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Crown Prince Alexander fears Montenegro coup

Arrested men
The four men arrested in Yugoslavia  

In this story:

Pro-western Montenegro

Charge or release demand

Election boycott


RELATED STORIES, SITES Downward pointing arrow


LONDON (CNN) -- Yugoslavia's exiled Crown Prince Alexander fears Montenegro could be facing a coup attempt following the arrest of two British policemen and two Canadians by the Yugoslav Army.

He believes Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is intent on creating circumstances which could lead to a coup attempt.

The prince told CNN.com that Milosevic was applying daily pressure to the province which has autonomous powers but is part of the Yugoslav Federation.

His comments come after British and EU officials protested the Yugoslav Army's arrest of the four men as terrorists and spies.

In Vienna, Austria, the independent forum group Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe called the Yugoslav allegations "absolutely absurd."

Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the four men were not armed and were simply returning to neighboring Kosovo after a brief holiday.

Pro-western Montenegro

Djukanovic
Djukanovic: Under pressure says Crown Prince Alexander  

Montenegro's leaders, meanwhile, fear the arrests are intended to give Milosevic a pretext for taking control of their small, pro-Western province by force.

Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic is under severe pressure, with his own people spilt about 50-50 over whether to press for full independence, the Crown Prince said.

"Djukanovic realises the danger he is in. He is under great pressure and is extremely careful to avoid a flare-up.

"I think Milosevic wants him to feel there is a daily threat of a coup. He wants the eventuality that Djukanovic feels cornered. Milosevic is destroying everything just to hang on to power. "

Prince Alexander, who now lives in London, said Djukanovic has made friends with the west, but the west is Milosevic's enemy.

"It is tragic and it is endless," said the prince, who visited Montenegro last year and spoke to police officers who were preparing to defend themselves against what he described as " Milosevic madness. "

He said Milosevic had inherited the apparatus of communism and was using it to feather his political nest.

"I fear for the future of Montenegro and Yugoslavia, not just the political situation but the social: there is 60 to 70 percent unemployment there," he added.

Charge or release demand

The UK Foreign Office has demanded that the two Britons seized by the Yugoslav Army in Montenegro and accused of spying, be charged or released.

A senior diplomat from the British interest section of the Brazilian Embassy in Belgrade has visited the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complain about a lack of information and co-operation.

London has demanded official confirmation of the seizures and the identification of the men, believed to be Adrian Pragnell and John Yore. They were taken along with two Canadians, named as Shaun Going and Liam Hall.

A Foreign Office spokesman told CNN.com: "We have made a protest and asked to be granted access to the detainees." A request that their families be allowed to see them has also been made.

Election boycott

The Yugoslav Army said a patrol arrested four men on Tuesday night near Kosovo's border. Army officials claimed the men carried military equipment and explosives, suggesting they were spies and terrorists aiding police in Montenegro, which is at odds with the Yugoslav regime.

Balkans expert Dr Mark Almond, of Oxford University's Oriel College in central England, told CNN.com the Montenegro police force had grown from 1,000 to 15,000 officers in the last three years.

He said they had also been trained by the UK's elite SAS troops and that they are now heavily armed.

"Their weapons are formidable," said Almond, who visited Montenegro last year. "A coup would be very risky and would give NATO an excuse for finishing off Milosevic."

The Montenegro Government has said it will boycott the Yugoslav presidential, parliamentary elections set for next month, saying they are illegal.

Almond said: "For all the sound and the fury perhaps this is what Milosevic wants."

On Monday, Yugoslav authorities announced that four Dutch citizens were arrested in July for allegedly plotting to assassinate Milosevic.



RELATED STORIES:
Albright to ask Montenegro to reconsider election boycott
August 1, 2000
Montenegro unites with Serbian opposition against Milosevic
July 14, 2000
A defiant Montenegro debates Yugoslav constitutional changes
July 7, 2000
Montenegrins demonstrate against Yugoslav army
May 21, 1999
Montenegrin political parties agree to resist military takeover
April 3, 1999
Montenegro fears Yugoslav takeover
April 2, 1999
Montenegro's new president sworn in
January 15, 1998

RELATED SITES:
Government of the Republic of Montenegro
Royal House of Serbia and Yugoslavia
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
U.S.State Department: Serbia and Montenegro
MontenegroNet

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