Croatian president rules out ties with 'fascist' Belgrade

ROME, Jul 3, 2000 -- (AFP) Croatian President Stipe Mesic ruled out on Monday any cooperation with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his government which he referred to as a fascist regime."

"Relations with Montenegro and Kosovo improve by the day but they are deadlocked with Serbia," Mesic said in an interview with the newspaper La Stampa.

Mesic is to begin a two-day official visit to Italy, Croatia's second most important trading partner after Germany, on Tuesday.

He said Belgrade "must understand that Serbs who live outside their country are a link allowing cooperation with neighboring countries and not a pretext to conquer other territories."

"Milosevic's regime is strictly speaking a fascist regime and we have no intention of working with it," he added.

Mesic also praised Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic for his apology last month to Croatia after Montenegrins took part in a former Yugoslav army clampdown during the 1991 Serb-Croat separatist conflict.

Djukanovic's apology last month was "a first step," he said.

Montenegro and Serbia make up the rump Yugoslav federation, now ruled by Milosevic with an iron hand.

Since Djukanovic took office in 1998, tensions have risen between the two partners, with Montenegro accusing Milosevic, indicted by a UN court for war crimes, of being responsible for the international isolation of the country and for a repressive internal policy.

Original article