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Eight years of injustice
The effects of sanctions on Yugoslavia

By Tanja M. Tomasevic (5-22-00)

The US Administration and the EU have been alternately implementing milder or stiffer economic sanctions against Yugoslavia for eight years.

Although they have been tightening the noose and causing immense damage in an effort to stifle Yugoslavia economically, the FRY is surviving these hard times and even reconstructing what was destroyed in the war by relying on its own forces, know-how, capability, and foresight and with the help of the friendly countries.

87 countries now under sanctions

The punishing of entire nations by sanctions primarily for the sake of political goals laid down by the White House, whose every step is keenly followed by the European Fifteen, has in recent years become a formula applied against the "disobedient." Although even those who give the orders realize that the sanctions have not once accomplished what the architect of the New World Order had in mind, the "stick" is not being abandoned. Nearly a half of mankind -- as many as 87 countries of the world -- are under milder or harsher sanctions! However, even those who are directly or indirectly in charge of the embargoes are becoming increasingly convinced that the sanctions are senseless, since their major consequences affect the neediest and not the authorities that are mostly the reason for the imposition of sanctions. Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (who mostly plays the role of an observer and does not even "meddle" in his own affairs, let alone those of others) recently mustered the strength to point to a "general absence of understanding and scepticism among the public toward the logic and usefulness of sanctions." He went on to say that even in countries that were not affected by sanctions, there was a great lack of trust in the instrument and its ability to bring about the desired changes at a reasonable price. .

The fact that as many as three UN Security Council members, Russia, China, and France, are increasingly opposed to sanctions is a sign that a serious commitment to pull down the wall of sanctions is in the offing.

Effect of sanctions on Yugoslavia

What have the sanctions done to our country? Let us recall that they were introduced on 30 May 1992, because of "Belgrade's responsibility for the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina," as was explained in the [UN] resolution. The immediate reason for the resolution was events in Vase Miskina Street, to which Markale was added later, although a UN commission proved after a subsequent extensive investigation that it was the Bosnian Islamists, not the Bosnian Serbs, who shelled the breadline in Miskina Street and the Markale open-air market.

But that changed nothing.

The sanctions have been in place for eight years and only the reasons for them have changed over the years: from pressures on the RS [Bosnian Serbian Republic] and the RSK [Krajina Serbian Republic], to the signing of the Dayton agreement (when they were eased somewhat), to the latest, to punish Yugoslavia for allegedly threatening the rights of Kosovar Albanians, which led to the aggression against our country ironically called "Angel of Mercy."

  • "The sanctions were not only not lifted after the [NATO] aggression, but were instead tightened in April," says Milorad Filipovic, director of the Federal Office for Development and Economic Policy. Filipovic, together with his experts, has drawn up a document listing estimates of the consequences of the sanctions on the FRY economy and society. "They do not even let us buy in EU countries the necessary equipment for the reconstruction of war-devastated facilities with our own money. If they do not let us repair the power plants, which supply millions of households in our country with electricity, if they do not let us buy the materials needed to repair the roads used both by local and foreign motorists, then that has nothing to do with their alleged struggle against the authorities in Yugoslavia. Under all legal systems, it is an attack on human rights, to say the least. All these years the rigid sanctions regime of has been real fascism and racism in relations with our people," Filipovic said.

$95 billion lost

According to the figures of the Federal Office for Development and Economic Policy, the eight-year isolation has inflicted on our country $68.890 billion worth of losses in terms of the lost GNP. If we add to that the $26.263 billion that Yugoslavia has lost as result of the secession of the former Yugoslav republics, we arrive at the following astounding figure: our country has suffered $95.153 billion in losses in the 1991-1999 period from the lost national product, sanctions, and secessions!

This sum does not include damage inflicted by the [78 day bombing campign by the] NATO aggressor.

The years of isolation have directed Yugoslavia toward its own resources and possibilities, but the embargo has clearly caused a great deal of trouble to the population and economy. Hardest hit have been industries, especially those dependent on imports, whose production fell steeply owing to the lack of raw materials and semi-manufactured products, as did the marketing of products. The Federal Office figures show that the GNP losses stand at $64.335 billion for the period since 1991, of which industry alone accounts for $34.426 billion.

The Federal Office has also estimated the losses in other sectors of the economy:

  • power industry -- $2.546 billion,

  • iron and steel $317 million,

  • non-ferrous metals -- $1.220 billion,

  • non-metals -- $726 million,

  • construction materials -- $213 million,

  • finished products $792 million,

  • metal-processing around $7.145 billion,

  • chemical industry -- $3.246 million,

  • lumber and wood industry $957 million.

The textile, leather, and rubber industries, which were recording a steep increase in production and exports before the sanctions, now have losses as high as $6.028 billion.

The food industry has not been spared, either. Owing to the embargo, the suspension of EU preferences and the agreement on trade and cooperation with Yugoslavia, both exports and foreign-currency earnings have fallen and the sector now accounts for the highest losses of $8.042 billion.

Agriculture has fared best, thanks to our rich natural resources, the domestic know-how and technology, so that there has been enough food throughout these years under the sanctions! Nevertheless, it has been estimated that the agriculture has lost $1.486 billion from the threatened technological level of production, reduced scope, and altered structure of the agricultural production.

Yugoslavia's isolation has no doubt had a tremendous impact on Yugoslavs' employment and living standards. Employment figures have rapidly declined: in 1990, by 84,000 compared with the previous year and in 1993, when the sanctions were the harshest, by 234,000 compared with 1990. In the 1993-1997 period, employment fell by another 133,000 and in 1998 alone by a further 42,000. Prior to the NATO aggression, the social sector accounted for 1,927,600 employees and the private sector 330,000, or 10 percent fewer than 10 years earlier. When we add to this that about 72,000 people were made jobless by the aggression and indirectly three times more, it emerges that fewer than a million people have jobs in Yugoslavia, which puts unemployment at a tremendously high 27.2 percent. Standards of living have also declined, aggravating the health of the population, increasing the mortality rate, including that of infants.

To top things off, Yugoslavia has received nearly 700,000 refugees from former Yugoslav republics and about 300,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have been displaced from Serbia's southern province.

Six percent of the national income is annually set aside for their accommodation, food, health, and social security.

Experts from the Federal Office for Development and Economic Policy have established that the consequences of the sanctions, which cannot actually fully be enumerated and numerically expressed, will be felt for many years to come. It is estimated that, if the economy records a growth rate of 6.9 percent, the 1990 GNP level will not be reached until the year 2010. In other words, only then will we be expected to have a per capita income of $2,696 instead of the current $1,340.

-- reprinted from "Vecernje Novosti" (Belgrade) May 7, 2000


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