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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: 154 - (25/03/10)

The insoluble question?
Serbia is very much a country in transition - but from what to what?

It might have seemed to be from communism. But of course it wasn’t. Tito was at least one communist leader who was not a fanatic. Nor was he an ideologue; he scarcely read a page of Marx in his life.

He adopted a very light-weight version of the creed, admitting a market economy, private enterprise and inward foreign investors, who found Serbia one of the best places to operate - no strikes or labour problems!

Still he felt it obligatory to manage a state sector too. But everybody did in those days; it was absolutely de rigueur.

Where to and what next?

Tadic on the warpath
Rampant private enterprise can lead to rampant crime. Serbian President Boris Tadic, a convinced reformer, vowed on March 19 to wage an all-out war on organised crime, in particularly drug trafficking cartels, saying the scourge represented the biggest threat to society. "I believe that we have no alternative policy and that a relentless fight against organised crime is an obligation for the entire leadership of the state," Tadic told the Tanjug news agency. "Serbia simply cannot allow organised crime to spread, in particularly drugs trafficking, as it poses the biggest danger to our society. That crime must be wiped out," Tadic said.

Serbia recently arrested dozens of members of a cartel smuggling huge amounts of drugs from South America to Europe. According to Tadic, the size and the importance of the ongoing fight against organised crime and narco cartels could only be compared to 'Operation Saber' -- the vast offensive against organised crime launched after the murder of reformist prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003. In the months after Djindjic's death, the authorities arrested hundreds of people accused of involvement in organised crime.

As part of the current crackdown the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the Serbian security agency seized 2.8 tonnes of cocaine in international waters last October. The drugs had an estimated value of 120 million euros (170 million dollars) and were destined for the European market.

Several members of the trafficking ring have since been arrested while Serbia has issued an international arrest warrant for the suspected leader Darko Saric.

A Belgrade court has also approved prosecutors' demands to impound the property of suspected criminals. Local media have reported on dozens of companies and luxurious houses taken from suspects, their families and lawyers.

Tadic said he has evidence that the Serbian cartels have also attempted to penetrate state institutions to destabilise the government.

"The latest property seizures prove that those groups have laundered narco money by investing not only into their personal houses and land but also in tourism, factories (and) distribution of the press," Tadic said.

In February the interior minister Ivica Dacic said that high ranking government officials including Tadic received death threats from narco cartels on a daily basis.

Serbia against the grain
The ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on Feb. 17, 2008. Serbia has said it would never recognize Kosovo's independence, regarding the move as contrary to international law.

Serbia's possible boycott of the Western Balkans conference in mid-March in protest against the invitation of Kosovo threatened to spoil the first meeting of all the political leaders in the region in 18 years.

The joint organizers, Slovenia and Croatia, failed to secure the presence of both Serbia and Kosovo, the former Serbian province which declared independence in 2008. No great surprise.

The absence of Serbia undermined the conference's goal of resolving regional disputes before European Union accession talks.

Serbian President Boris Tadic had said earlier that Serbia would take part in the conference if Kosovo "participates within the format defined by Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council," or UNMIK Kosovo, the acronym for the UN mission in Kosovo.

Into the EU?
Spain holds the EU revolving presidency. Serbia will soon take the next procedural step toward joining the European Union when a formal analysis starts of its entry bid, says Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.

Serbia is waiting for EU governments to dispatch its application, filed in December, for an official assessment by the European Commission. “We’re just in the consulting process,” Moratinos, representing the bloc’s six-month presidency, told reporters after an EU-Serbia meeting in Brussels in March. “We hope it will be the sooner the better.”

Serbia, with 7.5 million people, is both the largest former Yugoslav republic and the slowest to embrace the EU, because of the isolation into which it was plunged after the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Serbia also won visa-free travel for its citizens to the EU and started a free-trade agreement in 2009. The New Year “may not be as exciting as last year in terms of big political breakthroughs,” Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told the press conference.

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