Serbia offensive: `Force will not bring peace'

Yugoslav Reaction
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YUGOSLAVIA - which has lost four of its pre-1990 republics to ethnic breakaways and now consists only of Serbia and the smaller Montenegro - last night saw the latter distancing itself from the policies of President Slobodan Milosevic.

Montenegro's President, Milo Djukanovic, speaking on television from the capital Podgorica, urged Mr Milosevic to reverse his policy which leads to "collective sufferings of innocents and endangers the survival of the country".

Mr Djukanovic said Nato missiles hit his country, causing casualties and damage to military targets. "These are the tragic consequences of an irrational policy of confrontation with the entire world," he insisted, referring to Mr Milosevic's rejection of the Kosovo peace plan. "This policy has led us into a dangerous adventure, the price of which is peace and the lives of Montenegrin citizens."

He said Montenegro was blameless. "Force will not bring peace, neither to Kosovo, nor to Serbia nor Yugoslavia. I appeal to all in the country and the international community to return to a peaceful agreement on Kosovo," he said.

"Our future is not in confrontation with the entire world and therefore I demand from Milosevic to halt the policy which has led to collective suffering of innocents and endangered the survival of the country."

He asked the international community to "refrain from further airstrikes in Montenegro and Yugoslavia".

Belgrade's ambassador in Moscow, Borislav Milosevic - brother of the Serb President - said the air strikes would open the way for renewed military co-operation with Russia.

The Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, has already hinted that Moscow might push for the lifting of the international arms embargo against Belgrade. The governing council of Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, is due to meet later today to fix a date for an emergency session of the chamber.