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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 19:34 GMT
Romania admits UN sanctions breach
Serbian special police unit in the town of Pale
Serbian forces in Bosnia were supported by Romania
Romania broke United Nations sanctions by secretly supplying huge supplies of fuel and arms to President Milosevic during the Bosnian war, President Emil Constantinescu said on Friday.

"Tens of thousands of tonnes of fuel were transported to Yugoslavia, as well as train carriages full of arms," Mr Constantinescu said in an address to the Romanian people.

Until now Romania has always denied accusations that it helped its traditional allies in Belgrade circumvent sanctions.

Correspondents say the new revelation may be an attempt to influence the campaign for the Romanian general election later this month.

'Grave acts'

Presidential candidate, Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu - accused but confident
"The revelations of the past year show that grave acts of smuggling in 1994-1995 were known and co-ordinated by the highest authorities in the land," Mr Constantinescu said.

The president at the time was Ion Iliescu, who will regain the presidency with ease in general elections on 26 November, if opinion polls are to be believed.

Under Mr Iliescu, the police, the Ministry of Transport, the Agriculture Ministry and the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) worked together to breach the UN sanctions, according to Mr Constantinescu.

Economic stagnation

He said the accounts of the SRI contained entries "relating to the breach of the embargo against Yugoslavia and of Romania's international obligations - registered as services undertaken by the smuggling companies".

Romania key facts
22m population
40% below poverty line
Average weekly wage $25 - lowest in Europe
(Source: Reuters)

Whether this will have any effect on Mr Iliescu's poll lead is not clear.

The BBC's European analyst, Jan Repa, says Mr Constantinescu's governing centrist coalition has failed to reverse Romania's economic decline or curtail endemic corruption since coming to power in 1996.

Mr Iliescu, whose seven-year presidency was marked by stagnation and a failure to break completely with Romania's communist past, is hoping to capitalise on widespread popular discontent.

Romania began entry negotiations with the European Union earlier this year - but is widely seen as the least prepared of the 12 candidates.

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See also:

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