YUGOSLAVIA moved closer to disintegration Sunday after the hard-line leader of its most powerful republic said he no longer recognized the authority of the federal presidency. "The destruction of Yugoslavia has entered its final agonizing stage," Serbia's Communist President Slobodan Milosevic said in a televised speech Saturday.
"Serbia will not recognize a single decision of the Yugoslav presidency because in the circumstances any such decision would not be legitimate," he added.
Militia units in Serbia and its historic rival republic Croatia went on high alert in the country's worst crisis since World War II. Diplomats said the country was heading toward civil war and that the biggest question was what would the communist-led army do. Serbs dominate the officer corps.
"It has never been this bad," one Western diplomat said. "Events are moving so quickly now that they are slipping out of the hands of those who think that they can control them."
Minority Serbs in Croatia, concentrated in Kninska Krajina in the south, said they would begin seceding - a potentially explosive move that brought an immediate rebuke from Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.
Romanian Party Congress
Prime Minister Petre Roman seems to be dominating a congress of Romania's ruling National Salvation Front (NSF), but his appeal to create a modern social democratic party failed to silence critics.
The prime minister won loud applause on the first day of the national convention Saturday when he urged 705 delegates and hundreds of supporters to back the government's market-oriented reforms and embrace his Western-style social democratic program. "The NSF has imposed itself 201&gt; as the party for breaking with the communist system, with conservative nostalgia or utopian programs, and as an organization for economic and political construction," Mr. Roman said.
Roman is expected to carry the bulk of the party in support of his vision of the NSF as a party of the "enlightened left," committed to a market economy.
He came under fierce attack from some who were in the front line of the revolution which toppled Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and swept the NSF to power in December 1989.
"The government has concentrated itself around technocrats and used Roman's strong personality to take over the party's leadership," Sen. Dan Iosif said.
Senator Iosif, who fought against Ceausescu's security forces 15 months ago, voiced young radicals' disillusion with the present leaders and accused them of abandoning those who risked their lives to bring Roman and President Ion Iliescu to power.
Roman dismissed the accusations as untrue and unfair and brushed aside criticism leveled at him by Front conservatives who accused him of being too reckless in his reform drive.
Roman seeks to revamp the party and reverse its decline in popularity following a wave of public protests and confusion over reforms which have caused hardship to many people over the past few months.
His program envisages ridding the NSF, which claims 800,000 members, of opportunists and "political bargain hunters" who crept in from the old communist bureaucracy and tarnished the party's reputation.
Albanian Refugees in Italy
Italy asked other countries Saturday to take in Albanian refugees after its southern Adriatic ports were swamped by about 20,000 people who fled from Albania this month.
Deputy Prime Minister Claudio Martelli said Foreign Minister Gianni De Michelis made the appeal to representatives of Western European countries, the United States, and Japan at a conference on immigration in Rome. (US, Albania restore ties, page 7.)
Italy originally said it would return all but political refugees to Albania. But last Tuesday it softened its line and said it was giving the Albanians special refugee status.