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Friday, 24 March, 2000, 22:09 GMT
Yugoslav leaders defiant on anniversary
President Milosevic
President Milosevic marked the anniverary on Thursday
The Yugoslav authorities organised rallies, concerts and wreath-laying ceremonies across the country on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the start of Nato's air attacks.

There was a torrent of accusations against Nato members from government leaders and military commanders in the Serbian media.

In a special feature, state-run Belgrade radio described the air offensive as a "disgraceful attack on sovereign Yugoslavia by the 19 most developed Western states".

This country's people passed the test of history

Belgrade radio
"At the Federal Government's meeting on the occasion of the anniversary of Nato's strikes it was concluded that this country's people had passed the test of history and that the aggressor had failed to achieve any of its goals," the radio said.

Yugoslav (FRY) Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said in an interview with Belgrade radio that international relations would never be the same after the Nato action.

"The aggression made Nato put its cards on the table: instead of equality, the criterion of hierarchy is being imposed on the world. Force is above the law, principles, and the UN Charter."

"Using its monopoly on the most influential global media, the US administration has also developed a technology of preparing the US and world public for such events: its alleged concern about human rights and lofty democratic ideals are used as the pretext for interfering in internal affairs, arbitrarily declaring world territories as zones of US vital interests, and preparing armed attacks," Mr Jovanovic stated.

Montenegro under fire

Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic told a cabinet meeting on Friday: "A year after the Nato aggression against the FRY, the world increasingly values our peoples' heroic resistance, demonstrated in defence of their freedom, equality and universal values championed by the FRY."

Mr Bulatovic's comments were carried by the state news agency Tanjug.

He used his speech to attack the pro-reform administration in Montenegro, saying Nato had inaugurated an obedient leadership there.

"In addition to a small number of political parties, the current Montenegrin leadership has joined this camp, thus doing a major disservice to the Montenegrin people in Montenegro," he said.

Army undaunted

General Vladimir Lazarevic, the commander of the formerly Kosovo-based Yugoslav Third Army, told Belgrade Radio that Nato had used up practically its entire stock of cruise missiles during the campaign without managing to break the Yugoslav defences.

"Their plan was to use 200 smart missiles, as they say, and Tomahawk cruise missiles to destroy the backbone of our defence, particularly on the territory of Kosmet (Kosovo).

"However, they eventually used 1,000 cruise missiles and nearly used up the entire stock, as we alone shot down 238 cruise missiles, but they could not break Yugoslavia's defence, our army, and particularly not the Pristina corps."

Opposition view

The leading Serbian opposition parties, in views carried by the independent Radio B92, criticised the state-organised rallies and concerts, calling them inappropriate and confusing.

The anniversary sowed confusion among the public, because it was unclear whether these were celebrations or commemorations, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said.

"This confusion is fuelled by the fact that today's celebrations in a country with lowest wages in Europe, lower than in Albania, are actually organised by the trade unions.

"The trade unions, instead of defending the rights of their members and those of the employees, appear as the main organisers of the celebrations.

"This is a sign of a deep crisis in our public life, a sign that radical changes are necessary," Mr Djindjic told Radio B92.

Both Nato and the regime have lowered themselves to the level of Albanian terrorists

Movement for Democratic Serbia
The Movement for Democratic Serbia accused the authorities in Serbia of "exposing the country and people to the cutting edge of Nato's sword in order to remain in power.

"One was prepared to sacrifice its country and its people, while the other was prepared to destroy and kill until his conditions were accepted," a statement issued by the party said.

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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See also:

24 Mar 00 | Europe
EU creates Balkan task force
16 Mar 00 | Europe
Kosovo one year on
16 Mar 00 | Europe
Nato's incomplete victory
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Milosevic still standing strong
22 Mar 00 | Europe
Bleak outlook for Serb refugees
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