Macedonia's president called for market reform and a decentralized federal government Friday as Yugoslavia's six republics discussed a crisis pitting independence-minded republics against Communist-ruled Serbia.
The stakes at the fifth round of talks since January were raised after lawmakers in Croatia and Slovenia, Yugoslavia's most prosperous and most Western-oriented republics, passed resolutions this week formalizing secession plans.They also gave their laws precedence over federal legislation.
The meeting was held Friday in this capital of the central, multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia-Heregovina. The last meeting in the national and Serbian capital Belgrade was marred by a Communist-orchestrated rally against Croatia, which boycotted the session, and a walkout by Slovenia.
"We must give up fruitless quarrels about federation or confederation and concentrate instead on concrete issues," said Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov before Friday's meeting.
He said leaders should focus on ensuring a successful market economy, dividing federal and republican responsibilities in the fields of defense, foreign policy and respect of human rights.
To keep Slovenia and Croatia within Yugoslavia, Macedonia would propose the "dislocation" of some federal institutions and ministries to republican capitals, to limit the centralization of power in Belgrade, Gligorov said.
Serbia, the largest republic, is headed by hard-line Communist President Slobodan Milosevic, who wants to maintain strong central control. He has clashed sharply with other members of the collective federal presidency that includes representatives from each region.
Non-Communist Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia are on one side. Serbia, tiny Communist Montenegro and Serbia's provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina are on the other.