Serbs told: Vote out Milosevic to end sanctions

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The Independent Online

European foreign ministers yesterday postponed a review of sanctions against Serbia until after this month's Yugoslav elections, holding out the carrot of a radical policy shift should voters reject Slobodan Milosevic.

European foreign ministers yesterday postponed a review of sanctions against Serbia until after this month's Yugoslav elections, holding out the carrot of a radical policy shift should voters reject Slobodan Milosevic.

At a meeting in Evian, France, EU ministers prepared a specific set of offers, including financial assistance and trade concessions, to be linked to the departure of President Milosevic's administration.

"The victory of democracy would lead to a radical revision of EU policy towards Serbia in all its aspects," said Hubert Vedrine, foreign minister of France which holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Officials said that details of the package will be made public before the elections on 24 September.

However the divisive issue of Europe's sanctions against Serbia was postponed yesterday, despite mounting pressure for a review, particularly of the oil embargo which several countries believe is causing hardship while enriching the Serb regime by driving up prices.

Although Britain, the Netherlands and the European Commission have been alone in arguing for the maintenance of all sanctions, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, won support for a delay to a review.

Mr Cook said that lifting sanctions before the elections, as some countries suggested, would be "a free gift" to President Milosevic. "We do not want him to turn around and then say that Europe is conducting business as usual," he argued.

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