Zagreb sanctions move

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN is confident of growing support from European Community colleagues for sanctions against Croatia. Senior officials suggested yesterday that Community foreign ministers at a scheduled meeting on Monday could agree to withdraw the economic concessions Croatia currently enjoys as a prelude to introducing full-blown sanctions.

Britian is also calling for Belgium, which holds the EC presidency until December, to visit Zagreb to make the EC position clear. Belgium supports the British proposals, likely to be discussed in Washington tomorrow when the Belgian Foreign Minister, Willy Claes, meets the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. But diplomats said yesterday that any mandate for EC action, which must be unanimously agreed, would depend on the German position. 'We need to see how far Bonn is prepared to play ball; if they move, other delegations with reservations - such as Greece or the Netherlands - will probably move too,' said one.

Germany seems at least to have accepted that Croatia must be restrained. At the Group of Seven summit in Tokyo, a strong condemnation of Croatian excesses was opposed by the German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, but his objections were overruled by Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

There will also be pressure on Monday for EC members to dig deeper into their pockets to fund the humanitarian effort in Bosnia. The EC Commissioner for development aid, Manuel Marin, will tell today's Geneva meeting of donor countries organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the EC cannot provide more because it has exhausted its budget.

An extra pounds 46m will be allocated this week, but then the EC relief effort in Yugoslavia must rely on the pounds 71m that remains in the emergency fund shared by all countries needing help. There is no slack in any of the other budget lines.

'Our nightmare is that the EC member states will tell us to spend more without telling us how. We are trying to alert everyone to the extent of the problem well in advance of the winter,' said an EC official yesterday. The UNHCR has estimated that Yugoslavia needs between dollars 1bn and dollars 1.5bn ( pounds 671m and pounds 1bn) on top of the dollars 1.3bn already spent. The EC has already contributed 68 per cent of that.