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Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK

Belgrade private TV stations rally round

Five private television stations in the Serbian capital Belgrade have rallied round to help the beleaguered state broadcaster, Radio-TV Serbia (RTS).

On Monday, RTS reported the private channels - Politika, Pink, Studio B, BK TV and TV Palma - had agreed "to make available their stations and equipment in the interests of a joint media struggle, defence of the freedom, homeland and the people" .

[ image: State TV news goes out on private channels after bombing]
State TV news goes out on private channels after bombing
The agreement, under which the stations would relay RTS news bulletins, was reached after a meeting between the private TV stations and Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic. RTS said it was in response to the destruction of the RTS building last Friday.

"I invited you here, and I think that we will reach an agreement because of the significance that a state television service such as Serbian TV has at times like these," Vucic told the private stations, in comments broadcast on RTS.

"My proposal is that all the television stations should rebroadcast the `Dnevnik' news programmes of Serbian TV," he added.

To this end, all five channels were observed relaying the RTS main evening news programme, "Dnevnik", on Monday evening.

The stations then resumed their regular programming.

Statehood day coverage

But the ever-changing Belgrade media situation received little coverage on Tuesday from Serbia's state broadcasters and the official Tanjug news agency. Instead, the media outlets carried extensive coverage of the country's Statehood Day.

Kosovo: Special Report
Tanjug carried a message of congratulations on the national day from the Yugoslav army's chief of General Staff, Gen Dragoljub Ojdanic.

"The times in which we are marking this date of historic importance are very difficult. Faced with the unexpected resistance of a united people and army, the aggressor has opted for the massive destruction of everything popular. "It includes among its military targets hospitals, schools, airports, roads, bridges, monuments of national culture, and other structures," Ojdanic said.

"We express our resolve to persevere in this imposed war until the final victory. We expect that reason will prevail in the international community and that force will give way to a peaceful search for a solution, which our country has been urging since the onset of the crisis."

Greetings from one ally...

Messages of congratulation also arrived from outside Yugoslavia, including a declaration of fraternal goodwill from the subject of UN wrath, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

[ image: Saddam:
Saddam: "Solidarity in the face of agression"
"It gives us great pleasure to express to you - on behalf of Iraq and myself - our sincerest congratulations, wishing you continued health and happiness," the Iraqi leader's message was quoted as saying.

"We affirm our solidarity with the people and leadership of Yugoslavia in the face of aggression and the external dangers threatening it," he added.

Yugoslavia's official media continued to report Nato attacks on targets throughout Yugoslavia, including on the Belgrade headquarters of President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, where a transmission antenna on top of the building was destroyed in an overnight missile attack.

...and another

Tanjug also reported news about the quest for peace from an unexpected source.

[ image: Libyan engagement welcomed by Belgrade]
Libyan engagement welcomed by Belgrade
It said Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Lilic met for three hours in Tripoli on Sunday night.

"They conducted a thorough exchange of opinions on the situation in Yugoslavia caused by the brutal aggression of the Nato pact," Tanjug said.

Col Gaddafi "reiterated Libya's readiness to continue showing solidarity with Yugoslavia, and search for a peaceful solution to the problems burdening the southern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija."

"The Yugoslav side stressed that the country regarded highly the reputation, influence, and activity of Gaddafi at the international level and will hail and strongly support the engagement of the Great Socialist National Libyan Arabic Jamahiriyah [Libya] in seeking ways to reach a peaceful solution in Kosovo and Metohija," the agency added.

BBC Monitoring 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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