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The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918; its name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941 was resisted by various partisan bands that fought themselves as well as the invaders. The group headed by Marshal TITO took full control upon German expulsion in 1945. Although communist in name, his new government successfully steered its own path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades. In the early 1990s, post-TITO Yugoslavia began to unravel along ethnic lines: Slovenia, Croatia, and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia all declared their independence in 1991; Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" in 1992 and, under President Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Serbia led various military intervention efforts to unite Serbs in neighboring republics into a "Greater Serbia." All of these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In 1999, massive expulsions by Serbs of ethnic Albanians living in the autonomous republic of Kosovo provoked an international response, including the NATO bombing of Serbia and the stationing of NATO and Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo. Blatant attempts to manipulate presidential balloting in October of 2000 were followed by massive nationwide demonstrations and strikes that saw the election winner, Vojislav KOSTUNICA, replace
Update No: 072 - (17/04/03)
The revamped republic of Serbia and Montenegro, the erstwhile FRY, the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, is going through harrowing times. The Serb premier, Zoran Djindjic, was assassinated in February, leaving a nation in shock. Half a million attended his funeral in Belgrade, wondering if they were not witnessing the end of all hopes for their democracy and reform.
The army, the enemy?
The Yugoslav national army, or JNA, is the strongest institution in the country and the one that has proved most resistant to reform. Rogue elements within it were almost certainly partly responsible for the assassination. It is deeply penetrated by crime syndicates and was the very backbone of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, former president first of Serbia (like Djindjic), then of FRY.
The army is likely to be the great beneficiary of the removal of Djindjic. As Max Primorac, the president of the Centre for Civil Society in Southeastern Europe and executive director of the Institute of World Affairs regional office in Zagreb, puts it: "It is difficult to determine where Serbia's criminal underworld ends and where its security and intelligence services begin." A leading suspect in Djindjic's murder is a Milosevic-era special forces commander and crime boss wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia for war crimes committed in Bosnia.
A report by the International Crisis Group documents how Belgrade has sold more than US$1bn worth of illicit arms to Baghdad and other rogue regimes since Milosevic's ouster, pointing to the "power of Communist-era networks linking military, industrial and criminal elites, and the unwillingness or inability of civilian political leaders to control the security sector."
Army takeover highly possible
Several factors might lead the JNA to decide that it is in its best interests to stage a coup or, more likely, arrange for a de facto take-over by proxy.
First, military leaders understand that full cooperation with the war crimes tribunal remains a precondition for desperately needed Western aid. This means sending their colleagues or themselves to jail - an obvious non-starter. The tribunal has accused the JNA of harbouring several indicted Serbian officers. Djindjic's assassination sends a clear message to his successors about what they risk should they dare consider extraditing these suspects. The generals may simply conclude that their interests are best served by taking power, even if through a placeman of their choosing.
Second, the JNA has seen its privileges and budget shrink as the country for which it was created to defend, Yugoslavia, has vanished. The illicit trade in arms, drugs, contraband and women, and the crime syndicates that broker it, has helped stem the financial decline. Reform threatens this illicit network, but nevertheless it is the tide of history - Europe wide. Younger officers with everything to gain might stifle an insurrection.
Third, there remains strong populist support for a greater Serbia, stoked by the stifling economic hardship that has accompanied tough reforms. Despite the warnings of many in the region, the West has never fully appreciated the continued popularity of Milosevic's imperial designs. In December's presidential elections, the extremist candidate, Vojislav Seselj - now in a Hague jail awaiting prosecution - won more than a third of the popular vote, an alarming sign that radical nationalism still grips the Serbian psyche.
This danger extends beyond the radical nationalists. Deputy Prime Minister, Nebojsa Covic, has taken a hard-line position over Kosovo, advocating its territorial partition and demanding that Serbian security forces be allowed to re-enter the province. At the same time Serbs in Kosovo have called for the creation of their own statelet.
These developments chillingly echo the terrible events of 1991-1992, when Serb nationalist demands for separate Ethnic Serb mini-states were preludes to war in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The recent decision by Belgrade to establish a major new security base in Albanian-populated southern Serbia, near the border with Kosovo, is sure to inflame already tense Serbian-Albanian relations.
Events in Belgrade are generating considerable concern in Bosnia about continued Serbian irredentist designs over half its territory. Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb republic, is already dominated by a security-criminal apparatus similar to that emerging in Serbia.
Bosnia can take little comfort from the fact that Vojislav Kostunica, until recently president of Yugoslavia and Djindjic's main political antagonist, is now Serbia's most popular political figure, given his electoral campaign statement that Republika Srpska is only "temporarily" separated from Serbia. In fact, Kostunica's strident anti-Hague and anti-US stances make him a convenient proxy candidate for the military.
With Djindjic's death, the post-Dayton peace architecture may begin to unravel. Despite billions of dollars in foreign aid, the international community finds itself facing the very real possibility that the Balkans will once again become a flashpoint.
Yugoslav Air becomes JAT Airways
Yugoslav airlines, or JAT - the national carrier of the former Yugoslavia - has changed it's name to JAT Airways, the company's general manager said recently.
In the future, the letters JAT will no longer be considered an acronym, and 'Yugoslav' will be dropped from the company name.
The move comes more than one month after the name Yugoslavia was dropped and a new state named after its two republics, Serbia and Montenegro, was created.
JAT's general manager, Predrag Vujovic, told the Beta News Agency that the company's new name would become official at the next session of the managing board.
Russia in US$100m deal to upgrade Serbian power plant
Russian companies are beginning the modernization of Serbia's Djerdap-1 hydroelectric plant on the Danube, ITAR-TASS News Agency has reported.
The agreement signed by Russia's Energomash and Serbia's power company on 29th March is the biggest joint project in the last 15 years. Its cost is estimated at US$100.5m. It will be financed against the former Soviet Union's clearing debt to the former Yugoslavia. Serbia's share in this debt is about 490m "clearing" US dollars.
When the work is finished in 2010, the hydroelectric plant's capacity will increase by 10 per cent on average, enabling it to generate more than 100m kilowatt/hour annually in addition to its present output.
The Djerdap-1 hydropower plant was built in 1970 with the assistance of Soviet specialists. Turbines for the plant were supplied by Leningrad's Electrosila and LMZ plants. They will supply new turbines now too and will also modernise the hydropower plant's control systems.
British company to resume electricity supply to Montenegro, debt yet to be paid
The London-based EFT company has accepted a proposal from Elektroprivreda Crne Gore [the Montenegrin state-owned electricity plant and supplier] to pay around 5m euros it owes EFT for the supplied electric energy by October 2003, FoNet News Agency has reported.
The Belgrade branch of the London company has said that EFT is satisfied with the agreement as it believes that its implementation will create conditions for regular electricity supplies to Montenegro.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
France announces 35m Euros aid package for Serbia-Montenegro
Economy and Finance Minister Francis Mer, announced the release of a 35m Euros package for Serbia-Montenegro at the conclusion of a meeting with two Serb ministers, it was announced by a ministry spokesman, AFP News Agency has reported.
Mr Mer had talks with Foreign Minister Goran Slivanovic and Finance Minister Djelic Bozidera on 27th March regarding the country's economic situation following the death of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic...
Several projects were discussed, notably in the field of water and rail transport. Mr Mer also gave a commitment for France to put the case to the European Union for financial aid to Serbia-Montenegro and for the holding of a donors conference, on the condition that the country continue with its programme of reforms launched with the IMF.
Germany approves 15m Euro increase of credit fund for Serbian enterprises
National Bank of Serbia (NBS) Governor Mladjan Dinkic and a German business delegation, headed by Minister of Overseas Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, on 27th March agreed on an increase of the SME [small and medium enterprise] crediting fund, approved by the German Development Bank (KfW), by another 15m Euros, Tanjug News Agency has reported.
Assistance, which the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has so far provided to Serbia's banking sector, has yielded extremely good results, it was said at the meeting, where cooperation had also been agreed on in the field of securing an initial deposit insurance fund and on the project aimed at defining and building a banking academy, the NBS said in a statement.
USA pledges US$4.5m to improve control of Montenegrin borders
The US government has earmarked around US$4.5m in aid in order to strengthen Montenegrin borders, a statement by the US consulate in Podgorica says, Hina News Agency has reported.
A US government delegation held talks with Interior Minister, Milan Filipovic, about the US-Montenegrin cooperation with regard to border security.
The US delegation was led by Robert Norman on behalf of ambassador William Montgomery.
Experts from the US customs administration, border patrols and coast guard briefed Filipovic about the conclusions of their intensive 10-day survey of the challenges and security needs on Montenegrin borders, the statement by the consulate says.
Norman announced the US government's intention to secure around US$4.5m in equipment, technology, training and other forms of aid in 2003.
The two sides agreed to continue to work together and with interested international organizations in order to improve the control of Montenegrin borders...
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