6-11665 issued Thurs night. It includes two additional Austrian newspaper comments. It also includes changes in the introductory grafs and some minor edits in text throughout for timeliness. ]

    INTRO: Editorial pages around the world this week are buzzing with reaction to the inclusion of a controversial right-wing party in the new Austrian coalition government. Joerg Haider's Freedom Party won 27-percent of the vote last October in the parliamentary elections, finishing second. Now, Mr. Haider's party has formed a coalition with the conservatives. The international community is protesting the new government because of Mr. Haidar's anti-immigration and anti- EU expansion policies and because he had made pro-Nazi remarks, for which he has since apologized. The European Union is freezing political ties with Austria - one of the bloc's own members and Israel has recalled its ambassador. We get a sampling of European editorial reaction to the developments from __________ in this week's World Opinion Roundup.

    TEXT: Austria is facing a growing threat of international isolation this week, for defying world opinion and admitting the party of an apparent Nazi sympathizer to its new, coalition government. Months of negotiations between the conservative People's Party of Wolfgang Schuessel, which finished third, and the first place socialists, failed to produce an agreement on power-sharing in parliament. So, this week, the People's Party invited Mr. Haider's group to form a coalition government. Reaction has been swift, both diplomatically and in the world press. We begin our sampling in the extreme southeast of Austria, in the second largest city of Graz, near the Hungarian border, where the Kleine Zeitung is upset at the European reaction to Mr. Haider's party's participation in the new Austrian government.

    VOICE: What is the state of Europe, that an intelligent provincial politician such as Joerg Haider can be perceived as a Europe-wide problem? And what is the state of a democracy that falls into panic and almost into agony when a party that is chosen by a quarter of the electorate is included in a new government? A Europe that plays disciplinarian of Austria is certainly not the Europe for which nearly 70- percent of Austrians voted in a referendum [on joining the E-U]. [EDITORS N O T E: BEGIN NEW MATERIAL HERE ]

    TEXT: In Austria's capitol, Vienna, the Kurier is uneasy about the growing political confrontation with the rest of the world. Here's columnist Christoph Kotanko.

    VOICE: The reactions from the European Union and the United States will have effects on us, even though the criticisms are wrong. The new government is in trouble. It is doubtful that this new government will be stable for the duration, as the federal president hopes ... It has built-in cracks. The Freedom Party ... ministers, even though they have good intentions, are new kids on the block. None of them has ever had responsibility on the federal or European level. /// OPT /// In addition, there is the foreign boycott, whose effects cannot yet be foreseen. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Across town, Die Presse, runs this opinion pointing to what the paper feels is a hypocrisy on the European Union's part.

    VOICE: Critical leaders of individual European countries, especially France, Belgium, and Italy, are using the Austrian situation to advance their own domestic political agendas. What is needed is composure, trust, and vigilance. We don't need hyper reactions from abroad or from groups within Austria. Nor do we need snotty counter-reactions against all foreign criticism, even though some of it is justified. ... This strange argumentation [by the European Union] points to a contradiction ... that has hitherto never appeared so blatantly as at ... present. ... the contradiction between the democratically constituted E-U states and the lack of democracy in the E-U itself, that becomes ever more evident, the more the E-U acts as a unit. [EDITORS: THIS E N D S THE NEW, MATERIAL]

    TEXT: Meanwhile, in neighboring Germany, The Frankfurter Rundschau in the nation's financial capital notes:

    VOICE: The E-U threats to impose sanctions ... also serve [to strengthen the E-U's] credibility toward E-U accession candidates in Austria's neighborhood ... Irrespective of whether it is the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, or Hungary, pluralist democracies in the region ten years after the collapse of communism are not very fashionable right now. Austria's serving as a central European model for a failure to transform from authoritarian-bureaucratic structures to a civil society would really be a disaster for the continent.

    TEXT: In another German city, Ludwigshafen, Die Rheinpfalz laments:

    VOICE: The partially self-righteous appeals to the Austrians to stop ... this course will have the opposite of the intended effect. ... even the most well-intentioned advice is revealing a deep ignorance about the political situation in the country ...

    TEXT: To the south now, and an Italian reaction from the former Italian ambassador to Washington Boris Biancheri, writing in Turin's La Stampa:

    VOICE: There is something puzzling in this sudden outburst of European decisiveness, in this unexpected common approach by the E-U ... It would have been better to wait for the program of the new Austrian government and, based on facts rather than assumptions, take the necessary steps.

    TEXT: In Rome, La Repubblica sees an even deeper significance in the European Union's action.

    VOICE: Perhaps European leaders are not fully aware of this ... but they have made a truly constitutional gesture in a Europe that still fools itself that it can live without a charter of its own. ... the declaration of the 14 E-U nations lays the political and geo-political bases for a European state.

    TEXT: In Russia, along the same line of thinking as Le Repubblica, there is some surprise in this comment from Moscow's Noviye Izvestiya:

    VOICE: It is the first case of European leaders deciding ... they can interfere in the strictly internal affairs of a sovereign state.

    TEXT: Now a pair of widely disparate views. First from Brussels, Belgium's De Financieel-Economische Tijd suggests:

    VOICE: The E-U cannot stand idly and watch what is happening in Austria. The values of mutual respect, democracy and human rights are too deeply burnt in the soul of the Union to tamper with them.

    TEXT: Taking a very different stance is Denmark's big Copenhagen daily, Berlingske Tidende:

    VOICE: The E-U's threats to freeze out Austria if it forms a conservative-Freedom Party coalition are unfair, unwise and dishonest. ... The action also raises the question: Should the E-U express its approval every time a country changes government?

    TEXT: However in the Netherlands, there is no support for the new Austrian government. In Haagsche Courant, from The Hague, home of the World Court, we read:

    VOICE: Within Europe there is no place for [Mr. Haider's] ideas which are reminiscent of one of the most horrible episodes of the 20th century. It is therefore good that the E-U has reacted strongly to the Austrian political developments.

    TEXT: In Spain, La Vanguardia in Barcelona is puzzled about the internal, as well as the external criticism and notes:

    VOICE: Opposition to the inclusion of [Mr.] Haider's party ... has been made forcefully clear not only by the E-U and [the] United States, but [also by] [Austrian President Thomas] Klestil himself. In a newspaper interview he noted that ` all the prominent officers of [Mr.] Haider's] party today still use language that disqualifies them from holding public office. ` If this is the opinion of the president who must give his assent to admitting the extreme right into the government, it would be difficult to imagine any harsher criticism coming from an external source.

    TEXT: And in Europe's far southeast, Turkey's Cumhuriyet from Istanbul is impressed by the far- reaching potential impact of this situation.

    VOICE: The Austrian case will be a learning experience that will help define human rights and democracy in the 21st century.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of the European press on the Austrian political situation. NEB/ANG/gm/JO 04-Feb-2000 11:27 AM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1627 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The inclusion of a Nazi sympathizer in the new Austrian coalition government continues to draw attention in the U-S press. The big domestic story drawing comment (today/Friday) is the moratorium on state death sentences in Illinois, where at least a dozen prisoners on death-row have been freed, due to failings in the justice system. Other topics under discussion include the new crisis involving the Irish Republican Army and Northern Ireland's peace process; a government-versus-military standoff in Indonesia; and renewed tensions in the Horn of Africa. Now, here is _________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Austria's president has formally accepted a coalition government including the far-right Freedom Party of Joerg Haider, as editorial writers in the United States continue to discuss the situation. U-S-A Today, the national daily published in the Washington area, headlines its story about Austria, "Sounds of the Third Reich."

    VOICE: In "The Sound of Music," trouble comes to the singing Von Trapps after the German takeover of Austria: It's Hitler's imported storm troopers who force their way in and chase the plucky family as it flees into exile. The reality was much uglier. Missions of Captain Von Trapp's fellow Austrians welcomed Nazism in 1938, and enthusiastically joined the deadly crusade. ... That conveniently airbrushed history echoes disturbingly today in the baroque palaces of Vienna. For the first time in 55 years, a government has come to power in Europe built around an ultranationalist and xenophobic party that has played to echoes of the Nazi era. ... The United States murmurs concern. But the World War Two victors share responsibility for Austria's amnesia.

    TEXT: The Detroit News, on the other hand, worries that ostracism of Austria by the European Union and the United States will only make matters worse.

    VOICE: The horrors of Nazism still bulk large in Western memory, and rightly so. But Austria's friends should be careful not to make matters worse by oversimplifying what's going on. Joerg Haider ... has made comments in the past that raise legitimate questions about his motives. ... [However] Mr. Haider has since apologized for those comments. And this week he and his coalition partners issued what would appear to be a forthright statement renouncing Austria's Nazi past. It would seem a bit of a stretch to view Mr. Haider as a potential Hitler of Austria. // OPT // ... One of his major campaign pledges -- to end payment of welfare to immigrants -- may have touched a real nerve among the citizens who pay the taxes. It's worth remembering that the voters of California did exactly the same thing, by a wide margin, in a recent referendum...

    TEXT: The New York Times however, is uneasy, titling its commentary, "An Unwelcome Austrian Government." The Times suggests:

    VOICE: The appropriate reaction is to cool relations with Austria, which is what the European Union, the United States and Israel seem prepared to do. The Austrian people have a right to vote for whatever parties they choose. ... But Austria's neighbors and friends are not obliged to conduct business as usual with a government that will now include ... Joerg Haider,[a man who] has expressed admiration for Nazi labor policies and praised ... the murderous Waffen SS. // END OPT //

    TEXT: Domestically, the major issue drawing comment is this week's decision by the governor of the (Midwestern) state of Illinois, George Ryan, to suspend all executions until the state's criminal- justice system can be thoroughly investigated. At least a dozen convicted murderers sentenced to die have been released in the past few years, after faulty prosecutions or trials were uncovered. In neighboring Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel welcomes the news.

    VOICE: In heeding his conscience, the Republican [Governor, Mr.] Ryan set an example that governors of other death-penalty states should follow. ... Still, there's just one way to rule out altogether the possibility that an innocent person will be sentenced to die: by sentencing nobody to die.

    TEXT: In northern New Jersey, The [Bergen County] Record calls the governor's action "a principled step." The Atlanta Constitution considers it "a courageous decision," while in Boston, the (nationally-distributed) Christian Science Monitor ponders the death penalty's future in light of this latest action.

    VOICE: ... Can we reliably exclude human error, including prosecutorial excess, from the justice system? And if such errors are surfacing too often in Illinois, how free of them are the other 37 states with the death penalty? // OPT

    // Since the early 1970s, 83 death-row inmates have been released after evidence of their innocence surfaced. Hundreds have been executed over the same period. // END OPT // Can the justice system ever be 100 percent right? Not likely. Then how can it administer punishment that's 100 percent irreversible?

    TEXT: Internationally, there is more worry about the Irish Republican Army's refusal to turn over its arms, which threatens to derail the Northern Ireland peace process. The Boston Globe insists:

    VOICE: The Irish Republican Army needs to understand that it can no longer toy with the peace process in Northern Ireland. The public withdrawal of some weapons from the conflict is a small price for the survival of political institutions that are essential to progress toward lasting peace and justice.

    TEXT: Oklahoma's Tulsa World says the "I-R-A must disarm" and considers "Northern Ireland's peace at risk," // OPT // adding:

    VOICE: The great majority of citizens of Northern Ireland want peace. They proved that overwhelmingly at the polls. ... It is imperative that the I-R-A follow the wishes of the people they claim to represent and protect.

    // END OPT //

    TEXT: Domestically, more resonance from the stunning victory in the New Hampshire presidential primary for Arizona Senator John McCain over the front-runner, Texas Governor George Bush. The St. Louis Post- Dispatch wonders whether Mr. Bush is now "Texas toast" [washed up; a candidate whose time has passed].

    VOICE: Mr. McCain's triumph is the kind of applecart-upsetter that creates a new, better campaign for voters in both parties, as well as those in no party. Even coming from one, tiny, fiercely atypical state (where Mr. McCain held more than 100 meetings) the breadth, depth and margin of his victory are stunning enough to force the 60-million-dollar man [Governor Bush] to come out from behind his stash [his campaign treasury] and fight.

    TEXT: To Asia now, and the growing conflict between the new president of Indonesia and the former military chief who is being asked to resign, because of human- rights violations in East Timor. The Los Angeles Times says this confrontation is a crisis for Indonesia's army.

    VOICE: Indonesia's new president, Abdurrahman Wahid, has displayed dexterity that few expected of the frail Muslim cleric in handling the country's multiple problems. He will need that and more in tackling Indonesia's biggest challenge, suppressing the independence of the military. He should start by forcing out General Wiranto, the former chief of armed forces, and putting him on trial with his top lieutenants for their roles in last year's massacre in East Timor. // OPT // ... Putting the top military men on trial as speedily as possible would help [President] Wahid's government ... break with the past, and fortify his democratic credentials at home and abroad.

    TEXT: In America's Pacific Ocean state, Hawaii, the Honolulu Star Bulletin says "the West should continue to support the democratic government [in Jakarta] against military pressure."

    TEXT: Still in Asia, China's newly-announced plan to block its citizens from parts of the global computer Internet is coming under scrutiny. The Houston Chronicle suggests:

    VOICE: The great virtue of the World Wide Web is that ordinary people all over the globe can engage in free and open discussion, debate and conversation on almost any topic with minimal effort or financial outlay. ... Last month, the Chinese government decided to impose severe limits on this global market-place of ideas, announcing extensive controls on Internet information. ... With any luck, this effort to police the Internet ... will fail. Meanwhile, the free world will note ... that the thought police remain hard at work, a situation that does not fit China's desire for wider participation in the global economy. //END OPT//

    TEXT: Today's Chicago Tribune is upset at the prospect of more fighting on the "Horn of Africa" between two nations that it feels have better uses for their treasuries.

    VOICE: The simmering border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is poised to erupt again in bloodshed and agony for the people of those troubled nations. ... Despite the best efforts of the Clinton administration to negotiate a peace, some 250-thousand troops have been assembled on each side of the disputed border, ready to resume a conflict that killed more than 70-thousand people in 1998 and 1999. ... Tragically, there appears to be little, if anything, the U-S or other outsiders can do to stop it.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of opinion from the editorial columns of Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 04-Feb-2000 12:27 PM EDT (04-Feb-2000 1727 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

    Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright © 1995-2022 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    voa2html v2.03a run on Saturday, 5 February 2000 - 1:19:33 UTC