Romania partially lifts oil embargo on YU

BUCHAREST, Apr 16, 2000 -- (Reuters) Romania announced on Saturday it had lifted its oil embargo on seven Serbian cities controlled by the opposition to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

A government spokeswoman told state news agency Rompres the move, decided at Thursday's cabinet meeting, was in line with a European Union decision dating from February.

Oil shipments could also resume to Montenegro, the pro-Western republic joined with Serbia in the Yugoslav federation, and to Kosovo, the south Serbian province ruled by NATO since last year's air war over the treatment of ethnic Albanians.

The decision exempted the "democratically governed" Serb cities of Nis, Pirot, Sombor, Subotica, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, and Novi Sad from the international oil embargo on Belgrade, Rompres said.

"Given the necessity of normal functioning during the winter of the hydro-power plants at the Iron Gates, the government has authorized the export of the necessary quantity of oil products to Yugoslavia," Rompres quoted a government statement as saying.

The two Iron Gates power plants were built at the border on the River Danube some 30 years ago, under then Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and Romania's Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

No explanation was available of how the fuel oil decision was linked to the hydro plants.

Transport Minister Traian Basescu said that the centrist coalition government had mulled the decision over the past two months. "The move to partially lift the oil embargo on Yugoslavia is fully in keeping with EU policy," he told Reuters by telephone from the Danube delta port of Tulcea.

He declined to give further details.

Romania supported NATO's policy on Kosovo and opened its airspace to NATO aircraft during last year's bombing campaign on Yugoslavia over Belgrade's refusal to grant wider autonomy to Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

Original article