Letter: West has aided cruelty of Milosevic

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The Independent Online
Sir: One hopes that the world will take stock of the situation in Serbia and ask itself if it was wise to impose sanctions.

The idea that the civil war in Bosnia could be ended by applying sanctions on Serbia alone relied upon the premise that, first, the Bosnian Serbs were the only side at fault, and second, that the pressure of sanctions on Serbia itself would force the mother country to withdraw her support and persuade the ethnic Serbs to accept the will of the West. This was never going to stop the expansionist ambitions of Croatia whose ethnic cleansing carries on unchecked, largely unreported and uncriticised. Finally, the Bosnian Serbs' flat rejection of the Vance-Owen plan, despite the intervention of the Serbian president, put paid to the other half of the premise.

As was widely predicted by the Serbian opposition, both inside and outside Serbia, far from weakening the position of the leader, Slobodan Milosevic, sanctions have given him the opportunity to strengthen his position, and he now stands on the verge of establishing a total dictatorship. No doubt he would doff his hat to his unlikely allies in Bonn and Brussels.

Isolated and with hope fading fast, our age-old friends and allies, the ordinary Serbian people, stand on the edge of an abyss.

Yours faithfully,

FRANCIS MAGUIRE

New Malden,

Surrey

5 June

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