Greek FM visits Milosevic foes in Montenegro

PODGORICA, Sep 9, 2000 -- (Reuters) Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou ended his two-day visit to Yugoslavia on Friday with talks in Montenegro, Serbia's increasingly reluctant partner in the Yugoslav federation.

"I talked to the Prime Minister about all questions of the region - Yugoslavia, Serbian-Montenegrin relations, about our relations with Montenegro, and also relations between Montenegro and other countries," Papandreou told reporters in Podgorica, capital of Montenegro.

He was addressing journalists together with his host Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic, who said the meeting had been an opportunity to talk about the situation in Montenegro and Serbia ahead of this month's polls and about Montenegrin-Greek ties.

Papandreou said: "We want to convey a message - Europe wants to see this entire region in the broader European family, and this also means a European Yugoslavia."

He gave away little about his face-to-face talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on Thursday. "I talked about the elections with Mr Milosevic and others, and (about the fact) that the international community is monitoring the events very carefully," said Papandreou, who earlier paid a brief visit to the NATO-occupied province of Kosovo.

Montenegro's pro-Western leadership has decided to boycott Yugoslav presidential and parliamentary ballots on September 24, but has said it will not ban the holding of polls on its territory, to avoid clashes with parties loyal to Belgrade which will take part.

Meanwhile, Montenegro's pro-Milosevic Socialist People's Party (SNP) launched its election campaign in the coastal town of Herceg Novi, which the ruling coalition lost to the SNP in June.

The rally, originally planned for outdoors, moved into a hall, apparently due to a low turnout. Organizers said they feared rain.

Momir Bulatovic, the head of the SNP and the federal Prime Minister, told several hundred people that "our most important aim is that as many people as possible vote in the ballot".

He accused Montenegro's reformist President Milo Djukanovic of "exerting pressure so that not more than 20 percent of Montenegro's citizens take part in the vote, enabling him to argue that 80 percent of Montenegrins are for secession".

Djukanovic, at odds with Milosevic for years, has threatened to hold a referendum on secession from Yugoslavia unless Milosevic accepts his demand to restructure the federation.

Original article