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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Montenegro reservists on standby for Yugoslav intervention

Despite having no standing army, Montenegro has the firepower to resist any attempt by the Yugoslav military to overthrow the pro-western leadership in the tiny republic, sources close to the Montenegrin government say. Speculation on such an intervention by Belgrade to oust reformist president Milo Djukanovic has been rife for some time. But fears of another round of blood-letting in the former Yugoslavia have risen sharply since August 5 when Montenegro proposed to transform Yugoslavia, which now consists of Serbia and Montenegro, into a community of independent states, with equal rights for both members. According to a source close to the Montenegrin government, "Milosevic's latest plan for the destabilisation of Montenegro and overthrowing Djukanovic and his leadership by force, demands full combat readiness." Montenegro has no army, "but in case of an intervention by Belgrade, Djukanovic can quickly call up 15,000 well-equipped and well-trained policemen, capable of resisting the Yugoslav army," a Montenegrin official who requested anonymity, told AFP. These units, apparently a paramilitary police force, have "the most modern equipment and arms," he said. Combat vehicles equipped with 20-mm anti-aircraft guns could be seen in the Zlatica camp, in the suburbs of the Montenegrin capital, where the police have installed its headquarters. There is another police training center near the Montenegrin coastal town of Budva. Since the start of the school year on September 1, not a single Montenegrin policeman was accepted for training in Serbia, with Belgrade refusing to enroll 230 Montenegrin students, well-informed sources said. Although the unemployment rate is high in Montenegro, the police units have been accepting new forces and the policemen are better paid then school professors or doctors. And 110 Yugoslav army officers serving in Montenegro have requested to be transferred to the republic's Interior Ministry, the source said.

Source: B92

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