Three decades ago, on May 30, 1992, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the Resolution No. 757. The alleged interference of FR Yugoslavia in the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which began in April 7, 1992, was cited as the rationale for the sanctions.

FR Yugoslavia was formally established on April 27 of that year. Officially, the rationale for the sanctions was the estimation that the Resolution No 752, calling for the withdrawal of the Yugoslav National Army from the area of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had not been respected. The official Belgrade then claimed that no soldiers from FR Yugoslavia were on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina as of May 19, 1992.

The immediate cause was the massacre of civilians in the bread line on the Vaso Miskin Street, in the center of Sarajevo, which took place on May 27 and Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina were accused of it.

However, on August 22, 1992, the London daily Independent published a confidential UN report showing that the massacre was perpetrated by the Muslim government in Sarajevo, with the aim to incite a reaction of the West against the Serbs.

The UNSC Resolution No. 757 determined that all UN members were obligated to ban the import into their territory of all products and raw materials from FR Yugoslavia, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro. In addition to export, transit of goods from FR Yugoslavia was also banned, as well as the transfer of funds into FR Yugoslavia. The use of ships and aircraft on the territory of FR Yugoslavia was also banned, except for the delivery of medical supplies or food, which was approved by the UN Sanctions Committee.

The Resolution also called for reducing staff in diplomatic missions and consular offices, banning athletes from FR Yugoslavia from participating in sports competitions, as well as suspending scientific, technological and cultural collaboration with individuals or groups from FR Yugoslavia.

Military measures followed. As soon as June 1, 1992, the European Union requested to consider the possibility of using military means to control the sanctions imposed on FR Yugoslavia.

At the meeting in Helsinki on July 10, 1992, nine members of the NATO and the EU, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, decided to send naval forces to the Adriatic to oversee the implementation of the sanctions.

Italy was entrusted with coordination and command, the operational headquarters were in Santa Rosa, not far from Rome. The blockade began on July 15. The NATO naval vessels had the right to oversee movement, but not stop and search.

With the UNSC Resolution No. 777 dated September 19, 1992, FR Yugoslavia was suspended from the UN. The resolution states that the country formerly known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia no longer existed, citing the Resolution No. 757 which said that the continuity between FR Yugoslavia and SFR Yugoslavia was not accepted.

With the UNSC Resolution No. 787 dated November 16, 1992, the sanctions were tightened and expanded due to the alleged breach of the UN ban on weapons deliveries. FR Yugoslavia was totally isolated. Transport of crude oil, petroleum products, coal, energy-related equipment, iron, steel and other metals, chemicals, tires, pneumatic tires, vehicles, airplanes, engines of all types across the territory of FR Yugoslavia was banned.

Surveillance measures on the Danube were especially tightened. Starting on November 22, 1992, the blockade of southern Adriatic was enforced by 25 naval vessels belonging to NATO and EU members. Per the UNSC Resolution 787, they intercepted, stopped and searched vessels.

With the UNSC Resolution No. 820 dated April 18, 1992, the decision was made to tighten the sanctions against FR Yugoslavia unless the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina accepted the Vance-Owen Plan by April 26. The tightened sanctions included freezing FR Yugoslavia funds abroad and a ban on the transport of all types of goods and products across FR Yugoslavia’s land borders.

On the meeting in Brussels on April 28, 1993, ambassadors of 16 NATO countries decided that their ships would sail into the territorial waters of FR Yugoslavia and may open fire with inert ammunition on vessels in breach of the ban towards FR Yugoslavia. The naval blockade of the Adriatic, titled Sharp Guard, began on November 22, 1993. The officially stated aim was still to stop the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

FR Yugoslavia’s government severed political and economic relations, except humanitarian, with the Republic of Srpska on August 4, 1994, after the Pale leadership declined to accept the Contact Group’s plan.

Subsequently, certain sanctions against FR Yugoslavia were eased for 100 days starting from October 5, per UNSC Resolution No. 943 which called on FR Yugoslavia’s authorities to maintain the effectively closed border with the Republic of Srpska. The Belgrade Airport was opened for 100 days to passenger traffic and the delivery of goods approved by the UN Sanctions Committee. The reinstatement of the Bar-Bari passenger ferry was also permitted.

The Resolution also permitted athletic, cultural and scientific-technological collaboration until January 15, 1995. In the UNSC Resolution No. 970 dated January 11, 1995, the partial suspension of the sanctions was extended to April 23, 1995, but then the UNSC Resolution No. 988 dated April 21, 1995 reduced the suspension of sanctions to 75 days, after illegal helicopter flights were spotted. The partial suspension of the sanctions was again extended in UNSC Resolution No. 1003 dated July 6, 1995, and the Resolution No. 1015 dated September 15, 1995.

On November 19 and 20, 1992, five Yugoslavian transatlantic ships were stopped in the United States, and around 40 aircraft from the Jat Airways flotilla were grounded on foreign airports. A third of all railway transport capacities in the country were stopped, as well as river vessels sailing on the Danube. The ownership of Yugoslavian companies in the United States was also frozen.

The official FR Yugoslavia statistic reached the conclusion that the industrial output in the country dropped 32.3% in the June-December 1992 period, compared to the same period in 1991. Export dropped 63.6%, and import dropped 56.2% compared to the same period in 1991. Many factories were shut down and around 600,000 workers had been furloughed by the end of 1992. The official unemployment rate at the time had been 24.6%.

In February 1993, FR Yugoslavia reported a 212% inflation compared to the previous month of January.

Industrial output in January 1993 dropped 39.1% compared to January 1992, and the drop in February was 41.1% compared to the same month in 1992. 639,700 refugees from war-torn areas of the former Yugoslavia were in FR Yugoslavia at the time.

In January 1994, a record monthly inflation of 313% compared to December 1993 was recorded.

Per official estimates, after two years of sanctions, on May 30, 1994, FR Yugoslavia’s economy had suffered 30 to 40 million US dollars in direct damage, and up to 100 million dollars in indirect damage.

The gross domestic product per capita dropped from 3,000 dollars in 1990 to 700 dollar in 1994. Over half a million families, or 1.5 million individuals, sought aid from the Red Cross.

The first international initiatives to lift sanctions against FR Yugoslavia were started by China, the Danube Commission countries, that is, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia, as well as Greece and Moldova.

When the peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina was signed on November 21, 1995 in Dayton, the UN Security Council reached an agreement that same evening on lifting the sanctions against FR Yugoslavia, which by then had been in place for a total of 1,253 days.

In fact, per the letter of the then-adopted Resolution No. 1022, the sanctions against FR Yugoslavia would be definitively lifted after the expiration of a 10-day period following the first free election in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the UNSC Resolution No, 1074 dated October 1, 1996, the sanctions against FR Yugoslavia were formally lifted.

On the third anniversary of imposing the sanctions, May 20, 1995, the Deputy Prime Minister of FR Yugoslavia Jovan Zebić stated that FR Yugoslavia had sustained 147 billion dollars in damage between 1991 and 1995, mostly caused by the sanctions.