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Japanese editorial excerpts -2-.

TOKYO, Aug. 2 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

MILOSEVIC VS. MONTENEGRO (Japan Times, an English-language daily)

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been the architect of his country's destruction...And Milosevic is once more prepared to divide what remains of Yugoslavia in two. He has jiggered the Constitution to allow him to run for office again, alienating the Montenegrins and risking yet another conflagration.

...The parliament -- which he controls -- passed legislation last month that allows the president to serve more than one term and changes the way the president and parliamentary representatives are elected.

The moves have enraged Montenegrins and widened the gap between the two Yugoslav republics. The government in Montenegro has leaned steadily toward the West in recent years and fiercely protected its independence. Last year, it refused to recognize the state of war that Belgrade declared after NATO began bombing Yugoslavia in an attempt to force negotiations over Kosovo. Later, it defied Belgrade and refused to place its police under army command. It cut its economic dependence on Yugoslavia by declaring the German mark legal tender alongside the Yugoslav dinar. Yugoslavia then blockaded trade between the two republics.

The Montenegro government has rejected the new law and hinted that it might declare independence if Milosevic wins the vote. Then the dismemberment of Yugoslavia would be complete, but it is sure to be a messy process.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are now scheduled for Sept. 24. Milosevic is not unbeatable. His leadership has never been put to a democratic test, and there is considerable opposition to his rule.

There is little cause for optimism. Milosevic is said to fear a Ceausescu-type uprising if he loosens his grip on power. Repeated clashes with the West have done little to moderate his policies.

The world must make it clear to the Yugoslav president that the international community will not acquiesce to his latest power grab. The opposition should unite to participate in the vote since the new electoral law renders a boycott ineffectual.

If the people of Yugoslavia have a real choice, they may take it. Genuine mass opposition to the government could inspire the real sources of Milosevic's power -- the military and the security apparatus -- to rethink their support for him. It is an optimistic scenario, but it is not impossible.

(Aug. 2)
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Aug 7, 2000
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