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The BBC's south-east Europe analyst Gabriel Partos
"Mr Kostunica has moved quickly to improve relations with Montenegro"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 16:18 GMT
New bid to prevent Yugoslav break
montenegro
Front line: Montenegro's special forces
The new Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, is making fresh attempts to resolve the concerns of Montenegro, which has threatened to declare independence.

Mr Kostunica has moved quickly to improve relations with the junior partner in the Yugoslav Federation since he came to power in a popular uprising against his predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic.

milo
Milo Djukanovic: Injured in car crash
The Yugoslav president called a rare meeting of Yugoslavia's top defence body to discuss Montenegro's demands for a greater say over the Yugoslav army and navy.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic is expected to attend the meeting of the Defence Council, which correspondents say could led to a shake up of the military top brass.

Montenegro's demands

He wants the dismissal of the Yugoslav army's chief-of-staff, General Nebojsa Pavkovic, and the commanders of the Second Army, which is based in Montenegro.

All were loyal supporters of Mr Milosevic when he was in power.


Montenegro's government also wants the dismantling of the Seventh Battalion - a military unit closely linked with previously pro-Milosevic forces in Montenegro.

Montenegro, which stayed neutral during the Kosovo conflict, had accused the military under Mr Milosevic of planning a coup.

In the longer term, President Djukanovic is aiming for a much more comprehensive reform of the military, which would give Podgorica control over the Yugoslav navy as well as army units based in Montenegro.

Boycott

But the defence council - chaired by Mr Kostunica and comprising the presidents of Montenegro and Serbia as well as armed forces chiefs - also provides a fresh channel of communication between Serbia and Montenegro.

That is because the Montegrin Government continues to boycott the Yugoslav Government and parliament, which it believes were elected in an unlawful way after Mr Milosevic forced through constitutional amendments.

Within days of taking over as president on 7 October, Mr Kostunica called a meeting of the defence council.

But that had to be postponed when Mr Djukanovic was injured in a car accident. Three weeks later, the meeting is finally going ahead.

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See also:

01 Nov 00 | Europe
UN embraces Yugoslavia
16 Oct 00 | Europe
Deal breaks Serbia deadlock
17 Oct 00 | Europe
Kostunica in Montenegro stalemate
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