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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Is it too early to lift sanctions against Yugoslavia?
In a show of support for the new Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica, the European Union is expected to ease the sanctions they imposed on Serbia during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
An oil embargo and air-travel ban are due to be lifted, while other sanctions - on financial investment and visa restrictions - are expected to remain.
But the new leadership in Serbia is only just beginning to consolidate its grip on power, Milosevic's allies remain in influential positions, and Mr Kostunica has said he does not plan to hand over Mr Milosevic and other indicted war criminals to the Hague Tribunal for trial.
What do you think? Is the West acting too hastily by lifting some sanctions now? Is it too early to do business with Mr Kostunica?
Or is it being too circumspect by leaving some of the sanctions in place and does this risk undermining Mr Kostunica in the critical early stages of his presidency?
For this week's Europewide debate, Europe Today's Laurence Zavriew spoke to Walter Schwimmer, the secretary-general of the 41-nation Council of Europe, and to Tony Borden of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Listen to the debate and tell us what you think.
Tears fill my eyes every time I read about Yugoslavia's revolution. I think Kostunica should be given a chance. The West has to risk. The good should not be repelled. Isn't this what we are fighting for?
Let us not forget that Yugoslavia is a democratic country.
Stood by the allies in both WW's. Dr Kustonica is the best possible choice. He has the right to
be a nationalist as much as Chirac, Clinton, Blair
and every nation's leader. Sanctions NEVER work. The ordinary people of
Yugoslavia have paid dearly and this was great
injustice. They have been lifted much before this.
The sanctions should be removed only after a clear sign from Belgrade that the country is undergoing a democratic change. The sheer change of power means nothing, should Kostunica prove to be nothing more but the successor of the former President.
Yes, sanction has to be lifted. As West was always saying, the sanction were against Milosevic and his regime, not against Yugoslavian people.
We can just imagine how ordinary people, old and young survived last 10 years. Yugoslavia belongs to Europe now much more than last 10 years. The West has to help and lift the sanctions.
The sanctions should be lifted immediately! The people of Yugoslavia have suffered long enough because of their government's mistakes. The Yugoslavs have shown the world they want democracy, and they have proven this by doing the impossible, ousting Milosevic. They should be generously rewarded for their time of suffering under the Milosevic regime. The least the international community can do for these tortured people is LIFT ALL SANCTIONS! It's easy for people from other countries to say, lets see what happens next and we'll take it day by day. To those people: You try living in poverty and then see how fast you'll eat your words. The world should be talking about rebuilding Yugoslavia's economy and sending aid, and lifting all sanctions!
Moataz M. Abou-Eita, Cairo, Egypt
The sanctions against Yugoslavia should be lifted after the new government decides to co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The healing process will begin after all war criminals (no matter which nationality they belong to) are arrested and sent to the Hague, where they belong.
Rather than "lift" sanctions, we should suspend them. Until Milosevic is provably removed from all levers of power, the ability to quickly re-impose sanctions without having to build another consensus may reduce the chances of him staging a successful coup.
Sanctions should be lifted, if nothing else, than for the simple reason that the West, especially the USA, promised that they would, once Milosevic was out of power. Considering that the West always wishes to set the pace, and give a good example to the rest of the world, then they should keep their promises.
I think The West and America have intervened too much in the internal affairs in Yugoslavia. Please let them settle their own problems on their own.
Drazenka Kovrlija, New York, USA
It is never too early to extend the hand of friendship or to attempt to repair bridges - be they over the Danube or between warring parties.
I think it is too early to lift all the sanctions, even though it is understandable that Europe and the rest of the world want to show its support for democratic changes in Serbia.
What should be remembered is that Mr Kostunica never once condemned Mr Milosevic and his policies of war and ethnic cleansing. Furthermore he supported them, so it remains to be seen if there will be real change in Serbian politics especially towards Kosovo, which I doubt very much.
A lot of people, when discussing Yugoslavia, have regarded the West's intervention there as 'butting in'. Far from it; Democratic nations are duty-bound to voice their concerns and otherwise sanction oppressive regimes. Just where would democracy be now if we didn't fight for it, tooth and nail?
Let us not forget that though the leader has changed in FRY, the pro-chauvinist sentiment of the majority of Serbs and their (old/ new) leadership remains the same.
Sanctions don't ever work. They didn't work against apartheid in South Africa, they haven't worked against Iraq or Cuba. The new bloke needs support and it doesn't cost us anything, so why not ?
Sanctions should not be lifted until Belgrade hands over all indicted war criminals for trial in the Hague. Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina handed over their indictees and failure to enforce this policy in Yugoslavia will mean double standards in western policy that could be harmful to fledgling democracies in the Balkans.
Yes, to soon, as long as Slobo and his henchmen or still free! But, one good thing has happened, Slobo's son wasn't allowed into China. What the new president should do is start getting all the money these crooks stole from the Serb people!
Kostunica is a man of principles. Do not judge him by few headlines that come through to you. Martians have no reason for worrying with Kostunica as president. He simply do not use courtship in his public relations.
NATO governments have bought the Yugoslavia elections freely and fairly. If they wish to capitalise on their success, they will need to press ahead quickly on taking over Yugoslavia economically, and that means that they must remove the economic sanctions. If they are too slow, they will find that the Yugoslav people will return another left-wing government that will continue to thwart NATO plans.
Vahid Goga, Australia
It's too early. The old regime still occupies key positions of power. A federal election should be called in Serbia first, and then if the democratic forces win sanctions can be eased. PLUS autonomy should be guaranteed for Kosovo. In addition, Milosevic should be tried either by the new regime or by the ICC (Hague)
The one sure way to build public confidence in the new government is to help revive the Serbian economy, and the only way to do that is by lifting sanctions and normalising trade and business links with the rest of the world.
President Kostunica has expressed Serb nationalist aims of holding onto Montenegro and Kosovo. Both policies could result in violent confrontations within the Balkans and thereby draw in another Nato intervention. Sanctions would seem to be the only leverage to bring about a redefinition of Serbian relations with their de facto neighbours. The hope that Kostunica is a liberal democrat is extreme optimism in a Serbian context. He should be negotiated with on the basis of his actions and not Western misperceptions.
The sanctions should've been lifted a long, long time ago. Sanctions are stupid. They NEVER hurt those in power as they are way too rich already. They'll always have enough of everything regardless of the circumstances.
It is the people that suffer. The poor get poorer, the middle class gets wiped out and the rich grow even more rich.
Albert P'Rayan, Kigali, Rwanda
I think that the world has forgot that there are thousands of Albanians in Serbian jails what about them has Kostunica in mind to release them or maybe to treat them as prisoners, or how the Kostunica has think to solve the Kosovo problem.
I think that Kostunica its good for Serbian people but not for the other nations in Yugoslavia.
Sanctions would be lifted on the condition that Milosevic was ousted. Now that this condition is met it's only fair that the West keeps it's side of the bargain. Any additional aid by the West should depend on Mr. Kostinica's performance in the coming months.
George M. Ortiz, Texas/United States of America
I think a partial easing of sanctions is appropriate. I'm a free trader -- I think you stimulate change in other countries by engaging them in exchange of goods, services, and ideas, much more easily than you can do by a stance of moral indignation. The West has to send a signal to Serbia now suggesting that we're ready to work toward accepting them as democratic brethren. They'll respond to that.
Mike Simonovich, Canada
I knew it. The promise of lifting sanctions is a carrot on a stick which is impossible to reach. Do you think for a second that hungry, unemployed people living on $50 a month are looking for it? EU behaviour will eventually bring Milosevic back so that West can keep up with their policies in Balkans for last 10 years. A lot of money is at stake, NATO expansion, profitable peace-keeping missions etc.
This is a good move.
As long as the new government really does have the power, it is important to show that the West really does want to help the new democracy, and "extend the hand of peace".
If anyone in the world is keeping in mind that there are a lot of Albanian people who are still in the jail's of the Serbia, nobody will say that the sanction should be lifted
Dragomir Mihailovic, US
I feel that we are moving to quickly. We should let the dust settle and see what happens. Anyway we should not even be butting into this country's business. Let them figure things out for themselves.
09 Oct 00 | Europe
EU prepares to lift Yugoslav sanctions
08 Oct 00 | Europe
Yugoslavia looks to the future
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