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Books on Serbia


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

Update No: 124 - (28/09/07)

"Kosovo to stay Serb"
The Serbs are taking a tough line on Kosovo, Premier Vojislav Kostunica is a hardliner on the issue, even if not quite as much as Milosevic was.

The support of Russia is all-important here. Putin is in assertive mood. He is opposing Western designs across the board. The Serbs have, anyway, a very special place in Russian hearts. They were liberated by Tsarist Russia from the Turks in 1878, independence then confirmed at the Treaty of Berlin. They were defended by them from the Austrians and Hungarians in 1914, that by triggering off a series of treaties, ensured a world war.

Milosevic only backed down in 1999 over the Kosovo War because of top-rank Russian intervention by former premiers Chernomyrdin and Primakov. As Milosevic said at the time:"If even the Russians think we have to retreat, then we obviously do." 

The UN is wary of countries seceding. It is unlikely to agree to a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. But Kosovo is de facto independent already.

Serbia distances itself from Europe and builds on Russia 
After many of his ministers attacked NATO in August, Kostunica finally addressed the issue himself. 
Never would his country join the military alliance, which in 1999 had bombarded Serbia without justification, and now intended to erect a "NATO state" in the breakaway province of Kosovo, he said. 

In the same breath, the national conservative Kostunica praised Russia. Serbia would "never forget" that only Moscow has so far managed to prevent Kosovo's secession. 

Russian business to the rescue too
Kostunica's shift of foreign policy coordinates is accompanied by his wooing of Russian investors. 

"Aluminium king" Oleg Deripaska is to buy major mine Bor, while Aeroflot is to take over the rundown Serbian airline JAT. Even state-owned oil company NIS - the largest company of all - should ideally come into Russian hands. 

The EU remains on hold
The European Union, meanwhile, has been observing the situation and invited Kostunica to Brussels to clarify whether or not he was just paying lip-service with his support for his country's joining of the EU. 

However, Kostunica's traditional euroscepticism is well known. He has publicly shown himself to be fed up with ever new conditions from Brussels. Belgrade's radio and television station B92 quoted political scientist Dusan Pavlovic, who even thinks a government coalition of Kostunica possible with the extremely nationalist Serbian Radical Party, that would certainly affront Brussels. 

Switch to the right imminent?
The Radicals recently spelt out their "dream" that Serbia could become part of the Russian state. In any case, Kostunica's current coalition with President Boris Tadic's Democrats (DS) is fragile. 

Tadic's DS backs Serbia's membership of NATO and should feel provoked even more by Kostunica's recent move. The coalition government is already facing a crucial test. 

Kostunica has been refusing to call presidential elections as agreed and prescribed by the constitution because polls suggest that his opponent Tadic would be likely to win. 

Kostunica's political calculations are simple but tactically sound, commentators say. If the elections take place after the threatening loss of the breakaway province Kosovo, Tadic is likely to lose against Radical leader Tomislav Nikolic, it is predicted. 

In a heated national atmosphere the Serbian prime minister could justify a coalition with the extremists and would so get rid of the democrats he dislikes so much. 

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