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YUGO DISPATCH TUESDAY

April 20, 1999

Voice of America, April 20 1999

INTRO: THE WAR OVER KOSOVO PROVINCE, IN YUGOSLAVIA’S SERBIAN REPUBLIC, THREATENED TO SPILL OVER FRONTIERS TUESDAY — WITH ALLEGATIONS THAT YUGOSLAV TROOPS HAD KILLED ETHNIC ALBANIAN REFUGEES INSIDE THE SMALL (YUGOSLAV) REPUBLIC OF MONTENEGRO AND CROSSED INTO TERRITORY CONTESTED BY CROATIA. GUY DINMORE REPORTS.

TEXT: DESPITE WARNINGS BY NATO NOT TO EXTEND THE CONFLICT, FEARS ARE GROWING THAT YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC WILL TRY TO SEIZE POWER FROM THE PRO-WESTERN GOVERNMENT IN THE SMALL REPUBLIC OF MONTENEGRO. DRAGISA BURZAN, A DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN MONTENEGRO, SAID TROOPS OF THE YUGOSLAV ARMY HAD KILLED AT LEAST SIX ETHNIC ALBANIAN REFUGEES INSIDE MONTENEGRO’S BORDERS. HE CALLED THE KILLINGS A WAR CRIME AND DEMANDED THE SOLDIERS BE HANDED OVER FOR TRIAL.

IN A SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT, YUGOSLAV ARMED FORCES BASED IN MONTENEGRO AND LOYAL TO MR. MILOSEVIC, CLOSED A BORDER CROSSING WITH CROATIA. THE FRONTIER POST, JUST EAST OF THE CROATIAN TOWN OF DUBROVNIK, HAD BEEN CONTROLLED BY MONTENEGRIN POLICE LOYAL TO THEIR WESTERN-LEANING REPUBLIC PRESIDENT, MILO DJUKANOVIC. CROATIA’S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS ALLEGED THAT UP TO 300 TROOPS OF THE YUGOSLAV ARMY HAD CROSSED INTO THE CONTESTED PREVLAKA PENINSULA. THE STRIP OF LAND IS DEMILITARIZED AND MONITORED BY A SMALL UNITED NATIONS FORCE. THE AMBASSADOR DEMANDED THEIR IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL.

MONTENEGRO’S PRESIDENT IS A FIERCE CRITIC OF MR. MILOSEVIC AND HAS ON OCCASION THREATENED TO HOLD A REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE. IF MONTENEGRO WERE TO SECEDE FROM YUGOSLAVIA THEN LAND-LOCKED SERBIA WOULD LOSE ITS ONLY OUTLET TO THE ADRIATIC SEA.

NATO’S AIR OFFENSIVE AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA, INCLUDING STRIKES INSIDE MONTENEGRO, HAS WEAKENED MR. DJUKANOVIC WHO HAS TRIED TO STAY NEUTRAL IN THE CONFLICT. MONTENEGRO IS DEEPLY DIVIDED BETWEEN CLANS AND ALONG POLITICAL LINES. AN ATTEMPT BY THE YUGOSLAV ARMY TO OVERTHROW MR. DJUKANOVIC AND HIS POLICE FORCE COULD PLUNGE THE REPUBLIC OF ABOUT 600,000 PEOPLE INTO CIVIL WAR.

IN BELGRADE TUESDAY, THOUSANDS OF SERBS GATHERED TO HEAR A LITURGY GIVEN BY THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH ALEXEI THE SECOND. HE APPEALED TO NATO TO STOP ITS AIR CAMPAIGN AND LATER APPEARED ON YUGOSLAV STATE TELEVISION WITH MR. MILOSEVIC. THE YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT EXPRESSED HIS APPRECIATION FOR RUSSIA’S SUPPORT. THE FORMER RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER, VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN, APPOINTED AS SPECIAL ENVOY BY PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN, IS EXPECTED IN BELGRADE LATER THIS WEEK CARRYING NEW PROPOSALS TO END THE CONFLICT. (SIGNED)
NEB/GD/JO
20-Apr-99 3:26 PM EDT (1926 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America


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