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Voice of America, 00-02-05

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

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





    INTRO: Croats return to the polls Monday to vote for the third time in little more than one month - this time to decide a runoff election for president. As Ron Pemstein reports from Zagreb, the two candidates have similar views of the future, but the disagree about the past.

    TEXT: Stipe Mesic and Drazen Budisa agree: Croatia's second president should do everything to help the country enter the European Union and NATO. They agree Croatia should help the Bosnian peace process. At home, they agree Croatia needs to reform its economy and eliminate corruption to encourage foreign investment. In their final nationally televised debate, their disagreements centered over which man disagreed more or sooner with Croatia's first president. Franjo Tudjman died in December and the two men trying to succeed him are running as fast as they can away from his authoritarian legacy. The 51-year-old Mr. Budisa accuses Mr. Mesic of doing nothing to stop President Tudjman from splitting up Bosnia in 1993 when Mr. Mesic was part of a Croatian government. Mr. Mesic responds "I had no access to that information." Mr. Budisa counters, "Why did you stay?" Mr. Mesic left the Croatian government in 1994 because of his disagreements with President Tudjman's interference in Bosnia. Mr. Mesic makes a point of emphasizing his role as the last president of Yugoslavia in 1991. He says he went to Belgrade with the goal of winning Croatia's independence. In important moments, he says, "I made decisions without fear. I negotiated with the Yugoslav army." Mr. Budisa scoffs, "You were president of a country that occupied one-third of Croatia. He's the candidate of the Social Liberals." Mr. Budisa points out that his Social Liberal Party opposed President Tudjman's ruling party for 10 years. Mr. Budisa tells V-O-A through an interpreter he blames the media for forcing the candidates to discuss history.

    /// Budisa Act in Croatian with interpreter ///
    And that wasn't our intention and we didn't want to lead a campaign that way. And I consider this situation as very unfortunate because lots of time and energy was spent on the history issues, which reduced the time that we could have used to promote our ideas for the Croatian future.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Mesic blames President Tudjman's security services for diverting the candidates with historical questions. He says the agents feel endangered because they have no use anymore. The last opinion polls before Monday's election show the 65-year-old Mr. Mesic in the lead with 45 percent to 41 percent for Mr. Budisa. Mr. Mesic led Mr. Budisa by nearly 14 percent in the first round two weeks ago. Budisa advisor Ivo Skrabalo says it will be a miracle if Mr. Budisa can make up the gap.

    /// Skrabalo Act ///

    After such a lead of 14 percent, it is really a miracle if the candidate who was second will win. But I do think that a majority of votes for other candidates from the first round will go to Mr. Budisa.

    /// End Act ///

    The irony in this presidential election is that both candidates favor legislation in the new left-of-center parliament to change Croatia from a presidential system to a parliamentary democracy. If that effort succeeds, Croatia's second president could find his powers limited. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RP/JP 05-Feb-2000 13:49 PM EDT (05-Feb-2000 1849 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: At least six people have been killed and up to twenty injured after violent clashes between opposing ethnic groups in northern Kosovo (Friday). Tim Belay reports from the neighboring Balkan country of Albania.

    TEXT: Hundreds of ethnic Albanians threw stones and bottles at French soldiers Friday, charging that Nato-led peacekeepers failed to prevent the deaths of at least six Kosovo Albanians. Two dozen Serbs were also injured in the violence in Mitrovica, Kosovo's third largest city. Tensions between Serbs and Albanians remain very high, despite the presence of peacekeepers. The latest round of violence started after a rocket attack Wednesday killed two elderly serbs on a bus run by the U.N. refugee agency. Serbian leaders in Kosovo say the attack destroyed what little faith minority serbs had in the power of U.N. peacekeepers to protect them from violence by ethnic Albanians. Thursday night, violence broke out in the Serb- controlled northern side of the city. two ethnic Albanian men were shot to death. Half an hour later, a grenade was thrown into a Serb cafe, wounding up to 15 people. an ethnic Albanian woman was then shot and killed, and another grenade was tossed into another Serb cafe, wounding 10. At least three other ethnic Albanians who were injured in the shootings reportedly died Friday. The United Nations said 10 of its vehicles were burned, including seven police cars and three from the U.N. refugee agency. (signed)
    NEB/TB/PT 04-Feb-2000 20:44 PM EDT (05-Feb-2000 0144 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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