Letter: Why sanctions on Serbia should now be lifted

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Sir: Given the valid concerns addressed in your leading article ('Has Serbia become a fascist state?', 9 June), would it not be logical to conclude that sanctions imposed by the UN on Serbia and Montenegro in May 1992 should be lifted?

These have induced enormous hardship for most of the population, and hyperinflation which is wrecking the economic infrastructure and balance of payments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. But they have done nothing to achieve their intended objectives. These were, first, to oust President Milosevic from power and, second, to prevent Serbia from supporting the Serbs of Bosnia against the Slav-Muslim/Croat alliance in Bosnia, and the Krajina Serbs against pressures exercised by Croatia.

Mr Milosevic is not only still there, but enjoys the support of perhaps three-quarters of all Serbs. The civil war in Bosnia continues, and we now understand that it began because of the interacting insecurities of all three communities, and was not engineered by Serbia. Croatia's pressures against the Krajina Serbs have been unremitting.

Sanctions, like the Owen-Vance plan for the cantonisation of Bosnia, were poorly conceived and unjustifiable in the first place. They now constitute a serious impediment to the resolution of the conflict in former Yugoslavia and, as you suggest, are causing extremely damaging side-effects within Serbia.

Yours sincerely,



9 June