Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
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: 083 - (19/03/04)
Change of government
The elections in Serbia just after Christmas were an ominous sign for those that wished for a better Serbia. The Radicals of firebrand Vojislav Seselj, in jail at the U.N. war crimes tribunal, came a clear first in December 28th's general election, and even fellow indictee Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists did well. Still you cannot run Serbia from a Hague cell. After the moderates failed to form a stable coalition the lineaments of an altogether dicey outcome put in an appearance.
The Speaker of Parliament, Dragan Marsicanin, has appointed former president of the former Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, as premier. He has brought the G17 Plus and the Serbian Renewal Movement into a coalition with his own Democratic Party of Serbia, which might appear all right since he himself and the G 17 Plus were responsible for ousting Milosevic in October 2000, except for the fact that the government will depend for its survival on the support of the latter's Socialists in parliament.
The partners in the alliance, plus the Socialists, control 131 of the 250 seats, just enough to conduct business. The extremist Radicals, the largest in the chamber on 82 seats, and the outgoing premier Zoran Zivkovic's Democratic Party on 37 seats will make up the opposition. Naturally the US and the EU were pressuring Kostunica to opt for the latter, not the Socialists, as an ally. But he refused.
Soon after taking office, a new government faces a March 31 deadline from the U.S. Congress to show it is cooperating with the war crimes tribunal or risk losing financial aid of $100m. This cooperation now looks extremely unlikely. The change of government in Serbia has brought about a new coalition, in which every party believes handing over more war criminals to the Hague is a mistaken course. The West has made clear that Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander charged with genocide, should be in custody if Belgrade wants to join NATO's Partnership for Peace cooperation program at the alliance's Istanbul summit in June But Kostunica will hold most power in the cabinet and he has a history of hostility towards the court. He once said it made his stomach turn.
Reasons for the debacle
The failure of the post-Milosevic leadership - more than a dozen pro-democracy groups whose unity crumbled after 2000 - brought disillusionment among many Serbs and contributed to the swing back to the hard-liners.
Average monthly salaries equal around £170 ($280) and the Radicals also profited from a deep anti-West feelings generated by the Nato bombing of Serbia during the 1999 Kosovo campaign.
The Serbs are in fact in a quandary. Their neighbours all have a different view of recent history. They are still regarded with distrust by them. The trial of Milosevic at the Hague continues to remind everyone in the Balkans of what they got up to in the 1990s. The fact that Karadzic and Mladic are still at large, and believed to be in Serbia, is not forgotten either, protected, it is widely assumed, by the Serbian security forces, or at least rogue elements within them.
The Radicals may not yet be in power, but they would be well-placed to do so, if in eighteen months' time the new government failed, as without US aid and Western support is possible. They are a party that Serbia's neighbors see as synonymous with ethnic cleansing and Western diplomats view as so odious they refuse to meet with its officials. Yet after new elections in a year and a half or so they could be in charge of the largest republic of the former Yugoslavia
But there is a more optimistic scenario that may confound the sceptics and pessimists. Actually aid isn't the most important thing the Serbs need. It tends to end up in the wrong hands, compounding the problems of corruption. The government is not short of cash. It made a windfall gain of over $550m from privatisations in 2003, much more than the expected $198m.
Kostunica is popular for standing up to the international pressure and he appears to be an honest man, with a simple life-style to prove it. He is against the corruption all around the place, yet has the support of key figures in the still all-powerful security forces. It is unlikely any of them would want to assassinate him, as happened to his last but one predecessor, Zoran Dindjic in March last year. He might be just the man to rule Serbia, although his nation could be shunned throughout Europe and the western world.
European bank grants Montenegro 12m euros to modernize airports
The European Investment Bank has granted Montenegro a loan amounting to 12m euros to modernize the airports in Podgorica and Tivat. The agreement was signed in Villa Gorica by representatives of the bank, the Communications Ministry of Montenegro, the Council of Ministers of Serbia-Montenegro and the Montenegrin Airports public company, Radio Montenegro reported.
The agreement with the European Investment Bank will provide funds for the modernization of the Montenegrin airports, to the tune of 23m euros. This is also the biggest project of this bank and of the European Reconstruction and Development Bank in Montenegro. They are funding the modernization of the airports in Podgorica and Tivat, director of the European Investment Bank for southeastern Europe, Grammatiki Tsingou-Papadopetrou, said.
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