EU extends lifting of flight ban between EU and Serbia for 9 months

BRUSSELS, Jul 11, 2000 -- (AFP) EU foreign ministers decided on Monday to extend for another nine months the lifting of a flight ban between Serbia and EU destinations, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said.

Vedrine, whose country holds the EU presidency, said the move would allow airlines of EU countries and Serbia to run regular back-and-forth flights through March 31 of next year.

The decision, he said, was intended to support Serbia's civilian population.

Responding to a request from the opposition to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the 15 decided last March to temporarily restore air links with Belgrade, allowing the Yugoslav national airline JAT to run flights to EU destinations.

The flights had been suspended at the beginning of 1999 in protest against Belgrade's policy of repression in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo.

The flight ban was part of a sanctions package that also included an oil embargo, a freeze on European investment in Serbia and on Yugoslav holdings abroad, and a not-welcome list of persons linked to the Milosevic regime who are denied EU visas.

Those other measures for the time being will remain in place, the 15 agreed.

The ban on air links between the EU and Montenegro were lifted at the same time as those with Serbia, but indefinitely.

The foreign ministers, meeting in their first General Affairs Council under the French presidency that began 10 days ago, also agreed on a "white list" of 190 Serbian companies dispensed from EU financial sanctions thanks to the absence of links with the Milosevic regime.

Some 50 more companies are soon to be added to that list.

Original article