Belgrade votes to join Russian alliance

Special to World
Tuesday, April 13, 1999

BELGRADE [MENL] -- Yugoslavia's parliament, in an apparent effort for military aid, voted on Monday to join an alliance with Belarus and Russia.

"It is yet another way to resist NATO aggression," Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic said.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic requested membership in the alliance in a letter delivered to Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Sunday. Russian officials welcomed the request but said defense aid would not be immediately offered.

"Moscow positively regards the idea of Yugoslavia's membership in the union of Russia and Belarus, and corresponding orders have been given to study this issue," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters in Moscow.

Ivanov said membership for Yugoslavia would take time and Belgrade would not be formally accepted until after NATO operations ends. The union calls for military cooperation as well as extensive economic and political ties. So far, the treaty between Moscow and Minsk remains largely on paper.

In Moscow, Yugoslavia's ambassador to Russia told a news conference that his government would not negotiate a political solution to the crisis directly with NATO or the six-nation Contact Group until the fighting ends.

"Stop the bombings and then ways can be found of going back to the political process," Borislav Milosevic, the president's brother, said. "But not with the aggressors, not with the now-defunct Contact Group. Other mediation mechanisms can be found and we see Russia playing a very major role in this."

Tuesday, April 13, 1999

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