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Okupacija Cetinja !


PODGORICA, Montenegro, May 17 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Yugoslav soldiers have 
descended on Montenegro's ancient capital Cetinje, whose residents are 
renown for their hardline secessionist opinions, the government said on 

Officials said there had been arguments between the troops, who appeared to 
be unarmed, and locals, but no violence so far.

``There are high tensions there. There have been some sparks. I'm afraid 
that everything will blow up, possibly,'' said Dragisa Burzan, Montenegro's 
deputy prime minister and spokesman for the republic's reform-minded 

Cetinje, a small, elegant town in the mountains, is the spiritual home of 
Montenegro's growing independence movement.

Military police were chased from the area last month after they tried to 
hand local men call-up papers to the federal Yugoslav army, and many of the 
town's bars and walls are decorated with Montenegrin flags and secessionist 

Montenegro is Serbia's junior partner, but relations between the two 
republics have deteriorated rapidly over the past two years, with Podgorica 
seeking to forge closer ties with the West.

The Kosovo crisis has accentuated the differences, fuelling calls in 
Montenegro for the government to sever its links with Belgrade. Belgrade 
politicians have in turn angrily accused Montenegro of treachery by failing 
to support it against NATO.

``(The army) wants to demonstrate that by controlling Cetinje they control 
the country,'' Burzan told reporters. ``People in Montenegro are generally 
armed, which is very bad. They are particularly heavily armed in Cetinje,'' 
he said.

Montenegro's government has decided not to send police reinforcements to the 
area for fear of exacerbating the situation. Instead they were urging the 
locals not to respond to the army ``provocation.''

``The game is who triggers the conflict first,'' Burzan said.``Whoever 
starts (a war) will end up the big loser,'' he said.

Residents of Cetinje, which is about half an hour's drive south of 
Podgorica, said bands of soldiers were wandering around the low-lying 
boulevards, drinking in bars and singing.

One man said the military had asked to billet 300 men on the town but had 
been refused. In all, the government estimated that some 600 troops from 
Serbia and northern Montenegro were in the area.

The Cetinje deployment came hard on the heels of renewed army activity at 
Montenegro's borders. Checkpoints have sprung up at the Bosnian and Albanian 
crossings and men of fighting age have been prevented from leaving the 

Soldiers also seized just over one hundred ethnic Albanian refugees, all 
men, and took them to Serbia before bringing them back to Montenegro on 
Monday and releasing all but two of them.

Burzan, who has often accused Belgrade of wanting to launch a military coup 
in Montenegro, said the sudden upsurge in army activity was a sign of 

``They have accelerated their moves. They know that time to take over
Montenegro is being squeezed out,'' he said, adding he did not believe that 
army officers in Montenegro wanted a civil war here.

Political sources estimate the army has some 26,000 men stationed in 
Montenegro. Burzan said the police, which is loyal to the government, has 
some 12,000 uniformed officers. ``But in other ways, there are a lot of 
police,'' he added, without giving details.

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