More sanctions threatened against Serbia

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The Independent Online
THERE were ringing words of condemnation for Belgrade's policies on the opening day of the London conference on Yugoslavia yesterday, with threats of further international sanctions against Serbia and the rump Yugoslavia unless there is a change of course.

But Bosnia insisted that words were not enough, and called for Western armed intervention to defeat the Serbs. Failing that, Bosnia demanded that the arms embargo against it be lifted, enabling the country to fight back.

While speeches were made in London, Sarajevo was ablaze in the fiercest bombardment for several weeks. 'They (the Serbs) are demolishing building after building,' said an officer with the UN peacekeeping force in the city.

The Prime Minister, John Major, who is co-hosting the conference with the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, warned of the possibility of tougher sanctions, and asked Serbia and its small ally, Montenegro: 'Do you wish to be considered as part of Europe? Do you wish to belong to the world community?'

Mr Boutros-Ghali told the conference, which brings together leaders of all the former Yugoslav republics and two dozen foreign ministers from across the world: 'More, much more, is urgently required.' He called for 'urgent co- operation' between Europe and the UN, and said: 'The systematic torture and killing along racial, ethnic, or religious lines can no longer be tolerated.' There was a veiled warning, too, of Nuremberg-style trials.

EC diplomats said Mr Boutros- Ghali plans to announce an expanded military operation under UN command and control to escort food convoys through Bosnia. The operation, which would involve thousands more troops beyond the present peace-keeping force, makes it certain that the 1,800 British troops on offer will be needed. The EC sources said the new operation, in effect, puts on hold any Western allied plan for an independent military operation in the Balkan crisis.

The Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, staged a temporary walkout, complaining that his people were not represented at the main conference, only on the sidelines.

He said: 'We came here to talk about peace and the reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but found we are not supposed to be in the main room for the main talks - so we walked out.' He later returned to the talks.

Milan Panic, the Serbian-born US businessman who recently became Prime Minister of the rump Yugoslavia, gave flamboyant promises of Yugoslavia's good faith, and called for UN troops to be deployed along Serbia's border with Bosnia. The Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, the man widely believed to bear more responsibility than anybody else for the bloodshed, later said he backed that proposal.

Yesterday's tough words from Western politicians were not enough for the Bosnians. Haris Silajdzic, the Foreign Minister, said that the strong language was 'pleasing to the ears', but he did not expect it to have any effect.

That view was echoed in an unexpected quarter yesterday, when the US State Department's top official dealing with Yugoslavia resigned in protest against Washington's policy on the Balkans.

George Kenney described the conference as a charade because of the absence of 'very strong pressures, including military pressures, against Serbia to stop its campaign of genocide.'

Treasures destroyed, page 8

Letters, page 26