- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2001

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Politicians from the Yugoslav Federation's smaller republic promised yesterday to work with their colleagues in Serbia to form a new government and resolve a political crisis triggered by Slobodan Milosevic's handover to the U.N. war crimes tribunal.
The calls for compromise came a day after Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zizic and other government officials from Montenegro resigned to protest Serbia's abrupt extradition of Mr. Milosevic. The extradition defied a federal court ruling.
[Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse quoted the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as saying in Bordeaux, France, yesterday that the pretrial proceedings "will take not less than eight to 12 months, while the trial itself will last a minimum of 12 to 15 months."
[Claude Jorda, the ICTY president, speaking from his residence in Bordeaux, told the French news agency that the length of the trial could depend on whether a second indictment were issued against the former president for crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia.
[Mr. Milosevic, abruptly handed over to U.N. investigators on Thursday and flown to The Hague, is accused so far of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1999 Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
["It will not be a good thing if there are two trials, but it will also be difficult to merge the two cases into a single trial," said Mr. Jorda.]
The resignations Friday in Belgrade drove a deeper wedge between Montenegro and Serbia and shook the already fragile Yugoslav Federation, where the constitution calls for federal elections if a new government is not in place three months after a prime minister's resignation.
However, Mr. Zizic said yesterday that his Socialist People's Party whose backing in the federal parliament is crucial was ready to support a reshuffled Yugoslav government rather than push for new elections.
"That is the way to go," Mr. Zizic told AP.
Another official from Montenegro, Predrag Bulatovic, also said the smaller republic's deputies in the federal parliament could negotiate to preserve the coalition with Serbia's pro-democracy bloc that ousted Mr. Milosevic from power in October.
"We believe that federal Yugoslavia has to be preserved," Mr. Bulatovic said. "All of us who want to save Yugoslavia can find an optimal solution through dialogue and compromise."
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic urged renewed efforts to resolve relations between his republic and Montenegro. "The federation is in a deep crisis," he told Germany's ARD television.
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica is to begin talks tomorrow aimed at forming a new Cabinet.
In a statement yesterday, he denied any knowledge of plans to extradite Mr. Milosevic to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, and repeated criticism of Serbia's government for ignoring a court ban on the handover.
"The truth is that I was not informed of Milosevic's extradition," said Mr. Kostunica, who was elected last September in the vote that led to Mr. Milosevic's ouster.
He said the first news of the Serbian republic's intentions reached his office after the former president had been taken from his jail cell, and that an hour later he received confirmation that Mr. Milosevic was on his way to The Hague.
Mr. Djindjic, the Serbian prime minister, had said earlier that a minister from Mr. Kostunica's party was in on the government's extradition decision and that Mr. Kostunica "was in a position to know of it, had he wanted to."

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