YU: EU 'white list' has little effect

BELGRADE, Jul 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) Belgrade said on Friday a European Union move to reward Yugoslav companies deemed to be outside government control would have little effect on the economy, but it would tighten its control of them anyway.

The EU earlier this month published on a "white list" of 189 companies and one bank not considered to be financially assisting the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, which is subject to sanctions.

"The Yugoslav government agrees that this latest decision is part of a completely failed policy the European Union is pursuing towards Yugoslavia and the entire region of southeast Europe," the government said in a statement.

It said Serbian-based companies on the list were in fact foreign representative offices or firms partially funded by a foreign capital.

"The share of these companies in our gross domestic product is totally insignificant. This is further proof that the EU sanctions are targeted against our people and not, as they say, against the government," the statement said.

"Therefore the Yugoslav government understands this decision as continued aggression against Yugoslavia," it said.

The government also said it would take counter-measures to neutralize any consequences of the EU move, which is described as illegal under international law, including tightening state control of companies on the white list.

The announcement of more control came only a day after reports that the National Bank of Yugoslavia had launched a probe into activities of Societe Generale Yugoslav Bank, the only bank on the "white list" and the only one in Serbia majority-owned by a foreign bank, France's Societe Generale.

Belgrade authorities have said that being off the white list was a mark of patriotism.

The pro-government daily Politika reported on Thursday that any extra profit the firms on the list earned would be scrutinized and might be confiscated. The government statement made no mention of this threat.

Original article