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SERBIA & MONTENEGRO


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 19,176 15,555 10,900 70
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,910 1,400 930 112
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
102,350

Population 
10,825,900

Capital 
Belgrade 

Currency 
New Dinar

President 
Boris Tadic

Private sector 
% of GDP 
40% 


  

Update No: 094 - (24/02/05)

OSCE praises cooperation accords sealed between Serbian, Croatian prosecutors
The OSCE Mission to Serbia-Montenegro welcomed co-operation accords between Serbia's Public Prosecutor Slobodan Jankovic, War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic and Croatia's State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic. The agreements were sealed in Belgrade on February 5th. 
According to OSCE Ambassador Maurizio Massari, the document is crucial, as it is expected to enhance the joint fight against organised crime, international terrorism, war crimes, human trafficking and money laundering. It was signed within the framework of a conference dedicated to transferring responsibilities for war crimes proceedings from The Hague tribunal to domestic courts in former Yugoslav countries.

UNMIK chief, Kosovo Prime Minister predict dialogue with Belgrade 
An outstanding problem in every sense is the settlement of the Kosovo issue, now well known to the world at large since the 1999 war. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, which Belgrade considers unacceptable. 
Talks on Kosovo's final status are expected to start this year under UN auspices, but the international community has been insisting that Belgrade and Pristina first have dialogue on practical issues. 
Following talks in Pristina on 4th February, UNMIK chief Soren Jessen-Petersen and Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj announced that dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade could begin soon.
Talks would be held in Belgrade and focus on issues related to the problem of missing persons. Haradinaj said he expects Kosovo will make considerable progress in fulfilling internationally set standards by the end of May, which he says would enable the start of status discussions in September.

A diplomatic and propaganda assault
Kosovo has long been a cornerstone of Serbian cultural, ethnic, and religious identity, as a place where the last medieval prince of Serbia perished defending the faith and liberty of his people against the Turkish onslaught. Whether there is any truth to their motivations in the Serbian legends or not, the fact remains that Prince Lazar and his army rode out against the Turks in June 1389 fully aware that they might be defeated and destroyed, but choosing to stand and fight nonetheless. It is seldom mentioned in Serbia, but standing shoulder to shoulder with the Serbs and their Hungarian allies, were large contingents of Albanians under their princes, who have also come to try to stop the Ottoman tide flooding over the Balkans. Now a similar choice is before their descendants, who are facing a different sort of task.
The report in late January by the International Crisis Group advocating the "independence" of Kosovo seems to have been the first shot in an all-out propaganda war to decide the future of the Serbian province. The report has received tremendous attention in the media, from wire services to official U.S. propaganda organs, colouring every mention of Kosovo. The ICG also followed the opening editorials by Nicholas Whyte and Gareth Evans with a second salvo, as board member Wesley Clark pontificated in the Wall Street Journal. There are growing indications that the Bush regime is sympathetic to ICG's proposals. 
This kind of media assault is unprecedented since the spring of 1999, and indeed represents the most serious rhetorical and diplomatic escalation of the Kosovo crisis since the war itself. It is as if the second war for Kosovo is already underway, launched by the very same people behind the first. This time, the bombs and bullets are editorials and polls; but the conflict will be no less tense.

Fears of an EU Commissar
Perhaps the best indicator of how this Washington-centred offensive is presented by the media is a statement by Erhard Busek, commissar of the EU's Stability Pact. In an interview to Reuters on Jan. 27, Busek expressed fear that Washington could unilaterally recognize the independence of Kosovo. Now how on earth could he have received that impression?

The speech not heard
On the other hand, the closest thing to Belgrade's official line on Kosovo was completely ignored by the press. Special government envoy Nebojsa Covic spoke passionately to the European Parliament Commission in Brussels on Jan. 25; but as far as the mainstream media were concerned, that simply didn't happen. 
Now it may be slightly absurd that Covic is not only director of the government's Kosovo Coordination Centre, but also the head of a small opposition party, but that fact should make him more interesting to the media, not less. Instead, while the ICG gets the spotlight, Covic - and by extension, official Belgrade - is completely ignored. 

Diplomatic default?
Belgrade, on the other hand, has been distracted by internal problems, and has not really responded to the media blitzkrieg surrounding the ICG report. 
If any further statements, official or not, had in fact been issued, they would have been undercut by the recent publication of poll results suggesting that most Serbians have accepted losing Kosovo. The poll was conducted in late December, and the size of the sample was only 2000 people, so it's hard to say whether they accurately represent the public opinion in Serbia. There is no doubt, however, that many in the West want them to. 
The general silence of Serbian diplomacy in the face of this all-out assault on its sovereignty is highly significant. Neither Foreign Minister Draskovic nor his ambassadors in Washington and Brussels have approached the media with a counter-story. The general impression is that they are at a loss as to how. The Serbs after all lost the first battle of Kosovo in 1389; they lost the Kosovo War in1999. It looks as if they are going to lose the last struggle over Kosovo too.

Serbian president rejects Kosovo independence
One person, however, has spoken out, Serbian President Boris Tadic, considered hitherto a moderate and pro-Westerner. He told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service in Belgrade on 21 January that independence for Kosovo was "unacceptable". This view puts him at odds with a growing body of international opinion that believes that renewed violence awaits the province unless there is serious movement towards resolving its final status, which, for the ethnic Albanian majority, can mean only independence. 
But Tadic stressed that independence is "unacceptable", even while granting that the province is "on the verge of independence" and its Albanian population is in practice beyond Belgrade's control. Tadic argued that "independence...is unacceptable for very specific reasons...[because it would lead to the] fragmentation of the region...[and] the establishment of a new Albanian independent state with its own army and foreign policy, which would in the long run be directed against Serbia. This is absolutely unacceptable to Serbia". 
The references to "fragmentation" are typical of many Belgrade politicians, not only regarding Kosovo but also Montenegro. It is interesting that he assumes the new state, which President Ibrahim Rugova has said would be committed to peace and Euro-Atlantic integration, would somehow be hostile towards Serbia. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who is Tadic's rival, often speaks about a "domino effect" that independence for Kosovo might allegedly have elsewhere in the Balkans.

Independent Kosovo 'not economically viable'
Such views about "fragmentation" find a warm reception in some circles abroad, particularly within the EU. Kosovar Albanian and pro-independence Montenegrin leaders reply that Serbia is simply trying to hold on to territories that now seek to exercise the rights of self-determination and majority rule. Those Kosovars and Montenegrins believe that trying to maintain the status quo is the surest recipe for instability and unrest in the future. 
But speaking to RFE/RL in Belgrade, Tadic argued that an independent Kosovo would not be economically viable and that "that state could live only from smuggling drugs, people, and weapons." This argument, too, is not new. Since the times of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, official Belgrade, and the Serbian lobby abroad have often sought to portray Albanians in general and those of Kosovo in particular as criminals and drug dealers. It is no more and no less true that for centuries smuggling has been a way of life for certain mountain clans, whether Serb, Montenegrin, Macedonian or Albanian.
An RFE/RL listener asked Tadic whether Serbia should form groups of armed volunteers to "defend" the province because "we will not give up Kosovo at any price" and Serbia needs its lignite. The president replied that "there is nothing that is worth more than life or worth doing at any price". The brown coal, however, has the potential to provide some domestic energy sources for Serbia for a rather long time, and this factor "must be taken into account" whenever the Kosovo question comes up for discussion, Tadic added.

More splits for Serbia 
Serbia's fissiparous problems now include Montenegro, the former sixth republic of Yugoslavia that somehow stuck with Serbia whilst the other four FYR 's were breaking away. Filip Vujanovic, the president of Montenegro and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, announced the proposal as the draft 'Agreement on Transformation of Serbia-Montenegro into a Commonwealth of Internationally Recognised States', and have forwarded it to Belgrade for the Serbian leaders' consideration. The last concordat between the two states was as recently as 2003 but neither side has been happy with it. 

Presidents and prime ministers abound
There are for a small country, too many tiers of government with a federal parliament and state officials, as well as separate Serbian and also Montenegran ones. Serbia's problem has always been that without Montenegro it is landlocked with no outlet to the sea. The EU and the US have tried to keep these entities as one, largely because of the relevant and highly appropriate term 'balkanisation,' where a single polity as Yugoslavia was, could eventually wind up when the post-Milosevic dust settles, as perhaps seven or eight small states and statelets. As the newly independent nations of Europe have been coalescing within the EU, thus moving towards common goals and policies, the trend for county-size statelets to seek independence for ethnic, or religious, or historic, but not necessarily economic reasons, is making the going that much harder for the unifiers on a continent-wide basis.

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AUTOMOBILES

Indian, Serbian companies interested in joint car manufacture


Representatives of the Zastava Vehicles Group and the Indian UBE Mytri India Ltd company have signed a protocol on the possibility of producing a joint vehicle for the Indian market, FoNet News Agency reported.
The Indian company representatives visited Kragujevac and Belgrade recently. Following a visit to the Kraguevac-based Zastava and Belgrade-based DMB car plant, they concluded that Zastava could be a serious partner and manufacturer of a car which would suit the Indian market well.
Representatives of the Indian company expressed their readiness to invest in building their own capacities in India where vehicles using Kragujevac technology would be produced.
During their visit to Kragujevac, there was particular interest in Zastava's Scala model, which would first be delivered in parts and assembled in India, while in the second stage, the majority of parts would be manufactured in India, Zastava's press service said.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS

Serbian president, German official discuss economic cooperation

Serbian President, Boris Tadic, held a discussion recently with the state secretary for the Balkans in the [German] Ministry of Economy and Labour, Dietmar Staffel, regarding economic trends in Serbia and possibilities of more significant involvement of German companies in the Serbian market, the presidential cabinet's press service has said, FoNet News Agency reported.
Tadic said that concrete measures were necessary in order to increase exports of Serbian products to the German market and the whole of the European Union, and start up small and medium-sized companies in Serbia.
Staffel invited Tadic to take a Serbian delegation to the Hanover Fair, one of the largest industrial expositions in Germany, noting that German businessmen were very interested in getting to know Serbia's economic potential.

EBRD "pleased" with economic reforms in Montenegro

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [EBRD] is pleased with the results of reforms and with the strengthening of macroeconomic stability in Montenegro, the organization said, Radio Montenegro reported. 
The bank's president, Jean Lemierre, headed a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development delegation. The delegation held talks in Podgorica with Montenegrin President, Filip Vujanovic, and Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic. Representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development confirmed that they were ready to strengthen the partnership, especially by backing banks, said a statement issued by the Montenegrin government's PR office.

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INDUSTRY

Serbia industrial output up 9.3%

The December 2004 industrial production in Serbia proper, without Kosovo and Metohija, was 9.3% up on the same month in 2003 and 21.7% up on the average of that year, while overall annual industrial production was up by 7.1%, Serbian Statistics Institute Assistant Director, Ema Jovanovic, said recently, Tanjung reported.
Jovanovic said at a press conference in December 2004, compared to the same month of the previous year, the processing industry recorded a 23.8% rise, and 19% in the production and distribution of electricity, gas and water and 6.1% in ore and stone mining.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Ericsson, Serbian telecom sign 30m euro deal

The global company Sony Ericsson has signed a deal worth 30m euros with Telekom Srbija [Serbian Telecom], which would enable the GSM network in Serbia to be expanded and improved, a statement issued by Telekom Srbije said, SRNA news agency reported.
According to the agreement, Ericsson will provide state of the art equipment, which would enable Telekom Srbija to expand the GSM network and offer the most modern telecommunication services to its customers over the next 12 months.

Number of Balkan mobile users to double by 2008 - report

The number of mobile users in the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro) is expected to almost double over the next four years, according to a study from market advisory firm IDC. By the end of 2008, the region is to have nearly 14m users, representing approximately 69 per cent of the population, up from an estimated 44 per cent in 2004. Mobile market revenue is projected to surpass 1.6bn Euro in 2008, with data accounting for nearly ten per cent of operator income. 
With the largest population, Serbia had the most mobile subscribers in the region, with an estimated 4.37m users in 2004. By contrast, the smallest market, Montenegro, had the highest penetration, reaching an estimated 89 per cent at the end of last year. By the end of 2008, Macedonia is to have the highest rate of growth in terms of both the number of users and total operator revenue. 
In 2003 and the first half of 2004, most operators in the region were still focusing on the types of activities found in markets just starting to take off. This included obtaining licences, finding strategic partners, privatising and extending geographic coverage. 
Nevertheless, the gap between mobile services available in the Balkans and those available in the rest of Central Europe is likely to substantially narrow over the next four years. By the end of 2008, the majority of Balkan operators are to have established UMTS and other third-generation networks. 

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