YU isolation bars Balkan growth

VENICE, Italy, Jun 19, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Balkans will be unable to achieve sustainable growth as long as Yugoslavia remains isolated by the international community, a World Bank official in charge of lending to the region said on Monday.

"Speaking from an economic point of view, there will be no sustainable development (in the region) as long as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is isolated," Arntraud Hartmann, the bank's director for Croatia and Albania, told a news conference.

Hartman, speaking at a conference organized by Aspen Institute Italia on the Balkans and the Stability Pact, was replying to a question about a report that the United States was mulling a possible immunity deal from war crimes charges for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic if he agreed to step down.

She noted that the Stability Pact, an internationally funded lending program intended to revive the Balkan economies after the Kosovo conflict, does not include Yugoslavia in its lending projects because it is not a democracy.

Charles Frank, acting chairman of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, also welcomed the prospect of a democratic Yugoslavia as a spur to economic growth.

"The EBRD has a political mandate to operate only in countries with a commitment to democratic pluralism," he said.

"We would welcome anything that would lead to greater political participation within the country that would enable us to reach out and do things necessary to foster economic growth in the region," he said.

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