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Friday, February 19, 1999 Published at 23:48 GMT


Serbian media talks tough



The Serbian media - radio, TV and news agencies - are carrying statements declaring that Serbia will not allow the deployment of Nato troops to Kosovo and warning against airstrikes.

Kosovo Section
Charging that the West is merely serving its own strategic interests in the Balkans, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj declared on Belgrade radio that "US policy resembles that of Adolf Hitler" and that his party "will never accept, in any scenario whatsoever, any kind of foreign troops".

Belgrade radio reported on Friday that Serbian President Milan Milutinovic "urgently" asked the Contact Group for "protection against renewed pressure" to accept "foreign armed forces to oversee implementation of the agreement."

The demands for troop deployment and the "threats of military aggression against our country are flagrant violations of the UN charter", Mr Milutinovic charged.

US "insult" to Serbia

Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said he was surprised that US envoy Christopher Hill had travelled to Belgrade, describing the visit as an "insult" to President Milutinovic, who was in France for the Rambouillet talks.

"It was incorrect and insulting for President Milutinovic and our delegation to be left waiting for Hill in Rambouillet while he is visiting Belgrade without advance notice, because the Serbian president and the delegation were present in Rambouillet to hold precisely this type of talks," Serbian TV quoted Mr Jovanovic as saying.


[ image: Yugoslav troops
Yugoslav troops "are ready to defend their homeland"
The Serbian media have highlighted statements by other political allies of President Slobodan Milosevic, rejecting threats of Nato intervention.

Belgrade radio broadcast a statement by the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia spokesman saying that "foreign troops can come to a sovereign and independent state only at its invitation".

"Since all leading political parties and most Serbs do not want to allow any kind of deployment of foreign troops on our territory, such deployment would clearly be aggression and we will act accordingly," he warned.

Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic released a statement, carried by Belgrade radio, saying that the "pressure and threats of military intervention and the imposition of any foreign troops" for the implementation of any future agreement "cannot resolve existing problems but can only be perceived as support for separatist and terrorist activities".

The spokesman of the Yugoslav Left - which is close to government circles - focused on possible Nato strikes, saying on Belgrade radio that they would "mark the end of civilisation ." "Launching bombs and missiles against a peaceful state and people is a war crime, a crime against humanity," he charged, adding "we will defend ourselves".

Army ready

The Yugoslav air force and anti-aircraft defence force's commander said his men were ready to defend their homeland, Tanjug news agency reported.

Col-Gen Spasoje Smiljanic said his forces were "willing to demonstrate their readiness and determination in the defence of their fatherland, particularly Kosovo".

Serbian TV carried a report from a Yugoslav Army barracks in Prizren, Kosovo, where troops were undergoing training in what the TV described as the most sensitive area of the country.

The TV said: "What makes them so different from most of their uniformed peers from other cities is the fact that they operate as a bulwark of the fatherland's defence at a time full of challenges.

For that reason, particular attention is being paid in the Prizren barracks to the soldiers' training in winter conditions in the field to enable them to acquire some new experiences in conditions similar to those of war."

Independent media question rhetoric

The independent Serbian news agency, Beta, argued that Belgrade knows that it cannot prevent the arrival of foreign troops, saying its "fierce statements" opposing the move were merely a negotiating ploy and propaganda for the domestic public.

"Milosevic prefers to let Deputy Prime Minister Draskovic explain to the nation that Nato's arrival is the only solution," Beta said.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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