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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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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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.

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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.

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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 successful. 

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