U.S. joins Europeans in Yugoslav sanctions Bush issues warning about nationalism

November 10, 1991|By James Gerstenzang | James Gerstenzang,Los Angeles Times

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The United States, in an effort to stem the fighting in Yugoslavia, has joined the European economic sanctions against Belgrade and will co-sponsor a U.N. resolution that could lead to an oil embargo, President Bush announced yesterday.

The step was the strongest yet by the United States to bring pressure on the warring Serbs and Croats, whose battles have taken thousands of lives.

Mr. Bush warned that such violent nationalism could produce the kind of political instability that plunged Europe into two world wars this century.

"All of Europe has awakened to the dangers of an old enemy: a nationalism animated by hatred and unmoved by nobler ends," the president said. "We are ready to join the EC in holding accountable those in Yugoslavia whose parochial ambitions are perpetrating this agony."

But Mr. Bush said that any suggestion of the use of force by the West was "too far ahead of the power curve."

"We're not talking about force. We're talking about economic sanctions. We're just not there yet," he said at a news conference.

In a speech at the conclusion of a meeting of the European Community, Mr. Bush addressed the problems of Yugoslavia in the context of growing nationalism in Eastern Europe -- one of three elements that he warned bear the seeds of danger. The others, he said, are an inability to move into a period of peace following the Cold War and failure to meld divergent forces into cooperative trade agreements.

His address was one of his most extended public discussions of challenges posed by the turn toward democracy in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union over the past two years.

"The collapse of communism has thrown open a Pandora's Box of ancient ethnic hatreds, resentment, even revenge," Mr. Bush said, warning that "democracy's new freedoms" could be used "to settle old scores."

Mr. Bush's announcement on Yugoslavia followed by one day the European Community's decision to impose economic sanctions on Yugoslavia. The EC called on the United Nations to declare a global oil embargo against the Balkan nation in an effort to cut off fuel for vehicles. The measures were aimed

primarily at Serbia, which the EC has declared the aggressor in the war with breakaway Croatia.

Announcing his decision to join that effort and to strengthen the existing embargo on arms shipments to Yugoslavia, Mr. Bush said: "Measures must be taken to hold accountable those who placed their narrow ambitions above the well-being of

the peoples."

But the president conceded, "I don't think anyone can predict that sanctions alone will solve the problem."

The sanctions imposed Friday by the 12-nation Economic Community and joined yesterday by the United States immediately suspend trade concessions, ban imports of Yugoslav textiles and strike Yugoslavia from a list of aid recipients in Eastern Europe. But a wider effort, built around a U.N. oil embargo, is seen by many as necessary to expand the relatively limited reach of the effort. Yugoslavia imports most of its oil from Libya and the Soviet Union, nations that are not parties to the new economic embargo.

Stating that the United States "strongly supports" the European Community's efforts, Mr. Bush said that no one need fear "national pride." But he said: "We must guard against nationalism of a more sinister sort -- one that feeds on old, stale prejudices, teaches people intolerance and suspicion, and even racism and anti-Semitism; one that pits nation against nation, citizen against citizen."

"There can be no place for these old animosities in the new Europe," he said.

He warned Europe of the dangers of repeating in 1991 the errors of 1919 -- the beginning of the post-World War I era when "naive isolationism" gave rise to the horrors of Adolf Hitler and then the Cold War.

The address and news conference completed the president's four-day European trip. Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Bush flew to Washington and a weekend at Camp David.

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