Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
Update No: 106 - (23/03/06)
Slobodan Milosevic: a shrewd career move
When Elvis Presley died in 1977, a Hollywood wit remarked, 'a shrewd career
move.' The same could be said of Slobadan Milosevic.
His death is a huge embarrassment for his enemies, notably in the West, putting
in doubt the very future of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY). But it is embarrassing Serbian democrats too.
Serbian President, Boris Tadic, one of them, said that the UN war crimes
tribunal is responsible for Slobodan Milosevic's death, but he added that it
would not hamper Serbia's future cooperation with the court. "Undoubtedly,
Milosevic had demanded a higher level of health care," Tadic said in an
interview with The Associated Press. "That right should have been granted
to all war crimes defendants." He added, "I think they are responsible
for what happened."
By dying in a prison cell before the end of his war crimes trial in The Hague,
the former Yugoslav president has denied his victims justice, raised his stature
among Serbs as a secular martyr, and probably dashed the European Union's hope
of soon coaxing Serbia out of its pariah status. This is probably good news for
the hunted General Mladic and former Bosnian Serb president Karadic.
At the same time he has set back the cause of international justice, whose
proponents had been relishing the prospect of a former head of state being
punished for crimes against humanity for the first time.
Tribunal under question
Milosevic's death is a blow to the tribunal, which invested years in its
flagship case. When he was transferred to The Hague in 2001, hopes were high
that the architect of ethnic cleansing would face justice, and a definitive
record of the war would be established. Instead, Milosevic will become a grim
footnote. It's hard to say he won, but clearly international law hasn't.
Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and put on trial in February 2002 on 66 counts
for war crimes and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during Yugoslavia's
violent break-up in the 1990s. He was the first sitting head of state indicted
for war crimes. He was the sixth war crimes suspect from the Balkans to die in
custody at The Hague.
Milosevic's death means no verdict, denying the tribunal the chance to establish
a definitive record. Yet this only highlights the problem with expecting
international justice to play a truth-telling role in the first place. Courts
don't write histories; prosecutors go for conviction, not a record. Indeed, one
problem with the prosecution's case was that it tried to tell the whole story of
the war and drowned in its own sprawling narrative.
Nor has the tribunal contributed to regional reconciliation. Few Serbs accept
the tribunal's legitimacy. Former Yugoslavia's other communities may praise the
tribunal when it convicts their enemies but not when it convicts one of their
own. In Bosnia, reconciliation was never going to be easy, but the tribunal has
failed to create common ground among its peoples.
Russian Duma Calls for Closure of UN Tribunal Over Milosevic Death
The lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, harshly criticized the
UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on March 15th, the Ides of March, blaming it
for Slobodan Milosevic's death and calling for its quick closure. It is as if
the equinox should mark a sea-change in international law, as Caeser's
assassination in 57BC, ushering in civil war in the Roman Empire, did over two
thousand years ago.
The State Duma voted unanimously to approve a statement that accused the
tribunal of being "extremely politicised and biased" in its inquiries
and said that its failure to provide Milosevic with adequate medical care led to
the former Yugoslav president's death on March 11th.
"Russia had been ready to accept Slobodan Milosevic for treatment and
provide the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with the guarantees
of his return to The Hague, but the tribunal had ignored these appeals,
undertaking full responsibility for Milosevic's life," the lower house
It said the tribunal's failure to provide qualified medical care to Milosevic
amounted to "flagrant violation of human rights." The statement
adopted by the lower house called for a quick completion of the tribunal's
inquiries and said that its "further activities will be unfeasible."
A week earlier, convicted former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, a star
prosecution witness against Milosevic, killed himself in the same prison.
The Russian parliament alluded to the deaths, saying that "such a tragic
chain of events is in clear discord with European calls for observing human
During the Ides of March debates, some MPs angrily recalled the Western
criticism of Russia's rights record, saying that Milosevic's death shows the
West doesn't have the moral right to judge Russia. "We must immediately end
all European Union inspections of Russian prison facilities," said
nationalist MP Sergei Abeltsev.
That there will be serious international repercussions from the event is
certain. The following is an insightful essay from a member of Open Democracy,
giving its author's views on its general significance, in a contribution again
coming about on the Ides of March, March 15th;-
Slobodan Milosevic: a sign of the times
The Serbian dictator's trajectory, as a communist who exploited nationalist
and anti-imperialist sentiment to become the hard-left's hero, puts him at the
centre of the new millennium's political choices, says Marko Attila Hoare.
Slobodan Milosevic represented the last gasp of a discredited type of politics,
but he was also the harbinger of a new one - not just in the former communist
states of Europe, but also in the west. His policies ensured that communist
dictatorship would not go peacefully to its grave in Yugoslavia, as it already
had in most of east-central Europe, but would instead create a spectacular
conflagration, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of innocent victims
before burning itself out in total defeat.
Yet despite this record, or perhaps in some sense because of it, Milosevic's
cause became the cause of all those across Europe and the world - conservatives
of the left and conservatives of the right - for whom the idea of progress under
liberal capitalism was and remains anathema.
Milosevic deliberately promoted the break-up of Yugoslavia and the independence
of Croatia and Slovenia; he championed free-market reforms; he struggled to
build good relations with the west, even supporting the United States in the
1991 Gulf conflict; he waged wars against sovereign independent states without a
mandate from the United Nations Security Council; and he initially endorsed the
activities of the ICTY.
The western alliance was very slow to confront him, treating him more as a
partner and collaborator than as an enemy, right up until the late 1990s. As an
anti-imperialist, Milosevic was no more successful, and was considerably less
sincere, than he was as a velikosrpski ("Great-Serbia") nationalist.
But it is the myth of Milosevic rather than the real historical figure that has
made him a hero to so many of those opposed to the "new world order".
He was the conservative's communist; the communist's champion of free-market
reform; the peacenik's warmonger; the UN-worshipper's defier of international
law. In sum, a paradoxical poster-boy for an anti-modern coalition comprised of
For another interpretation of the event:-
The meaning of Milosevic: how the Butcher of the Balkans changed us
One of the more tragic aspects of the demise of Slobodan Milosevic is that the
international committee to defend him will now have to be wound up. The
committee have been assiduous jail-visitors, invariably finding the former
Serbian leader resolute or unbowed, his belief in his own innocence virtually
luminescent. And they have been determined petitioners, demanding Mr Milosevic's
release and the jailing of "the real war criminals: the Nato leaders who
committed crimes against humanity and against Yugoslav sovereignty and who
continue to commit those crimes today. One of their signatories was the new
Nobel laureate for literature, Harold Pinter, though somehow this fact was left
off the citation.
All that remains for them to do is to spread as many rumours as they can that
the forces of imperialism done the old boy in, and then they can get down to the
business of pre-emptively defending Kim Jong Il, or posthumously rehabilitating
Beria, or something useful like that. What I want to do, however, is to
chronicle how the Serbian leader was responsible for the invasion of Iraq. Along
a line of logic that runs, crudely, no Slobbo, no Bosnia, no Kosovo, no fashion
for intervention, no Iraq.
This is also a personal journey, because, back in 1993 I was as ardent a
peacenik as you could find. Or, rather, I was irritated by all these reporters
filing their stuff from Balkan towns with z's in them, emoting about villagers
and implying that there was a crime of omission going on, and the international
community should do something to sort it out. From the safety of London I
preferred the writings of those who, like the author Misha Glenny, suggested
that it was all incredibly complex over there, and that getting stuck in on one
side or the other would be a terrible mistake. Diplomacy, that was the thing.
Humanitarian convoys. Aid. That way no British soldiers would be killed, and
truly dreadful conflict might be avoided. I distrusted those who, like Martin
Bell, seemed to advocate a campaigning, tendentious journalism.
For a while I put my faith in Douglas Hurd and David Owen and their various
peace plans. As the former Yugoslavia fell apart I felt some residual sympathy
for the view that, after all, things had been better before under Tito, and that
all this was about the resurgence of a petty nationalism that it would have been
better to discourage. And if they said you could do business with the unlovely
Milosevic (who was no worse, surely, than Croatia's Tudjman), or if they hinted
that the Bosnian Muslims might somehow be complicit in some of the worst attacks
on Sarajevo, or if they argued that selling arms to the Muslims would be like
adding petrol to the fires, who was to say that they were wrong? Didn't these
Balkan types all do it to each other?
Then came Srebrenica. Of course there was plenty of reason, even before July
1995, to doubt that diplomacy could save hundreds of thousands from ethnic
cleansing and murder. But Srebrenica was the moment when our responsibility for
all this simply could not be denied. The UN was there, in the form of Dutch
soldiers supposedly protecting an enclave. Our cameras were there as Ratko
Mladic swanned into the invaded town and smilingly reassured Bosnian women that
everything would be dealt with. In front of our eyes, just about, with our full
knowledge, thousands were taken to European fields - just as they had been 50
years earlier - and murdered en masse. It was the most shaming moment of my
life. We had let it happen again.
Someone recently wrote that everything is either Vietnam or Munich. It's either
a quagmire, where it would have been better to stay out - or it's inaction in
the face of an enemy, who merely sees passivity as an invitation to behave
worse. I was a child of the Vietnam era, but Srebrenica - and Slobbo - moved me
and thousands more from one column to the other. It was our Munich. When Slobbo
turned his attention to Kosovo, it was Poland. Working backwards I could see
that Bell and others had been right. We had betrayed the Bosnian Muslims, and we
couldn't do it again.
Such understandings are forged as much by opposition as by realisation. In
Kosovo the same forces - weaker now - lined up against Nato involvement as had
argued against any military action over Bosnia. There were the relativists
questioning why we should intervene here, when we hadn't in Burma, Tibet or
Zimbabwe. There were the lawyers arguing that military action without the
imprimatur of the United Nations might be illegal. There were the
anti-Americans, who suggested that the motivation for military action was some
hitherto unsuspected strategic or economic interest. There was Pinter saying
that Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were the real criminals, not Slobodan Milosevic.
Some of these apologists have never gone away. Recently, after a published
interview with the antiwar intellectual Noam Chomsky, The Guardian erased the
article from its website and apologised to Professor Chomsky for the
interviewer's suggestion that either he, or Diana Johnstone - an author whose
work he praised - had denied that the Srebrenica massacre had taken place.
This correction was entirely wrong. In the sense that the world understood there
to have been an act amounting to genocide at Srebrenica - ie, an act that we
would have been justified in attempting to prevent by force - Johnstone
certainly, and Chomsky implicitly, had most certainly denied the massacre. In
Johnstone's book, Fools' Crusade, and elsewhere she had argued that the numbers
of deaths had been exaggerated, that many supposed victims were in fact still
alive somewhere, that Srebrenica had actually been an armed camp, that the
Bosnians had deliberately let it be overrun hoping for a anti-Serb propaganda
coup, that there had been some regrettable "revenge" killings, as can
happen in wartime. Anything and everything, indeed, except the truth - which was
that 7,000-8,000 Muslim men were killed by the Bosnian Serb forces precisely
because they were Muslim men. Johnstone argued this, and Chomsky commended
Johnstone. But why?
Most charitably we may understand this by thinking that Chomsky sees the road
from Srebrenica to Iraq just as I do. If Bosnia was the betrayal through
inaction and appeasement, Srebrenica the consequence and Kosovo the
determination not to let it happen again, then the line runs clear. And if
Milosevic, far from being someone we could do business with, was in fact an
opportunistic tyrant who played us for fools until we saw the light, then what
Slobodan Milosevic, more than anyone else, caused a division within the Left and
Centre Left, dividing the pacifists, anti-imperialists and anti-Americans from
the anti-fascists and the internationalists. He reminded too many of us that
inaction can be as toxic and murderous as action. He prepared us - for weal or
woe - for the new world. RIP Slobbo.
Bank privatisation to be concluded in 2007
The privatisation of banks in Montenegro will be concluded in the first quarter
of 2007, according to the model of 100 per cent ownership of foreign capital,
said Montenegrin Central Bank chief economist Nikola Fabris, ANSAmed reported.
He said that currently there were nine banks working in Montenegro, of which 61
per cent of the capital was in the hands of foreign investors. The tenth bank in
Montenegro will be Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank, from the beginning of April, Fabris
Serbian company to build 2 dams in Algeria
Belgrade based company Hidrotehnika-Hidrogradnja (Hydro-technics and
Hydroconstruction) won a tender to build two dams in Algeria, ANSAmed reported.
The 60 million Euro job should be completed in 24 months, Serbian Ambassador to
Algeria, Radoslav Nedic, told Tanjug news agency. Ambassador Nadic said a group
of Hidrotehnikas civil engineers and other experts had arrived in Algeria to
visit the construction sites.
PanEuropean oil pipeline memo to be signed
A Memorandum of Understanding for the support and development of the PanEuropean
oil pipeline linking Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Italy will be signed in
Trieste, Italy, ANSAmed reported.
By signing this document, Serbian Mining and Power Minister, Radomir Naumov,
will, together with his counterparts from Romania, Croatia and Italy, boost the
realisation of a regional infrastructure facility, a Ministry statement said. A
representative of Slovenia will attend the signing, but will not sign the
Memorandum, because the Slovenian feasibility study has yet to be completed. The
1,319-kilometre oil pipeline will pass through Romania, Serbia, Croatia,
Slovenia and Italy. The value of this pipeline from the Romanian port of
Constanza to Trieste in Italy, is estimated at some US$2 billion.
Foreign companies interested in investing in Serbian market
Serbian Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Policy, Slobodan Lalovic,
announced that representatives of the 15 largest international companies
interested in investing in Serbia will meet in Belgrade soon, New Europe
Following a lecture to students of Belgrade's Classics Programme Grammar School,
Lalovic pointed out that apart from the capital that foreign investors are
prepared to invest, the transfer of knowledge and new technologies they will
bring along are also very important for Serbia. He recalled that though 490,000
people found employment last year, there are still around 50,000 vacancies,
adding that "structural unemployment" is currently present in Serbia.
He also announced that the government will adopt the law on employee
contributions that will provide a number of benefits and incentives for
employers who hire young people. The contribution on wages will also be
considerably reduced, he concluded.
Foreigners invest over 360 million Euro in 2005
Montenegro attracted more then 360 million Euro in foreign direct investments (FDI),
or about 580 Euro per capita, last year, ANSAmed reported.
Releasing the result senior economist of the Montenegrin Central Bank, Nikola
Fabris, said such a level of direct investment per capita secured the third
place for Montenegro among countries in transition, following the Czech Republic
Agreement reached on Mobtel Company's mire
An agreement has been reached by the Serbian government on the problem of the
mobile telephony company Mobtel with the creation of a new company by an
Austrian investment consortium and Telecom Serbia, Serbian Finance Minister,
Mladjan Dinkic, said recently, New Europe reported.
Telecom Serbia will have 70 per cent of the capital of the new company and the
Austrian consortium 30 per cent, Dinkic said, adding that dividends owed by
Mobtel to the value of 2.1 billion Dinars will be paid by the end of March.
Since Mobtel's licence has been revoked, the Serbian government will at the end
of March issue tenders for a third mobile telephony operator at the minimum
price of 700 million Euro, from which the state should get at least 600 million
Euro, Dinkic said.