Global Policy Forum

EU, Lifting Sanctions,


By Robert MacPherson

Agence France Presse
October 9, 2000

EU foreign ministers welcomed Serbia into Europe's democratic mainstream on Monday, lifting key economic sanctions while leaving Slobodan Milosevic with his international pariah status.

Cheered to see Vojislav Kostunica as Yugoslavia's new president, the European Union also pledged to move quickly to channel a potential 2.3 billion euros (two billion dollars) of financial aid to Serbia. "Today the European Union had a rendez-vous with the new democratic Serbia," said French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine after EU foreign ministers agreed over lunch to lift sanctions.

"We made a promise to change our policy in the event that democracy won in Belgrade," Vedrine said. "Now we have kept that promise."

Gone are an embargo on oil sales to Serbia and a ban on flights into EU airports by the Yugoslav airline JAT. Both date back to 1998 when Milosevic launched a military offensive against Kosovo ethnic-Albanian separatists. Still in force, however, are a travel ban on Milosevic, his family and 600-odd close associates, as well as a freeze on assets they might hold in the 15 EU member states.

Vedrine, whose nation holds the rotating EU presidency, said he will go to Belgrade on Tuesday to meet Kostunica and begin charting a new course in Europe's relations with the volatile Balkan region. He will also formally invite Kostunica to attend an EU leaders' summit that opens on Friday in the French coastal resort of Biarritz.

Meanwhile, the European Commission will send a team to Belgrade later this week to assess immediate EU financial help to Serbia's shattered post-communist economy. "One of the lessons were learned from Kosovo, and from Bosnia before, is the importance of providing some assistance as quickly as possible," said EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten. In the long term, using rough figures from Serbian economists, Brussels reckons that 2.3 billion euros (two billion dollars) will be needed over seven years to put Yugoslavia back on its feet.

By lifting sanctions quickly, the European Union stole a march on the United States, which ordered its ambassdor to Croatia on Monday to Belgrade to prepare for the end of at least some US sanctions. In a bonus for the new Serbia, the EU will also offer Kostunica's government the chance to join other former Yugoslav republics in a so-called "stablization and association process." That would give Belgrade a first step towards the ultimate prize -- full EU membership.

Left unmentioned for the time being, was the possibility of linking EU financial aid to Milosevic finally appearing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Hague-based UN court has indicted the former president for war crimes in Kosovo, but Kostunica has ruled out extraditing his political adversary.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the European Union nevertheless intended to remind Belgrade of its "obligations to the international community, including the war crimes tribunal." But Cook acknowledged that examining the past with the new government in Belgrade would require a sustained effort.

Kosovo's UN administrator Bernard Kouchner, who attended the foreign ministers' meeting, urged Kostunica to make a "symbolic gesture" to Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority by releasing even a few of the several thousand Kosovars believed to be languishing without trial in Serbian prisons.

More Information on Sanctions on Yugoslavia


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.