YU army to upgrade equipment

BELGRADE, Apr 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Yugoslav army will modernize its forces, including surveillance and jamming equipment, the pro-government daily Politika on Sunday quoted the army chief of staff as saying.

"We will have special units, modern anti-aircraft defense systems and modern systems for electronic surveillance and good as those of the armies of neighboring countries," Lieutenant-General Nebojsa Pavkovic said.

But he added that the upgrading of the Yugoslav Army would depend on the financial capabilities of Yugoslavia, whose already sluggish economy was devastated by last year's NATO air strikes over the government's policy in Kosovo.

The report did not specify what type of equipment the army would receive or where it would come from. Pavkovic said the army was not afraid of political attacks either from within Serbia, or from Montenegro, its smaller and increasingly reluctant partner in the Yugoslav Federation.

And he reiterated that allegations by Montenegro's pro-Western leaders that the army was creating paramilitary units in Montenegro within the military police's Seventh Battalion were malicious and wrong. He did, however, say the battalion had been revamped.

"The Seventh Battalion is a regular unit of the military police and it was there before. It has only been upgraded with new professional soldiers, most of them from Montenegro," he said.

On the other hand, he said, Montenegrin police units had increased five-fold, reaching some 20,000. "We have information that the Montenegrin police grew from initial 3,000-4,000 men, not to 15,000 but to 20,000 or more, so the question arises why the republic police needs such strong organization and for what reasons," he said.

Montenegro, which has a population of around 600,000, has been growing further apart from the federation since it elected Milo Djukanovic, a fierce opponent of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, as its president in 1997.

Original article