<Picture> Sunday, March 28, 1999
Montenegro keeps ties to West
The Associated Press
PODGORICA, Yugoslavia - The Yugoslav republic Montenegro defied its federal government and declared yesterday it would maintain ties with the U.S. and three other Western countries despite Belgrade's decision to suspend diplomatic relations.
It was unclear what the move means in practical terms since the federal Yugoslav government operates the embassies abroad. The declaration, however, marks another step in Montenegro's moves to distance itself from its sister republic, Serbia.
Yugoslavia, made up of Serbia and tiny Montenegro, decided Thursday to suspend relations with the United States, Britain, France and Germany and review its ties to other countries involved in the NATO air attacks.
Montenegro's own foreign ministry said it was never consulted about the move, which it said "only continues the policy of confrontation, instead of taking measures to make NATO attacks stop and to find a political solution" to the rebellion in Serbia's Kosovo province. The statement said Montenegro is determined to cooperate with the international community.
Montenegro's main resource is its Adriatic coastline, which could attract foreign tourists. Efforts to encourage tourism have been undermined by Yugoslavia's political ostracism. The pro-Western Montenegrin president, Milo Djukanovic, has called on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to accept a Western-backed peace plan for Kosovo. NATO has repeatedly struck at federal military targets on Montenegrin territory, including the airport at the capital Podgorica.
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