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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 19:30 GMT 20:30 UK

World: Europe

Montenegro debate hots up

Thousands turned out for Thursday's march

The war of words between the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro and the federal authorities in Belgrade has intensified.

Kosovo: Special Report
The Montenegrin prime minister, Filip Vujanovic, has denounced a call on Thursday by the Yugoslav Federal Prime Minister, Momir Bulatovic, for the Montenegrin police to be put under the control of the Yugoslav army or face extinction.

Mr Vujanovic said this was a direct call for a confrontation between the police and the army.

The Montenegrin information ministry said the Yugoslav Government had also banned distribution of foreign humanitarian aid to Montenegro via the port of Bar unless the recipients were first approved by federal authorities.

Tension between the pro-Western Montenegrin Government and Belgrade has risen sharply since the start of the Nato air campaign against Yugoslavia.

On Thursday evening, Mr Bulatovic - a Montenegrin loyal to President Milosevic - led several thousand Montenegrins in an anti-Nato protest.

Demonstrators: "We won't give up Kosovo"
Groups of young Serbs chanted "we won't give up Kosovo".

The Montenegrin Government had given permission for the rally, which ended after about an hour, with no violent incidents reported.

Mr Bulatovic derided Montenegro's pro-Western President, Milo Djukanovic, as a "pawn" of the West.

Mr Djukanovic has distanced himself from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and has tried to preserve Montenegro's neutrality in the conflict with Nato.

Montenegro is the junior partner alongside Serbia in the Yugoslav federation.

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