Belgrade: West's isolation bid has failed

BELGRADE, Jul 12, 2000 -- (Reuters) Belgrade's foreign minister said on Friday the West's bid to isolate Yugoslavia and strangle its economy had failed and world support for the government was growing, state news agency Tanjug reported.

"Yugoslavia's ties and cooperation with three-quarters of the world's nations, which accept it as a valid, reliable and equal partner, and its achievements in reconstruction and development both testify to this," Zivadin Jovanovic said.

The United States and most Western nations withdrew diplomats from Belgrade last year before NATO launched air strikes on Yugoslavia over its repression of majority ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist-led regime embarked on a heavily-publicized reconstruction campaign after the air war damaged much of the country's infrastructure.

"We never begged around for help. We did not waste time hoping for help from abroad. Our future is not in the hands of the European Union, NATO or any other foreign factor, but in our own hands," Jovanovic said.

High-ranking delegations from Brazil, China, Iraq, Myanmar and Russia are among those that recently visited Belgrade.

"If the philosophy of sanctions and isolation has helped in any way then it is in raising awareness that nothing positive can be achieved in southeast Europe without Yugoslavia's equal participation as a key economic, political and security factor in the region," Jovanovic said.

Yugoslavia maintains diplomatic relations with 166 countries and has other government offices in 97 countries. There are 70 foreign embassies in Belgrade.

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