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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yugoslavia Celebrates First Letup in UN Sanctions

BELGRADE -- Yugoslavia celebrated Wednesday as UN sanctions, imposed on the country 28 months ago for triggering the war in Bosnia, were eased.

"The blockade has fallen," proclaimed Belgrade's Vecernje Novosti newspaper in bold, black letters across its front page.

The Politika daily declared the decision to allow sports and cultural contacts, and reopen Belgrade's airport to international flights "the beginning of the end of the blockade against our country."

A tough trade embargo remains.

In the first official reaction, a Foreign Ministry official, Branko Brankovic, called easing of the sanctions "a modest but important first step in lifting all sanctions," and called on the world body to remove the embargo completely.

Russia's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Deputy Foreign Minister Vitaly Churkin, flew into the city's newly opened airport Wednesday on the first Russian Aeroflot flight to the Serbian capital in two years, to help celebrate the easing of sanctions.

"This is a very important event ... It's a break in the political blockade of Belgrade," Churkin said, but he added: "It's only the start of a hard road."

Throughout Belgrade, the sense of relief was evident.

"After 28 months, Yugoslavia is coming out of its long-lasting international isolation," the official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug proclaimed Tuesday.

The sanctions were lifted at midnight in Belgrade for a 100-day trial period after a report to the UN Security Council said there was no evidence that Serbia was sending anything but humanitarian aid to Bosnia.