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News 22 Dec 17

Serbia To 'Take Account' of Sanctions on Tesic

Serbian trade ministry tells BIRN that while it has not been officially informed of the US decision to blacklist Slobodan Tesic, it will take all such relevant sanctions into account.

Maja Zivanovic

Serbian Governement. Photo: Wikimedia

After the US on Thursday placed arms dealer Slobodan Tesic on a global blacklist among a host of figures named as human rights abusers and corrupt actors, and after calling him "one of the biggest arms dealers in the Balkans", Serbia's Ministry of Trade said it will take such sanctions into account.

“When granting arms marketing permits, Serbia respects any possible prohibitions or sanctions imposed on potential exporters or importers by the United Nations, the OSCE, and the European Union, as well as possible sanctions by Russia and the United States, as the most important members of the UN Security Council,” the ministry, which grants permissions for arms exports, told BIRN.

Tesic, described as “the biggest dealers of arms and munitions in the Balkans”, was among 39 individuals and entities on whom the US imposed sanctions on Thursday.

The US Treasury Department said that in order to secure arms contracts with various countries, “Tesic would directly or indirectly provide bribes and financial assistance to officials”.

It added that Tesic also took potential clients on “high-value vacations, paid for their children’s education at western schools or universities, and used large bribes to secure contracts”.

Serbia's Trade Ministry said that it has not yet been officially notified about the US decision “but if and when this happens, we will certainly keep in mind it in the course of further action”.

BIRN previously reported about Tesic’s businesses and connections to controversial supplies of weapons to Libya.

Tesic was placed on a UN black list for more than a decade because of sanctions-busting in Liberia.

The Serbian Trade Ministry noted that the process of granting arms export licenses includes other agencies, such as the Interior Ministry, the Security Agency and the Defence and Foreign Ministries – and that the Trade Ministry only approves the license after it get approval of all of them.

“Serbia is third in the world in terms of transparency in the export of small arms and light weapons, according to the regular annual publication 'Trade Update 2017, Transfers and Transparency’, which deals with monitoring in the field of transport of weapons and military equipment,” the Trade Ministry underlined.

Tesic was not available for comment on Friday. BIRN sent questions on the matter to the Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry, but received no answer by the time of publication.

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