The G8 Summit: Reconstruction: No aid for Serbia until Milosevic regime goes

AS THE FINAL elements of the Kosovo peace deal slotted into place yesterday, Western leaders turned their attention to the rebuilding of those parts of the Balkans where Yugoslavia'sPresident, Slobodan Milosevic, does not hold sway.

After strenuous Russian efforts, the communique issued at the end of the G8 summit betrayed no hint of Serbia's pariah status. But Western leaders left no doubt that very little of the funds made available by a Balkan "stability pact" would be flowing to Belgrade in the near future. Certainly not while President Milosevic is in power.

Not all statesmen put this in such blunt terms. President Jacques Chirac of France described Mr Milosevic as a "big obstacle to reconstruction". He was not asking for his speedy overthrow. "It's up to Serbia to draw the conclusions, but the quicker they do it, the better for everyone," is all he would say.

Germany's Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, was more forthcoming, laying out Western conditions for aid in unusually stark terms: "Reconstruction aid, re-establishment of economic structures and reincorporation into Europe need democratisation, and that is not possible with Milosevic," he said. Faced with that kind of hawkishness, Tony Blair had little choice but to turn up the heat, not only on the Serbian leadership, but also on its people.

At the start of the air campaign, Nato had been at pains to stress that the bombs falling on Belgrade were not aimed at ordinary Serbs. Now, with the war over, Mr Blair raised the question of national guilt.

"There is no way that we are going to agree to any reconstruction programme for Serbia while Milosevic is there, and the more that I see what has happened in Kosovo... the Serbian people have the responsibility to make Milosevic culpable for these crimes," the Prime Minister said. It was, he added, very much in the interest of the Serbian people to dump their leader.

"Our plea to them is: recognise that you can be part of a prosperous Balkan future, but it requires you to embrace the values of democracy and civilisation, and that's inconsistent with having an indicted war criminal as head of your country," Mr Blair said.

But aid of some kind will reach Serbia, if only because even her enemies cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of the people. Humanitarian help will soon be underway, irrespective of whether Serbia starts displaying commitment to the "democratic and economic reforms" demanded by the G8 as a precondition for help. That leaves the West with a terrible dilemma.

While everybody, including possibly even Russia, is prepared to accept that Mr Milosevic is bad news for his country, the West is split on how to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Serbia.

Chancellor Schroder is prepared to err on the side of generosity. "You cannot punish these people because of their President," the German leader said. "When someone goes hungry, you have to feed them." Specifically, he favoured food aid, and also help with the rebuilding of Serbian power and heating plants before the onset of winter.

On this issue, the differences will linger among the Western donors. As even the United States acknowledged, there is a very fine line between urgent aid and post-war reconstruction projects. "And where that line is, is not self-evident," said President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger. "Is getting electric lights back on for the winter humanitarian, or is it reconstruction?"

Perhaps there will be an answer before the first snow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2014:
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there