April 1, 1998 in Nation/World

Arms Embargo Slapped On Yugoslavia Over Kosovo Crackdown

Robert H. Reid Associated Press

The Security Council imposed an arms embargo Tuesday on Yugoslavia, aiming to press President Slobodan Milosevic to make concessions to ethnic Albanians in his country’s restive Kosovo province.

China abstained from the vote, saying the resolution would not help negotiations on giving Kosovo’s Albanians more autonomy.

Envoys from Russia and China said they do not consider the unrest in Kosovo a threat to international security - the traditional justification for the council to become involved.

Yugoslavia has sought to block independence for Kosovo and refused to restore the autonomy Milosevic rescinded in 1989.

A crackdown by Serb police in March killed more than 80 people and stoked fears of a wider war in the Balkans.

The embargo is believed to be largely symbolic, since both the Yugoslav government and Albanian militants already are well-armed.

Yugoslavia’s U.N. ambassador, Vladislav Jovanovic, denounced the resolution as an unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of a member state. He said the unrest was due to militants seeking to break with Serbia, which, along with the republic of Montenegro, forms the republic of Yugoslavia.

“The ultimate goal is the secession of this certain land,” Jovanovic told the council. “Serbia cannot and will not allow it to happen under any conditions.”

But U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson said the resolution sends an “unambiguous signal” to the Yugoslav government in Belgrade that the world “will not tolerate violence and ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans.

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