SCMP Friday, October 6, 2000


Western leaders call for President to resign

REUTERS in London

Western nations urged Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic to quit yesterday as a huge crowd of opposition supporters rallied in Belgrade.
Demonstrators numbering in their hundreds of thousands stormed the parliament building and the headquarters of Serbian state television, setting them on fire.
The leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Italy called on Milosevic to resign.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged Yugoslav security forces not to fire on their own people and said violence in Belgrade would trigger "resistance" from the international community.
President Bill Clinton said the United States supported Yugoslavs "trying to get their country back". "I think the people are trying to get their country back and we support democracy and the will of the Serbian people. The United States stands with people everywhere who are fighting for their freedom," he said in Washington.
In Russia, a traditional ally of Yugoslavia, Foreign Ministry officials met to discuss the situation in Belgrade.
President Vladimir Putin, who was returning to Moscow from a visit to India, renewed a mediation offer which has so far drawn no response from either side.
In his call to Yugoslav security forces, Mr Schroeder said: "My appeal - and I say this as a German chancellor on the basis of our experience during the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall - is 'don't fire on your own people'. That would be a disaster."
He said the use of force by those in power "would be irresponsible and would have to run up against the resistance of the international community".
Italian leaders also said civil war should be avoided at all costs.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac both told Milosevic he should resign. "The verdict from the elections was clear, the verdict from the streets is clear, the message for Milosevic is clear. Go. Go now. Go before any more lives are lost, before there is any more bloodshed," Mr Blair said on the steps of his Downing Street residence.
Mr Chirac said: "I believe Serbs are confirming today their victory of September 24 and Milosevic must understand this."