UN suspends former Yugoslavia

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The Independent Online
THE United Nations General Assembly moved to suspend the former Yugoslavia last night in a slap in the face for the ex-leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. At Russia's urging, however, Serbia and Montenegro were not suspended from all UN bodies as originally planned.

Moscow had earlier threatened to veto full suspension of the rump Yugoslavia from the UN; and in a compromise, it was to be merely ejected from the General Assembly.

Milan Panic, the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, was allowed to address the Assembly before last night's vote. However, the adoption of the resolution will prevent him from delivering a planned address tomorrow.

Unlike Russia, which was deemed to be the successor of the Soviet Union at the UN, Belgrade has been told that 'it should reapply for membership in the UN' and that it cannot automatically continue the membership of the former Yugoslavia.

Belgrade is expected to reapply within three months, but it will have to fulfil a long list of conditions. Lawrence Eagleburger, the US Acting Secretary of State, gave the strongest US expression of support to date for Mr Panic yesterday when he said: 'In our view he is working very hard and as constructively as he can to bring peace to Yugoslavia.' He added there were 'various players in the game' - in a reference to President Slobodan Milosevic and his extremist nationalist allies. Mr Eagleburger and the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, both said 'very serious problems' remained to be resolved before the sanctions against Serbia could be lifted.

In a letter to all UN members on Monday, Mr Panic said adoption of the proposed Assembly resolution 'would have extremely detrimental consequences for the ongoing peace process and efforts of my government to bring long- sought peace in the region'.

It would also set a dangerous precedent, he said, adding: 'What is at stake is not only the status of Yugoslavia, but in the long run the vital interests and rights of all small states . . . Today it is Yugoslavia, tomorrow it may as well be any other member state of the United Nations.'

Lord Owen, the EC negotiator and Cyrus Vance, the UN special envoy, had earlier warned that further sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro would only strengthen the hand of President Milosovic in his power struggle with Mr Panic.

The conciliatory gestures towards Belgrade outraged leaders from Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia who had high hopes for a complete rout that would have seen Belgrade banished from all UN bodies, including the Security Council, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

But in a gesture aimed at shoring up Mr Panic's position in Belgrade, ministers from the five permanent members of the Council, met him for an hour on Monday night. 'This man, who the world tended to ridicule and who speaks in grandiose language, but who persevered with courage, needed to be supported,' said a British official.

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