Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic today offered use of his small Yugoslav republic as a supply route for international peacekeeping forces being deployed in Kosovo and called Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "a politician who belongs to the past."
Free access to Montenegro -- Serbia's smaller, disaffected partner in the Yugoslav federation -- would give peacekeepers a third route into Kosovo, in addition to those from Albania and Macedonia. The presence of international forces in Montenegro also would provide a degree of security for Djukanovic, 37, who has loudly criticized Milosevic's policies and whose democratically elected government has refused to provide recruits for the Yugoslav army and given refuge to Milosevic opponents.
One potential obstacle remains, however: Yugoslav troops under Milosevic's control occupy the Montenegrin port of Bar and are blocking many border crossings between Montenegro and Serbia -- of which Kosovo is a province.
But Djukanovic said at a news conference here with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright that he assumes the end of the war in Kosovo means Yugoslav forces will withdraw to their barracks and "do the things they are supposed to do under the [Yugoslav] constitution."
Djukanovic said he does not view the outcome of the conflict in terms "of whether Yugoslavia has won or lost."
"What has lost," he said, "is a quarrelsome, arrogant policy personified by Mr. Milosevic. I think that Yugoslavia will gain because peace will be restored in our country." Djukanovic added: "I hope that after all this agony that he put the Serbian people through, they too have such an opinion of Mr. Milosevic."
If Milosevic plans to hang on to power in Yugoslavia, his wrangle with Djukanovic might not be over, some U.S. officials said, noting that Yugoslav troops have been pressuring Montenegrin police forces loyal to Djukanovic for many weeks.
Despite differences between Montenegro and Milosevic's Serb-dominated federal government, Djukanovic reiterated that he does not wish Montenegro to leave the Yugoslav federation. He expressed hope that after the war Serbia "will democratize and that Montenegro will not have to look for another constitutional arrangement . . . for achieving its interests."
CAPTION: Milo Djukanovic says Yugoslavia's president "belongs to the past."