Books on Serbia & Montenegro
% of GDP
Update No: 108 - (30/05/06)
A nation in two minds
Serbia is a troubled nation of nine million souls, Eastern Orthodox souls at
that. But it wants to become a Western nation.
This is the paradox dominating its recent history.
Why did the Serbs go along for so long with Slobodan Milosevic, a massive
disaster from the start, who had not understood that irredentism was totally
passé? He fought four futile wars and lost every one of them.
Wars to establish conquest and occupation are the name of the game for Eastern
nations. Wars to establish permanent peace are, at least ostensibly, what the
West is about.
Fortunately, the younger Serbs totally agree, who came to regard Milosvic as a
hopeless relic of the past - confined in his quarters in The Hague, he certainly
was - and is of course now deceased.
US may cut aid to Serbia over Mladic
The United States could cut part of its assistance to Serbia if Ratko Mladic,
an even worse scoundrel, remains at large, US Ambassador to Belgrade Michael
Polt said on 10th May.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to assess the level of
Serbia's co-operation with the UN tribunal later, which could affect some aid.
Polt also told reporters that Serbia-Montenegro would be unable to join NATO's
Partnership for Peace programme until the Bosnian Serb general is arrested.
In other news, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Mladic's arrest is the
government's top priority. He noted that authorities must find the fugitive if
they want to fulfil their other main priority, eventual membership in the EU.
The Croat fugitive general Gotovina was eventually found in Spain. The
whereabouts of Mladic remain a mystery, but it is more than likely that he is in
Serbia under the protection of old pals in the security services.
Montenegro splits from Serbia
On May 21st the Montenegrins held a referendum on independence, which
predictably was won by the secessionist cause, espoused by the local government.
The already loose state union of Serbia and Montenegro, created in 2003 with
European Union backing, was all that remained of the six-republic federation
that was once socialist Yugoslavia. But each state had its own laws, customs
regulations and currency, sharing only defence and foreign relations.
President Filip Vujanovic and Prime Minister Milo Jukanovic led the campaign for
a 'yes' vote.They said that independence would improve the Adriatic state's
economy and international relations.
Polls showed the vote would be tight. Most ethnic Montenegrins, some 43 per cent
of the population, were expected to vote for independence, along with Bosnian
Muslims, Albanians and other minorities. The 32 per cent who are ethnic Serbs
were mostly expected to vote 'no'.
The actual result was marginally more than the 55% the barrier that had to be
surmounted to achieve independence.
The pro-union block said that independence would sever historic ties with Serbia
and allow the government to keep a stranglehold on the administration and the
At issue is Serbia's access to the Adriatic Sea, its only coastline. There was
reportedly a vital discovery of a large oil field in the Adriatic several years
ago. With oil prices over US$70 per barrel, the exploitation of the more than
one billion barrel field becomes economic. Since the population of Montenegro is
only 660,000, there is scope for an oil-rich mini-state to emerge in the
Balkans, with friends on every side. The Slovenes and Croats are watching
Montenegro's independence referendum on May 21st "will create a new state
and release potential now locked up in a barren union with Serbia," its
president had said in the course of the campaign.
President Vujanovic, one of the leading figures of the pro-independence
campaign, said the small Adriatic republic deserved to take its destiny into its
own hands. "Montenegro had a state for centuries and was formally
recognised internationally from 1878 until 1918," he said in an interview.
"The people have strong emotions regarding this history, and through that,
a very strong need to renew full independence."
The practical reasons were also strong, Vujanovic said. Montenegro's resources,
economy and opportunities for development would improve drastically with
independence, as would investment.
"On May 22nd, independence will be the instrument for building a better
state," said Belgrade-born Vujanovic, a youthful 51-year old. "I do
not look to the referendum result simply as personal satisfaction at the renewal
of Montenegrin statehood. It is also a responsibility to the future; it commits
us to improving people's living standards, improving the economy."
"The state union is not functional," Vujanovic said. "It is
damaging to both Serbia and Montenegro. It is also expensive to keep up, for
Montenegro controls all aspects of domestic economic policy, but relations with
international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF go through
Belgrade, an arrangement Vujanovic said was "seriously holding Montenegro
Under pressure from the European Union, which it hopes to join in the next
decade, Montenegro agreed to referendum rules that say at least 50 per cent must
vote and at least 55 per cent must choose for independence for the result to be
Romania-to-Italy oil pipeline investment
Deputy Serbian Premier, Miroljub Labus, recently said that the government
supports private-public investment in a Romania-to-Italy oil pipeline passing
through Serbia. The pipeline would carry 40 million tonnes of oil a year from
the oil-rich Caspian sea area through Romania's Black sea port of Constanta via
Serbia's Pancevo oil processing complex at Belgrade, Croatia's Omisalj on the
northern Adriatic island of Krk, and end at Italy's northern Adriatic port of
Trieste, independent B92 Belgrade radio reported.
Tender for 15 mini power plants to start
The Montenegrin government has adopted a development strategy for small
hydro-electric power plants in Montenegro, envisaging a tender to be called by
the end of the year for the construction of 15 mini power plants, Serbia and
Montenegro Today reported.
According to the strategy, concessions are to be granted by the year 2025 for
the construction of 70 mini hydro-electric power plants on Montenegrin Rivers.
FOOD & DRINK
Jordanian firm purchases Serbian sugar factory
Jordanian firm Masri Investment Group has purchased the last 25 per cent stake
in Serbia-Montenegro's largest sugar factory, becoming its sole owner, Petra
News Agency reported.
Petra quoted the group's chairman, Ahmed al-Masri as saying the sugar factory,
situated about 100 kilometres from the capital Belgrade, was purchased from the
Serbia-Montenegrin government. In 2002, the Jordanian firm bought a 75 per cent
stake in the factory, which has an annual capacity of about 200,000 tonnes.
Serbia-Italy set up industrial zone
Italy and Serbia have formed a joint company-industrial zone under a memorandum
signed by President of the board of the Cosecon Company in Italy's Veneto
region, Natalino Zambolin, Belgrade Free Zone General Director, Marko Stojanovic
and Sabac Municipality President, Milos Milosevic, Serbia and Montenegro Today
The industrial zone will be multifunctional in Sabac and Belgrade and will have
an initial capital of 50,000 Euro, of which 51 per cent will be provided by the
Italian partner, 12,000 Euro by the Belgrade Free Zone and 12,500 Euro by the
municipality of Sabac.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
Serbia and Montenegro free trade deal comes into force
The new free trade agreement between Serbia and Montenegro and Macedonia came
into force May 1, Serbian radio station B92 reported.
The main goals of the new agreement are to increase trade between the two
countries, establish a competition environment, remove trade barriers and
stimulate investments and development of trade with third countries.