Serbia severs ties with Slovenia over human rights


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The ruling political alliance in Serbia called for the severing of all ties with Slovenia Wednesday in an unprecedented move in uhe 44-year history of the Yugoslav federation, officials said.

Relations between the two states had deteriorated in recent days over a rally militant Serbs had planned to hold Friday in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, a move Slovenian officials described as 'fascist aggression.'


Serbs have held many mass rallies in eastern parts of Yugoslavia recently to condemn Slovenia and Croatia, the two most industrialized Yugoslav states, for supporting ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, a Serbian province where 1.7 million ethnic Albanians outnumber 200,000 Serbs.

The Serbs decided Wednesday to cancel Friday's rally after the Slovenian Interior Ministry banned gatherings of more than 30 persons.

'You have introduced the law of the jungle,' Ciril Zlobec, a Slovenian Communist Party leader, said in an open letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic published in a newspaper Wednesday.

The Presidium of the Serbian Socialist Alliance, a communist-led political organization that controls the Serbian government, urged government agencies and state-owned firms to 'severe all ties with Slovenia,' which it accused of human rights violations.


The Serbian proclamation, read over Belgrade radio and television stations, suggested that 'not a single citizen of Serbia will beg Slovenia to stay within Yugoslavia.'

The president of the Serbian national committee in Kosovo, Bogdan Kecman, said Slovenia was governed by an 'anti-democratic system.' 'Slovenians offer us the police clubs and violence and we do not wish to go to Ljubljana,' he said.

Serbs are the largest ethnic group in multinational Yugoslavia, which has a population of 23 million, and Serbian leaders control eastern parts of the loose federation.

Slovenia, with a population of 2 million, is the richest and most liberal of Yugoslavia's six republics.

A new Serbian leadership has gained full support from most Serbs over the past 18 months and regained full control over Serbia's two autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

Serbian leaders accused Muslim ethnic Albanians of persecuting Christian Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo province and introduced a state of emergency in February. At least 22 people were killed and more than 200 injured in clashes between police and ethnic Albanians.

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