Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
Update No: 089 - (30/09/04)
When the reformer, Boris Tadic, became president earlier this year, it was
feared that he would not find it easy to cohabit with the nationalist premier,
Vojislav Kostunica. Actually they are getting on well, despite their
The two top leaders of Serbia's two largest pro-reform parties have agreed to
cooperate in the second round of local government elections October 3. President
Tadic of the Democratic Party and Prime Minister Kostunica of the Democratic
Party of Serbia announced the accord on September 25th after talks in Belgrade.
In many areas, coalition candidates will face those backed by Serbia's
ultra-nationalist Radical Party whose leader, Vojislav Seselj, is currently in
The Hague facing trial for war crimes during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s.
In Belgrade, Democratic Party candidate Nenad Bogdanovic is facing Radical Party
nominee Aleksandar Vucic in the runoff.
The Otpor (Resistance) Movement, one of the symbols of resistance to the regime
of Slobodan Milosivec, disappeared from the political scene in Serbia with its
integration into the Democratic Party (Demokratska Stranka - DS).
In its attempts to survive on the political scene in the six years of its
existence, Otpor underwent several transformations, including the period of
action as a political party last year. There were earlier initiatives from Otpor
officials to integrate in some of the leading political parties, one such
initiative failed in mid-1999, when Boris Karajicic, one of the most prominent
leaders of the movement, proposed integration with Momcilo Perisic's Movement
for Democratic Serbia (Pokret za demokratsku Srbiju - PDS). Due to
insurmountable differences in opinion, many prominent members left Otpor over
the years and continued their political engagement in one or the other political
party. As students' movement, Otpor was founded in October 1998 by a group of
students at the Belgrade University, dissatisfied with the work of the existing
academic organisations and the failed June 1998 protests against the restrictive
Law on Universities in Serbia, which led to the firing of a great number of
The movement was joined by prominent personalities from all layers of society:
university professors, lawyers and other professionals, culture and arts. The
movement soon spread to many cities and towns in Serbia, and grew into a mass
movement of political opponents to the Milosevic's regime. Members of Otpor
wrote the popular tune "Gotov je" (He's done with!), the symbol of
resistance to Milosevic and his clique. At first, the authorities in Serbia
responded to Otpor actions with a media defamation campaign, claiming that Otpor
was an enemy organisation. During the Election Campaign for the 2000 Elections,
a great number of Otpor activists was arrested and tortured. During the bombing
of then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Otpor froze its activities and many of
its activists joined the Army reserves.
Prior to the fall of Milosevic's regime in the 2000 Elections, Otpor had close
to 90,000 members. After the changes of October 5th, 2000, the membership has
fallen to some 20,000. In February 2000, the students' movement Otpor held the
founding assembly at which the name was changed to National Movement Otpor.
Three months later, the movement transformed into an NGO with the same name. In
November 2000, Otpor won the "Free Your Mind" MTV award for freedom of
speech and respect for human rights.
Three years after the fall of Milosevic, Optor called the citizens of Serbia to
gather again on October 5th, 2003, to express their dissatisfaction with the
rule of the Democratic Opposition in Serbia (DOS). They publicly apologised to
the citizens for the failure to be tougher on DOS actions.
Kosovo remains a problem; facing elections in October
About 2,000 troops from France, Germany and Italy will go to Kosovo in
October to reinforce NATO peacekeepers before a potentially divisive election in
the United Nations-run province. NATO's new Kosovo commander, Lt. Gen. Yves de
Kermabon of France, said on September 13th, the reinforcements would be deployed
in early October in an operation named "Determined Commitment." They
will raise NATO strength to 20,000 troops or about one soldier for every 100
people in the territory, and will remain in Kosovo until the end of October.
"This shows the international community is willing to support this
democratic process," de Kermabon said, referring to parliamentary elections
set for October 23rd. The NATO-led peace force, KFOR, was heavily criticised for
its slow response to devastating riots in March, when Albanian mobs impatient
for independence from Serbia overran minority Serb enclaves guarded buy
international peacekeepers. Nineteen people died and up to 800 homes were
destroyed in the worst spasm of violence since NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 to
halt a brutal crackdown against Kosovo's Albanian majority. The situation has
since calmed, but Western diplomats and observers say there is still a danger of
fresh violence. Kosovo goes to the polls in October in its second general
election since the end of the 1998-99 war.
The Serb minority, encouraged by Belgrade, has threatened to boycott the vote
due to its concerns over security and representation. Although governed by the
United Nations, the impoverished province remains part of Serbia and Montenegro,
a fact bitterly resented by the huge Albanian majority, who say the interim
government should have far greater powers. The international community is
expected to address the issue of Kosovo's "final status" by mid-2005.
NATO has already taken steps to improve the flexibility of troops from 30
countries operating in Kosovo, such as providing additional riot gear.
Kosovo government earmarks funds for state-run electricity supplier
The government of Kosovo decided at its regular meeting on August 31st to
reallocate about 8.7m euros to the Kosovo Energy Corporation [KEK in Albanian],
but refused to give it additional funds, KosovaLive web site reported.
The government adopted the decision after KEK officials presented the emergency
measures for electricity supply during the 2004-05-winter season.
"KEK officials requested the reallocation of the financial resources that
the government had set aside as additional means for energy until the year
2005," said Mimoza Kusari-Lila, the spokesperson from the prime minister's
According to her, the government has agreed to reallocate 8,669,000 euros to be
used for operational purposes, including the importing of energy during the
period the generators are undergoing servicing. On the other hand, the
government made it clear that the KEK will not receive additional funding and
has advised KEK management and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary
General in Kosovo of its decision.
"The KEK has not been given additional funding. This was done in order to
avoid damaging capital investment projects envisaged in 2004," she said.
The prime minister has also suggested that bills should be paid for energy
consumed. "The prime minister has said that there will be no exoneration
from payment for any individual consumer or institution," the government
Some months ago, the government allocated 27m euros to the KEK from last year's
Montenegro-China talks on maritime cooperation begin
Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic and Mayor of the Chinese port town of
Qingdao Du Shicheng, who headed a business delegation of the Shendong province
to Montenegro, said on August 23rd that the capacities of the Port of Bar and
Free Customs Zone offered excellent conditions for maritime business
cooperation, New Europe reported recently.
Vujanovic's office said in a statement that the visiting delegation had informed
the Montenegrin president about an agreement on cooperation which Bar and
Qingdao signed recently and speedy arrival of a Chinese business delegation that
would work on its realisation. Political relations between Serbia and China are
badly strained, due to the poor economic relations because of Belgrade's
non-cooperation and incompetence, according to Dusan Janjic, coordinator of the
Forum for Ethnic Relations and a founding member of the Chinese-Serbian
Cooperation Society. Janjic said that the strain dates from a few years back,
when China gave US$100m to the new government, which had taken office after
October 5th, 2000, to be deposited with the National Bank of Yugoslavia (NBJ)
with a view to strengthening the dinar and on condition that the money should be
used for the specified purpose. However, said Janjic, then NBJ Governor Mladjan
Dinkic deposited almost half the money with Russian banks that do not inspire
confidence in business circles, for the sake of interest.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Serbian premier, Romanian president agree on need to boost economic cooperation
Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, said after talks with Romanian
President, Ion Iliescu, that relations between the two countries were good,
especially political relations, but added that their economic cooperation should
be improved, FoNet news agency reported.
He said that the need to improve cooperation in the sphere of transport and an
improvement and liberalization of the visa regime between the two countries had
The premier also said that he had talked to the Romanian president about
relations within the state union, adding that it had been concluded that
anything that led to an improvement of the position of minorities was of great
importance for relations between the two countries.
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