Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
Update No: 107 - (28/04/06)
A severed state in the offing
There is no more important question for a country than its territorial
integrity. The federal state of Serbia and Montenegro looks like being no more.
Serbia, with problems enough about the future status of Kosovo, is having to
face the imminent loss of Montenegro, a land of only 660,000 people. It has the
all-important advantage of access to the sea, which the land-locked Serbs
otherwise lack. Moreover, there are believed to be unquantified oil riches
offshore in the Adriatic.
Weeks before the referendum on independence in Montenegro, scheduled for 21st
May, the leaders of the tiny republic and their counterparts in Serbia are
playing political games in an effort to attract votes for their cause and to
outsmart the other side.
The government of Montenegro, prime minister Milo Djukanovic, who advocates
independence and dissolution of the present state union with Serbia, on April
13th adopted a declaration saying that nothing would change if Montenegro voters
opted for independence and that it would grant Serbian citizens the same rights
in Montenegro that they have at present.
He is an unusual figure, the head of a tiny fledgling nation, but potentially
the tallest head of state in the world, at over seven feet two. He stands out in
other ways too.
"The state of Montenegro guarantees to citizens of Serbia all the existing
human and civil rights and freedoms, except the right to vote," the
declaration stated. Explaining his stance, Djukanovic said that he favoured
"open borders with Serbia," to facilitate "the free movement of
people, goods, services, capital and information."
In addition, Djukanovic said that students from Serbia would be able to continue
their studies under the present conditions, and that Serbian citizens would
enjoy full pension and health insurance rights in both republics.
Serbian commentators have described Djukanovic's offer as "pure demagoguery
and a political trick." The problem with his proposal is "that there
are hardly any Serbs studying and working in Montenegro, while on the other
hand, there are over 200,000 Montenegrins living in Serbia", said political
analyst Slavko Zivanov.
"What Djukanovic is trying to do is to enhance his democratic image and
show generosity in front of the international community, while trying to secure
the same rights for Montenegrins living in Serbia," said Zivanov.
Predrag Bubalo, economy minister in Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica's
government, was quick to reply that "Montenegro regime propaganda" was
"preparing a roasting spit while rabbit was still in the woods', using an
Belgrade opposes the separation of the two republics, and has turned its back on
Djukanovic's proposals to form a union of independent states, saying, reasonable
enough, that there was "no point in remarrying after divorce." Bubalo
said the government of Serbia "will patiently await" the results of
the 21st May referendum in Montenegro, "and then decide on mutual
"However, we have to shatter any illusions that everything would remain the
same in the event of separation, and that the lives of citizens in two separate
states would remain the same as they would if they lived in a common
state," Bubalo concluded.
Serbia supports Romania-Italy oil pipeline
As some compensation, an important development is imminent in the Serbian
economy. Deputy Serbian Premier Miroljub Labus has said that the government
supports private-public investment in a Romania-to-Italy oil pipeline, that
would pass through Serbia.
The pipeline would carry 40 million tons of oil a year from the oil-rich Caspian
Sea area through Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta via Serbia's Pancevo oil
processing complex at Belgrade, Croatia's Omisalj on the northern Adriatic
island of Krk, and end at Italy's northern Adriatic port of Trieste, independent
B92 Belgrade radio said. The pipeline could go into operation in 2011 or 2012.
Balkan countries are also considering two other oil pipelines, one from Bulgaria
to Greece and the other from Bulgaria to Albania.
Experts say the three pipelines would not be in competition because they would
serve different oil markets.
The following report is self-explanatory of a natural disaster, one which may
yet, however, have political repercussions. It could revive the idea among the
Montenegrins that Serbia is a benighted country to escape from:-
State of emergency in Serbia after floods
Serbia was forced to declare a state of emergency in several regions after
the Danube and its tributaries reached their highest level for a century,
causing major flooding across the Balkans over the weekend of April 15-16th,
which was only Easter in the Western churches, not the Orthodox ones.
Emergency crews and volunteers struggled to keep embankments from giving way in
the north of the country. Extensive sandbagging operations continued along the
banks of the Danube, Sava, Tisa and Tamis rivers.
Swollen by the spring snow melt and heavy rains, the Danube - Europe's second
longest river - reached record highs in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, flooding
towns, villages and farmland.
The capital, Belgrade, lying on the confluence of the Sava River and the Danube,
has suffered its worst flooding in decades. Several major boulevards that run
along the two rivers are closed, making city transportation almost impossible.
More than 100 people have been evacuated from the large island of Ada Ciganlija,
straddling the Sava in Belgrade, the favourite resort of residents. The city's
mayor, Nenad Bogdanovic, said he expected the waters would now have peaked after
surpassing their record highs.
"We have reinforced barriers which will resist the wave but the question is
how long the water level will remain so high. That's what's worrying," said
Srdjan Jovanovic, head of the Belgrade flood defence team. He appealed to
citizens to avoid a popular recreation spot on the Sava, saying some young women
had pierced sandbags with their high heels, increasing the danger of collapse.
"The danger is big, and water can break the top of the dikes. The whole
recreation area would be flooded in seconds," he said.
Serbia's agriculture minister Ivana Dulic Markovic said on April 16th: "All
that is left now is to trust in God that all will end well."
Hundreds of people have been evacuated to safety in the town of Smederevo, 40km
east of Belgrade. Tent cities are being erected for continued evacuation in
coming days." This is so sad, many of us will spend Easter in tents,"
local resident Stojan Savic said. Orthodox Easter was on April 23rd.
In the town of Golubac at the border with Romania, the city centre is under
water, including local train and bus stations, hotels and schools. The flow of
the Danube reaches some 16,000 cubic metres per second, which is twice the
normal level in April. In some areas in Serbia, the river is four kilometres
wide - double its normal width.
Cultivation of arable land is impossible now for 200,000 hectares along the
Danube River, particularly in the northern province of Vojvodina where its
tributaries Tisa and Tamis have risen to historic peaks.
Experts say that both the unusually persistent rains and melting of the mountain
snow in the broader region of central and Eastern Europe have caused the
disaster. In neighbouring Romania, officials say the Danube has reached its
highest level since 1895.
Eurobank acquires 100% of Nacionalna Stedionica Bank
Serbian Minister of Finance, Mladjan Dinkic, and Director General of Eurobank
EFG Group, Nicholas Nanopoulos, signed an agreement on the sale of the state's
minority block of shares of 37.7 per cent in Nacionalna Stedionica national
savings bank to the Greek EFG Eurobank, New Europe reported.
The Serbian government sold the state's minority block of shares in the national
savings bank to Eurobank at a price 7.5 times higher than that which the
Republic of Serbia invested in the bank's capital. On the same occasion, EFG
Eurobank's Director General in Belgrade Stavros Ioannou and Director General of
the Clinical Centre Vojko Djukic signed an agreement for a donation and soft
loan to the Clinical Centre of Serbia for the construction of a PET Centre (a
nuclear scanner for early detection of diseases).
EAR, EPS sign 5m Euro power station donation deal
The European Agency for Reconstruction and Development (EAR) and the Electric
Power Industry of Serbia (EPS) have signed a five million Euro donation deal to
modernise electric filters in "block two" at the electric power
station Kostolac-A, ANSAmed reported.
According to EPS Director General, Vladimir Djordjevic, the company has entered
a second stage of technical improvement of production capacities that involves a
realisation of technological projects.