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Economy of Serbia

Since the fall of Milosevic, Serbia’s economic progress has been substantial, but economic reform and restructuring are continuing challenges for the Serbian Government. Unemployment, corruption, and labor unrest remain ongoing political and economic problems. The dinar has fallen by more than a third against the Euro since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, highlighting Serbia’s fragile and structurally weak economy. The economic crisis, and a concern over Serbia’s external financing gaps, also led Serbia to seek a $4 billion Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was approved in May 2009. The IMF has conducted a series of periodic reviews of Serbia’s economic performance under the SBA and generally concluded that Serbia is meeting most SBA conditions. Future loan disbursements will be contingent upon the Serbian Government’s progress in adopting a law on fiscal responsibility intended to ensure fiscal discipline following expiration of the SBA in April 2011.

GDP growth in 2007 was a healthy 7.5%, but this pace slowed to 5.4% during 2008 as a result of the global economic crisis. In 2009, Serbia’s GDP fell 3% compared to 2008 but is projected to rise by 1.5% in 2010 and 3.5% in 2011. In 2007, Serbia recorded strong foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.2 billion. In 2008, FDI was $2.3 billion, while in 2009 FDI was $1.9 billion. For the period January-June 2010, FDI was $530 million. Greenfield investments are at a near standstill as a result of the economic crisis. Serbia is also pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization with a goal of attaining membership in 2011. Serbia assumed a 1-year term as chair of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) in January 2010.

While economic reform has been moving forward in many areas, including trade liberalization, enterprise sector reform is still halting. Over 26% of all people employed in Serbia work for state-owned enterprises or the central and local governments. Serbia is required to reduce the size of the public sector by 10% in 2010, in accordance with the IMF’s Stand-By Arrangement. It is unclear, however, whether the Serbian Government will meet this politically sensitive goal by the end of the year. Privatization of socially-owned companies was to be completed in 2009, but this target was not met due to the global economic crisis, which greatly reduced the value and attractiveness of such assets.

In April 2008, the Serbian Government signed an agreement with car maker Fiat to purchase and invest in Zastava, Serbia's state-owned car manufacturer. This agreement revitalized interest in Serbia's industrial heartland, but Fiat's investment timetable was delayed due to the economic crisis. Major U.S. investors such as U.S. Steel and Ball Packaging had to cut production in 2009 as a result of falling global demand, but production has partially rebounded in 2010.

GDP (2010 est.): $40.28 billion.
GDP growth rate (2010 est.): 1.5%.
GDP per capita (2010 est.): $5,370.
Inflation rate (2010 est.): 6.5%.
Natural resources: Coal, petroleum, natural gas, antimony, copper, lead, zinc, timber, bauxite, gold, silver, navigable rivers.
Agriculture (2009): 10.0% of GDP.
Industry (2009): 13.6% of GDP.
Public services (2009): 13% of GDP.
Real estate (2009): 12.3% of GDP.
Trade (2009): 11.7% of GDP.
Transportation/telecommunications (2009): 14.1% of GDP.
Construction (2009): 3.2% of GDP.
Electric energy production (2009): 2.6% of GDP.
Trade (2009): Exports--$8.34 billion. Major markets--Bosnia, Montenegro, Germany, Italy. Imports--$16.05 billion. Major suppliers--Russia, Germany, Italy, China.

Geography of Serbia

Area: Serbia (77,474 sq. km.) is slightly smaller than Maine. Cities: Capital --Belgrade. Other cities --Pancevo, Novi Pazar, Uzice, Novi Sad, Subotica, Bor, Nis. Terrain: Varied; in the north, rich fertile plains; in the east, limestone ranges and basins; in the southeast, mountains and hills. Climate: In the north, continental climate (cold winter and hot, humid summers with well-distributed rainfall); central portion, continental and Mediterranean climate; to the south, hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall inland.

Government of Serbia

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS After two rounds of voting in late 2002 and a third in November 2003 failed because of insufficient voter turnout, the election law was changed to allow for a valid election with turnout of less than 50% of registered voters. In elections held on June 27, 2004 Boris Tadic (DS) defeated Radical Party candidate Tomislav Nikolic by a slim margin and was elected President of Serbia. Following the adoption of a new Constitution in October 2006, Serbia held parliamentary elections on January 21, 2007. A government was formed in May 2007, with a coalition of the DS, DSS, and G17+. The coalition chose Vojislav Kostunica to continue in his position as Prime Minister. On February 3, 2008, in run-off presidential elections, Boris Tadic again defeated Radical Party candidate Tomislav Nikolic by a slim margin and was re-elected President of Serbia. Following the collapse of the governing coalition in March 2008 in the wake of Kosovo’s independence, new parliamentary elections were held on May 11, 2008. The Democratic Party-led list, "For a European Serbia," won nearly 39% of the vote, and in July 2008 formed a coalition government with the Socialists and ethnic minority parties. The May 11, 2008 Serbian national election results are illustrated by the following chart:
Serbian Political Parties
Percentage of vote
Seats in Parliament
For a European Serbia--(ZES) DS, G-17, SPO, LSV, SDP
38.7%
102
Radicals (SRS)
29.1%
78
Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)
11.3%
30
Socialists (SPS), (PUPS), (JS)
7.9%
20
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
5.2%
13
Hungarians (MK)
1.8%
4
Bosniaks Coalition
0.8%
2
Albanian Coalition
0.5%
1
Others--Below Threshold
4.7%
Total
100%
250


In September 2008, Radical Party (SRS) deputy president and two-time presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic split from the SRS and formed the Forward Serbia caucus. Together with former Radical General Secretary Aleksandar Vucic, Nikolic officially formed the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in October 2008. As of June 2009, the SNS held 21 seats in parliament due to defections from the SRS, while the SRS maintained 57 seats. The SNS joined two local governments in western Serbia in early 2009 to win a plurality of votes in June 2009 repeat elections in two municipalities in Belgrade. The SNS in December 2009 scored a victory over the DS in the Belgrade municipality of Vozdovac; local analysts considered this a sign of the party’s consolidation.

Legislature
The Serbian National Assembly, a unicameral parliament, is the lawmaking body of the Republic of Serbia.

Principal Government Officials
President--Boris Tadic
Prime Minister--Mirko Cvetkovic
First Deputy Prime Minister--Ivica Dacic
Deputy Prime Minister--Bozidar Djelic
Deputy Prime Minister--Mladjan Dinkic
Deputy Prime Minister--Jovan Krkobabic
Ambassador to the U.S.--Vladimir Petrovic

Serbia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2134 Kalorama Rd., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-0333).

Type: Republic.
Constitution: Adopted in an October 28-29, 2006 referendum.
Independence: April 11, 1992 (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (F.R.Y.) formed as self-proclaimed successor to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). On February 4, 2003, the F.R.Y. parliament adopted a new Constitutional Charter establishing the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, the Republic of Montenegro held a successful referendum on independence and after Montenegro's declaration of independence on June 3, the parliament of Serbia stated that the Republic of Serbia was the continuity of the state union, rendering the two republics independent and sovereign countries.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative--Parliament. Judicial--Supreme Court of Cassation and Constitutional Court.
Political parties: Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM), Christian Democratic Party of Serbia (DHSS), Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians (DZVM), Democratic Party (DS), Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Democratic Party of Albanians (PDSh), Democratic Union of the Valley (BDL-Albanians), Force of Serbia (PSS), G-17 Plus (G-17), League for Sumadija (LS), League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Movement for Democratic Progress (LDP--Albanians), New Serbia (NS), Party of Democratic Action (SDA--Bosniaks), Party of Democratic Action (PVD--Albanians), People's Party (NP), Sandzak Democratic Party (SDP--Bosniaks), Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Social Democratic Party of Serbia (SDPS), Social Democratic Union (SDU), Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS--former Communist Party), Yugoslav United Left (JUL).
Suffrage: 16 years of age if employed; universal at 18.

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History of Serbia

The Serbian state as known today was created in 1170 A.D. by Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjic dynasty. Serbia's religious foundation came several years later when Stefan's son, canonized as St. Sava, became the first archbishop of a newly autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church (1219). Thus, at this time, the Serbs enjoyed both temporal and religious independence. After a series of successions, Serbia fell under the rule of King Milutin who improved Serbia's position among other European countries. Milutin also was responsible for many of the brightest examples of Medieval Serbian architecture. Moreover, Serbia began to expand under Milutin's reign, seizing territory in nearby Macedonia from the Byzantines. Under Milutin's son, Stefan Dusan (1331-55), the Nemanjic dynasty reached its peak, ruling from the Danube to central Greece. However, Serbian power waned after Stefan's death in 1355, and in the Battle of Kosovo (June 15, 1389) the Serbs were catastrophically defeated by the Turks. By 1459, the Turks exerted complete control over all Serb lands. For more than 3 centuries--nearly 370 years--the Serbs lived as virtual slaves of the Ottoman sultans. As a result of this great oppression, Serbs began to migrate out of their native and (present-day Kosovo and southern Serbia) into other areas within the Balkan Peninsula, including what is now Vojvodina and Croatia. When the Austrian Hapsburg armies pushed the Ottoman Turks south of the Danube in 699, many Serbs were "liberated", but their native land was still under Ottoman rule. Movements for Serbian independence began more than 100 years later with uprisings under the Serbian patriots Karageorge (1804-13) and Milos Obrenovic (1815-17). After the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, Serbia became an internationally recognized principality under Turkish suzerainty and Russian protection, and the state expanded steadily southward. After an insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875, Serbia and Montenegro went to war against Turkey in 1876-78 in support of the Bosnian rebels. With Russian assistance, Serbs gained more territory as well as formal independence in 1878, though Bosnia was placed under Austrian administration. In 1908, Austria-Hungary directly annexed Bosnia, inciting the Serbs to seek the aid of Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece in seizing the last Ottoman-ruled lands in Europe. In the ensuing Balkan Wars of 1912-13, Serbia obtained northern and central Macedonia, but Austria compelled it to yield Albanian lands that would have given it access to the sea. Serb animosity against the Hapsburgs reached a climax on June 28, 1914, when the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, setting off a series of diplomatic and military initiatives among the great powers that culminated in World War I. Soon after the war began, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces occupied Serbia. Upon the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the war's end in 1918, Vojvodina and Montenegro united with Serbia, and former south Slav subjects of the Hapsburgs sought the protection of the Serbian crown within a kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Serbia was the dominant partner in this state, which in 1929 adopted the name Yugoslavia. The kingdom soon encountered resistance when Croatians began to resent control from Belgrade. This pressure prompted King Alexander I to split the traditional regions into nine administrative provinces. During World War II, Yugoslavia was divided between the Axis powers and their allies. Royal army soldiers, calling themselves Cetnici (Chetniks), formed a Serbian resistance movement, but a more determined communist resistance under the Partisans, with Soviet and Anglo-American help, liberated all of Yugoslavia by 1944. In an effort to avoid Serbian domination during the post-war years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were given separate and equal republican status within the new socialist federation of Yugoslavia; Kosovo and Vojvodina were made autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia. Despite the attempts at a federal system of government for Yugoslavia, Serbian communists played the leading role in Yugoslavia's political life for the next 4 decades. As the Germans were defeated at the end of World War II, Josip Broz Tito, a former Bolshevik and committed communist, began to garner support from both within Yugoslavia as well as from the Allies. Yugoslavia remained independent of the U.S.S.R., as Tito broke with Stalin and asserted Yugoslav independence. Tito went on to control Yugoslavia for 35 years. Under communist rule, Serbia was transformed from an agrarian to an industrial society. In the 1980s, however, Yugoslavia's economy began to fail. With the death of Tito in 1980, separatist and nationalist tensions emerged in Yugoslavia. In the late 1980s, Slobodan Milosevic propelled himself to power in Belgrade by exploiting the fears of the small Serbian minority in Kosovo. In 1989, he arranged the elimination of Kosovo's autonomy in favor of more direct rule from Belgrade. Belgrade ordered the firing of large numbers of Albanian state employees, whose jobs were then taken by Serbs. As a result of this oppression, Kosovo Albanian leaders led a peaceful resistance movement in the early 1990s and established a parallel government funded mainly by the Albanian diaspora. Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia. On April 27, 1992 in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When Kosovo's peaceful resistance movement failed to yield results, an armed resistance emerged in 1997 in the form of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA's main goal was to secure the independence of Kosovo. In late 1998, Milosevic unleashed a brutal police and military campaign against the separatist KLA, which included atrocities against civilian noncombatants. For the duration of Milosevic's campaign, large numbers of ethnic Albanians were either displaced from their homes in Kosovo or killed by Serbian troops or police. These acts, and Serbia's refusal to sign the Rambouillet Accords, provoked a military response from NATO, which consisted primarily of aerial bombing. The campaign continued from March through June 1999. After 79 days of bombing, Milosevic capitulated and international forces, led by NATO, moved into Kosovo. The international security presence, which is known as Kosovo Force (KFOR), works closely with the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to ensure protection for all of Kosovo's communities. In March 2002, the Belgrade Agreement was signed by the heads of the federal and republican governments, setting forth the parameters for a redefinition of Montenegro's relationship with Serbia within a joint state. On February 4, 2003, the F.R.Y. parliament ratified the Constitutional Charter, establishing a new state union and changing the name of the country from Yugoslavia to Serbia and Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, the Republic of Montenegro held a successful referendum on independence and declared independence on June 3. Thereafter, the parliament of Serbia stated that the Republic of Serbia was the continuity of the state union, changing the name of the country from Serbia and Montenegro to the Republic of Serbia, with Serbia retaining Serbia and Montenegro's membership in all international organizations and bodies. On February 17, 2008, the UN-administered province of Kosovo declared its independence. The United States officially recognized Kosovo's independence the following day.

People of Serbia

Serbia The Serbian state as known today was created in 1170 A.D. by Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjic dynasty. Serbia's religious foundation came several years later when Stefan's son, canonized as St. Sava, became the first archbishop of a newly autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church (1219). Thus, at this time, the Serbs enjoyed both temporal and religious independence. After a series of successions, Serbia fell under the rule of King Milutin, who improved Serbia's position among other European countries. Milutin also was responsible for many of the brightest examples of Medieval Serbian architecture. Moreover, Serbia began to expand under Milutin's reign, seizing territory in nearby Macedonia from the Byzantines. Under Milutin's son, Stefan Dusan (1331-55), the Nemanjic dynasty reached its peak, ruling from the Danube to central Greece. However, Serbian power waned after Stefan's death in 1355, and in the Battle of Kosovo (June 15, 1389) the Serbs were catastrophically defeated by the Turks. By 1459, the Turks exerted complete control over all Serb lands. For more than 3 centuries--nearly 370 years--the Serbs lived under the yoke of the Ottoman sultans. As a result of this oppression, Serbs began to migrate out of their native land (present-day Kosovo and southern Serbia) into other areas within the Balkan Peninsula, including what is now Vojvodina and Croatia. When the Austrian Hapsburg armies pushed the Ottoman Turks south of the Danube in 1699, many Serbs were "liberated," but their native land was still under Ottoman rule. Movements for Serbian independence began more than 100 years later with uprisings under the Serbian patriots Karageorge (1804-13) and Milos Obrenovic (1815-17). After the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, Serbia became an internationally recognized principality under Turkish suzerainty and Russian protection, and the state expanded steadily southward. After an insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875, Serbia and Montenegro went to war against Turkey in 1876-78 in support of the Bosnian rebels. With Russian assistance, Serbs gained more territory as well as formal independence in 1878, though Bosnia was placed under Austrian administration. In 1908, Austria-Hungary directly annexed Bosnia, inciting the Serbs to seek the aid of Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece in seizing the last Ottoman-ruled lands in Europe. In the ensuing Balkan Wars of 1912-13, Serbia obtained northern and central Macedonia, but Austria compelled it to yield Albanian lands that would have given it access to the sea. Serb animosity against the Habsburgs reached a climax on June 28, 1914, when the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, setting off a series of diplomatic and military initiatives among the great powers that culminated in World War I. Soon after the war began, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces occupied Serbia. Upon the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the war's end in 1918, Vojvodina and Montenegro united with Serbia, and former south Slav subjects of the Habsburgs sought the protection of the Serbian crown within a kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Serbia was the dominant partner in this state, which in 1929 adopted the name Yugoslavia. The kingdom soon encountered resistance when Croatians began to resent control from Belgrade. This pressure prompted King Alexander I to split the traditional regions into nine administrative provinces. During World War II, Yugoslavia was divided between the Axis powers and their allies. Royal army soldiers, calling themselves Cetnici (Chetniks), formed a Serbian resistance movement, but a more determined communist resistance under the Partisans, with Soviet and Anglo-American help, liberated all of Yugoslavia by 1944. In an effort to avoid Serbian domination during the postwar years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were given separate and equal republican status within the new socialist federation of Yugoslavia; Kosovo and Vojvodina were made autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia. Despite the attempts at a federal system of government for Yugoslavia, Serbian communists played the leading role in Yugoslavia's political life for the next 4 decades. As the Germans were defeated at the end of World War II, Josip Broz Tito, a former Bolshevik and committed communist, began to garner support from both within Yugoslavia as well as from the Allies. Yugoslavia remained independent of the U.S.S.R., as Tito broke with Stalin and asserted Yugoslav independence. Tito went on to control Yugoslavia for 35 years. Under communist rule, Serbia was transformed from an agrarian to an industrial society. In the 1980s, however, Yugoslavia's economy began to fail. With the death of Tito in 1980, separatist and nationalist tensions emerged in Yugoslavia. In the late 1980s, Slobodan Milosevic propelled himself to power in Belgrade by exploiting the fears of the small Serbian minority in Kosovo. In 1989, he arranged the elimination of Kosovo's autonomy in favor of more direct rule from Belgrade. Belgrade ordered the firing of large numbers of Albanian state employees, whose jobs were then taken by Serbs. As a result of this oppression, Kosovo Albanian leaders led a peaceful resistance movement in the early 1990s and established a parallel government funded mainly by the Albanian diaspora. Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia. On April 27, 1992 in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When Kosovo's peaceful resistance movement failed to yield results, an armed resistance emerged in 1997 in the form of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA's main goal was to secure the independence of Kosovo. In late 1998, Milosevic unleashed a brutal police and military campaign against the separatist KLA, which included atrocities against civilian noncombatants. For the duration of Milosevic's campaign, large numbers of ethnic Albanians were either displaced from their homes in Kosovo or killed by Serbian troops or police. These acts, and Serbia's refusal to sign the Rambouillet Accords, provoked a military response from NATO, which consisted primarily of aerial bombing. The campaign continued from March through June 1999. After 79 days of bombing, Milosevic capitulated and international forces, led by NATO, moved into Kosovo. The international security presence, which is known as Kosovo Force (KFOR), works closely with the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to ensure protection for all of Kosovo's communities. In March 2002, the Belgrade Agreement was signed by the heads of the federal and republican governments, setting forth the parameters for a redefinition of Montenegro's relationship with Serbia within a joint state. On February 4, 2003, the F.R.Y. parliament ratified the Constitutional Charter, establishing a new state union and changing the name of the country from Yugoslavia to Serbia and Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, the Republic of Montenegro held a successful referendum on independence and declared independence on June 3. Thereafter, the parliament of Serbia stated that the Republic of Serbia was the continuity of the state union, changing the name of the country from Serbia and Montenegro to the Republic of Serbia, with Serbia retaining Serbia and Montenegro's membership in all international organizations and bodies. On February 17, 2008, the UN-administered province of Kosovo declared its independence. The United States officially recognized Kosovo's independence the following day. People (2004 est.) Nationality: Noun--Serb(s); adjective--Serbian. Population (2002 Republic census): 7,478,820. Population growth rate: -3.5%. Ethnic groups (2002 population census): Serbian 83%, Hungarian 4%, Bosnian 2%, Albanian 1%, Montenegrin 1%, other 9%. Religions (2002 population census): Orthodox 85%, Roman Catholic 5.5%, Muslim 3%, Protestant 1%, other 5.5%. Languages: Serbian 88%, Hungarian 3.8%, Bosnian 2%, Albanian 1%, others 5%. Health: Infant mortality rate--8.1 deaths/1,000. Life expectancy--males 72.44 yrs., female 77.86 yrs.
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