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Montenegran Mark-Move Criticized

November 6, 1999

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A top Yugoslav government official on Saturday called Montenegro’s introduction of the German mark as an official currency ``unconstitutional,″ state-run media reported.

Finance Minister Dragisa Pesic criticized the move, saying it was politically motivated, but was being passed off as economically necessary, the official Tanjug news agency said.

``It is unconstitutional ... and a harmful move aimed at Serbia and the Yugoslav Federation,″ Pesic was quoted by the agency as saying.

The German mark was introduced into the republic on Tuesday, prompting the pro-Milosevic Yugoslav National Bank to impose a ban on financial transactions between Montenegrin companies and those in Serbia.

The smaller of the two remaining Yugoslav republics, Montenegro has distanced itself from Serbia and a series of wars, the most recently in Kosovo. It has blamed Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s power base in Belgrade for the country’s isolation.

The currency move is seen as a step towards eventual independence for the republic.

Pesic said the bank’s move was aimed at preventing uncontrolled amounts of currency from leaving Montenegro, adding that the decision would reduce harmful consequences to the Yugoslav monetary system.

Vojin Djukanovic, Montenegro’s industry minister said Saturday that the national bank’s decision could lead to the introduction of an entirely separate currency.

The Montenegrin Monetary Council also decided Saturday to impose tight control over financial transactions between the two republics.

Dimitrije Vesovic, a member of the monetary council said that all inter-republic financial transactions would be controlled and those suspected of attacking the Montenegrin monetary system would be canceled.

Meanwhile, newspapers in neighboring Croatia quoted unnamed sources Saturday as saying that 34.5 tons of German marks had been flown in from Germany to Croatia’s Dubrovnik airport. Several metal boxes were then transported in two trucks with Montenegrin license plates on Friday.

The Croatian daily Vecernji also reported that two trucks carrying German coins passed through the Croatia-Montenegro border Friday.

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