Government threatens strikers with crackdown


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The government threatened Thursday to crack down on some 40,000 striking ethnic Albanians who are protesting proposed constitutional changes in the Serbian autonomous province of Kosovo.

The eight-member state presidency that runs Yugoslavia met in an emergency session Thursday and warned they may be forced to use 'all measures foreseen by the Constitution and law' to preserve order in the 4-day-old strikes in Kosovo, according to an official announcement carried by the Yugoslav news media.


The Albanians are demanding the dismissal of pro-Serbian leaders in Kosovo, which with Vojvodina is one of two autonomous provinces in Serbia, the largest of Yugoslavia's six republics.

The Serbian parliament in Belgrade Thursday approved the controversial amendments to the 1974 Serbian Constitution that would return to Serbia the jurisdiction over courts, police, national defense and foreign affairs of Kosovo and Vojvodina.

The changes must be approved by the parliaments in the two provinces before they become law.

Reports said 1,300 miners, many of them more than 1,000 feet underground, were on strike in the Trepca lead, zinc and silver mine at Titova Mitrovica, northwest of Pristina, 190 miles south of Belgrade.

Kosovo's unrest escalated Thursday when university students, bakers, innkeepers, shoe-shine boys and others -- all of them ethnic Albanians -- joined striking workers in about 40 state-owned companies throughout the province, media reports said.


About 5,000 university students gathered in an Pristina sports hall to demonstrate their support for the striking workers, the reports said.

President Raif Dizdarevic and President Petar Gracanin of the state of Serbia flew Thursday to Pristina for talks with local leaders.

Gen. Stevan Mirkovic, the head of the Yugoslav Armed Forces, and Janez Zemljaric, a Yugoslav deputy prime minister, also were present at the meeting, Belgrade Radio said.

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