Security Council Denies Yugoslavia Its U.N. Seat


The Security Council voted Saturday to bar Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia from participating in the U.N. General Assembly as punishment for Belgrade’s part in prosecuting the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After almost a week of negotiations, the 15-member council recommended that the current Belgrade government not be allowed to assume the seat in the General Assembly that previously was held by the now-disbanded socialist Yugoslav republic.

Instead, Belgrade would have to apply for membership anew as the joint state of Serbia-Montenegro. Although U.N. members would have to consider Belgrade’s application by mid-December, they would not have to approve it if Serbia continued to support the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


The vote in the Security Council was 12 to 0, with three members--China, India and Zimbabwe--abstaining. Russia, which earlier had balked at the proposal, joined Britain, France, the United States and a number of developing countries in supporting the move to bar Belgrade from the Yugoslav seat.

The action came as, separately, in peace talks in Geneva, Serbian, Muslim and Croatian leaders signed an accord designed to permit the resumption of Western relief flights into Sarajevo as a first step toward a possible peace accord later. But fighting raged on in the Bosnian capital.

The aid flights to Sarajevo were suspended Sept. 3 after an Italian relief plane crashed, apparently struck by a missile fired from the ground, killing four crewmen.

Saturday’s action in the Security Council, which is expected to be ratified by two-thirds of the General Assembly on Monday, was rushed through in an emergency end-of-week session in an attempt to head off an expected revolt by Muslim delegations when the General Assembly meets this week.

Members of the 47-country Organization of the Islamic Conference had threatened that if the Serbian-dominated government was permitted to take Yugoslavia’s seat, they would walk out in protest.

Muslim countries are angry because they believe the West has not acted aggressively enough to intervene in Bosnia, whose population is heavily Muslim.

There have been fears among some Western analysts that if the West did not take a stance now, it could prompt governments of some Muslim countries to consider intervening militarily on their own to help Bosnia’s Muslim population.

Serbia and Montenegro are the only parts of the former Yugoslav Federation to remain part of present-day Yugoslavia. The other republics--Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia--have all declared their independence.

The language approved by the Security Council on Saturday was substantially watered down from an earlier version, largely because of a toughening of positions by Russia and China, which had threatened to use their veto powers to block any tougher plan.

Under the earlier version, the Security Council would have been able to delay consideration of Belgrade’s new membership application indefinitely, giving the Western powers somewhat more leverage in pressing the Serbs to stop aiding Serbian nationalists in Bosnia.

But the version approved Saturday promises that the council will consider a new application by Belgrade by the end of the current General Assembly session, in mid-December.

The earlier version would also have barred the Belgrade government from participating in a broad array of U.N. activities, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The measure approved Saturday would exclude it only from the General Assembly session.

Nevertheless, Saturday’s action marks the first time that the United Nations has acted to block a member country from taking a seat that belonged to a government that preceded it.

Diplomatic sources speculated that Moscow may have hardened its stand for two reasons--pressure from ethnic Serbs, who constitute a presence in Russia, and a need by Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin to look tough in his dealings with the West to mollify hard-liners at home.

The Belgrade government already is under a U.N.-imposed trade and weapons embargo as a result of its actions in Bosnia.

After Saturday’s accord among the Bosnian factions was signed in Geneva, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said that airlifts to besieged Sarajevo could resume by Wednesday. But their resumption could be put in doubt, as Serbs and Croats continued to battle for more territory to strengthen their bargaining positions at the peace talks.

An artillery barrage late in the day set the Parliament building afire in downtown Sarajevo, and the Bosnian government said that 53 persons had been killed and 295 wounded during the previous 24 hours.

U.N. officials in Sarajevo told the Associated Press that Bosnian President Ailja Izetbegovic will fly to New York at midweek to prepare to address the General Assembly on Friday.

The move to bar the current Belgrade government from taking the Yugoslav seat in the world body was led by Britain, France and Belgium, after the European Community agreed at a conference in London to push for such action as a way to intensify pressure on the Serbs.

The United States supported the European bid but remained largely on the sidelines to allow the Europeans to take the lead.

The positions of China and Russia changed several times during the week of negotiations. At first, Moscow announced it would oppose any full-fledged expulsion of Yugoslavia from the United Nations, but privately it agreed to go along with a plan to force Belgrade to apply for a seat of its own.

China said first that it would not seek to veto the proposal, but later it went along with the Russians in demanding that the plan be watered down.

UNEASY ALLIES: Montenegro pays dearly for standing by Serbia. A6