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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: 105 - (30/01/06)

Serbian negotiating team adopts platform for Kosovo talks
There is no more important question for a state than where your frontiers end. This is the key issue of the Serbian state today.
Serbian negotiators led by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica are calling for the establishment of Serb municipalities in Kosovo as well as constitutional and legal protections for the Serb community there.
Belgrade's negotiating team for the Kosovo status talks has adopted a platform and appointed a delegation for the upcoming meeting on decentralisation, to be held in Vienna. The January 5th ession was the second for the team, which was chaired by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. 
The platform calls for the formation of Serb municipalities in Northern Mitrovica -- that is, northern Kosovo, central Kosovo, and southeastern Kosovo around Gnjilane and Metohija. Together, these municipalities would amount to a Serb entity. 
"The existing and newly formed municipalities with a Serb majority would not be a compact territory, but would be functionally linked and thereby provide for an institutional framework for the normal life and certain survival of the Serb community in the province," the platform reads. 
The document, parts of which were presented to the public Monday (9th January), also calls for the most important Orthodox Christian places of worship in Kosovo to fall within the Serb entity. 
According to the negotiating team, three kinds of constitutional guarantees and legal protections should be provided for the Serb community. Firstly, its position must be "defined in a manner that will not give any constitutional or legal grounds to the Albanian majority to treat Serbs as a minority or to impose on the Serbs any solution that is against their vital interests." 
Secondly, Serbs must be granted all individual rights and freedoms that the EU countries, the state union, and Serbia grant to their citizens. Thirdly, Serbs must be given constitutional guarantees and institutional mechanisms that will ensure their normal life and survival in the province. The easiest way to ensure these guarantees is through decentralisation, the document reads. 
The Serb negotiators outlined a set of guiding principles for the platform: sovereignty and territorial integrity, essential autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia, the creation of a Serb entity, and the protection of Orthodox holy sites, cultural heritage and property. 
The Kosovo Albanian side has also finalised its decentralisation proposal. The document contains basic principles for the reform of local self-rule and "guarantees the territorial integrity of Kosovo", Kosovo Local Self-Rule Minister Ljutfi Haziri said recently. 
According to Haziri, it is a serious proposal "which the Kosovo delegation will offer the ethnic communities." He urged the Serb community to accept the plan, explaining that it is founded on constitutional solutions that refer to the immediate future of Kosovo with its status resolved. 

Search is on for fugitive Mladic -Serbia Minister 
The Croatians have stolen a march on the Serbs. They have allegedly acquiesced in the capture and trial in The Hague of their untoward general, Ante Gotovina, responsible for abominable war crimes. They are on track for EU membership as a result.
The search is on for General Ratko Mladic and other top war crimes fugitives, the Serbian defence minister said on January 11th, accepting a part of the military's blame that the suspects are still at large. "The search to locate the suspects is on as we speak," General Zoran Stankovic said, adding he couldn't provide details of the ongoing operation.
Serbia is under intense international pressure to find and extradite Mladic and Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, both sought for more than a decade by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
The court indicted Mladic and Karadzic on genocide charges in connection with the 1995 massacre of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica - the worst carnage in Europe since World War II - and for a three-year armed siege of Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, during the 1992-1995 war.
Mladic is thought to be hiding in Serbia under the protection of hard-liners in the Serbian military, while Karadzic is believed to be moving between Bosnia, Serbia and his native Montenegro.
Stankovic said the "military had in the past period some activities which were not in accordance with The Hague tribunal's" demands to hand over the fugitives. "We will certainly remove those obstacles," Stankovic said.
The hunt for Mladic intensified after police intercepted one of his cell phone conversations, a Serbian security official told The Associated Press.
The interception of Mladic's chat with his friend - which could lead the police to his hiding place - appears to be the most concrete progress so far in Serbia's hunt for war crimes fugitives.
Serbia's President Boris Tadic, however, said on National Television the information he has "does not lead me to conclude that we are finally close to solving the (Mladic) problem."

Will the EU suspend association talks as Serbia and Montenegro fail to arrest indicted war criminals? 
The European Union began negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro on a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) only three months ago, but the talks already hang in the balance due to Belgrade's lack of cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). 
The next round of talks is planned for the last week of February but may not happen at all if ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and EU representatives determine cooperation to be insufficient. 

A shrinking list
Relations between Belgrade and the ICTY improved throughout 2005 as scores of war-crime indictees surrendered following Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's calls for them to give up. But the ICTY wants Serbia to extradite four more men: Zdravko Tolimir, Stojan Zupljanin, the former leader of Croatia's Serbs Goran Hadzic, and the most prominent of them all, former Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic. 
In addition, Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic is seen as a common obligation of Bosnia and Serbia. The Belgrade authorities and the ICTY prosecution believe that another indictee, former Serbian police commander Vlastimir Djordjevic, is hiding in Russia.
The deputy director of the Serbian government's office for association with the EU, Srdjan Majstorovic, said on January 9th that the Belgrade authorities had been "clearly told" that SAA negotiations could be suspended because of the war crimes issue. 
"In the mandate for the talks with Serbia and Montenegro, the European Commission said that the negotiations could not be completed and the SAA signed without [Serbia's] full cooperation with the ICTY. However, the talks can also be frozen if Belgrade fails to cooperate fully with the tribunal. Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte will make the final assessment of the cooperation," Majstorovic said. 
He added that the EU officials involved in the talks mentioned no specific deadline for the resolution of the cooperation issue.
It became clear in recent months that Serbia and Montenegro were facing an uphill struggle to get the SAA talks going again in February 2006: during her last visit to Belgrade in December, Del Ponte expressed her disappointment over the failure to arrest Mladic, and she also criticized the authorities in Belgrade when reporting to the UN Security Council.
The head of the government office for association with the EU, Tanja Miscevic, stated in an earlier interview that once suspended, restarting the talks would be very difficult since all EU member states, not just the European Commission, had to agree on such a move. 
While EU officials have not given any formal deadline, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, who heads the Serbian negotiating team, said at the end of the last round of talks in December that the next round would not take place unless full cooperation was forthcoming. Labus told Belgrade media on December 21st that cooperation was an absolute condition for talks to continue and that it was not happening yet.
The chief of the European negotiating team, Teresa Sobietski, said on the same day that the matter of cooperation was important, adding that she expected the Serbian government to take steps toward finishing the job as soon as possible so the talks could move on. She said that such issues from the past put a strain on the government, the EU, and foreign investors.

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ECONOMY

10,500 new companies registered in 2005 

In 2005, 10,500 new companies were founded in Serbia, according to Serbian Minister of Economy, Predrag Bubalo, which is a good sign of moving towards success. If this success is repeated in 2006, it will be the best sign of proper implementation of economic reforms, which is the opinion of international institutions as well, New Europe reported.
The Director of the Business Registers Agency, Dragisa Okolisanov, said that 80,000 companies are currently operating in Serbia, 35,000 contracts have been registered in the Financial Leasing Register, and that around 5,000 requests for the registration of security rights have been submitted to the Register of Pledges. In only one year, he pointed out, three business registers were established representing the unique "identification card" of domestic economy, and these are the Financial Leasing Register, Register of Pledges and Register of Business Entities. Okolisanov said that within one year the Agency managed to enter the European Commercial Registers Forum (ECRF) and the European Business Register (EBR) these are the two most important organisations that link together European registers. It also started cooperation with business registers in Norway, Ireland, Great Britain and Macedonia. Okolisanov stressed that one of the novelties is that as of Jan 1st this year, all 80,000-business entities will have to submit their annual financial statements to the Agency. He announced the implementation of a government programme called "One Stop Shop" which should improve state administration and provide citizens with a more efficient service by enabling them to carry out all administrative tasks necessary for registering a company in one and the same place.

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ENERGY

Serbia, Hungary build gas storage facilities 

Due to severe cold weather gas supply from Russia has been reduced by 20 per cent so Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining, Radomir Naumov, and representatives of the Hungary's oil and gas company MOL signed an annex to the long-term, a new supply contract, New Europe reported.
Naumov talked about the privatisation of the Serbian oil company, NIS, because Hungarian companies have expressed interest in it. MOL Chairman-CEO, Zsolt Hernadi, said that all the gas Hungary receives from Russia will be delivered to Serbia. The Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, received the same assurance at the Serbian government's meeting with MOL representatives.
Hernadi added that reduced supply is not a problem of only one country, but of the entire Central European region. Alternative ways of supplying gas to Serbia and Hungary were discussed at the meeting, and one of the solutions could be to build underground storage facilities inside or outside the territory of Serbia. Assistant Minister of Energy and Mining, Slobodan Sokolovic, specified that the integrated southeast Europe energy market was another topic at the meeting, as well as security measures for safe delivery of gas. 
He explained that underground gas storage is an example of precautionary measures, and that the meeting also concerned Hungary and Serbia's joint investments in these underground storage facilities. MOL managing director, Sandor Fasimon, said that MOL can supply Serbia with 10 million cubic metres of gas a day during the winter.
Meanwhile, Russia's Gazprom has vowed to fully restore gas supplies to Serbia, Gazprom Deputy CEO and Gazexport general director, Alexander Medvedev, announced at a meeting with Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Miroljub Labus, in Belgrade, Interfax News Agency reported.
Medvedev explained that "The gas reductions are caused by frigid temperatures and problems which Russia has in the transport of gas," the Serbian government's press service said. "He promised that the normalisation of gas supply will begin as soon as possible. Serbia will again be receiving the agreed 10 million cubic metres of gas per day," it said. At a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, Energy and Mining Minister, Radomir Naumov, and Capital Investment Minister Velimir Ilic, Medvedev said Gazprom is interested in investing in Serbia's gas infrastructure and in establishing long-term strategic relations in the energy sector with that country. The parties agreed to intensify direct negotiations between the relevant Serbian and Russian ministries and between Gazprom and the Serbian gas company, Srbijagas, aimed at implementing joint investment projects. In particular, this includes the completion of the construction of an underground gas storage facility in Banatski Dvori and the gas pipelines Nis-Dimitrovgrad and Mokrin-Arad. Russia's involvement in the construction of both the underground storage facility and the gas pipelines is essential, Naumov said. Serbia is interested in completing the underground storage facility as soon as possible to provide uninterrupted gas supplies to the country throughout the year. It was earlier reported that the facility should be completed by next winter and that its completion would cost about 200 million Euro.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

PTT Srbija signs loan contract of 17.4m Euro 

Mobtel, mobile telephone operator has to take 17.4 million Euro from the state telecommunication and postal company, PTT, according to the Serbian Ministry of Finance. PTT Srbija signed a loan contract with Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank International on taking over Mobtel's accounts receivable worth 71.4 million Euro, thus becoming the biggest creditor of this mobile telephone operator. The signing of this contract is of great importance for the state, as PTT Srbija has been granted a long-term loan with 15-year repayment period, three-year grace period and annual interest rate of 4.3 per cent, New Europe reported.

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