- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and top officials must have been aware of the country's arms sales to Iraq but did nothing to prevent them, a leading think tank says in an upcoming report.
The Belgrade, Yugoslavia, newspaper Danas quotes from an unpublished report by the International Crisis Group (ICG):
"At stake is an extensively ramified and highly organized network and it was necessary for many players to be involved in operation code named Zora [Dawn] in the army and, by all accounts, among Yugoslav and Serbian politicians."
The list of those potentially implicated in the arms trade with Iraq includes Mr. Kostunica, federal Prime Minister Dragisa Pesic, federal ministers of Defense and the Interior Velimir Radojevic and Zoran Zivkovic, Serbia's Police Minister Dusan Mihajlovic and the head of the army counterintelligence service, Gen. Aca Tomic, Danas said.
The officials failed to stop the arms sales despite the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry warning the sales were a breach of a United Nations embargo, the newspaper said.
The U.S. government officially warned Yugoslavia of the illicit trade in July 2001, the ICG is said to have pointed out, and indicated that individual officials and companies connected with Mr. Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, known locally as the DSS; Mr. Pesic's Socialist People's Party in Montenegro; Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party; the New Democracy party headed by Mr. Mihajlovic might also have been embroiled.
The ICG report said the Foreign Ministry reminded the federal government in a document presented to it last January that the United States had sent a note to the government on the matter and warned that continuing trade with Iraq might endanger Yugoslavia's effort to reintegrate with international institutions and seriously affect its relations with Washington.
The document argued for an improvement in these relations, especially in the war against terrorism, the ICG report added. The ministry, it said, urged that the highest government bodies pay special attention to the arms-sales problem so as to facilitate attaining the objectives of membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and the Council of Europe as preconditions for reaching an agreement with the European Union on affiliation with it.
The Foreign Ministry document was endorsed by the government in January. However, relevant federal ministries failed to act on the recommendations, the report said.
On Aug. 16, the Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the Defense Ministry, the Customs Service, top army leaders and Serbian and Montenegrin police ministries reminding them that Yugoslavia is a U.N. member and as such prohibited from trading with Iraq and other countries under the U.N. embargo.
According to the ICG, Jugoimport, the Yugoslav company in charge of all deals with Iraq , was the main arms exporter to Iraq.
Jugoimport is controlled by the federal government. Mr. Mihajlovic is chairman of the board, whose members include Mr. Zivkovic, Mr. Radojevic and former federal Economics Minister Jovan Rankovic, who is close to Mr. Kostunica.


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