Related topics

Bush Meets With Yugoslav Prime Minister

October 13, 1989 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush offered encouragement Friday to Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic for adopting economic and political reforms opposed by hardliners in the Communist Party.

The two leaders met for a half hour in the Oval Office, joined by Secretary of State James A. Baker III, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Yugoslav Federal Executive Counsel member Dzevad Mujezinovic and Deputy Foreign Minister Milivoje Maksic.

Markovic is seeking American backing for his country’s efforts to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund and private banks to ease Yugoslavia’s $17 billion foreign debt and help steer the Marxist country toward a market-oriented economy.

Yugoslavia’s economy currently is ravaged by a 1,200 percent annual inflation rate.

White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said Bush ″reaffirmed his strong support for Yugoslav independence, unity and sovereignty.″ He said the president welcomed Markovic’s ″commitment to market-oriented economic reform and to building democratic pluralism throughout Yugoslavia.″

Fitzwater said, ″The president stressed, and Prime Minister Markovic agreed, that implementation of an economic reform program is essential to attracting foreign investment and Yugoslavia’s economic recovery.″

Markovic, talking with reporters afterward, said he renewed an invitation for Bush to visit Yugoslavia and that the president agreed in principle to come.

Discussing reforms, Markovic said, ″We want to establish a completely new economic structure. It would be of primary importance to have American banks, businesses and technology coming in. ...″

Markovic wants $1 billion for Yugoslavia’s banking system, which is being reformed in accordance with Western standards. U.S. officials say the money is needed to prop up banks that have been backing money-losing ventures that would lose government subsidies under anticipated reforms.

Yugoslavia is asking the 152-member World Bank for a loan of $300 million to $350 million.