New Yugoslav prime minister appointed

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has
appointed former finance minister Dragisa Pesic as prime
minister and asked him to form a new federal government. The
previous government resigned at the end of June in protest
against Slobodan Milosevic’s extradition to the UN war crimes
tribunal in The Hague.

The future of the fragile Yugoslav federation depends on
the new government. Mr Pesic, a member of Montenegro’s
socialist party, is tasked with preserving what is left of
the former six-nation Yugoslav federation that
disintegrated in a decade of inter-ethnic wars.

Mr Pesic pledged to improve relations
between Serbia and Montenegro, and to speed up Yugoslavia’s
return to international organizations. His party is the
biggest in Montenegro and it wants to keep Yugoslavia
together. Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who
wants to break away and has been boycotting federal
institutions, criticised Mr Pesic’s appointment.

Mr Kostunica announced that the new
government would propose a constitutional platform by the
end of August with the aim of redefining relations between
Serbia and Montenegro. Both republics will have five
ministers each in the new government in response to
concerns of the smaller Montenegro who wanted to ensure
that it cannot be overruled.

Under the Yugoslav constitution,
Montenegro gets the post of prime minister because the
president is Serbian. Montenegrins will get the ministries
of defence, economics, transport, communications and
justice.

 

The federation of Serbia and Montenegro, including the
Serbian regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina, has been under
severe strain after the extradition of its former president
Milosevic to the UN tribunal for war crimes in The Hague.
Montenegro's independence would immediately pose a problem
in Kosovo, a Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian
majority, which is effectively a NATO protectorate but
aspires to become an Albanian nation state.

 

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