YU reservists protest over frequent call-ups

BELGRADE, Mar 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) Some 200 army reservists protested in central Serbia on Monday, complaining they were being called up too often, a Yugoslav news agency reported.

Reservists of the armoured-mechanized regiment based in the town of Kraljevo entered the town hall demanding to talk with regional officials, the independent Beta agency said.

They were particularly dissatisfied that the same people had been summoned by the army two or even three times.

The protest followed allegations by an official of the southern city of Nis that the army was sending an increasing number of call-up papers to reservists, prompting the army to file charges against him for "spreading untruths".

Yugoslav army commanders, including the chief of staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic, have repeatedly denied there is any mobilisation under way, saying they are only conducting regular training and calling up reservists on routine schedules.

Tension has been rising in an ethnic Albanian populated area of southern Serbia near the Kosovo administrative border.

The pro-Western Montenegrin government is locked in confrontation with Serbia, its larger partner in the Yugoslav federation, and there are widespread rumours that the country is facing new air strikes.

March 24 is the first anniversary of NATO's 1999 bombing campaign, launched over the repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Reservist Goran Ilic, 33, who served in Kosovo, said on Monday: "I have no intention of fighting against the rest of the world.

"There is no way they can make me go except by force. I know the state has to defend itself, but the question is how many times and against whom. Now that I have a family I have no intention of going to war," Ilic said.

Kraljevo reservists said they would continue the protest on Tuesday morning.

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