Serbia warns Croatia not to assist new western plot

BELGRADE, Jul 9, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbia accused the West on Saturday of preparing a media plot against Yugoslavia and warned neighboring Croatia not to get involved in the campaign.

"The Western forces headed by the United States are preparing new media offensives on Serbia. They are using neighboring banana-republics, especially Croatia, as the most prominent exponent of their policies," Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a news conference.

"The Serbian government is warning Croatia not to play with these things...our response will be adequate if they dare to violate international regulations," he said.

Vucic said Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula had pledged Croatia's support to democratic forces in Yugoslavia.

"Our country will keep resisting all media pressures. If it becomes necessary, we will be ready to put ultimate financial resources for defending our country from the media aggression that Americans are intending to carry out from Montenegro and other neighboring countries," he said.

Vucic is a senior official of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party, a useful ally to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in his struggle with political opponents.

Together with Milosevic's socialists and his wife's neo-communists, they have passed a restrictive information law that gives the authorities wide powers to crack down on independent and opposition media.

Since the adoption of the law in October 1998, many print and electronic media have ceased to exist. Some plan to resume broadcasts from territories of neighboring countries in an attempt to reach as wide an audience as possible ahead of the forthcoming elections.

The ballot for the Yugoslav parliament is seen as crucial for the future of Milosevic, indicted by the Hague tribunal for alleged crimes in Kosovo.

Since the indictment, analysts have said that staying in power was a question of life or death for the Serbian strongman.

Original article