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Yugoslavia Stalls EU Aid

November 27, 1999

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Yugoslavia’s border authorities Saturday came up with new obstacles to the delivery of badly needed heating oil sent by the European Union for two opposition-run cities, an opposition leader said Saturday.

``This is obstruction, a clear case of obstruction,″ mayor of one of the towns, Zoran Zivkovic, told The Associated Press. Zivkovic is also one of the leaders of the Democratic Party, which is in the forefront of opposition to the government of President Slobodan Milosevic.

The 14 trucks carrying 350 tons of fuel arrived at the Yugoslav border from Macedonia on Thursday. Customs officials then began lengthy administrative procedures and inspection of the cargo, before it could enter the country.

On Saturday, the procedure was effectively halted as authorities said the weight of six of the trucks exceeded 40 tons, a limit for any vehicle traveling on Serbian roads.

The shipment was to launch the EU’s Energy for Democracy project, whereby a number of opposition-controlled communities in Serbia were to receive heating oil.

Serbia, the larger of two Yugoslav republics, is cash-strapped and under strict sanctions imposed for Milosevic’s belligerent policies.

Zivkovic said reserves of heating oil in the towns of Nis and Pirate were now alarmingly low.

Police have arrested an official in charge of the main heating plant in Nis, Radoslav Zlatanovic, because he publicly warned that the fuel shortage was getting critical. They said Zlatanovic was being questioned because he was spreading ``false information.″

European Union representatives have also criticized authorities for holding up the shipment.

Zivkovic said the customs officials at the Presevo border crossing in Serbia’s far south were even refusing to allow entry to eight of the trucks that did conform to weight regulations for Serbian roads.

In Nis, as in several other major cities in Serbia, daily protests have been held against Milosevic and his government. Zivkovic suggested these protests could escalate if the badly needed oil does not reach the intended beneficiaries.

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