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Books on Serbia


Key Economic Data
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $
GNI per capita
 US $ 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Update No: 137 - (27/10/08)

Rift with Russia?
The Serbs are anxious that the global credit crunch does not dry up foreign finance to them entirely. They feel very much out in the cold, alone and bereft of friends, even Russia, which has enough troubles on its plate to be hard put to help Serbia. 

There has been something of a rift, anyway, between Russia and Serbia over the August war in Georgia and the Russian recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The parallel with Western recognition of the independence of Kosovo is too close for comfort. The Russian decision has in effect finally ditched the mirage that Kosovo could ever again belong to Serbia. 

For the message that the Kremlin is sending the Serbs and the world generally here is that it is as well to acknowledge realities, even if they run counter to the strict canons of international law. Kosovo has been de facto independent since the coalition won the Kosovo war in mid-1999 nine years ago. The Kosovar Albanians want no part of Serbia, any more than the Abkhazians or South Ossetians want to be part of Georgia - period

Sigh of relief over election
One consolation for pro-West and pro-EU Serbians is that it got its vital parliamentary election out of the way earlier this year before the financial crisis, which could have helped the radical nationalists. President Boris Tadic, who is very much of this pro-Western persuasion, was relieved that the nationalists, especially the Serbian Radical Party, were eclipsed at the polls by the centrist parties.

The final vote count in Serbia's divisive parliamentary election, held on May 11, confirmed on May 21 that pro-European parties had won the most seats in the future legislature, but not quite enough to govern alone. President Boris Tadic's reformist group, ‘For a European Serbia’, won 102 seats in the 250-member parliament. The far-right Radical Party won 78 seats, and nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Popular Coalition won 30, the results showed.

New government forms
The reformers and pro-Europeans have basically engineered a deft 'divide and rule' maneouvre over the hard-line nationalists by bringing the rump of Milosevic's old Socialists on board. The pro-European bloc behind President Tadic's Democratic Party (DS), the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists and four representatives of the Hungarian minority combined to make up 126 seats, the minimum majority in the assembly of 250, by July after nearly two months of negotiations.

After a marathon session on July 4th, the Serbian parliament passed a law paving the way for a new cabinet headed by economist Mirko Cvetkovic, firmly in the pro-EU, reformist camp.

Parliament, in a sitting filibustered by the opposition, also passed a law on 24 ministries. The two laws were necessary for the parliament to start debating the new government.

The size of Cvetkovic's government, the largest in the region with its 24 ministries and three deputy premiers, reflects the fierce haggling which produced the ruling coalition and its slim majority since the election. The DS and the Socialists signed a coalition agreement earlier on July 5th, which states the principles and goals of the new Serbian government.

Map of the opposition
The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party leads the opposition now after four years in government with the increasingly nationalistic Democratic Party of Serbia of outgoing Prime Minister Kostunica. 

The government may well have the support of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), with 13 votes, when it tables laws which would accelerate Serbia's stalled progress toward European Union membership. The Liberals alone have been consistent about joining the EU, even when that was politically against the current in Serbia. 

There are also three minority representatives -- two Muslim and one Albanian -- in the parliament.

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