The Guardian June 28, 2000


Lift sanctions help Yugoslavia rebuild

During a recent official visit to Belgrade, Li Peng, head of China's 
parliament and a leading member of the Chinese Communist Party denounced 
NATO's war against Yugoslavia in 1999.

"This war has not only devastated Yugoslavia, but also brought enormous 
suffering to people of all ethnic groups in Kosovo and beyond. The ethnic 
conflicts there are far from being eased, refugee problems are acute and 
the Balkan region is still deprived of peace and stability. This proves 
that peace is not made out of bombing," Li Peng said.

He also denounced the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the 
war as "a case of grave international wrong doing seldom seen in the 
history of diplomacy and a gross violation of China's sovereignty." He 
recalled that the bombing of Yugoslavia had been undertaken by NATO, 
bypassing the United Nations. It was "a violation of the purposes of the UN 
charter and the universally recognised norms governing international 
relations.

In December, China extended a $300 million credit to help finance 
reconstruction of Serbia's economy.

International conference

In another development, Alice Mahon MP, Chair of the Committee for Peace in 
the Balkans, and representatives from local campaign groups around Britain, 
together with Anglo-Yugoslav Medical Aid, delivered a 10,000-signature 
petition to Prime Minister Tony Blair on June 7.

The petition called on the British government to lift the economic 
sanctions on Yugoslavia and provide financial assistance to "fund the 
reconstruction of the civilian infrastructure of the whole of Yugoslavia". 
It also called for urgent humanitarian assistance on a non-discriminatory 
basis to the whole of Yugoslavia and to all refugees.

A few days later, speakers from China, France, Germany, Greece, and Sweden, 
attending an international conference in London organised by the Committee 
for Peace in the Balkans, testified to the growing concern of ordinary 
people about the situation in the Balkans.  

Independent war crimes tribunal

Expressing their support and noting that on the same day, the Independent 
Tribunal on US/NATO War Crimes Against Yugoslavia, called by Ramsey Clark, 
former Attorney General of the United States, met in New York City. A 
message of greetings to the London conference from the International Action 
Centre in New York said they expected the final meeting of the Tribunal to 
show that "US political and military leaders, and their co-conspirators in 
the NATO countries, are guilty of crimes against peace, against humanity, 
and war crimes".

Tony Benn MP, who has supported the Committee for Peace in the Balkans from 
its beginning, said that despite the growth of the campaign, which has 
packed halls at every meeting, "it has been completely ignored by the 
British media".

He felt this was because what the Committee for Peace in the Balkans had 
said right at the start had all unfortunately come true: "This war was not 
humanitarian in planning or in execution", he said. Instead, "it was aimed 
to make NATO the dominant force in the Balkans with a view to extending 
that worldwide".

Karin Wegestal, on behalf of the Swedish Committee for Solidarity with the 
Yugoslav People said, "Yugoslavia has been the subject of sanctions from 
the western powers for close to ten years and its infrastructure was badly 
hurt through NATO's 78-day intense bombardment in 1999. The result is that 
today Yugoslavia is the poorest country in Europe." She told the conference 
that an appeal against sanctions published in Sweden was signed by 
representatives of various political parties, former government members, 
bishops, priests, scholars and writers, athletes, and many other people 
representing broad political and social opinion, and showed the breadth of 
support against NATO actions.  

Antonis Antanasiotis, Secretary of the Greek Committee for International 
Detente and Peace (EEDYE), focused on the Stability Pact for South Eastern 
Europe adopted by "the creators and perpetrators of this criminal war". He 
also feared that it might take on a military form once again and he quoted 
President Clinton as saying at Skopje in 1999: "We can do what we did in 
Kosovo now, and we can do it again tomorrow, if necessary, in Africa or in 
Central Europe."

He warned that the West is planning to divide up Yugoslavia by making 
Kosovo independent (contrary to a UN Security Council decision) and 
detaching Montenegro and other territories belonging to the country. Their 
aim, he said, is to make "the Balkans a stepping stone for the next 
aggressive crusade of multinational capital against the regions of the 
Caspian, the Middle East and Northern Africa, which are rich in energy 
resources".

Appeasement of Albanian extremists

First Secretary, Ruan Zongze of the Embassy of the People's Republic of 
China was in agreement with all the other speakers when he said that in his 
personal opinion, "peace in the Balkans is as far away as ever and that the 
West is more interested in the appeasement of Albanian extremists". He 
stressed that "all members of the international community must have equal 
rights. World peace and stability must be respected, and they must seek 
common ground while discussing differences."

"One year after Kosovo", he stressed, "it is time to think  to make 
sovereignty and territorial integrity the cornerstone of international 
relations."

Some material from New Worker

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