Yugoslavia's Parliament Friday moved to defuse mounting ethnic and political tension and warnings of impending civil war by naming a Croatian reformer to the country's collective presidency.

A crucial parliamentary debate on whether Yugoslavia remains a federation or becomes a looser alliance was then postponed until November.The two moves indicated that the country's quarrelling political leaders had decided to put off at least for now a showdown in their power struggle over Yugoslavia's future.

Deputies loudly applauded a conciliatory speech by outgoing President Borisav Jovic, a Serb who holds the annually rotating chairmanship of the collective ruling body.

"All bridges have not been burned. There are still possibilities for the crisis to be overcome," Jovic said after the Croatian Stjepan Mesic was named to the presidency.

"We are obliged not only to offer hope to the upset and frightened citizens but, I believe strongly, we can justify the trust they laid in us in these hard times," Jovic added.