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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: 160 - (26/09/10)

The fundamentals
The most important fact for any nation is its territorial integrity. Serbia's has certainly been challenged of late.

The Serbs consider Kosovo - now populated mostly by some 2 million ethnic Albanians - the medieval cradle of their statehood. But Serbia lost control of the territory during a 1998-99 war against ethnic Albanian rebels, and the ensuing NATO air bombardment, that led to an international administration of Kosovo.

The Kosovo conundrum
Although Kosovo declared independence from Serbia two years ago, it was only on 22 July this year that the International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ) finally ratified Kosovo as a sovereign state.

The decisive 10 to four majority concluded that the declaration did not violate international law or UN Security Council resolution 1244, nor did it compromise the constitutional framework established by the UN to guide the interim stabilisation of Kosovo. Crucially, the court reaffirmed Kosovo's place in the international community, something which 69 countries have already recognised.
The UK angle is not unimportant

There is no doubt that the British have played a very important role in establishing the independence of Kosovo. The UK had been the greatest champion of Yugoslavia in the Second World War. It extended enormous amounts of military aid, plus recognition of the Tito communist government as the legitimate ruler of the country, a fundamental breakthrough at the time.

But it was championing Yugoslavia, not just Serbia, the leading republic of the federation. Once Yugoslavia dissolved, it was perfectly logical for the UK to champion the independence of all six of its former constituent entities from each other.

Since Kosovo needs more recognition to achieve its seat at the UN general assembly, it is not surprising that its premier is calling on those states that have not yet done so to recognise his country. Premier Hashim Traci says: I am grateful to the current British government for its constructive efforts in allowing Kosovo to take its place among other nations. In addition, Tony Blair is making similar representations to the same countries on our behalf."

"Kosovans did not arrive at the decision to declare independence lightly, or by default through political vacuum. Indeed, as the ICJ acknowledged, the circumstances that led to Kosovo's declaration of independence were unique. The narrowness of the court's ruling on this issue should reassure any country reluctant to recognise Kosovo to date. Our declaration did not set a precedent, and any suggestions that the court's ruling opens a Pandora's box are wrong. Countries still opposing our sovereignty, typically because of secessionist concerns within their own borders, should accept this."

The Serbian government these days has a different complexion from the one that terrorised Albanians 11 years ago. All the same, some influential elements in its administration are still trying to pick holes in the ICJ's decision in hope of opening another UN general assembly resolution to contest Kosovo's status. The legal question about Kosovo's independence has been raised, and the court's answer was unambiguous. The Serbian government may not have liked the answer it received, but if it has any aspirations of its own to be part of the greater European family, it must surely accept the rule of law.

The latest British initiative
This is the context in which one should understand the latest initiative of the UK. Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, urged Serbia not to challenge Kosovo's independence at the U.N. General Assembly, and the Balkan country's president said it is open to a compromise on the resolution. The debate underscores the tensions that linger over Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

Britain, the U.S. and major European Union powers are among 69 countries that have backed Kosovo's move. But Serbia, supported by Russia and China, maintains that it will never accept an independent Kosovo. Serbia submitted a resolution for the U.N. that calls Kosovo's declaration "unacceptable" and requests more talks on its status.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, however, said that if Belgrade reconsiders the resolution, it would help Serbia's bid for membership in the EU.

Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Serbia is not ready to withdraw the resolution, but would work with the EU and other Western powers to amend it. Hague said "an agreed approach and an agreed text between the EU and Serbia" is necessary. "The best way to achieve that would be to have a new resolution."

President Boris Tadic of Serbia said after meeting with Hague that his country "is ready for a compromise" over the document, "so it would be acceptable to both Serbia and the international community."

In a concession to the European Union that it hopes to join, Serbia supported a compromise U.N. resolution on Kosovo on 9th September that dropped its earlier demands to reopen talks on the status of its former province. Instead, Serbia agreed to an EU-backed dialogue with Kosovo that the non-binding General Assembly resolution said would aim to promote cooperation. The resolution was passed by acclamation by the 192-nation assembly. The amended text passed by the General Assembly drops condemnation of Kosovo's independence declaration, acknowledges the ICJ opinion and welcomes EU readiness "to facilitate a process of dialogue between the parties."


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