Pope John Paul II urged Yugoslav leaders Saturday to stop using military force to crush the "legitimate aspirations" of the Yugoslav peoples and to settle the differences through dialogue.
The pope made his appeal in telegrams sent to Yugoslavia Prime Minister Ante Markovic and to the presidents of the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia.His messages, published by the Vatican, apparently were sent before a cease-fire was arranged in Yugoslavia late Friday.
"I want to raise my voice in the firmest manner to demand the suspension of the use of force and the creation of conditions which permit the renewal of dialogue between all the interested parties, a dialogue that strives to seek new relations between the different national groups in a way that satisifies their legitimate aspirations," the pope said in his telegram to Markovic.
The pope reinforced his appeal with a brief statement made before pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square Saturday.
"My thoughts today turn in particular to the dear peoples of Croatia and Slovenia," the pope said. "I feel close to those who are grieving for their dead, to the wounded and to all those who are living in sorrow and fear.
"I repeat once again that one cannot and must not suffocate with force the rights and legitimate aspirations of the peoples," he said.