Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
Update No: 096 - (26/04/05)
Kosovo still festers
Kosovo is a ward of the international community, as is Bosnia, with 20,000 NATO
and EU soldiers on the ground keeping the peace in the two of them. Kosovo is
still formally part of Serbia-Montenegro, but in practice is independent.
The standard of living is abysmal; unemployment is high; crime and lawlessness
are rife. But it at least has a good man as its president in Ibrahim Rugova, a
pacifist, French-trained intellectual. He has an unenviably difficult task,
which he is discharging very well so far. Peace generally prevails. The two-year
war between Serb security forces and Albanian resisters at the end of the 1990s
has not resumed, although there have been only too many individual instances of
violence. Kosovo does, indeed, still fester. Hence the need for the troops.
An interim UN mission still administers the province, along with an elected
government, while troops from 30 countries provide security. As Rugova said on
April 15th in The International Herald Tribune: " Both the international
community, stretched as it is by crises around the globe, and we who live here
are anxious for Kosovo to complete its transition from chaos to stability. And,
despite continuing difficulties, success is in sight."
Rugova attributes the improvement to the government of Ramush Haradinaj, elected
in October last year, "that accomplished more in 100 days than its
predecessors in the previous three years." This government and its
successor have concentrated on the Standards, an intermeshed set of 61 reforms
necessary for stability and incorporation into the European family. Haradinaj
made tolerance and the rule of law his watchwords. He showed his respect for the
latter by turning himself in immediately when indicted by the Hague. Soren
Jessen -Peterson, the head of the Interim UN Mission in Kosovo, praised him for
his dignity and courage.
In March the new Assembly voted in a new government by a large majority, a
continuation of the coalition between the Democratic League of Kosovo and the
Alliance for Kosovo's Future, headed by Basjam Kosumi as premier. Kosumi is
continuing the policy reform and reconciliation. He is aiming to complete 90-95%
of the 61Standards within a year. Slavisha Petkovic, a Serb Kosovar, has been
made Minister for Returns and Communities, with the third largest budget among
the ministries, $18m. Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serb Orthodox Church,
recently agreed to accept $5m to repair damage done to its churches in Kosovo by
rioters in 2004.
The UN has yet to decide on the final status of the province. It is likely to
opt for its eventual independence, but only when both Serbia-Montenegro and
itself join the EU, which may not serve as a solution to the Kosovars because
that must be many years off.
Serbia is likely to bitterly oppose any further diminution of its former
territory. Even more so since Milosevic made his rally-rousing transition from
communism to nationalism in the early nineties, on the back of the historic 'serbness'
of Kosovo, and that kind of emotive argument tends to stick.
Montenegro also wants out of the federation with Serbia; it is to hold a
referendum on independence next year.
Into the EU?
Entry into the EU seems a distant prospect for them at present. There is an
awful lot still to do. Nevertheless, a step forward was taken on April 12th when
the European Commission indicated that the two-state entity, Serbia-Montenegro,
still including formally Kosovo, was ready to enter into a closer relationship
with the EU. But this does not mean full membership.
It is being offered a Stability and Association Agreement - seen as a step
towards full membership. The turning in of war crime suspects to the Hague is a
precondition of full entry along of course with many other conventional
pre-conditions. The Serb prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, has hitherto
insisted on 'voluntary surrender' by the suspects. But, as 10 of them have been
handed over in as many weeks as of mid-April, there is a sign of toughening up
by the government against the suspects, or cynics might suggest, of some deal
being cut with the Hague prosecutors.
Government however, is obviously mindful of how much is at stake in its
relations with the EU and the US.
There is a particular reason for 'closure' this summer, with a dread anniversary
in the offing. "We would like to close the chapter this summer, ten years
after the Sebrenica massacre," said Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus,
referring to the murder of at least 7,000 Muslim men and boys by the Bosnian
Serb Army in July 1995, for which the main architects Karadic and Vladic,
respectively Bosnian Serb president and army commander are still at liberty.
Israeli firms eye Serbian market
Serbian Minister of International Economic Relations, Milan Parivodic, who led a
Serbian state business delegation on a visit to Israel on March 21st, said
Israeli companies might invest up to US$1bn in the Serbian market.
Parivodic told the Beta News Agency that the Serbian delegation met with Israeli
Deputy Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and representatives of a number of
multinational companies. The participants in the meeting agreed that in order to
obtain such a large level of investment, Serbia should create a more favourable
atmosphere for receiving investments of such volume and additionally work to
open its market. According to Parivodic, Olmert assessed that Serbia has great
economic potential and that in a few years it could become the major industrial
power in the Balkans, especially in the field of information technologies.
MINERALS & METALS
Russian aluminium giant reportedly set to buy Montenegro's largest plant
The owner of the Rusal [Russian Aluminium] Company, Oleg Deripaska, has reached
agreement behind closed doors with Montenegrin Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic,
on the details relating to the purchase of a 65.4 per cent stake in the
Podgorica Aluminium Complex and a 31.9 per cent stake in a [Niksic-based]
bauxite mine, FoNet news agency reported.
The Montenegrin government confirmed to [Podgorica-based daily] Vijesti that the
Russian oligarch met with the premier and that the high-level talks were very