UN should ban Belgrade if Danube obstruction continues

BUCHAREST, Nov 9, 2000 -- (AFP) Bucharest will support a US proposal to expel Belgrade from the United Nations if it does not end its obstruction of traffic on the Danube river, Romania's foreign minister said Sunday.

"The United States is currently demanding that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should not be recognized as the successor to ex-Yugoslavia in the United Nations, and if Belgrade continues to violate international law on traffic in the Danube, we will support this initiative," the Mediafax news agency quoted Foreign Minister Petre Roman as saying.

Last year, traffic on the Danube ground to a halt when the NATO bombing campaign destroyed several bridges near the town of Novi Sad in northern Yugoslavia.

The European Union has pledged EUR 20 million (USD 17.4 million) to help clear the debris, but Belgrade has delayed giving a green light to clean up the Danube.

Belgrade's attitude "can not remain unpunished", Roman said.

Romanian ship owners have said they are subject to discrimination in Serbia, where vessels flying anything but the Romanian flag are authorized to use a secondary canal which bypasses the closed section of the river.

The UN representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (RFY), which comprises Serbia and Montenegro, has no voting rights.

According to diplomatic sources, the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia already support the US proposal.

Elsewhere, Romanian ship owners and port operators were on Sunday expected to end their blockade of a section of the Danube just north of where it becomes the natural border between Romania and Bulgaria.

Protestors met with Roman over income lost due to the NATO bombing campaign. The Romanian foreign minister supported their claims, protest organizers said.

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