Reaction to constitutional changes...
"With these latest constitutional changes, Belgrade has endangered the existence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," said President Milo Đukanović in the wake of Belgrade's move to reduce Montenegro's position in the federation while allowing Yugslav President Slobodan Milošević to run for a second term in office.
"Montenegro will find an adequate mechanism to protect itself from constitutional violence and all other pressures," Đukanović was quoted by Vijesti as saying.
"Slobodan Milošević may have stronger support in some segments within Serbia, but he actually alienated Montenegro from Serbia more than ever," added Vice President Dragiša Buržan
While local authorities were particularly dismayed about the prospect of Milošević winning a second term as Yugoslav president, changes making the Yugoslav parliament's upper house directly elected - bypassing Montenegro in the process - sparked fears of a move toward a "unitary Serbia state," Podgorica media reported.
"The announced change of the federal constitution is a reason for additional political unease, because procedures for constitutional amendments have not only legal but also political elements," said Justice Minister Dragan Šoč.
"In a federation such as Yugoslavia, in order to change the Constitution, Montenegro must give its political approval. The fact that neither the Montenegrin government nor the parliament were informed about these changes show how the Belgrade regime views Montenegro."
Meanwhile, Social Democratic Party Vice President Miodrag Iličković said that the changes would spurr the republic's drive for independence forward.
"Relations between Serbia and Montenegro will certainly be radicalized," he said, adding that the republic must move quickly to seek final resolution of Montenegro's status within Yugoslavia. (See also this week's News from Serbia.)
...as army steps up pressure
Meanwhile, Vice President Dragiša Buržan said this week that the Yugoslav Army (VJ) is stepping-up pressure on Podgorica, claiming that the army is "preparing to defend Milošević's powerbase" and "wants to provoke a putsch in Montenegro."
Responding to a recent statement from the VJ General Staff condemning the Đukanović government, Burzan said it was "a threat of further destabilization of Montenegro and, if the VJ tries to impose Milošević's will, we will defend ourselves."
"We will do everything to preserve peace in Montenegro, but everything indicates that the VJ plans to provoke conflicts here," he continued.
Earlier in the week, Vijesti reported on an unsigned VJ statement claiming that the "activities of Đukanović and his ministers are dangerous because they oppose the interests of the Yugoslav Army."
"Đukanović accepted [ICTY chief prosecutor] Carla del Ponte, who refused to indict NATO assassins. Đukanović's administration works in accordance with the policies of the countries that bombed
Montenegro and killed innocent citizens," the statement continued
"Đukanović apologized to the people of Croatia and forgot how many of his countrymen they killed. His so-called Minister of Foreign Affairs participated on UN Security Council session in the moment when Yugoslav representative was forced to leave that session. That was a destructive move by the Montenegrin leadership."
People's Party Vice President Savo Đurđevac, meanwhile, said that the federal parliament's planned anti-terrorism law is a back-door to imposing martial law in Montenegro, saying it would "spread fear and repression and will suffocate human rights" with armed force.
The rhetorical flourishes came as the VJ stepped up control late this week of the handful of Montenegrin-Serbian border crossing points it had not already occupied.
Progress in Drašković case
Vuk Drašković was among prosecution witnesses to testify this week in Podgorica Higher Court against two men accused of masterminding last month's attempt on his life.
In the wake of Drašković's testimony, investigating judge Zoran Živković announced that Vladimir Jovanović, another suspect wanted in the attack, had been arrested last Friday in Serbia and handed over to Montenegrin police.
Borivoje Borović, one of Drašković's lawyers, told Radio B2-92 that he was unable to discuss testimony at the hearing because of a gag order imposed by Živkovic, but other sources quoted in Montenegrin media claimed that prosecutors were pleased with progress in the case.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Filip Vujanović has refused the resignation of Minister of Internal Affairs Vukasin Maraš, which Maraš had offered in the wake of the attempt on Drašković's life.
No more VJ checkpoints?
Vuk Bosković, a top police official, accused federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatović of trying to use the Montenegrin police force to political advantage, and added that the ministry of internal affairs would no longer allow "federal manipulation and abuse of the police force for political purposes."
Bosković said a necessary first step in reasserting control over the police force - which the internal affairs ministry has recently expanded - ill actively forbid the VJ from erecting roadblocks and checkpoints on Montenegrin territory.
Joint UN statement with Croatia
In a joint statement to the United Nations security council, Minister of Foreign Affairs Branko Perović and his Croatian counterpart, Tonino Picula, the two nations reaffirmed their commitment to "solving the Prevlaka border issue, as well as security questions in the region," Vijesti reported.
The statement came in the wake of President Đukanović's meeting with Croatian President Stipe Mesić, which culminated in an apology by Đukanović to the Croatian nation for Montenegro's role in the 1991-1995 war.
"Croatia and Montenegro support the total demilitarization of the Prevlaka border," the statement read, "resolving the border problem will contribute reconciliation between Croatia and Montenegro, as well as to the stability of the region."
Đukanović to Canada
Presidential advisor Milan Rocen met with Canadian Charge d'affairs Angela Bodgan in Podgorica this week to finalize details President Đukanović's upcoming visit to Canada, as well as issues attendant to improving bilateral cooperation between Canada and Montenegro.
Worst drought in 50 years
Montenegro is in the midst of the worst drought in 50 years, the Podgorica daily Pobjeda reported the Montenegrin Weather Bureau as saying this week.
"The temperatures recorded this past May and June have never been that high, and the situation represents a natural catastrophe," said bureau director Branko Pavičević.
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