US Urges Montenegro to Back Yugoslavia's International Return

Published October 29th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A US official urged the Montenegrin authorities to back Yugoslavia's swift return to international institutions after the change of power in Belgrade earlier this month, the Podgorica daily Pobjeda reported Sunday. 

US president Bill Clinton's special adviser for Balkans James O'Brien told the paper that Yugoslavia should be quickly integrated into all international institutions. 

"There should not be delay in it," he said, adding that the Montenegrin authorities should not caused any delay. 

Montenegro raised objections after Yugoslavia requested re-admission to the United Nations on Friday. 

Miodrag Vukovic of Montenegro's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the party of pro-Western President Milo Djukanovic, said the two republics should first renegotiate their own partnership, a longstanding grievance. 

But O'Brien said future relations between the two federal partners were an internal matter. 

Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac warned Sunday that Montenegro's opposition to the international community's desire to welcome Yugoslavia back into the fold could in the end be counter-productive. 

He argued that Montenegro's should avoid spoiling the image it had built up during its years of opposition to the regime of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. 

But if the Montenegrin people voted for independence, the republic should press ahead in the face on any hostility, he added. 

Montenegro's ruling party was ready to do everything necessary to integrate independent Montenegro into all international institutions, said Lukovac. 

Since Djukanovic came to power in 1998, Montenegro has been edging towards independence from Belgrade and Milosevic's regime. 

Relations between the two republics were severely strained earlier this year when Milosevic pushed through constitutional changes reducing Montenegro's influence in the federation. 

In Belgrade Friday, Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic and the DOS said they had agreed to postpone a decision on Yugoslavia's future until a key vote on December 23. 

Serbians go to the polls in eight weeks' time to elect a new government, the real seat of power in Yugoslavia. 

Reformers in Belgrade and Podgorica see the election as a golden opportunity to rout Milosevic's supporters once and for all -- PODGORICA (AFP)  



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