BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A senior Serbian leader said Monday that Serbia would not permit Croatia to secede with its Serbian-dominated enclaves, and warned of war if the issue was not resolved. Croatia vowed to resist any attack and called for U.N. intervention.
In Ljubljana, differences emerged within Slovenia's ruling coalition over a new tentative European Community plan to avert new clashes with the federal army that was brokered by three EC foreign ministers in marathon negotiations on the Adriatic island of Brioni that ended early Monday.
Slovenian President Milan Kucan said while the agreement was 'far from ideal,' he had made no concessions and would recommend that the republic's Assembly ratify the pact on Wednesday.
'This agreement is a catastrophe for Slovenia,' countered Deputy Prime Minister Leo Seserko, objecting to a lack of guarantees from the military. He charged Kucan had 'sold' Slovenia, and added he would lead a fight in the assembly against the EC plan.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said he had obtained 'oral guarantees' from nine EC countries that they would recognize Slovenian independence if the Yugoslav military attacked again. But, he added: 'Naturally I would not be surprised if we have problems in parliament.'
But with the EC accord providing a respite in Slovenia, attention swung to the potentially more explosive tensions between nationalist- ruled Croatia and the Communist regime of Serbia over the fate of the 600,000 Serbs living in Croatia.
Borisav Jovic, a hard-line Marxist who is the Serbian representative on the collective Yugoslav head of state, said a war would erupt with Croatia if it insisted on seceding with its Serbian enclaves from Yugoslavia in line with a June 25 independence declaration.
'In respecting the rights of people to self-determination, one should take into consideration that Serbs in Croatia wish to stay in Yugoslavia, and in our assessment -- and it is not only our assessment -- it could provoke a war in Yugoslavia,' he said.
'That should be understood by everyone, including Europe,' Jovic said. 'If everyone wants to prevent a war, then they should strictly respect political methods for solving the problem and the right of people for self-determination.'
In the Croatian capital of Zagreb, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman warned Serbia against aggression, saying: 'If there is, in any form, a military crusade against Croatia, Croatia will resist with all its defensive forces.'
'We call for peace and wisdom,' Tudjman said. 'But also I state resolutely that we will not abandon the creation of a sovereign and independent Croatia.'
He said his government considers Croatia's Serbs 'equal citizens in everything,' and urged Serbia to 'open talks about all problems.'
Croatian Defense Minister Sime Djodan said to 'separate feuding sides and to avoid war, Yugoslavia will need serious assistance from the United Nations. It would not be a civil war, but a war between states: Serbia, which attacks, and other states that defend themselves.'
The hostile rhetoric came amid a lull in near-daily clashes in Croatia pitting Croatian security forces and vigilantes against rebel Serbs, whose fears of persecution in an independent Croatia have been fanned for several years by alarmist propaganda barrages from Serbia's Communist-run media.NEWLN: more