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EUROPE : Serb President Getting Rewards Despite Defiance

October 21, 1994|CAROL J. WILLIAMS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SPLIT, Croatia — In the rush to reward Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for his pledge to be a partner in the search for Balkan peace, Western governments have swept aside evidence of his flouting of the outside world's will and conscience.

Consider these acts of defiance, which once spurred Western outrage but now go unmentioned in diplomatic exchanges:

* Serbian government officials have failed to repatriate two kidnaped American children known to be held in Serbia, despite eight court decisions ordering them returned immediately to their mother in California.

* Human rights monitors from the 53-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe continue to be barred from the volatile Serbian regions of Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandjzak--the very regions where Balkan turmoil threatens to spread.

* Banished from Yugoslavia in April, 14 foreign correspondents, including one from the Los Angeles Times, remain unable to enter the country in which Milosevic wields unchallenged power.

Shayna Gluck--whose children Sasha Lazarevich, 12, and Andre Lazarevich, 9, were seized from Santa Cruz by her ex-husband five years ago--says she is astounded that the United States would help reward Milosevic when Washington's entreaties for her children's release have been ignored.

American and Yugoslav courts have consistently ruled in Gluck's favor on her claim to full custody of the children. The U.S. government and its embassy in Belgrade have pressed her appeals to find and return the children, taken after a September, 1989, weekend outing in Santa Cruz by their father, Dragisa Lazarevich.

But earlier this month, the Serbian Justice Ministry informed the top U.S. diplomat in Belgrade that a Belgrade court had temporarily reassigned custody to the father on the advice of a "team of experts" who had examined and interviewed the children at a time and site Serbian officials refused to reveal.

Gluck has now been told by U.S. authorities to pursue her search through the Serbian legal system.

Milosevic, considered the mastermind of the deadly wars that have racked the Balkans since 1991, made a break with his Bosnian Serb proxies in August, proclaiming a cutoff of all fuel and military aid until they sign a peace plan. He turned on his longtime allies at the encouragement of the Contact Group, the mediation effort waged by diplomats from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. The Contact Group had hinted that there might be relief from a May, 1992, economic embargo imposed on Serb-led Yugoslavia for instigating the Bosnian war.

A month after Milosevic's much-heralded break with Bosnian Serb rebels, and despite assertions by Defense Secretary William J. Perry that the blockade was less than ironclad, the U.N. Security Council reinstated air travel, sports and cultural contacts in reward for Milosevic's proclaimed support for the Contact Group's peace plan.

That international effort to force Bosnian Serbs to capitulate has also muffled the European security conference's desire to return human rights monitors to Serbian trouble spots. Milosevic had the monitors expelled last year after they issued reports documenting systematic abuses of the rights of minority Albanians, Hungarians and Muslims living in Serbia.

Western concern about press freedom and security has also been heightened. Earlier this month, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists was preparing an appeal to the Yugoslav government for restoration of press credentials lifted from 14 Western journalists in April in retaliation for a NATO air strike against Bosnian Serb rebels attacking the U.N. "safe haven" of Gorazde.

U.N. Sanctions in the Balkans

The United Nations restricted travel and trade in an effort to end the war in the Balkans. As a reward for Slobodan Milosevic's peace efforts, the U.N. Security Council later lifted some sanctions in the rump Yugoslavia.

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

Why sanctions were imposed: To reduce carnage from Balkans warfare and to penalize parties in the combat.

Date sanctions were imposed: 1991

U.N. resolution number: 713

Sanctions: Arms embargo

RUMP YUGOSLAVIA

Why sanctions were imposed: To pressure Serbs to force Bosnian Serbs to end fighting and accept U.N. peace proposals

Date sanctions were imposed: 1992, 1993, 1994

U.N. resolution number: 713

Sanctions: All trade and international economic activity prohibited. Overseas assets frozen. Embargo on air, sea and rail connections with outside world. Bans on sports and cultural exchanges. Some of these sanctions--including the travel ban, the exchange prohibition and a ban on ferry travel to Italy--were lifted recently.

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