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Key Economic Data
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)


Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)

Radicals take victory in Serbia's elections 
The party that won the most votes in Serbia's elections is staunchly anti-Western, has counted Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein among its allies, and wants to go to war over the breakaway province of Kosovo.
Many in the West had feared the ultranationalist Radicals would come out on top in the parliamentary vote, but their stronger-than-expected performance shows how Serbia is having trouble moving beyond the bloody legacy of its late autocrat Milosevic.
The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party was backed by the largest share of the electorate at general elections on January 21st, 28.7%. According to the results issued by the NGO Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID), the Serbian Radical Party won 81 seats, followed by President Tadic's Democratic Party (64), PM Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (47), G-17 Plus (19), SPS (16) and LDP (15).

Complex negotiations ahead
There is no big surprise that the ultra-nationalists did well; they were expected to do even better. Dragoljub Zarkovic, commentator for the influential daily Politika, said it might take months of political wrangling before a new governing coalition is formed. 
No party has a majority to form the next government alone, but any may try to woo Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica into coalition - perhaps by offering him the premiership.
The pro-Western Democrats, who were second in the polls and won 64 seats, would also need the support of Kostunica and his third-place Populist Coalition to form a government, but don't want him to retain the top job. They are hoping Kostunica can be convinced that joining their camp is the only way to prevent Serbia from plunging back into international isolation.
Kostunica, long known as a masterful political operator, who defeated Milosevic in October 2000, appears to be relishing his role as kingmaker and throughout the campaign kept open the possibility of aligning himself with either side.
Tadic's democrats and Kostunica's DSS are archrivals in the so-called "democratic bloc" and there are strong animosities towards each other in both parties' ranks. The Radicals, whose leader Vojislav Seselj is standing trial before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has been for years the strongest single party, but are unlikely to come to power because no parties of the "democratic bloc" want to enter a coalition with them.
Deputy President of the Serbian Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolic standing in for Seselj, admitted that, although the Radicals had won the elections by garnering most votes and seats, his party would not be able to form the new government.
Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic said his party would enter negotiations with potential coalition partners for the new government with a request to be allotted the Prime Minister's office. Tadic added the negotiations were going to be very difficult. 
The incumbent PM Kostunica announced that his DSS would come out with a platform for negotiations over the new government after consultations are held within the party. He refused to answer whether his party is prepared to form a coalition with the Radicals, in which case those two parties would hold 126 out of 250 parliamentary seats.
Pursuant to the regulations, the State Election Commission came up with the final results on January 25th, marking the start of a one-month deadline for constitution of the new parliament's composition and a three-month deadline for forming the Cabinet.
CeSID executive director Zoran Lucic said the Radicals and Socialists squeezed out the maximum number of votes out of their electorate. "The numbers tells us that nothing has changed in Serbia since 2003," he added.

Pitch of the Radicals
The Radicals, who ruled Serbia together with Milosevic and were his iron fist during his Bosnian, Croatian and Kosovo war campaigns in the 1990s, refuse to go away with their 81 seats in Serbia's 250-seat parliament.
The deputy Radical leader, Tomislav Nikolic, said Serbian President Boris Tadic, also the president of the Democrats, should offer "our strongest party" a mandate to form a government. "But, I know he won't do it," Nikolic said, predicting new elections by the end of the year because "the so-called Democrats cannot agree on anything, let alone the new government."
"And, after the new vote we'll be even stronger," Nikolic said, appealing to Radical supporters to "have patience because we'll soon be ruling Serbia."
The Radicals' pre-election platform was drafted by their leader Seselj, even while he is awaiting a trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
It called for using force to block Kosovo from becoming independent under a U.N.-backed plan, giving up attempts to join the European Union, establishing "brotherly" ties with Russia, and keeping alive Milosevic's dream of uniting all Serbs in the Balkans into a single country.
In the vote, the Radicals won the most votes in almost all Serbian constituencies, including the capital Belgrade, which had been a traditional pro-Democratic Party stronghold.
The Radicals' supporters were active in paramilitary units in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are widely blamed for launching campaigns that wiped out non-Serbs near the border regions. Seselj rallied volunteers for an armed rebellion by Serbs against Croatia's secession from Yugoslavia and threatened to scoop out the eyes of Croats with a rusty spoon. He later claimed the remark was a joke.
During their alliance with Milosevic, the Radicals constantly attacked the United States and "internal enemies" - such as opposition officials - who allegedly supported U.S. policies.
After Milosevic's ouster in October 2000 by united pro-democracy forces, the Radicals slowly sneaked back into the public eye, winning airtime with bombastic remarks in parliamentary sessions. They protested Milosevic's extradition to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in 2001 - support that later prompted Milosevic to urge his supporters to vote for the ultranationalists, rather than his own Socialist Party, in elections.
Radical leaders often visited Saddam during his reign, publicly praising the Iraqi leader for his bravery and defiance of the United States. In return, Saddam's Baath party financed the Radicals' election campaigns. They are also known for maintaining ties to ultranationalists like France's Jean-Marie Le Pen and Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Greek PM backs Belgrade, wary on Kosovo 
Athens supports a settlement for the status of Kosovo that is "acceptable to all sides" and promotes the Balkan province's multinational character, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said during a visit to Belgrade on the last leg of a tour of the Western Balkans in mid-January. 
Karamanlis, whose trip came ahead of Serbian elections on January 21st, also reassured his counterpart Vojislav Kostunica of Greece's backing for Belgrade's European Union and NATO accession bids.
Asked by reporters whether Kosovo should be granted independence, Karamanlis appeared reluctant to strike a clear stance until United Nations special envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari has submitted his proposals for the province's final status, expected on January 26. Kostunica said he had forgotten what Ahtisaari looks like because the envoy has not visited Belgrade for six months.
Serbian President Boris Tadic was more tactful, but clear on Serbia's stance on Kosovo. "We defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity and we exercise this right in a European, diplomatic way," he said. Serbia cannot agree to redraw its borders "as this would destabilize the whole region," he said. But he added, "We do not want war or violence."
Karamanlis said all sides should avoid unilateral actions and allow the current process to take its course. But he stressed that any solution "must guarantee the rights of the (Serbian) minority in Kosovo and protect the Serbian Orthodox Church."

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ENERGY

Serbia's first biodiesel plant in Spring 


Serbia's first biodiesel plant will open this spring, its developer said recently, Reuters News Agency reported.
The move will respond to growing environmental awareness in a country striving to bring pollution standards more in line with those of the European Union.
Financially supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Mladost refinery plans to start producing biodiesel from rapeseed, sunflower and soybean oils, its general manager Borivoj Jovicic said. 
"If the weather is nice, the plant will start producing on April 1st. If not, we will start in May," Jovicic said. "The plant will have a (designed) capacity of 100,000 tons of biodiesel and 35,000 tons of cooking oil," Jovicic said of a unit, located in Šid, a few kilometres away from the border with Croatia. 

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EXPORTS

Serbian exports increase to US$150 million

In the first 10 months of last year, Serbia's exports to Austria have increased by 59 per cent to US$150 million, according to the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, website derstandard.at said. 
The main exporters were the Smederevo-based US Steel Srbija, the methanol and vinegar factory from Kikinda and the Impol Seval aluminium factory from Sevojno, it was reported. 
It is estimated that the total exchange between the two countries in 2006 will reach US$400 million. In January to October, Serbia imported US$184 million worth of goods from Austria, and the exchange of goods between the two countries in 2005 was worth US$550 million or twice as much as in 2000, the website reported. However, according to the estimates of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the volume of trade is not in accordance with the needs and possibilities. Total Austrian investments in Serbia since 2000, have reached 1.4 billion Euro and the number of Austrian companies operating in Serbia has increased from 40 to 260, data from the Austrian Embassy in Serbia said.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Telekom Serbia selects Gilat's SkyEdge

Regulus Group Secures DataGilat Satellite Networks Ltd. recently announced that Telekom Serbia, the incumbent telecom carrier in Serbia, will deploy Gilat's SkyEdge broadband satellite hub and several hundred VSATs to serve its residential and corporate customers. 
To meet its Universal Service Obligation (USO) requirements, Telekom Serbia will deploy SkyEdge VSATs at remote community centres throughout Serbia to provide citizens with reliable telephony, fax and broadband Internet access. Telekom Serbia will also use the VSATs to serve its customers in the television re-broadcasting and enterprise networking sectors. 
Shimon Teller, Gilat's director of global accounts, said, "Together with Telekom Serbia, we expect to capitalize on many diverse business opportunities throughout the region. With the new services provided by SkyEdge, we are able to help improve the quality of life for citizens in Serbia's rural areas."
Gilat's SkyEdge is a satellite communications platform that delivers high quality voice, broadband data and video services over a powerful unified system. The platform represents Gilat's deep knowledge base and field-proven product offering, acquired through nearly two decades of experience. SkyEdge's flexible architecture and efficient space segment utilization make it an ideal platform for operators and service providers - Gilat.

 

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