EU tries to extend Serbia sanctions 'white list'

BRUSSELS, Jul 27, 2000 -- (Reuters) The European Union said on Wednesday it had decided to add 52 Serbian companies to a so-called "white list" of firms allowed to do business with the bloc in spite of its sanctions policy.

A spokesman for the EU's executive commission said the names of the companies would not be published until each one had been consulted about whether it wished to be included, in view of what he called "threats and reprisals" by Serbian authorities.

Serbian companies already on the list have complained that the Serbian authorities have been preventing them doing trade with the EU by denying them import licenses.

Earlier in July, the EU, trying to target its sanctions against Yugoslavia more effectively, published its original list of 189 firms and one bank not considered to be financially assisting the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The European Commission spokesman said that although companies would not be included on the list against their will, the tactics being used by Belgrade proved the measure was working.

"The fact these threats and reprisals are taken shows that these sanctions are effective, which is the desired effect because the regime reacts in a nervous way," the spokesman said.

He said that the companies faced a tough decision between facing retaliation from the Belgrade authorities, or remaining under the sanctions, which entailed having financial assets in the EU frozen.

The Yugoslav government has said that being off the white list was a sign of patriotism and has pledged tighter control over firms picked by the EU, which it said were mainly foreign representative offices or companies partly funded from abroad.

Some firms on the list have already said that life has become a misery.

The EU agreed a raft of sanctions against Yugoslavia last year seeking to put pressure on Milosevic over repression in the Serbian province of Kosovo. However, the EU has been progressively refining the sanctions in response to pleas from the opposition to target Milosevic and his regime, while avoiding hurting ordinary Serbs.

Yugoslavia is made up of two republics, Montenegro and Serbia, where the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade is located.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conducted an 11-week bombing campaign of Yugoslavia last year to halt Belgrade's repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Original article