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Saturday, May 15, 1999 Published at 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK

World: Europe

Montenegrin president condemns Milosevic

Montenegro's police force remain loyal to Djukanovic's government

The Montenegrin president has condemned Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic for leading his country into "permanent conflict".

Kosovo: Special Report
President Milo Djukanovic was speaking in France during a tour of Europe in which he is aiming to win support for his efforts to develop a democratic alternative to President Milosevic.

Speaking after a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, Mr Djukanovic said President Milosevic's policies "seek to create conflict and have delivered the peoples of the Federation (of Yugoslavia) into agonies worse than anything we could have imagined at the end of the 20th century".

Mr Chirac's aides said the Montenegrin leader was assured that France would ask Nato commanders to limit damage to his republic, where federal Yugoslav units have been hit by Western aircraft.

Calls for impeachment

Montenegro, which is Serbia's junior partner in the Yugoslav Federation, has refused to recognise the state of war declared against Nato and is sheltering democracy activists from Serbia.

[ image: President Chirac (left) said he would seek to limit Nato attacks on targets in Montenegro]
President Chirac (left) said he would seek to limit Nato attacks on targets in Montenegro
On Thursday, the main Montenegrin opposition party, the Socialist People's Party (SNP), called for Mr Djukanovic's impeachment, accusing him of treachery for visiting Western European leaders.

The president's officials in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, said that is nonsense because Mr Milosevic himself asked for a meeting with President Clinton; the only difference was that Mr Clinton didn't agree to see him.

Coup fears

Tension has been high in Montenegro since the start of Nato's air campaign against Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia's second army corps and its entire navy are based in Montenegro and as a result, Nato has attacked many targets in Montenegro.

President Djukanovic has denounced Nato's bombing campaign but says the policies of the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic are to blame for the conflict.

Montenegrin police, who remain loyal to the government, have stepped up protection for the leadership amid fears of a possible military coup.

Shopping list

President Djukanovic visited Germany and Austria before arriving in Paris. He is also expected to attend the European Union foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels next week.

The BBC's Humphrey Hawksley in Podgorica says he is hoping to win support to build a base in Montenegro, which would be used to push democratic reform throughout Yugoslavia after the Kosovo crisis.

One of the key requests on his shopping list is a powerful transmitter which could broadcast into Serbia.

Democracy activists have been arriving in Montenegro almost on a daily basis, fleeing death threats and repression in Belgrade.

One student leader said that 90% of the key political activists had now escaped Serbia and that he felt much more secure in Montenegro despite a heavy presence of Yugoslav troops.

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