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Balkans summit calls for democracy and prosperity

A 40-nation Balkans summit, which Switzerland attended as an observer, on Friday pledged to support economic and democratic reforms for the war-torn Balkans region.

This content was published on July 30, 1999 - 16:59

A 40-nation Balkans summit, which Switzerland attended as an observer, on Friday pledged to support economic and democratic reforms for the war-torn Balkans region.

At the one-day summit in Sarajevo, major powers endorsed an international pact to promote pro-democracy reforms and vibrant market economies as well as measures against corruption and organized crime.

Switzerland was represented by Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss, who has offered to chair and finance a working group on pro-democracy reforms in the Balkans.

The Swiss government has, and still is, providing financial aid for Kosovar refugees who return voluntarily from Switzerland to Kosovo.

Swiss government aid agencies and several non-governmental organisations are also providing building materials and infrastructure support for those trying to rebuild their lives in the Serb province.

United States President Bill Clinton said in Sarajevo that none of the economic assistance should go to Serbia as long as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was in power.

"We regret that we were not able to invite the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to be present today," a closing statement from Clinton and the other leaders said.

The leaders appealed to Serb-led Yugoslavia "to embrace democratic change and work actively for regional reconciliation."

But Russia urged a relaxation of a U.S.-backed ban on all but humanitarian aid to the Yugoslav government because of its central position within the Balkans.

Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said the world should not punish Yugoslavia's people by linking aid to Milosevic's continued rule.

The leaders also offered incentives to Montenegro, Serbia's western-leaning junior partner in the Yugoslav federation.

The summit participants "will consider ways of making the republic of Montenegro an early beneficiary of the pact and reaffirm their support of all democratic forces."


From staff and wire reports.

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