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Serbian church's wise counsel

Maybe the influential Serbian Orthodox Church can do what various governments have been unable to do -- get Slobodan Milosevic to step down as president of Yugoslavia.

Surely, peace in any worthwhile context cannot come to Yugoslavia until Milosevic is removed from power. Milosevic is the person most responsible for initiating and carrying out the campaign to rid Ko-sovo of its ethnic Albanian population.Because that act took place and was done in such a brutal manner, Milosevic was properly indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Tribunal.

Clearly, a head of state who is an indicted war criminal is not fit to lead. He can neither be trusted by his own people nor by the international community.

To its credit, the Serbian Orthodox Church recognizes Milosevic is not fit to lead anymore and that his presence is a major negative toward any kind of reconciliation or reconstruction.

And while the church does not have the power to force his removal, what it recommends has a significant impact because of its stature.

The church's forthright statement regarding Milosevic and the country -- "We demand that the current president of the country and his government resign in the interest of the people and their salvation" -- is on target. It expresses exactly what should be done.

Whether Milosevic will give the church's call for his resignation any heed is doubtful. But the fact the church has come out so strongly against him likely will embolden other bodies to follow suit.

Internal pressure is the best way to get rid of Milosevic. NATO troops have their own directives and, unfortunately, marching into Belgrade to apprehend Milosevic isn't one of them. Even if that was their objective it would be extremely difficult to carry it out.

Milosevic is a cancer and must be removed before significant healing can take place either in Kosovo or Yugoslavia. The Serbian Orthodox Church is to be commended for recognizing that and for leading the call for his resignation.