THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Chappaqua, New York)
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I have directed the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State to take immediate steps to begin lifting the trade and financial sanctions imposed against Serbia in 1998, except those targeted against members of the former regime. This includes lifting the oil embargo and flight ban, which will be effective immediately.
The victory of freedom in Serbia is one of the most hopeful developments in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It ended a dictatorship and it can liberate an entire region from the nagging fear that ethnic differences will again be exploited to start wars and shift borders. Therefore, we have a strong interest in supporting Yugoslavia's newly-elected leaders as they work to build a truly democratic society. Our disagreement was with the Milosevic regime, not the people of Serbia, who have suffered under the regime's brutal policies.
The removal of these sanctions is a first step to ending Serbia's isolation. It is within the scope of the sanctions-lifting measure announced Monday by the European Union (EU) ministers in Luxembourg, and we will move forward in coordination with the EU. We will also ensure that such measures do not allow those supporters of Milosevic to continue the systematic theft of resources that have marked the last thirteen years. In that vein, we will continue to enforce a ban on travel to the United States by top members of the Milosevic regime and keep in place measures that help the new government deter a looting of the national patrimony during the current period of transition in Yugoslavia. We will also review our restrictions on Serbia's participation in international financial institutions as Serbia makes its democratic transition and meets its international obligations.
There is still much work ahead for the Yugoslav people and their new government: restoring confidence in the rule of law, rebuilding an honest economy, accounting for the past while building a better future. Thankfully, that work can now begin -- without the burden of isolation -- and with the friendship of the American people.