EU offers inducement to oust Milosevic

Stephen Castle

19 September 2000

Brussels - Europe offered Serbs a clear inducement yesterday to oust their president, Slobodan Milosevic, promising to end economic sanctions if there was a change of regime after the elections on Sunday.

Despite widespread fears that the poll will be neither free nor fair, EU foreign ministers went further than ever before in an attempt to boost the prospects of the main opposition leader, Vojislav Kostunica.

A statement promised that if there was "a choice leading to democratic change" the EU would "lift the sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia". Economic aid will also be made available to enable Serbia to return to the fold. The tactic is high risk and may help the regime's efforts to portray the opposition as a creation of the West. Mr Kostunica, known as a Serb nationalist, is not the EU's model candidate and has ruled out handing over Mr Milosevic, an indicted war criminal, to the court in The Hague.

However, Javier Solana, Europe's foreign policy high representative, said: "A change from Milosevic to Kostunica would be welcome for all democrats and all citizens of Europe." Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday it was "important to give a signal to the people of Serbia that we are ready to respond to democratic change".

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