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Thursday.

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An elderly woman walks in the Macedonian village of Umindol as a T-55 tank faces the ethnic Albanian guerrilla stronghold village of Nikushtak, north-east of the capital Skopje June 28, 2001. Neither the Macedonian government nor ethnic Albanian rebels have so far shown a desire to bring to an end the four-month-long conflict that has brought the nation of some two million to the brink of civil war. REUTERS/Peter Andrews

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KFOR soldiers watch Serbian Orthodox believers light candles during a ceremony marking the 612th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo at the Gazimestan monument for those killed in the battle, some 5kms from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo June 28, 2001. At the beginning of his rule, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic addressed Serb supporters in Gazimestan, Kosovo on June 28, 1989, at the site where 600 years earlier, the Serbs lost a battle against the Turks in 1389. Milosevic outlined, at this venue, his new policy towards the Serbian province of Kosovo, including stripping the region of its autonomy. Milosevic was handed over to the custody of the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Thursday, the Serbian government said. REUTERS/str

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Toma Fila (C) the lead lawyer of jailed former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, flashes three fingers, a Serbian Orthodox sign, surrounded by other lawyers in Belgrade June 28, 2001. Milosevic was on his way to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, a Serbian political source said. (Ivan Milutinovic/Reuters)

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Supporters of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic cry during a rally in Belgrade, June 28, 2001. Serbia's reformist authorities handed Milosevic over to the United Nations war crimes tribunal despite legal attempts by his allies to block the move. The UN tribunal indicted Milosevic in May 1999, accusing him of responsibility for the mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians in Serbia's Kosovo province. REUTERS/str

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An anti-Milosevic protester holds up a piece of paper reading "send him to Texas" at the entrance to Holland's Scheveningen prison, where war crimes suspects are held near The Hague, June 28, 2001. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was on his way to The Hague on Thursday to face war crimes charges at the international criminal tribunal after being handed over by Serbia's reformist authorities. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

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Police put barriers at the entrance of Holland's Scheveningen prison, where war crimes suspects are held, near The Hague June 28, 2001. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was on his way to The Hague on Thursday to face war crimes charges at the international criminal tribunal after being handed over by Serbia's reformist authorities. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

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Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic (R) smiles at a news conference in Belgrade after the handover of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the warcrimes tribunal June 28, 2001. Milosevic was on his way to The Hague June 28, 2001 to face war crimes charges at the international criminal tribunal, a tribunal spokesman in the Dutch city told Reuters. The UN tribunal indicted Milosevic in May 1999, accusing him of responsibility for the mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians in Serbia's Kosovo province. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

THE EMPIRE SHOWS ITS HAND.

Balkan Express

Macedonia: The cards are on the table
By Nebojsa Malic.

After a decade of moves and countermoves, wars and rumors of wars, slaughter and destruction, it seems all the cards are finally on the table this week. As Macedonia is in the process of being sacrificed to the Empires crazed attack dogs, and Serbia is being forced to sell out the elementary principles of law for less than the customary thirty pieces of silver, the forces behind both campaigns of destruction must feel a power rush of epic proportions. They no longer seem to need the smokescreen of rhetoric and platitudes to obscure their sinister scheming. As temperatures rise, so does their arrogance, approaching again the preposterous levels of Rambouillet and the beginning of NATOs aggression in the spring of 1999.

MACEDONIA AFLAME

Last Thursday, as the armed wing of the Albanian movement for destroying Macedonia perched above Skopje with big guns, the Macedonian government bent over backwards to negotiate with their political wing in the lake resort of Ohrid. It seemed that Macedonia would surrender peacefully, welcoming a NATO occupation force.

But the Albanians played too hard. They rejected an offer to make Macedonia a citizen-state, demanding equal right to nationhood, veto power and vice-presidency in perpetuity. Macedonias police minister walked out, and so did President Trajkovski. In a rare display of character, he even called the Albanian negotiators "dishonest."

Why would the Albanians want to be reasonable, though? To begin with, the entire strategy of the EU, the U.S. and NATO has been to force the Macedonians to appease every demand of the Albanian political wing (PDP and DPS) in order to sideline the militant wing (the UCK) claiming all along that the two are completely separate and mutually exclusive. If so, why had one of the parties supported the bandits when they first attacked Tetovo? Why had both parties signed a protocol with the bandits and their KLA brethren, in the NATO-occupied Kosovo city of Prizren last month? And why did both Albanian political leaders subsequently refuse to renounce that protocol? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck

Further proof of the politicos connection to the bandits came when the Macedonian army charged the bandit positions in Aracinovo, which threatened the city of Skopje, the airport and oil refineries. Albanian politicos immediately started complaining, and this time NATO joined them. Then, after two days of heavy shelling, the bandits decided to give up. They got on US army trucks, with all of their weapons, and were chauffeured by a company of American troops to a nearby village.

ENOUGH!

On that evening, the Macedonian people had had enough. Thousands rallied in Skopje, storming the Parliament, chasing away government officials, demanding Trajkovskis resignation, shooting in the air and demanding weapons. But their rage was also aimed at the foreigners who gleefully aided in Macedonias dismemberment journalists, who have recently been prone to publishing distasteful and manipulative rubbish, aimed at rationalizing Albanian demands and presenting Macedonians as aggressors without even recognizing their right to exist, calling them "Slavs" instead.

From the New York Times and the BBC to Londons Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, the western media have faithfully served the cause of the Albanian militants inviting the question, of course, who exactly might be behind the Albanians?

TOXIC ALPHABET SOUP

There is the OSCE, a Euro-American organization ostensibly charged with helping observe elections. Of course, that didnt stop the American spy William Walker from abusing the OSCE mission in Kosovo to stage the Racak massacre for the KLAs benefit. Nor did it stop Robert Frowick, a veteran of electoral manipulation in Bosnia, from arranging the above-mentioned Prizren powwow of Albanian bandits and their political counterparts. OSCE is, apparently, proud it has "played a key role" in advocating "greater constitutional equality and linguistic rights" for the Albanians.

It does not take a genius to realize that the EU always sends Javier Solana to Skopje when they need to strong-arm the Macedonians to appease the Albanians some more. Having "supported" the Macedonian government for months by urging it to compromise its basic principles indeed, its very existence the EU has finally spelled it out: unless Macedonia surrenders right ruddy now, we wont give it a dime in aid.

BARKING OFF-KEY

Should one even bother to single out Human Rights Watch, that annoying yelping dog of the United States government tasked with barking as loudly as possible at the enemy du jour? It was the HRW that gave enormous publicity to a badly written and entirely phony-sounding pamphlet, allegedly printed by an organization called "Macedonia paramilitary 2000."

Ought one even bother to note that in the Balkans, no militia calls itself "paramilitary"? Even the word (paravojska in Serbian) sounds effete and derogatory. No, it is always the "Guards," the "Lions," the "Tigers," the "Volunteers," the "Lads" never, ever "paramilitary." No self-respecting US street gang would ever call itself the "hardened delinquents."

Similarly, HRW and the media parade the fact that their IQ level barely matches toast when they explain the term "Shiptar" as "derogatory name for Albanians." Shiptar, you see, is merely a transliteration of Shqiptar, an Albanian word meaning"Albanian." There is no "q" in Slavic languages Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian or any other.

FOR A FEW BARRELS MORE

Ambassador Frowicks secret treaty-making should have been a clear sign the United States is involved in Macedonia far more than its media would like the people to know. Even that might be just the tip of the iceberg. A recent BBC report revealed an entire secret war the US waged in Bosnia, causing the war to last two more years and claim 150,000 additional casualties.

Yet one might still wonder why the Emperor of the Known Universe, Lord Protector of Kosovo and Bosnia, God-Anointed Champion of Democracy, Leader of the Free World, His Imperial Presidential Majesty George II Bush would have any interest in helping the pseudo-socialist EU dismember a country that has proven a fairly faithful US client.

Part of the answer could be in the extremely vocal Albanian lobby in the United States Congress. Another part could be the current US governments fascination with oil, combined with the fact that Macedonia sits right on top of the proposed Balkans pipeline. Bulgaria and Albania control the ends of the pipeline, though, which makes them far more important US clients. Perhaps that is why the GIs are acting as UCKs van pool.

TEACHING BY EXAMPLE

One of the reasons the Macedonians are so apprehensive about fighting back is the horrific lesson Washington has given their northern, and much stronger, neighbor. Not only has Yugoslavia been bombed in order to save the Kosovo Albanian separatists many of whom are now among the bandits in Macedonia but its current government largely owes its position to millions of dollars in "aid" from Washington. And the United States is determined to get a pound of flesh for every penny of it.

Last Saturday, the Yugoslav government chose to violate the Constitution along with the fundamental principles of law, federalism and democracy. Aware that a law allowing for extradition of Yugoslav citizens would never pass in the Parliament, it issued a government decree instead. Not only was this unconstitutional, it also violated the rights of Yugoslav citizens, wrecked the code of criminal law, and destroyed the coalition with representatives of Montenegro, the other part of the Yugoslav federation.

Blackmailed by Washington and the EU, brow-beaten with a foreign debt that miraculously tripled over just a few years, sapped by relentless propaganda and itself filled with opportunistic, unprincipled scoundrels, it is a miracle the new Yugoslav government has resisted for a full eight months.

Milosevic, hated as he is both by Washington and the current regime in Belgrade, is peripheral to the entire issue. At stake was the principle of obedience to US wishes, superseding constitutions, sovereignty, borders and logic. If Milosevic is indeed delivered to Madeline Albrights pet court, it will be a small victory for the politicians who fought him, a giant victory and ultimate justification of NATOs 1999 aggression, and a colossal defeat for the people of Yugoslavia, especially the Serbs.

Given all that, President Kostunicas support of this blatantly illegal action is at the very least baffling. If he thinks temporary security can be bought by sacrificing liberty, he must have skipped reading Ben Franklin while translating Jefferson.

A DAY TO SEE

It is both appropriate and ironic that this column will be published on June 28. On that day in 1914, a young Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip shot and killed the Austro-Hungarian crown prince, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary reacted by demanding the surrender of Serbia, thus sparking the Great War later called World War One. Also on June 28, in 1989, Slobodan Milosevic gave a speech to one million people, gathered in Kosovo, warning of nationalism, separatism and the creeping foreign menace. The Western media have used this speech never quoting what was actually said to paint Milosevic as a nationalist, separatist and a menace to the Balkans.

What a million Serbs had been celebrating in Kosovo, by the way, was the 600th anniversary of a battle that marked the end of medieval Serbia, but set the foundations for preserving the Serbian culture, heritage and nationhood. On that day in 1389, a Serb army of knights, men-at-arms and peasants fought the invading Ottoman Turks. They lost, but in the process crippled the Turkish Empire and bought themselves and the rest of Europe some 60 years of time to prepare a defense. Though physically it was too late for Serbia to recover, the idea of fighting against overwhelming odds for ones liberty and faith took root in the people and enabled the Serbs to survive 400 years of Turkish slavery.

Lazar, the Serb king who chose to fight at Kosovo when he could have just as easily surrendered to the overwhelming Turkish force, became a martyr and a saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Milos Obilic, the legendary knight who killed the Turkish sultan during the battle, has been celebrated in epic poetry as the epitome of heroism. On the other hand, the seemingly "reasonable" duke Vuk Brankovic, who abandoned Lazar during the battle in order to become the ruler of Serbia after the Turkish victory, became a synonym for treachery.

On the day of that battle was the festival of St. Vitus, or Vidovdan a crossover from an ancient Slavic deity Svetovid, a patron of harvest, war, healing and prophecy. Folklore has it that all things can be seen for what they are on Vidovdan. The future becomes easier to see, as does the past. Since Lazars time, it has also been a day for hard, fateful choices.

LAZARS LOST LEGACY

How much harder can it get, than the present choices facing both the Serbs and the Macedonians? The survival of their nations is at stake, threatened by an overwhelming outside force manifested locally in Kosovo and northern Macedonia. Should they fight, like Lazar knowing that they might lose or run, like Brankovic, hoping to make the best out of slavery? To a pragmatist with no moral values, that may depend solely on whether he or she considers the Americans to be gentler masters than the Turks, a point which is actually very hard to argue.

Will Belgrade and Skopje actually surrender their dignity and freedom for the vacuous promises of "aid," knowing full well that Western generosity in loans is only matched by its generosity with bombs and that every penny will have to be paid in blood, conveniently seized from the people rather than the self-abasing, subservient government? Is there, among the Serbs and Macedonians, a leaders left with the wisdom and determination to make Lazars choice?

One can only hope.

PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI WELCOMES EXECUTIVE ORDERS BY US PRESIDENT BUSH.

MIA

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski welcomed Thursday the executive orders issued by US President George Bush, prohibiting US persons from carrying out any financial transactions with persons directly involved in the conflict in Macedonia and the region.

"This is very significant decision against the terrorists and contribution to actual implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244. I am sure that this decision of the US will be accepted by its partners in Europe" President Trajkovski stated for the A1 Television.

Trajkovski reminded that during his visit to the USA, he has asked the US President to call those who attack on Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty by their real name - terrorists.

For Trajkovski, President Bush's decision completely exposes the most dangerous terrorist propaganda, which has been trying to convince the local population that the US stands behind their dark actions, even behind their attempts to present themselves as legitimate representatives of the Macedonian Albanians who take up arms to fight for their rights, aiming to participate in the further political process.

"This step by the US, which should have direct effect on demoralizing of terrorists, gives me courage in the successful implementation of my plan for dealing with the crisis, which is adopted by the Macedonian Government and the International community, and which, I have to remind, is aimed to lasting solution," Trajkovski said.

"Finally, this is the new stage of the US approach towards resolving of the crisis. I sincerely hope that the world will identify the origin of the crisis in Macedonia," he added.

Gaffe by envoy may hit peace efforts.

Telegraph

By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor

THE West's effort to contain the crisis in Macedonia was thrown into disarray yesterday after an inflammatory gaffe by the new European troubleshooter who called on Skopje to negotiate with Albanian rebels.

François Leotard, a former French defence minister, horrified diplomats around Europe with his first utterance since being appointed the European Union's permanent envoy to Macedonia.

"They [the Macedonian government] must talk with the guerrillas, with the leaders of this Albanian-speaking part of their country, so that a consensus be found and peace can be installed," he said on the eve of his first trip to Macedonia.

His comments undermined the delicately crafted policy of the EU and Nato: rejecting negotiations with Albanian "terrorists" but pressing Macedonia to make political reforms to address the grievances of more moderate Albanian nationalists.

M Leotard risked stoking the fury of Macedonian hotheads who only two days earlier rioted and burned the EU flag, accusing the West of supporting the rebels by providing a safe passage for Albanian fighters to evacuate the village of Aracinovo.

Nato and EU officials disowned M Leotard's comments, saying he may have made a verbal slip. In London, a British official said: "It seems Leotard was not well briefed. I wish he would get out there and get to know the situation before making inflammatory comments. This was the worst possible timing."

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BADENTER: I HAVE BEEN MACEDONIA'S FRIEND SINCE ITS INDEPENDENCE.

MIA

I have come to Macedonia on an invitation of the Macedonian authorities and not as a representative of the French Government or some international organizations, such as the European Union, the OSCE and NATO, French law expert Robert Badenter said Thursday at a press conference.

"I have been Macedonia's friend since its independence," Badenter said reminding that ten years ago, as president of the Arbitrating Commission for former Yugoslavia, he estimated the Macedonian Constitution as rather democratic, significantly contributing to the country's independence.

Asked about his suggestions for amending of the Macedonian Constitution, Badenter said that the most important change would refer to strengthening of the local democracy.

"The local democracy is a general tendency in all European democracies, as it deals with everyday life of people in regard to the environment, health care, education and security, Badenter said.

According to him, the local democracy does not strengthen the minority rights versus the majority ones; it just improves the balance between the majority and minority.

He also suggests usage of the minority languages at various levels in the administration and education.

Referring to his meetings in Skopje, Badenter said certain progress had been achieved and when necessary he would come back.

In Kosovo, Albanians set to cheer arrival of euros.

AFP

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, June 28 (AFP) -

Many Albanians in Kosovo are hoping for a new form of ammunition in their long-term fight to become a self-ruled member of the European Union: euro notes and coins.

The euro is to be launched in cash form in the 12-country euro-zone at midnight on December 31. But it will also replace the German mark as a legal currency in the UN-run Serbian province of Kosovo.

There has been no survey of the two million Kosovars about their feelings towards the euro transition.

But the Albanians, who make up 95 percent of the population, express few worries about the switch, while welcoming the idea of sharing the same currency as the euro-zone countries of the European Union.

"The euro, it is already a bit of the European Union," said one student in the Kosovo regional capital Pristina, Shaban Halimi, summing up the feelings of many Albanians.

Kosovo, which is run by the UN with backing from NATO-led forces, is not a member of the euro-zone, noted Banking and Payments Authority in Kosovo president Mohamed Bouaouja.

"The Yugoslav dinar is still the legal currency but the use of the mark has been legalised since autumn of 1999," said the head of the authority, Kosovo's de facto central bank.

German marks, which are only issued by the Bundesbank, first appeared in Kosovo in the early 1990s before moving into general use in 1994 due to rampant inflation that affected the value of the dinar.

Euro coins and notes will thus arrive in Kosovo in December, he said, before they become legal currency. Euros will finally replace marks by February 28 -- the same timetable as in Germany.

Kosovo lacks some basic information about its currency base, however.

"We have conducted several studies but the money supply is unknown, notably because of the money injected by the ethnic Albanians," Bouaouja said.

Banking authorities were hoping the arrival of euros would help push Kosovars into opening bank accounts, helping to ween people off their dependance on cash.

"We do not want to transfer all the mark-denominated money supply into euros. We want to transform a system based on the use of cash and to encourage the use of non-cash forms of money (cheques and credit cards)," the official said.

The key risk during the switch to the euro in Kosovo was that people would take the chance to launder illicit money, he said. But the authorities would be showing "tighter vigilance" during the period.

The Serb minority in Kosovo, numbering 80,000 to 100,000 people, most of them opposed to the presence of international forces, make it a point of honour to continue using the Yugoslav currency.

Worried about the future of the province and the possibility of independence being claimed by Albanians, the Serbs cling to anything that can bring them closer to Belgrade.

But shopkeepers never refuse marks, and they give change in dinars.

"People are still attached to the dinar," said teacher Slobodan Ristic from Mitrovica. "But they save in marks to avoid becoming victims to the fluctuations" of the Yugoslav currency, Ristic said.

Whichever side they are on, Kosovars have made few preparations for the euro and do not seem too worried about it.

"The transition to the euro will be easy," said the Banking and Payments Authority in Kosovo chief, Bouaouja. "There is no reticence (among people) and the comparison of prices will be easy, it is about one euro for two marks."

NATO forces drove the Serbian army out of Kosovo in an 11-week aerial bombing campaign in 1999 following a Serb crackdown on the province's ethnic Albanian majority.

HAMBURGER ABENDBLAT:US ADVISORS WERE HELPING THE ALBANIAN REBELS.

Hamburger Abendblat

Among the Albanian rebels that were evacuated from Aracinovo under the protection of the US soldiers from the KFOR contingent there were 17 Americans, states the German newspaper Hamburger Abendblat in its article titled US Advisors Were Helping the Albanian Rebels.

The US peacekeepers from Kosovo had a tricky task in neighboring Macedonia. Firstly they were supposed to transfer 400 Albanian guerilla fighters together with their arms and ammunition from Aracinovo. For two weeks the NLA 113 Brigade was barricaded over there and was defending itself from fierce attacks.

The second port of their task was even trickier. Among the rebels that were withdrawing there were 17 instructors - former US officers that provided military training for the rebels. Not only that: the Macedonian security forces claim that 70% of the equipment that the guerilla fighters took with them are of US production among which most sophisticated third generation night vision devices. We cannot confirm that, murmured in a monotonous voice Spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Philip. Such diplomatic statements the US journalists take as confirmation. If this is true than the possible NATO operation for disarmament would be a complete farce - states Hamburger Abendblat.

The article reads that Brussels definitely counts on a German contingent of 600 soldiers to be engaged in Macedonia. However, the Federal Defense Ministry points out that until now there is no official request from NATO. The newspaper still claims that since two weeks ago a ship is on its way towards Thessalonica bearing German combat tanks Leopard 2 and other armored combat vehicles. According to the official version they should replace those which are currently used by the Bundeswehr in Kosovo. However, it is not clear when would these tanks return, notes Hamburger Abendblat.

Yugoslav court orders block on Milosevic handover.

Reuters

BELGRADE, June 28 (Reuters) - Yugoslavia's Constitutional Court on Thursday suspended the implementation of a government decree intended to pave the way for former president Slobodan Milosevic's transfer to the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

The court said it had accepted the recommendation of one of its judges, who had examined the case, to suspend the implementation of the decree while it decided whether the measure was in accordance with the constitution.

"I establish that the court accepted the proposal of the reporting judge," said judge Milan Vesovic.

The head of the court, Milutin Srdic, sprang a surprise at the start of the session, submitting his resignation and saying he wanted to take no part in the controversial case.

But the four remaining judges pressed on and passed a unanimous ruling to suspend the decree.

Many reformist leaders had indicated before the court hearing they intended to press on with moves to hand over Milosevic whatever its decision.

They said the court was not independent as many of its officials were Milosevic appointees.

But a question mark hangs over the position of Yugoslav President Kostunica, who had indicated the opinion of the Constitutional Court should be respected.

Kostunica, who describes himself as a moderate nationalist, is a leader of the ruling DOS reformist alliance but is also a fierce critic of the U.N. tribunal in The Hague. He has accused it of practising "selective justice" directed at Serbs.

Milosevic was indicted by the tribunal in May 1999, charged with crimes against humanity and accused of responsibility for mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

His lawyers had argued that the government decree on cooperation with the tribunal, pushed through by reformist ministers at the weekend, violated a constitutional ban on the extradition of Yugoslav citizens.

But backers of the measure said handing a suspect over to The Hague did not amount to an extradition as the tribunal is a U.N. institution, not a foreign state.

Milosevic handover thrown into confusion.

Reuters

By Gordana Kukic

BELGRADE, June 28 (Reuters) - Moves to hand over Slobodan Milosevic to the U.N. war crimes tribunal were thrown into confusion on Thursday when a top Yugoslav court ordered the process to be frozen, but politicians said they would press on.

The Yugoslav Constitutional Court ordered the suspension of a decree passed by reformist ministers at the weekend to pave the way for indictees such as the former president to be transferred to the United Nations tribunal in The Hague.

It also specifically ordered all state bodies in both Yugoslavia and Serbia, the dominant republic, not to take any further actions with the aim of handing over Milosevic.

But the reformers, who had made clear in advance they regarded the court as as an undemocratic relic of Milosevic's authoritarian rule, immediately said they intended to continue with their policy of cooperating with the tribunal.

The crisis comes a day after the United States rewarded Belgrade's efforts so far in cooperating with the tribunal by saying it would attend a major donors' conference on Friday to raise funds for Yugoslavia's ruined economy.

Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic told Belgrade's B92 radio station the court's ruling was the "expected decision of judges appointed by the former regime" and said there were "other options" for cooperating with the tribunal.

"We have an international obligation," Zivkovic told Beta news agency, adding he believed the Serbian government would meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the issue.

There was no immediate reaction from Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, whose position may now prove crucial.

The president is a member of the ruling DOS reform alliance, but also a fierce critic of the U.N. tribunal. He had indicated before the latest ruling that decisions of the Constitutional Court should be respected.

But his main counterweight in the DOS, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, has made clear he believes Milosevic could be transferred to The Hague without the decree.

JUDGE QUITS

The tribunal indicted Milosevic in May 1999, accusing him of responsibility for the mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo province. Prosecutors also plan to charge him with war crimes committed in Bosnia and Croatia.

Milosevic, who was ousted in a mass uprising last October, is currently being held in a Belgrade prison cell. He was arrested in April as part of a domestic investigation into allegations of corruption.

His lawyers argue handing him over to the tribunal would violate a constitutional ban on extraditing Yugoslav citizens.

But backers of the measure counter by saying handing a suspect over to the tribunal does not amount to an extradition as it is a U.N. institution, not a foreign state.

In a sign of the high degree of controvsery surrounding the case, the head of the Constitutional Court, Milutin Srdic, submitted his resignation just before Thursday's session.

But the four remaining judges pressed on and passed a unanimous ruling to suspend the decree.

The U.S. decision to attend Friday's donors' conference in Brussels was a boost for Yugoslav reformers, but Washington has made clear it will only deliver the money it pledges when war crimes suspects have been handed over to the tribunal.

Belgrade wants to make fresh start with 3.5 billion dollars.

AFP

BELGRADE, June 28 (AFP) -

Yugoslavia hopes to persuade international donors at a conference Friday in Brussels that it can put its economy back on the road to recovery with 3.5 billion dollars in aid in the coming years.

The conference marks a first attempt by the international community to throw a lifeline to Belgrade's new reformist leaders who inherited a devastated economy and crumbling infrastructure from former president Slobodan Milosevic.

The funds will cover the cost of 36 projects, most of which are aimed at reviving key areas of the economy: energy, transport, mining, road, railway and airport infrastructure, according to Goran Pitic, Serbian minister for external economic relations.

But the projects are also aimed at reviving social and welfare areas to help those who sufferend under Milosevic's regime and those who may endure hardship under reforms.

"It is clear that those who would be victims of privatisation of companies should be supported," a Belgrade economist said.

Without this assistance, Yugoslavia would not be able to relaunch its economy, ruined by almost a decade of wars, isolation and international sanctions brought on by Milosevic's rule.

The World Bank, one of the conference organisers, said in May that it hoped to raise about 1.2 billion dollars (1.36 billion euros) in aid to finance the projects in 2001, and a total of 4 billion dollars (4.54 billion euros) in the next three or four years.

Yugoslavia will present in Brussels a "list of 36 projects considered as priorities, worth a total of 3.5 billion dollars," said Pitic.

The aim of the government, Pitic said, is to obtain for the next twelve months "at least one billion dollars" from the conference.

In Serbia, two million people out of its population of 8 million (excluding the UN-administrated Kosovo province) live on or below the poverty line, with less than 55 dollars (60 euros) per month, a recent study by the World Food Programme showed.

The number of poor has increased tenfold over the past decade under Milosevic, according to the study.

As a result, the gross domestic product (GDP) has dropped from 24 billion dollars to nearly 12 billion dollars during the last decade.

Economists estimate that Yugoslavia needs two billion dollars per year to revive its economy, an amount that also represents the scale of foreign investment in the country in the past eight years.

Yugoslavia's foreign debt is estimated at about 12 billion dollars and Belgrade has nowadays been negotiating mechanisms to level off part of its debts with the Paris and London clubs.

The gold reserves of the country are worth less than 600 million dollars. In comparison, the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia, with the population of only 2 million, has 4 billion dollars worth in gold reserves.

Pitic has underscore the urgent need for international aid, warning that if living standards continue to plummet, the former regime could win back power.

A recent survey of Yugoslav consumers showed that more than 20 percent described themselves as "financially on the edge," while 34 percent said they were ready to endure "another year or two", which is the time period cited by reformers in Belgrade as necessary for living standards to improve.

Greek MPs rally against Milosevic extradiction.

Reuters

ATHENS, June 28 (Reuters) - A large group of Greek deputies petitioned the Yugoslav government on Thursday not to send former president Slobodan Milosevic to the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

"It is obvious the accusations and the whole procedure are legally stale and violate any sense of national sovereignty and international law," the petition said.

A total of 77 deputies sitting in the 300-member parliament, representing all parties, signed the petition which was handed over to the Yugoslav embassy in Athens.

"The extradition to the court is done under extreme pressure...from the forces which did not hesitate to bomb Yugoslavia mercilessly," it said.

Yugoslavia's Constitutional Court on Thursday blocked a decree passed by reformist ministers setting out procedures to transfer Milosevic to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Greece has traditionally had close ties with fellow Christian Orthodox Serbia and vehemently opposed NATO air raids in Kosovo in 1999.

It has since established close ties with Milosevic's successor, moderate nationalist Vojislav Kostunica, although many traditionalists remain wary of what they see as Western, mainly American, infringements on regional sovereignty.

Milosevic was indicted in 1999, charged with crimes against humanity and accused of being responsible for mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians in the Yugoslav southern province of Kosovo.

Macedonian Mission Would Get Mixed Parliamentary Support.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

By Günter Bannas

BERLIN. Should parliament vote on a German armed forces mission in Macedonia, it appears the Social Democrats, Alliance 90_The Greens and the Free Democrats would be in favor, with the Christian Democratic Únion, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the Party of Democratic Socialism all opposed.

Volker Rühe, deputy chairman for the CDU_CSU parliamentary group, said the Union parties would only support the Bundeswehr's participation in a NATO mission in Macedonia -- or any other foreign mission -- if the defense budget were increased to compensate for the mission's cost.

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , Mr. Rühe, a former defense minister under Helmut Kohl, rejected Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's criticism that such support would rob the CDU_CSU of its credibility and dependability on foreign policy issues.

He said the position had been coordinated with the CDU party leader, Angela Merkel, and the CDU_CSU parliamentary group leaders, and that there would be "no agreement of support for additional foreign Bundeswehr missions until financing for the armed forces is fundamentally improved."

On Wednesday Mr. Schröder said that if Macedonia's government called on NATO to intervene, Germany would not be "left on the sidelines."

The FDP and its parliamentary leadership said its members of parliament would be open to a government request to support such a mission. It said the different parties would not necessarily take the same positions they did when the Bundestag voted to extend the German military's KFOR mandate in Kosovo.

An FDP spokesman said the party, which opposed that extension, had done so not because it opposed the mission but because parliament was not involved in the decision-making process.

The spokesman said it was not likely that this situation would be repeated in the case of Macedonia.

The FDP said its chairman, Guido Westerwelle, and parliamentary group leader, Wolfgang Gerhardt, had agreed to support a Bundeswehr mission within the NATO alliance's framework in light of the crisis in Macedonia. But they would insist on a mandate from the UN Security Council or agreement on the mission by the two sides involved in the conflict.

Opinions differ in the German government on whether a UN mandate is required. Mr. Schröder believes none is necessary if the freely-elected Macedonian government requests such assistance from NATO.

German Foreign Minister Joseph Fischer said everything must be done to ensure a political solution maintaining Macedonia's territorial integrity. If prerequisites are there, he said, Germany will have to decide.

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