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THE WEEK AHEAD

BELGRADE : Test of Togetherness

February 05, 1991

The eight-man collective presidency of Yugoslavia gathers Friday for another try at drawing rebellious republics back into the uneasy alliance that has bound them since 1918. But the best that can be hoped for is probably postponement of a possibly violent showdown.

Slovenia has already declared its independence, Serbia has sabotaged the union's last hope for economic recovery, and Croatia has defied a federal order for the arrest of its defense minister.

Unity talks last week collapsed after the Croatian delegate stormed out, insisting the Serbian-dominated federal army remain neutral in the escalating dispute. The army has declared its loyalty to communism, which worries the four republics--including Croatia and Slovenia--that elected democratic leaders last year.

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