Serbia to accept EC plan to send foreign observers


ZAGREB, Yugoslavia -- Serbia, Yugoslavia's largest republic, decided yesterday to accept a European Community peace plan to send foreign observers to monitor a cease-fire in Croatia and set up a commission to resolve the Yugoslav crisis.

"The basic elements of this document, which are the result of France's plan and support, are acceptable for Serbia," Serbian Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic said on Belgrade television last night.

Mr. Jovanovic rejected the European Community's charge that Serbia was fueling the conflict in separatist Croatia between Croatian militia forces and rebel Serbs there. He said the European Community officials were not recognizing "culpability" by Croatia's armed forces.

Serbia has for more than a month blocked attempts by the EC and Croatia's government to send foreign observers to monitor several failed cease-fires in the separatist republic. A serious rise in the fighting throughout Croatia in the last week has brought sharp criticism from the EC nations and the United States.

An EC envoy last week confirmed charges that the Yugoslav army, which is led by a largely Serbian officer corps, was intervening on the side of the rebel Serbs in Croatia. The army insists it is acting only as a buffer between the Serbs and Croats.

Mr. Jovanovic said that Serbia would accept foreign observers so long as they are civilians. In his attacks on the EC's initiatives, Serbia's Communist president, Slobodan Milosevic, has always referred to foreign observers as "foreign troops" and said Serbia would never accept them on Yugoslav soil.

The Yugoslav army is now the only key player in the Yugoslav crisis not to have given its decision on the EC proposal. Both Croatia and the Yugoslav federal government approved the plan days ago.

The European Community gave all sides until today to agree to a cease-fire.

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