BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Federal Prime Minister Ante Markovic denounced the three main Yugoslav republics Thursday for violating federal laws and resisting reforms, charging their actions could lead to the 'disintegration of the country or the imposition of a dictatorship.'
Markovic, 65, leveled his strongest criticism to date of the leaders of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia in a 100-minute address to a joint session of the federal Parliament in which he appealed for support for his program to convert Yugoslavia to a Western-style democracy.
The year-old program has lost considerable steam, mostly due to moves by the nationalist regimes in Croatia and Slovenia and Serbia's communist government to cripple Markovic politically. The republics fear a loss of power and the creation of a strong central administration if his reforms succeed.
The Parliament's Federal Chamber, the term of which expires Dec. 31, approved Markovic's call for an extension so it can consider additional elements of his program and to prepare for multi-party parliamentary elections, expected in January.
Markovic devoted the first half of his address to enumerating acts by the three republics that subverted federal authority and undermined reforms, noting that his government has filed charges against them in the Constitutional Court.
He cited Slovenia's bid to assume control of military units on its territory, Croatia's imposition of a moratorium on privatization and Serbian protectionist measures 'endangering the unified Yugoslav market, cutting it into pieces, and ... endangering the standard of living of consumers.'
The actions of the republics, he said, 'threaten the suspension of the (political) system, leading to a complete blockade of the reform process, and in the end, to the collapse of the system itself.'
'The desires to bring the system to suspension obviously lead to its erosion, to collapse, or the alterative -- disintegration of the country or the imposition of dictatorship,' Markovic warned.
'It is high time that we face the fact that abroad today they see us as one of Europe's major crisis points and ... there are assessments that Yugoslavia is on the verge of disintegration and civil war,' he said.
The republics' resistance, which has impeded economic restructuring and helped push inflation since January to 108 percent, sharpened after Markovic in July formed his Alliance of Reformist Forces to fight elections for republic assemblies and the federal Parliament.
The opposition is especially intense in Serbia, whose ruling communists have been waging a smear campaign against Markovic, apparently worried about their prospects on Dec. 9 when the republic holds its first multi-party elections since the communist takeover of Yugoslavia in 1945.
Communist-controlled Serbian television and radio blacked out Markovic's speech, saying it was 'not of interest' to the 10 million people of the largest Yugoslav republic. The address was carried live by the networks of the other five republics.
Markovic also used his address to review his 1991 economic plans, which he called crucial to Yugoslavia's future.
He said he will maintain the convertible dinar at 7:1 to the German mark and a tight moneysupply to keep inflation at 1.5 percent monthly.
The federal government also plans to accelerate privatization of state firms, create securities and money markets, and conduct a massive overhaul of the politically manipulated, loss-plagued banking system, Markovic said.