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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: 153 - (25/02/10)

The big one – a treasure trove in the offing
There is a big story coming out of the Balkans that affects Serbia intimately. It is that Kosovo is one of the richest places on Earth for mineral resources.

It does not have much in the way of oil and gas. But it has Europe's largest coal deposits, as also of gold and silver, bauxite, cobalt, chrome, manganese, nickel and much more.

If this had been known ten years ago or so, the Serbs would have been even more tenacious than they were to defend their original territory, which is how they see Kosovo. Perhaps it is just as well that they weren't in the know.

Who was?
There is a tale to tell here. Evidently, certain circles knew about it at least two years ago when a piece appeared in a February number of the Wall Street Journal, mentioning the discoveries. But this did not receive the follow-up one might have expected.

Clearly, it was thought better not to provoke the Serbs, who had still not accepted their exclusion from Kosovo as a permanency. It was - and is - a hot enough potato as it is.

“Serbia cannot enter NATO with Kosovo”
For instance, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that Serbia must give up its fight for Kosovo if it wants to become a member of the NATO alliance. He said that Russia would then have to question its stances towards Kosovo, adding that “We cannot be bigger Serbs than the Serbs themselves,” daily Blic writes.

“All NATO member-states have not recognized (the independence of) Kosovo. Those are Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia who have not. But according to international law, and the NATO statute, such a situation is an obstacle for Serbia joining the Alliance,” Rogozin said. He said that the stance of most NATO member-states will not change, which means that the Alliance can accept Serbia as a member-stated only with “new” borders—without Kosovo.

“Belgrade will have to officially recognize Priština’s sovereignty, which will also change the stances of Madrid and Moscow,” he said.

Asked what Moscow’s opinion is on the discussion of Serbia’s Atlantic integrations, Rogozin said that he understands the stances of the Serbian politicians and military elite that want Serbia to join NATO.

He pointed out that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Serbia does not have to join NATO first if it wants to join the European Union. Rogozin said that it is hard for him to understand how Belgrade can speak of NATO integration when there are still images in the capital of damage done by the 1999 NATO-led bombing.

“The problem of Kosovo is there as well, since most NATO member-states have recognized its independence, also, there is the demonization of the Serbian people, the flagrant anti-Serbian double-standards of the West towards participants in the wars of the former Yugoslavia…Has that been forgotten? Russia would not understand Serbia’s decision in favour of NATO considering everything I have mentioned,” Rogozin said.

                                          ******

The Economist's point of view:-

Base camps
Rumours of a Russian base in Serbia reflect Balkan hysteria, not reality
Feb 4th 2010 | BELGRADE | From The Economist print edition

EVERYONE in the Balkans loves a good conspiracy theory, especially one that involves energy pipelines and military bases. According to some people with a bent against Serbia and Russia, the Russians are plotting to create a thinly-disguised military base in Serbia. That would be the Kremlin’s first new European base since the end of the Warsaw Pact, and could seem a response to NATO’s expansion in the region. Every country around Serbia is either in NATO or wants to be.

The story of the Russian base started in October when Dmitry Medvedev was visiting Belgrade. It was announced then that a new joint centre for emergency co-ordination would be created in the Serbian town of Nis. The site was an all-but-unused airport, named after Constantine the Great (the Roman emperor who was born there). The Russian partner will be the emergency ministry, a powerful semi-military outfit whose activities include disaster relief but also errand-running for Russia’s security services. The ministry has long played a role in Serbia, for example in mine-clearing.

But speculation has mounted that the Nis facilities could be used for spying or even turned to military use, should the need arise. What has most excited the conspiracy theorists is that Nis is close to the point where a controversial planned gas pipeline, South Stream, will cross Serbian territory. The pipeline is a joint venture between Russia’s gas giant, Gazprom, and Italy’s energy company, Eni. The route crosses the Black Sea, enabling Russia to bypass Ukraine, seen as a troublesome transit country, and deliver gas direct to the Balkans, central Europe and Italy.

Serbia’s emergency-planning chief in the interior ministry, Predrag Maric, firmly denies any notion that Russia is opening a military facility by stealth. Nis will not be a military base, he insists, pointing out that his ministry and the Russians have invited no fewer than 11 countries from the region to a conference in Belgrade this month to discuss their part in the establishment of the logistics and training facility in Nis.

The theories circulating among bloggers and others about Russian intentions echo earlier ones about outsiders’ geopolitical goals in the region. Many believe that it was oil, not worries about Serbian brutality in Kosovo, that lay behind NATO’s bombing of Serbia (including Nis airport) in 1999. After the war the Americans built Camp Bondsteel, a base capable of housing 7,000 men, in Kosovo. Conspiracy theorists said the real purpose of the camp was to safeguard the planned AMBO oil pipeline that aimed to pump Russian and Caspian oil from across Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania.

Yet more than 16 years after it was first mooted, the AMBO pipeline remains only a line on the map. Bondsteel has no runway. And there are only 1,400 American troops left in Kosovo. When the total number of NATO-led troops in Kosovo drops from its current 10,000 to the planned 2,300 Camp Bondsteel may close for good.

Nis airport and Bondsteel are easy to spot on Google Earth. Harder to find is a real military base, opened last November by the Serb authorities and often dubbed the Serbian Bondsteel. It lies close to Kosovo in the Bujanovac area of south Serbia, home to many ethnic Albanians. Their leaders complain loudly about the militarisation of the region. Yet the Serbian base can house only 1,000 men. “I’m not losing any sleep over it,” says a senior NATO official. He says he is aware of the possible Russian presence in Nis but is unworried by its implications. Meanwhile Windjet, an Italian low-cost airline, has just started flights to Constantine the Great airport.

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