By DEREK GATOPOULOSMilosevic opponents urge end to sanctions on Serbia
VOULIAGMENI, Greece (April 21, 2000) - Arguing that economic hardship is hindering political change, Serbian opponents of President Slobodan Milosevic on Friday urged the West to end Yugoslavia's isolation and lift sanctions.
"Those sanctions that hurt ordinary people and benefit the mafia regime must be lifted," Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, the son of Yugoslavia's last king, said at a Serb opposition meeting here. "There is no doubt the regime thrives both on sanctions and Serbia's international isolation."
Leaders of Serbian opposition parties, emigre groups and senior figures from Serbia's Orthodox Church, as well as Greek government officials, are attending the two-day meeting hosted by Karadjordjevic in this seaside resort a few miles south of Athens. The mayors of Serbia's three largest cities are also present.
Serbia's traditionally fractured opposition agreed to join forces against Milosevic in January. Opposition leaders are pressing for early elections. The government has ignored the calls despite growing signs of public discontent and a large protest rally in Belgrade last week.
"The rally showed the strength of the opposition against Milosevic, but this is not enough to make him yield. There must be an acute campaign with total agreement between us," said opposition leader Milan Protic.
The U.S. and European Union provide support and funding for Yugoslav opposition groups, but they say sanctions will not be lifted as long as Milosevic is in power.
The Athens meeting was the third round of opposition talks organized by Karadjordjevic since NATO's bombing in Yugoslavia last year to stop Milosevic's crackdown in Kosovo. The previous talks were held in Hungary and Bosnia.
In Belgrade Friday, Milosevic and his party attacked their political opponents and declared the government's policies a success. At a meeting of the ruling Socialist Party's leading committee, leaders listed the party's achievements since the NATO bombing.
"Great results in reconstruction and development ... reaffirm in the best way the policies of the Socialist Party of Serbia," a statement from the meeting said. "Serbia has won and shown its contempt for the traitors."