Leaders of Yugoslavia's feuding republics met Tuesday in emergency session in an effort to break a political deadlock in the Balkan federation's highest governing body.
The head of the collective presidency ordered Defense Minister Veljko Kadijevic to convene the meeting of the six fractious republics because of what he called a paralysis of power in the Yugoslav leadership.Officials from the pro-Western republic of Slovenia said its president would not attend. Croatia, another restive republic in the north, said its president had flown to Belgrade for the session.
The session Tuesday afternoon occurred as the Communist government of Serbia, the most populous republic, encountered a fourth day of demonstrations by thousands of students in downtown Belgrade. Belgrade is the capital of the Yugoslav federation as well as the Serbian capital.
Serbia's government on Saturday called in the military to quell a protest against Communist rule. Two people were killed and 120 injured in the protest, which led to a wave of new demonstrations.
Croatia and Slovenia, engaged in a bitter dispute with Serbia about the future of Yugoslavia because of their ties to the West, denounced the use of the military.
Federal President Borisav Jovic, nominal commander of the armed forces, said in a statement: "The presidency . . . is paralyzed to such an extent, in these dramatic circumstances, that it has practically ceased fulfilling its constitutional functions and responsibilities."
Tanjug on Tuesday quoted Jovic as saying the security situation in Yugoslavia "has been endangered in various parts of the country."
Jovic's statement said, "In such circumstances and upon the demand by the federal defense minister, I have called an urgent presidency session as the supreme commander of the armed forces."
The Serbian government partially gave in to student protests Tuesday by demanding the resignations of five Belgrade TV officials, including TV chief Dusan Mitevic. But the announcement, made by Culture Minister Bajo Saranovic, was greeted with jeers from about 10,000 protesters.