% of GDP
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918; its name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941 was resisted by various partisan bands that fought themselves as well as the invaders. The group headed by Marshal TITO took full control upon German expulsion in 1945. Although communist in name, his new government successfully steered its own path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades. In the early 1990s, post-TITO Yugoslavia began to unravel along ethnic lines: Slovenia, Croatia, and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia all declared their independence in 1991; Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" in 1992 and, under President Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Serbia led various military intervention efforts to unite Serbs in neighboring republics into a "Greater Serbia." All of these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In 1999, massive expulsions by Serbs of ethnic Albanians living in the autonomous republic of Kosovo provoked an international response, including the NATO bombing of Serbia and the stationing of NATO and Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo. Blatant attempts to manipulate presidential balloting in October of 2000 were followed by massive nationwide demonstrations and strikes that saw the election winner, Vojislav KOSTUNICA, replace
Update No: 082 - (01/03/04)
The Serbs are in a quandary. They are still regarded with distrust by their neighbours. The trial of Milosevic at the Hague continues to remind everyone in the Balkans of what they got up to in the 1990s. The fact that Karadzic and Mladic, the two strongmen of the Bosnian Serbian state at the time of the 1992-95 war, are still at large, and believed to be in Serbia, is not forgotten either, protected, it is widely assumed, by the Serbian security forces, or at least rogue elements within them. Serbia under Milosevic was known as a gangster state where politicians and organised crime ruled the roost. It is far from clear that these criminal gangs have been broken up.
Change of government
There has been a change of government in Serbia, with a new coalition coming about, in which every party believes handing over more war criminals to the Hague is a mistaken course. The truth is that the Serbs bear out a common feature of postmodern politics, the emergence of the predatory victim. For victims they certainly see themselves to be.
They must be the only people in the world who celebrate as the foundation myth of their nation a defeat, the Battle of the field of Blackbirds, or of Kosovo, in 1389 AD, when they and their Hungarian and Albanian allies were vanquished by the Turks, leading to half a millennium of oppression. The only comparison would be the English and the Battle of Hastings in 1066AD. But somehow more recent events have occluded the Battle of Hastings from being the central myth of England.
The new Serbian government will, nevertheless, be obliged to cooperate with the international community, not least to obtain aid and credit.
A hardening of policy
The most popular politician in the country is Vojislav Kostunica, the former president and still head of the Democratic Party of Serbia. This has now entered the coalition with the democratic bloc already in power, along with the party of Milosevic, the Socialists, and another, the Radicals under Vojislav Seselj, a far right nationalist, also on trial at the Hague for war crimes. A strange bunch of bedfellows it may be thought, and Serbia having apparently bounced back after deposing Milosevic, is now perceived as sliding back into nationalist darkness.
The government certainly has a broad spectrum of opinion, with the only common denominator being hostility to the process in the Hague, which is represented as another Battle of the Blackbirds, putting the whole nation on trial.
One thing is now extremely likely, a hardening of Belgrade's policy towards Kosovo. But de facto it is already independent and the international community is not likely to accept any new inclination towards a Greater Serbia, after fighting the 1999 war over this very issue.
Indeed, Serbia's nationalist intransigence is likely to provoke hostility and even pariah status, by the majority of European nations, who do not forget the horrors visited upon the central Balkans during the 1990s, and who did what to whom.
US government approves donation for combined power plant construction
The US government approved recently, through the mediation of its Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), a US$757,245 donation for the preparation of a feasibility study on the construction of a combined power plant for district heating in New Belgrade. The agreement was signed by US Ambassador to Serbia-Montenegro, William Montgomery, and Serbian Deputy Minister of Energy and Mining, Nikola Nikolic, serbia.sr.gov website reported.
Serbian Assistant Minister of Energy and Mining, Vladislav Pavicevic told a press conference that the combined power and thermoelectric power plants are based on the state-of-the-art technology. He said that the new facility will operate at a capacity between 300 and 600 megawatts, and will power 250,000 homes in Belgrade.
Pavicevic said that the feasibility study, whose completion is planned for late March 2005, will also examine domestic industry's capacity to produce equipment for such facilities. This was the case in Croatia, where domestic companies manufactured up to 40 per cent of the total equipment. This will create possibilities for the domestic industry to take part in the construction of similar facilities in other countries as well.
Ambassador, William Montgomery, said that the USTDA has invested more than US$4m in various development projects in Serbia-Montenegro since 2001.
Industrial production in December 2003 up 8.7 percent against 2002 monthly average
Serbia's industrial production in December 2003 rose 8.7 percent against monthly average production in 2002, also increasing by 5.0 percent compared with December 2002, the Serbian Statistics Office said in a statement, Serbia.sr.gov website reported.
This year's industrial output has been projected at 3.0 percent down against 2003. In December 2003, the production of work assets rose 18.8 percent year-on-year, with the production of intermediate goods and consumer goods growing 6.0 percent and 2.0 percent respectively.
A total of 15 sectors, accounting for 59.0 percent of overall production, reported a year-on-year rise in December 2003. The largest growths were recorded in the production of chemicals and chemical products, motor vehicles and trailers, and ore and stone extraction.
In the same month, 12 sectors, which make up 41.0 percent of total industrial production, recorded a drop against December 2002. The sharpest declines were reported in the production of precise and optical instruments, leather, wood and cork products, not including furniture.
In 2003, 23 sectors, accounting for 62.0 percent of Serbia's industrial production, saw a drop compared with 2002. The largest declines were recorded in the production of office machines, clothes and fur, wood and cork products not including furniture, and metal ore extraction.
Four sectors, making up 38.0 percent of overall industrial output, posted a year-on-year rise in 2003, with largest growths recorded in the production of chemicals and chemical products, coal extraction, and the production and distribution of electricity, gas and water.
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