November 22, 1995
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Acting swiftly to bolster the Balkan peace accord, the United Nations security council Wednesday suspended economic sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro and eased the arms embargo on all former Yugoslav republics.
The council voted a unanimous 15-0 on suspending the economic sanctions, but Russia abstained on the arms embargo measure, saying it would not help restore peace in the region. The arms sanctions will be phased out over six months.
The measure was an expected follow-up to the peace accord signed by leaders of the three Balkan states in Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday. The accord aims to end 43 months of ethnic bloodshed in Bosnia which has left nearly a quarter of a million people dead.
"This is the first concrete way of translating what happened in Dayton," U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright said before the vote. "For the first time in three-and-a-half years the Security Council is able to take action on resolutions that have something to do with the peace process rather than working with a war situation."
The sanctions can be re-imposed without a vote if the peace accord is gravely violated by Belgrade or the Bosnian Serbs.
To prevent an arms race in the area, the accord initialed Tuesday states that the parties will begin arms control talks to achieve "the lowest level of armaments" in the region.
"The military balance in the region should be established at the lowest possible level," German ambassador Tono Eitel told the council.
The suspension of the economic embargo was a key demand of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who played a key role in bringing the Bosnian Serbs to the negotiating table. But the easing of trade sanctions will not apply to Bosnian Serb areas until after Bosnian Serb forces withdraw to buffer zones created under the peace agreement.
Sanctions against Yugoslavia, now comprising Serbia and Montenegro, could be re-imposed if Belgrade does not formally sign the peace agreement next month in Paris.
Economic sanctions would end 10 days after elections in Bosnia, but only after the Bosnian Serbs have withdrawn to the buffer areas.
Imposed in May 1992, the sanctions sought to punish the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for instigating the war in Bosnia. Sanctions included a strict trade embargo, a travel and transport ban and the freezing of bank accounts abroad.
Bosnian leaders have time and again called for an end to the weapons embargo, saying it reinforced the huge arms imbalance between Bosnian Serb forces and the Muslim-led army.
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