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  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: 161 - (26/10/10)

The tenth anniversary of democracy's birth
Serbia's leader has said the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic 10 years ago marked the establishment of the Balkan country's democracy. Marking the 10th anniversary at a conference in the capital Belgrade, President Boris Tadic said Serbia was closer to joining the European Union.

Both the EU and US sent congratulations, Brussels welcoming Serbia's democratic reforms and economic progress.

Into the EU
The EU would continue to support Serbia on its EU path, in both the political and economic sense, the office of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Ashton was quoted as saying by Serbia's B92 news website.

US Ambassador Mary Warlick said Serbia was "on the road towards integration into European and Western institutions in order to take the place it deserves among other democratic and progressive nations of the world. We see the day when Serbia will be a force of stability in the Balkans and the leader of regional co-operation," she said in an article published in the Belgrade daily, Politika.

October Revolution
Hundreds of thousands gathered in Belgrade in October 2000 after what was widely believed to be a stolen presidential election, to oust a man who had led his people into wars, diplomatic isolation and economic meltdown, the BBC's Mark Lowen reported from Belgrade.

Ljubisav Djokic drove the famous bulldozer for the protesters 10 years ago. Milosevic had presided over a disastrous decade, brutally repressing dissenting voices and leading his people into wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo as Yugoslavia collapsed, which provoked harsh economic sanctions from the West. The crowds called for his resignation and then, spontaneously, they stormed parliament, setting the building ablaze.

The October Revolution, as it became known, forced Mr Milosevic to admit defeat and step down just a few hours later.

Ten years on, Serbia has changed but its development was halted when reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in 2003, states Lowen.

Political analyst Ivan Vejvoda told the BBC that Serbia's aim of EU membership was now finally moving the country forward. "I think there's a sense that with the movement towards the European Union, with the calming down of relations in the region, with the constructive approach vis--vis Bosnia and Croatia, there's a sense that we're definitely now picking up again," he said.

Slobodan Milosevic died in 2006 while standing trial in The Hague for war crimes. Ten years on from the October revolution he is etched into the memory of this nation as it tries to move on and show a democratic, European face to the world.

But anti-gay rioters hurt Serbia's image
An EU official said October 11 that Serbia's failure to prevent an anti-gay riot could hurt its bid to join the European Union, but the U.S. Embassy praised police for doing all they could to protect the gay pride march from far-right activists.

Serbian police fought running battles with thousands of far-right supporters who tried to disrupt the march in downtown Belgrade by hurling Molotov cocktails and stun grenades. More than 150 people were hurt and nearly 250 were arrested, police said.

Jelko Kacin, in charge of the European Parliament's evaluation reports on Serbia, said in a statement the anti-gay riots "show an elementary lack" of tolerance for minority rights in Serbia and the "inefficiency" of the state in preventing such a trend. "A very bad message was sent from Belgrade" that could hurt its bid to join the EU, the Slovenian official said.

However, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade said it "commends the professionalism and restraint exercised" by the police and Belgrade authorities "in ensuring the participants in the Pride Parade were fully protected throughout the event."

"We strongly condemn all the many acts of violence committed throughout the city, and call on the perpetrators to be brought to justice," the embassy said in a statement.

The same far-right groups set the American Embassy in Belgrade on fire during riots in 2008 to protest U.S. support for Kosovo's independence.

The gay pride march, attended by some 1,000 participants, was viewed as a major test for Serbia's government, which has pledged to protect human rights as it seeks EU membership. Most of the rioters were young football hooligans whose groups have been infiltrated by neo-Nazis and other extremist groups.

Police said the rioters were "extremely well organized and synchronized" and that the violent protest "did not happen spontaneously.

Slobodan Homen said rioting in Belgrade in early October, and violence that led to an international football match between Italy and Serbia being abandoned on October 12, was organised by someone who "wishes to show us that Serbia is not ready to join the EU".

"They wish to enclose us in a cocoon, to shame the entire nation and push us into nothingness," Mr Homen told the news service B92.

Serbia applied for EU membership last year, but fears that Belgrade might relinquish its sovereignty over of Kosovo in order to appease Brussels have incensed Serbian nationalists.

To the anger of hardliners, the Balkan country has come under intense international pressure to resolve the Kosovo problem, with Hillary Clinton, during a visit to Belgrade, stressing the need for "dialogue" between Serbia and Kosovo.

Mr Homen's warning came after rioting Serbian fans forced the referee to call off Serbia's European championship qualifying match with Italy after just six minutes, and as Belgrade recovered from October 10's unrest, in which estimated 5,000 ultranationalists injured over 100 policemen in a series of violent clashes.

But the minister stressed that "organised groups that have financial support" lay behind the violence rather than "kids who wish to protest against the authorities".

He claimed "big companies that could lose their monopoly if Serbia joined the EU" may have provided some support, and that it was "logical and possible" that Russian extremists may also be bankrolling Serb groups intent on violence.

Police official Milorad Veljovic said authorities have found a list of suspected organizers during the arrest of one of the far-right leaders.

Veljovic said 249 protesters have been arrested, including 54 minors. He said 131 remain in detention. More than half of the detained are from outside Belgrade.

"Today and in the coming days police and the prosecutors will continue with the detentions of all who are suspected of taking part in the riots," he said. "We will not stop."

Veljovic said 132 policemen were injured, including five seriously, while 25 civilians were hurt, one seriously.

Opposition Liberal Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic demanded tough action against the far-right groups that "were trying to topple the democratic authorities."

"The police know well who organized yesterday's riots," Jovanovic said, accusing two opposition nationalist parties and security officials who were sacked after then-President Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in a popular revolt in 2000 of being behind the violence.

The anti-gay rioters also fired shots and threw Molotov cocktails at the headquarters of the ruling pro-Western Democratic Party, setting the building's garage on fire. In addition, the state TV building and the headquarters of other political parties were attacked.

Nationalist rioters make their impact felt
Slobodan Homen said rioting in Belgrade in early October, and violence that led to an international football match between Italy and Serbia being abandoned on October 12, was organised by anti-EU elements again, as with the anti-gay riots.

Rioting Serbian fans forced the referee to call off Serbia's European championship qualifying match with Italy after just six minutes, and as Belgrade recovered from October 10's unrest, in which an estimated 5,000 ultranationalists injured over 100 policemen in a series of violent clashes.

But the minister stressed that "organised groups that have financial support" lay behind the violence rather than "kids who wish to protest against the authorities".

He claimed "big companies that could lose their monopoly if Serbia joined the EU" may have provided some support, and that it was "logical and possible" that Russian extremists may also be bankrolling Serb groups intent on violence.

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