Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
Update No: 094 - (24/02/05)
OSCE praises cooperation accords sealed between Serbian,
The OSCE Mission to Serbia-Montenegro welcomed co-operation accords between
Serbia's Public Prosecutor Slobodan Jankovic, War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir
Vukcevic and Croatia's State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic. The agreements were sealed
in Belgrade on February 5th.
According to OSCE Ambassador Maurizio Massari, the document is crucial, as it is
expected to enhance the joint fight against organised crime, international
terrorism, war crimes, human trafficking and money laundering. It was signed
within the framework of a conference dedicated to transferring responsibilities
for war crimes proceedings from The Hague tribunal to domestic courts in former
UNMIK chief, Kosovo Prime Minister predict dialogue with Belgrade
An outstanding problem in every sense is the settlement of the Kosovo issue, now
well known to the world at large since the 1999 war. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian
majority wants independence, which Belgrade considers unacceptable.
Talks on Kosovo's final status are expected to start this year under UN
auspices, but the international community has been insisting that Belgrade and
Pristina first have dialogue on practical issues.
Following talks in Pristina on 4th February, UNMIK chief Soren Jessen-Petersen
and Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj announced that dialogue between
Pristina and Belgrade could begin soon.
Talks would be held in Belgrade and focus on issues related to the problem of
missing persons. Haradinaj said he expects Kosovo will make considerable
progress in fulfilling internationally set standards by the end of May, which he
says would enable the start of status discussions in September.
A diplomatic and propaganda assault
Kosovo has long been a cornerstone of Serbian cultural, ethnic, and
religious identity, as a place where the last medieval prince of Serbia perished
defending the faith and liberty of his people against the Turkish onslaught.
Whether there is any truth to their motivations in the Serbian legends or not,
the fact remains that Prince Lazar and his army rode out against the Turks in
June 1389 fully aware that they might be defeated and destroyed, but choosing to
stand and fight nonetheless. It is seldom mentioned in Serbia, but standing
shoulder to shoulder with the Serbs and their Hungarian allies, were large
contingents of Albanians under their princes, who have also come to try to stop
the Ottoman tide flooding over the Balkans. Now a similar choice is before their
descendants, who are facing a different sort of task.
The report in late January by the International Crisis Group advocating the
"independence" of Kosovo seems to have been the first shot in an
all-out propaganda war to decide the future of the Serbian province. The report
has received tremendous attention in the media, from wire services to official
U.S. propaganda organs, colouring every mention of Kosovo. The ICG also followed
the opening editorials by Nicholas Whyte and Gareth Evans with a second salvo,
as board member Wesley Clark pontificated in the Wall Street Journal. There are
growing indications that the Bush regime is sympathetic to ICG's proposals.
This kind of media assault is unprecedented since the spring of 1999, and indeed
represents the most serious rhetorical and diplomatic escalation of the Kosovo
crisis since the war itself. It is as if the second war for Kosovo is already
underway, launched by the very same people behind the first. This time, the
bombs and bullets are editorials and polls; but the conflict will be no less
Fears of an EU Commissar
Perhaps the best indicator of how this Washington-centred offensive is
presented by the media is a statement by Erhard Busek, commissar of the EU's
Stability Pact. In an interview to Reuters on Jan. 27, Busek expressed fear that
Washington could unilaterally recognize the independence of Kosovo. Now how on
earth could he have received that impression?
The speech not heard
On the other hand, the closest thing to Belgrade's official line on Kosovo
was completely ignored by the press. Special government envoy Nebojsa Covic
spoke passionately to the European Parliament Commission in Brussels on Jan. 25;
but as far as the mainstream media were concerned, that simply didn't happen.
Now it may be slightly absurd that Covic is not only director of the
government's Kosovo Coordination Centre, but also the head of a small opposition
party, but that fact should make him more interesting to the media, not less.
Instead, while the ICG gets the spotlight, Covic - and by extension, official
Belgrade - is completely ignored.
Belgrade, on the other hand, has been distracted by internal problems, and
has not really responded to the media blitzkrieg surrounding the ICG report.
If any further statements, official or not, had in fact been issued, they would
have been undercut by the recent publication of poll results suggesting that
most Serbians have accepted losing Kosovo. The poll was conducted in late
December, and the size of the sample was only 2000 people, so it's hard to say
whether they accurately represent the public opinion in Serbia. There is no
doubt, however, that many in the West want them to.
The general silence of Serbian diplomacy in the face of this all-out assault on
its sovereignty is highly significant. Neither Foreign Minister Draskovic nor
his ambassadors in Washington and Brussels have approached the media with a
counter-story. The general impression is that they are at a loss as to how. The
Serbs after all lost the first battle of Kosovo in 1389; they lost the Kosovo
War in1999. It looks as if they are going to lose the last struggle over Kosovo
Serbian president rejects Kosovo independence
One person, however, has spoken out, Serbian President Boris Tadic,
considered hitherto a moderate and pro-Westerner. He told RFE/RL's South Slavic
and Albanian Languages Service in Belgrade on 21 January that independence for
Kosovo was "unacceptable". This view puts him at odds with a growing
body of international opinion that believes that renewed violence awaits the
province unless there is serious movement towards resolving its final status,
which, for the ethnic Albanian majority, can mean only independence.
But Tadic stressed that independence is "unacceptable", even while
granting that the province is "on the verge of independence" and its
Albanian population is in practice beyond Belgrade's control. Tadic argued that
"independence...is unacceptable for very specific reasons...[because it
would lead to the] fragmentation of the region...[and] the establishment of a
new Albanian independent state with its own army and foreign policy, which would
in the long run be directed against Serbia. This is absolutely unacceptable to
The references to "fragmentation" are typical of many Belgrade
politicians, not only regarding Kosovo but also Montenegro. It is interesting
that he assumes the new state, which President Ibrahim Rugova has said would be
committed to peace and Euro-Atlantic integration, would somehow be hostile
towards Serbia. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who is Tadic's rival,
often speaks about a "domino effect" that independence for Kosovo
might allegedly have elsewhere in the Balkans.
Independent Kosovo 'not economically viable'
Such views about "fragmentation" find a warm reception in some
circles abroad, particularly within the EU. Kosovar Albanian and
pro-independence Montenegrin leaders reply that Serbia is simply trying to hold
on to territories that now seek to exercise the rights of self-determination and
majority rule. Those Kosovars and Montenegrins believe that trying to maintain
the status quo is the surest recipe for instability and unrest in the future.
But speaking to RFE/RL in Belgrade, Tadic argued that an independent Kosovo
would not be economically viable and that "that state could live only from
smuggling drugs, people, and weapons." This argument, too, is not new.
Since the times of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, official
Belgrade, and the Serbian lobby abroad have often sought to portray Albanians in
general and those of Kosovo in particular as criminals and drug dealers. It is
no more and no less true that for centuries smuggling has been a way of life for
certain mountain clans, whether Serb, Montenegrin, Macedonian or Albanian.
An RFE/RL listener asked Tadic whether Serbia should form groups of armed
volunteers to "defend" the province because "we will not give up
Kosovo at any price" and Serbia needs its lignite. The president replied
that "there is nothing that is worth more than life or worth doing at any
price". The brown coal, however, has the potential to provide some domestic
energy sources for Serbia for a rather long time, and this factor "must be
taken into account" whenever the Kosovo question comes up for discussion,
More splits for Serbia
Serbia's fissiparous problems now include Montenegro, the former sixth
republic of Yugoslavia that somehow stuck with Serbia whilst the other four FYR
's were breaking away. Filip Vujanovic, the president of Montenegro and Prime
Minister Milo Djukanovic, announced the proposal as the draft 'Agreement on
Transformation of Serbia-Montenegro into a Commonwealth of Internationally
Recognised States', and have forwarded it to Belgrade for the Serbian leaders'
consideration. The last concordat between the two states was as recently as 2003
but neither side has been happy with it.
Presidents and prime ministers abound
There are for a small country, too many tiers of government with a federal
parliament and state officials, as well as separate Serbian and also Montenegran
ones. Serbia's problem has always been that without Montenegro it is landlocked
with no outlet to the sea. The EU and the US have tried to keep these entities
as one, largely because of the relevant and highly appropriate term 'balkanisation,'
where a single polity as Yugoslavia was, could eventually wind up when the post-Milosevic
dust settles, as perhaps seven or eight small states and statelets. As the newly
independent nations of Europe have been coalescing within the EU, thus moving
towards common goals and policies, the trend for county-size statelets to seek
independence for ethnic, or religious, or historic, but not necessarily economic
reasons, is making the going that much harder for the unifiers on a
Indian, Serbian companies interested in joint car manufacture
Representatives of the Zastava Vehicles Group and the Indian UBE Mytri India Ltd
company have signed a protocol on the possibility of producing a joint vehicle
for the Indian market, FoNet News Agency reported.
The Indian company representatives visited Kragujevac and Belgrade recently.
Following a visit to the Kraguevac-based Zastava and Belgrade-based DMB car
plant, they concluded that Zastava could be a serious partner and manufacturer
of a car which would suit the Indian market well.
Representatives of the Indian company expressed their readiness to invest in
building their own capacities in India where vehicles using Kragujevac
technology would be produced.
During their visit to Kragujevac, there was particular interest in Zastava's
Scala model, which would first be delivered in parts and assembled in India,
while in the second stage, the majority of parts would be manufactured in India,
Zastava's press service said.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Serbian president, German official discuss economic cooperation
Serbian President, Boris Tadic, held a discussion recently with the state
secretary for the Balkans in the [German] Ministry of Economy and Labour,
Dietmar Staffel, regarding economic trends in Serbia and possibilities of more
significant involvement of German companies in the Serbian market, the
presidential cabinet's press service has said, FoNet News Agency reported.
Tadic said that concrete measures were necessary in order to increase exports of
Serbian products to the German market and the whole of the European Union, and
start up small and medium-sized companies in Serbia.
Staffel invited Tadic to take a Serbian delegation to the Hanover Fair, one of
the largest industrial expositions in Germany, noting that German businessmen
were very interested in getting to know Serbia's economic potential.
EBRD "pleased" with economic reforms in Montenegro
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [EBRD] is pleased with the
results of reforms and with the strengthening of macroeconomic stability in
Montenegro, the organization said, Radio Montenegro reported.
The bank's president, Jean Lemierre, headed a European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development delegation. The delegation held talks in Podgorica with
Montenegrin President, Filip Vujanovic, and Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic.
Representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
confirmed that they were ready to strengthen the partnership, especially by
backing banks, said a statement issued by the Montenegrin government's PR
Serbia industrial output up 9.3%
The December 2004 industrial production in Serbia proper, without Kosovo and
Metohija, was 9.3% up on the same month in 2003 and 21.7% up on the average of
that year, while overall annual industrial production was up by 7.1%, Serbian
Statistics Institute Assistant Director, Ema Jovanovic, said recently, Tanjung
Jovanovic said at a press conference in December 2004, compared to the same
month of the previous year, the processing industry recorded a 23.8% rise, and
19% in the production and distribution of electricity, gas and water and 6.1% in
ore and stone mining.
Ericsson, Serbian telecom sign 30m euro deal
The global company Sony Ericsson has signed a deal worth 30m euros with Telekom
Srbija [Serbian Telecom], which would enable the GSM network in Serbia to be
expanded and improved, a statement issued by Telekom Srbije said, SRNA news
According to the agreement, Ericsson will provide state of the art equipment,
which would enable Telekom Srbija to expand the GSM network and offer the most
modern telecommunication services to its customers over the next 12 months.
Number of Balkan mobile users to double by 2008 - report
The number of mobile users in the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia, and Herzegovina,
Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro) is expected to almost double over the next
four years, according to a study from market advisory firm IDC. By the end of
2008, the region is to have nearly 14m users, representing approximately 69 per
cent of the population, up from an estimated 44 per cent in 2004. Mobile market
revenue is projected to surpass 1.6bn Euro in 2008, with data accounting for
nearly ten per cent of operator income.
With the largest population, Serbia had the most mobile subscribers in the
region, with an estimated 4.37m users in 2004. By contrast, the smallest market,
Montenegro, had the highest penetration, reaching an estimated 89 per cent at
the end of last year. By the end of 2008, Macedonia is to have the highest rate
of growth in terms of both the number of users and total operator revenue.
In 2003 and the first half of 2004, most operators in the region were still
focusing on the types of activities found in markets just starting to take off.
This included obtaining licences, finding strategic partners, privatising and
extending geographic coverage.
Nevertheless, the gap between mobile services available in the Balkans and those
available in the rest of Central Europe is likely to substantially narrow over
the next four years. By the end of 2008, the majority of Balkan operators are to
have established UMTS and other third-generation networks.