BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The remains of the Yugoslav presidency, dominated by Serbia, Friday repudiated a European Community-brokered accord for the withdrawal of the federal army from the independence- seeking republic of Croatia, leaving uncertain the future of EC efforts to end the civil war.
'A withdrawal by the Yugoslav army from territories in which Serbs live in Croatia is absolutely unacceptable,' said the presidency members from the communist-ruled Serbian Republic, its two nominally autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo, and the allied Montenegrin Republic.
A federal army pullout would expose Croatia's 580,000-strong Serbian minority to 'physicial liquidation,' said a statement issued after a meeting in Belgrade of the Serbian-controlled remnant of what had been the eight-man Yugoslav State Presidency, the civilian chief of the armed forces.
It said 'all military' units should remain in their present positions pending a political resolution to the crisis.
There was no immediate reaction from the EC.
Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek, whose nation is the current chairman of the 12-member EC, had said the Yugoslav army would leave Croatia within a month under a pact he brokered between Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Yugoslav Defense Minister Veljko Kadijevic.
Van den Broek said the pact also required Croatian forces to immediately lift sieges of federal military bases.
While most of Croatia was reportedly quiet during the day, fighting persisted around the war-ravaged towns of Osijek, Vinkovci and Vukovar in the eastern Slavonija region in disregard of the cease-fire, declared Tuesday.
An EC-led truck convoy taking food and medical relief for Vukovar, battered by 48 days of combat, came under mortar attack near the town, forcing those accompanying it to throw themselves on the ground, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported, quoting an EC spokesman. No injuries were reported.
The federal army said it was tightening its control over ethnically mixed Slavonija and the fiercely contested adjacent areas of Baranja and Western Srem by imposing an 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew.
The first sign that the EC-brokered pact on a Yugoslav army withdrawal from Croatia was unraveling came Friday morning, when the federal Defense Ministry denied that there was a pullout accord.
'No agreement was signed yesterday in The Hague, and therefore there was no agreement made about the withdrawal of the Yugoslav People's Army from the Republic of Croatia,' said a statement issued in Belgrade.
Jacques Werner, a Dutch Embassy spokesman in Belgrade, said even though no pact was actually signed, 'there was a verbal agreement.'
During the monthlong withdrawal period, van den Broek said, EC- sponsored talks would continue on resolving the future of the multi- ethnic Yugoslav federation, from which Croatia and Slovenia declared independence June 25 because of perceived domination by Serbia, the largest of the six republics.
Slovenia and Croatia reaffirmed their independence after the expiration Monday of a three-month EC-sponsored moratorium on their declarations. Rebels of Croatia's Serbian minority are fighting with the backing of the federal army and Serbia against the inclusion of their areas in the republic.
In another statement, the federal presidency rejected as 'brutal damage to the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia' the reaffirmations by Croatia and Slovenia of their independence, and asserted that the federal army retained the constitutional power to control all international borders.
The four warned other countries against recognizing the two republics as independent states, saying that would constitute 'flagrant interference' in Yugoslavia's internal affairs and 'would be an extremely dangerous precedent with fatal consequences for the general international legal order.'
They urged the two republics to suspend their declarations pending the outcome of an EC-sponsored conference on resolving the future of Yugoslavia.
The Yugoslav State Presidency had consisted of representatives of the six republics as well as the autonomous Serbian regions of Vojvodina and Kosovo. But Serbia and its allies last week announced they were assuming special war powers in what Western diplomats called a constitutional coup.
Their rejection of the army pullout accord raised serious questions over the future of EC efforts to end the worst violence in Europe since World War II. 'Whatever way you look at it, it ain't good news,' one Western diplomat said.
EC officials in recent days have voiced increasing impatience and frustration with the lack of political will among the combatants and their failures to obey cease-fires. At least six such accords have collapsed since July 7.
Former British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, the chairman of the EC-sponsored peace conference on Yugoslavia, said he had called a meeting of the leaders of the warring factions for Monday in The Hague.
He said he asked former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, tapped as a special envoy by U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, to report to the meeting on a two-day visit he was to begin in Belgrade on Saturday.