- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell lifted a freeze of $40 million in aid to Yugoslavia yesterday, citing recent moves by the nation to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal at The Hague.
"I did it on the basis of new laws that have been passed in Belgrade, voluntary surrenders that have taken place and indictments that have been issued to those who remain still outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal," Mr. Powell told reporters at the State Department.
Financial assistance for Yugoslavia was suspended automatically on March 31 after the secretary failed to certify the country's fulfillment of several requirements, one of which was full cooperation with the U.N. court.
Last month, the Belgrade government told suspects wanted for crimes committed during a series of Balkan wars in the 1990s to surrender or face arrest. Six persons turned themselves in, while at least 18 remained at large.
The two most-wanted war criminals, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, are still roaming free despite repeated attempts by NATO forces to arrest them.
Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, is standing trial at The Hague.
Mr. Powell, who met with senior officials from Yugoslavia and its dominant republic, Serbia, at the State Department, signed a certification required by U.S. law to release the $40 million for the current fiscal year.
Mr. Powell said he was "impressed by the commitment" of the Belgrade authorities but warned that "there is still more that we will have to do in the months ahead."
The secretary spoke after a meeting yesterday with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic of Serbia.
"We have brought the new law in cooperation with the ICTY and we have formed a national council for cooperation with ICTY that I chair, and we have started full cooperation that includes the access to the archives and documents," Mr. Svilanovic said.
ICTY is the acronym for the U.N.-sponsored International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Mr. Djindjic said his government was committed to continuing the reforms that started after Mr. Milosevic's overthrow in October 2000, as well as to stabilizing the Balkans and moving "forward in the direction of human rights, minority rights, market economy, and to joining the democratic family of European countries."
Mr. Powell also praised his guests for the March release of about 150 Kosovo Albanian prisoners who had been held since the 1999 NATO campaign against Serbia over Kosovo.
Yesterday's certification also allows for the resumption of U.S. support for Belgrade in international financial institutions such as the World Bank, where Washington's vote is often crucial. Last week, the United States voted against a major loan to Yugoslavia by the International Monetary Fund.
In their talks with Mr. Powell, Mr. Svilanovic and Mr. Djindjic also sought to improve Belgrade's chances of normalizing its trade relations with Washington. Yugoslavia lost its low-tariff trade status as part of the embargo imposed after the first war broke out more than a decade ago.
Normal trade relations "would provide the opportunity for companies from your country to join an emerging market that is now being created in Balkans , because we take it as a necessity to stabilize the region and achieve a long-lasting peace in Balkans," Mr. Djindjic said.
Mr. Powell said that, as a result of his certification, "the way is now clear for us to approach the Congress with respect to normal trading relations."


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