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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Capital City: Belgrade
Area: 88,361 sq.km
Population : 7,498,001 (Serbian Government census, 2002)
Languages: Serbian (majority), Hungarian, Bosniak, Roma, Croat, Montenegrin, Albanian, Slovak, Vlach, Romanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Ruthenian and Ukrainian. In the areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, the languages and scripts of the minorities are in official use.
Major Ethnic Communities : Serbs 82.86%; Hungarians 3.91%; Bosniaks 1.82%; Roma 1.44%; Montenegrins 0.92%; Yugoslavs 1.08%; Croats 0.94%; Albanians 0.82% (Serbian Government census, 2002).
Major Religions and Denominations: Christianity: Serbian Orthodox dominant), Roman Catholicism, Islam.
Major Political Parties: Democratic Party (DS), Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Serbian Radical Party (SRS), G17 Plus, Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), New Serbia (NS), League of Vojvodina Social Democrats (LSDV), Sandzak Democratic Party (SDP), Coalition for Sandzak, Vojvodina Hungarians Alliance (SVM), Party of Democratic Action (PDD), Roma Party (RP), Union of Roma of Serbia (URS).

Parliament of The Republic of Serbia: The national legislature of Serbia is a unicameral assembly of 250 deputies elected through general elections for a term of four years.

The deputies in the National Assembly elect the Government of the Republic of Serbia, which, together with the President of the Republic, represents the country’s executive authority. The Judiciary is independent.

The President of the Republic is elected for a term of 5 years by direct election and has important powers under the Constitution. The President is not a member of the National Assembly or the government.

The Leadership of the Republic of Serbia:
President and Head of State: Boris Tadic.
On 7 July 2008 a coalition government was formed in Serbia between the For A European Serbian group, led by the Democratic Party and G17 Plus, and the Socialist Party of Serbia list and some additional parties. See the Internal Politics section below, for further information on the political parties that are in the coalition.

Government Ministers who hold key posts:
Prime Minister: Mirko Cvetkovic (DS)
First Deputy Prime Minister and Police Minister: Ivica Dacic (SPS)
Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU integration: Mr Bozidar Djelic (DS)
Foreign Minister: Vuk Jeremic (DS)
Defence Minister: Dragan Sutanovac (DS)
Finance Minister: Diana Dragutinovic (G17 Plus)
Justice Minister: Snezana Malovic (DS)
Membership of International Organisations: United Nations (UN), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE), European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Stability Pact, South-Eastern Co-operation Initiative (SECI), Central European Initiative (CEI), South Eastern Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP), Danube Commission, Initiative for Danube Co-operation, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Partnership for Peace (PfP).

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ECONOMY

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit and CIA Factbook estimates, unless otherwise stated

GDP (billions): US$43.9 (2011); US$ 42.4 (2010)
GDP real growth rate: 1.9% (2011);1.8% (2010); -3.1% (2009)
GDP per capita: US$11,405 (2010); US$ 11,053 (2009)
Population below poverty line: 8.8% (2010). National poverty line defined at approximately US$ 130 per month.
Registered unemployment rate: 17.2% (2010); 16.6% (2009)
Inflation: 6.3% (consumer prices, 2010); 8.4% (consumer prices, 2009)
Official Currency: New Serbian Dinar (RSD)
Major industries: Metals processing, chemicals, automotive, construction and real estate, energy and mining, agriculture, food industry, ICT, pharmaceuticals, textiles and garments, furniture.
Major trading partners: Germany, Italy, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU accounts for about 55% of Serbia’s foreign trade. Serbia enjoys a trade surplus with almost all members of the Central Europe Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), Croatia being the exception.

Economic Overview

Since 2000, Serbia’s economy has been going through recovery from conflict and isolation in the 1990s, and through transformation towards a fully functioning market economy. Successive governments have introduced reforms designed to liberalise the market, although progress has been intermittent owing to political uncertainty. Nevertheless, until the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the economy grew at an average rate of 6%, and both foreign investment and trade increased.

Continuing integration with the European Union, with the goal of eventual membership, will increase the pace of reform and provide an additional boost to the economy. As part of its ongoing reforms, the country is nearing the end of a programme of privatisation of state and "socially owned" companies, although completion of the programme has been delayed by the economic crisis. Few attractive companies now remain to be sold. The government has said that those companies that fail to attract a buyer after three attempts at a sale will go into liquidation, though this will unlikely be the case for all firms, and in some cases an alternative strategy has been share giveaways to the public. The government is also starting the slow process of reforming the state-owned utilities (such as electricity, gas and telecommunications), which will be gradually opened up to competition and joint ventures in successive years.

One of the most successful sectors to benefit from this programme has been banking, over 80% of which is now foreign owned. New financial products and an increased trust in banks among the public (destroyed by successive banking crises in the Milošević era) led to a consumer boom and a sharp increase in imports. Consumer trust was tested in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, when Serbian savers withdrew €1 billion worth of deposits in six weeks. However, the Serbian banking sector weathered the crisis largely unscathed, and the withdrawn savings had largely been returned by the end of 2009. A period of consolidation is now expected in the sector to bring down the high number (over 30) of high street banks.

Another product of the privatisation programme is the high unemployment rate, which has been exacerbated by the crisis, as companies are restructured or liquidated. This has become one of the main economic and political challenges for the Government. The official unemployment rate stands at above 20%, though estimates vary wildly. The Government has responded by looking to encourage greenfield investment, an area that Serbia has so far failed to develop significantly. The Government offers financial incentives to investors siting their business and creating jobs in Serbia. In this way the Government hopes not only to begin to tackle the unemployment problem, but also to redress the growing trade gap by attracting export-driven industries.

Serbia’s economy is in the process of becoming more closely integrated with the region and the wider world. In September 2007, Serbia ratified the Central Europe Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). Besides Serbia, CEFTA includes Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Moldova and Kosovo. The Agreement creates a regional free trade area of around 29 million people. Serbia is also one of the only countries outside the former Soviet Union that enjoys a free trade agreement with Russia, a market of 143 million, although this has yet to be exploited to its full potential. Serbia is negotiating to join the WTO, and hopes to complete the accession procedure in 2012.

The economic crisis

As a result of the country’s incomplete integration with regional and world markets, Serbia found itself protected to an extent from the current global economic crisis – certainly by regional standards. However, Serbia’s recent growth had been fuelled by consumption, aided by readily-available credit for companies and individuals, and by a steady inflow of foreign investment. The credit crunch and ensuring economic crisis reduced foreign investment to a relative trickle and caused a sharp domestic consumption retrenchment, while sharper downturns in Serbia’s surrounding economies stifled demand for its exports and reduced the remittances sent home by Serbians working abroad. Availability of consumer and business credit has been severely reduced, though trade is now rebounding rapidly from sharp falls in 2009/10.

As a step to increase confidence and to impose a level of budgetary discipline, the government agreed in April 2009 a €3 billion Stand-By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although the government required some relaxations of deficit targets, the programme nonetheless concluded successfully in April 2011, during which time the budget deficit had been reduced to an expected 4.8% of GDP for 2011. The government has now signed a new, precautionary Stand-By Arrangement to last for a further 18 months.

However, in late 2010 the government was forced to retreat from serious pensions and public sector wage reforms, which were due to be passed as part of its IMF programme. The compromise that was eventually passed does not address the long-term funding issues presented by Serbia’s current public pensions position. It also made a partial U-turn on agricultural subsidy reductions; and implemented a fiscal decentralisation Law thought to have opened an RSD 8bn hole in the budget. Public debt has risen fast, up to around US$ 34bn by 2011 from just US$ 20bn in 2006. Nonetheless, Serbia was one of the first emerging markets to receive a credit rating upgrade from the major Credit Rating Agencies; and a twice-oversubscribed €2bn Eurobond issuance in September 2011, albeit at a high interest rate, points to general market confidence in Serbia’s public financial position.

The government has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Bank of Serbia, in a joint effort to keep inflation under control. High levels of government spending in the past two years had fuelled inflation, only partially contained by the Bank’s strict monetary policy. Although estimates of the increase in consumer prices for 2010 are around 6%, this masks particularly large increases in, for example, food, with the ‘headline’ rate of inflation thought to have been above 10%. As a result, market interest rates are also very high, acting as a break on investment.

The economic crisis also affected the Serbian Dinar (RSD), as reduced flows of foreign funds into the country lessened demand for the currency. Since its high in August 2008, the Dinar lost over 20% of its value against the Euro by early 2009. The National Bank responded with substantial interventions in the currency markets to prevent excessive swings.

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HISTORY

Longer Historical Perspective

The five independent countries that emerged from former Yugoslavia in 1991-92 had spent centuries, from the late Middle Ages, under either Austrian Habsburg or Ottoman Turkish rule. Most of present-day Serbia fell under Ottoman control.

Two Serbian uprisings beginning in 1804 and 1814 resulted in a Serbian state gaining first semi-autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire and eventually, in 1830, full autonomy. The Ottoman Empire was forced out of the region during the Balkan Wars (1912-13) when Serbia also regained control of Kosovo, which it had lost to the Ottomans in 1389.

In the First World War, the joint forces of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria defeated Serbia. The Serbian army regrouped and went to fight alongside the forces of the Entente on the Salonica front. In 1918, under the Serb Karadjordjevic dynasty, the ‘Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’ came into existence. The new state was renamed the ‘Kingdom of Yugoslavia’ in 1929.

The Second World War saw Yugoslavia invaded in April 1941 and partitioned by the Axis powers. When Yugoslavia emerged in 1945 as a socialist federation under the communist partisan leader Josip Broz (Tito), the state was structured as a federation of six republics: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Kosovo and Vojvodina gained increasing autonomy within Serbia. Tito ruled the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) for 35 years, sharing power amongst Yugoslavia’s constituent nations.

Recent History

Tito’s death in 1980 signalled the beginning of the end of the SFRY. The state’s economic decline continued and, increasingly, the power sharing issue rose up the agenda. In 1989 Slobodan Milosevic, riding a wave of nationalist sentiment, came to power in Serbia, and quickly installed his supporters in positions of power and severely restricted the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina. In January 1990, the Yugoslav League of Communists failed to reach agreement on urgent questions of reform and the Slovenian delegation walked out.

The next eighteen months witnessed a round of largely insincere negotiations over how to resolve Yugoslavia’s collective problems. In June 1991 Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence. Macedonia withdrew from Yugoslavia after its independence referendum in September 1991, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, after its independence referendum. Serbia, under Milosevic, opposed the independence moves and actively participated in wars and armed conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-95) under the pretext of ‘protecting’ Croatian and Bosnian Serbs.

Following the secession of the other Yugoslav republics, Serbia and Montenegro adopted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) on 27 April 1992, and declared themselves a new state.

When Kosovo and Vojvodina were stripped of their previous degree of autonomy, Kosovo Albanians began boycotting the Serbian institutions and elections. However, after several years of passive resistance, violent opposition to Serbian hegemony grew in Kosovo. Milosevic turned to the policy of ethnic cleansing, this time against the Kosovo Albanian population. NATO intervened between March and June 1999 with a 78-day bombing campaign across Serbia and Montenegro to push repressive Serb troops out of Kosovo and force Milosevic to relinquish control of the province.

Milosevic’s regime came to an end on 24 September 2000, following FRY presidential elections. He refused to accept the first round victory of Vojislav Kostunica, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia Coalition (DOS) candidate. However, Milosevic had underestimated popular support for the opposition and overestimated the loyalty of the army and security services. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, storming government buildings on 5 October 2000 ending Milosevic's 11-year regime. The uprising of 5 October 2000 was consolidated in December 2000, when DOS swept to power in Serbia, following the Assembly elections.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro

On 14 March 2002, following months of negotiations between the two republics and mediation by EU High Representative Javier Solana, the federal and republican level governments signed the ‘Belgrade Agreement’, forming a new, looser union between Serbia and Montenegro. With the formal adoption of a new Constitutional Charter on 4 February 2003, the FRY became the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (SaM). Foreign policy, defence policy, foreign and domestic economic relations and human/minority rights were dealt with at state union level. Svetozar Marovic, a Montenegrin, was appointed President of SaM. There was also a single-chamber Parliament made up of 126 members (91 Serbian, 35 Montenegrin).

The State Union was intended to promote stability within the region and help both republics make further progress towards European integration, but opinion in Montenegro was divided and the union did not function effectively. Under the terms of the Constitutional Charter either republic could hold a referendum on independence after three years. Montenegro chose to exercise this right and, with the EU acting as facilitator, held a successful referendum on 21 May 2006: 55.5% of those who voted did so in favour of independence. The Montenegrin Assembly made a formal declaration of independence on 3 June 2006, thus bringing the union between Serbia and Montenegro to an end.

Serbia post-2006

On 5 June 2006 the Serbian National Assembly decreed Serbia to be the continuing international personality of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, and fully succeeded its legal status as initially envisaged by the SaM Constitutional Charter Serbia therefore inherited membership of international organisations of which Serbia and Montenegro was a member. The Republic of Serbia remains party to all international agreements, treaties and conventions to which Serbia and Montenegro was a party.

For more information please see the following link:
Montenegro Country Profile (#) For more information:
BBC timeline: Serbia and Montenegro after Milosevic (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1045154.stm)

On 17 February 2008, Kosovo declared itself independent. The declaration committed Kosovo to implement fully UN Special Envoy Ahtisaari’s Comprehensive Proposal, which includes extensive minority safeguards and international supervision. On 18 February, EU Foreign Ministers agreed conclusions drawing together the EU’s reaction. The EU has agreed a range of political and practical assistance to Kosovo (deploying a police and rule of law mission and Special Representative; assisting with economic and political development). The conclusions noted that member states could decide on their relations with Kosovo in line with national practice.

On 18 February, the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK would recognise Kosovo as a sovereign, independent state. On 22 July 2010, the International Criminal Court delivered an advisory opinion, requested by Serbia, on the independence of Kosovo. The Court concluded that Kosovo’s declaration “did not violate any applicable rule of international law”. At this point, 69 countries had recognised Kosovo, including the US, a majority of EU states and Serbia’s neighbours. In September 2011, there was a dispute between Serbia and Kosovo over the validity of some claimed “recognitions”. The latest number can be found on our Kosovo Country Profile (#)

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Relations with the International Community

Following the events of October 2000, the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) made great efforts to rebuild links with the international community that were destroyed under Slobodan Milosevic. Soon after the removal of Milosevic, FRY rejoined the United Nations. FRY also joined various other international organisations, including the IMF, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

In the UK, our assessment is clear: Serbia's future lies in its integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, and close relations with its neighbours and the international community in general.

Relations with NATO

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) 'Legality of use of force' case was brought by Serbia and Montenegro against 8 NATO member states (including the UK) for their role in the 1999 Kosovo conflict. In December 2004 the ICJ judged that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case as Serbia and Montenegro was not a UN member at the time and did not have access to the Court via any other legal avenue. The case was therefore dismissed.

The UK and NATO are committed to working with Serbia on defence reform. The UK has good bilateral military co-operation with Serbia and provides training and assistance to assist defence reform. In May 2003 NATO Allies agreed a Tailored Co-operation Programme for Serbia and Montenegro, which helped to prepare Serbia for PfP membership.

In 2006 the Serbian government completed a Strategic Defence Review which committed Serbia to considerable restructuring which will prepare the armed forces for involvement in multilateral defence activity.

At the NATO Riga Summit on 29 November 2006, Serbia was invited to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. PfP aims to promote regional stability by supporting defence reform and defence diplomacy activities between NATO Allies and PfP members. Allies decided to grant Serbia PfP to reflect the progress made on crucial defence reform issues – an area particularly relevant to NATO. Since then, Serbia’s relationship with NATO has been complicated, given its presence in Kosovo as KFOR. Certain KFOR operations in the summer of 2011, as a result of tensions at customs checkpoints between Kosovo and Serbia, have led to the chances of deeper co-operation in the near-term reducing somewhat. We nonetheless hope PfP will encourage and facilitate continued progress.

Relations with the European Union

In its Feasibility Report in April 2005, the Commission judged that Serbia and Montenegro had made sufficient progress in meeting the prerequisites and developing the capacity to negotiate a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. Improved co-operation with the ICTY also contributed to this positive decision. The Council of Ministers subsequently approved the decision on 25 April 2005 and asked the Commission to prepare a negotiating mandate.

The EU formally took the decision to open SAA negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on 3 October 2005 with the ceremonial opening of negotiations following on 10 October.

Official and technical rounds of negotiations followed every couple of months, although were paused in 2006/7 due to the EU view that Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY was insufficient. On the 7 November the Commission initialled the SAA. The SAA was signed on 29 April 2008 at the GAERC in parallel with the Interim Agreement (IA) on trade and trade related issues.

Both agreements were however frozen from implementation on the EU’s side, while Serbia started implementing the Interim Agreement unilaterally. On 8 December 2009 the EU agreed to unblock implementation of the IA following successful reports on Serbia’s co-operation with ICTY and agreed to review unblocking of the SAA after 6 months. On 14 June 2010 the EU agreed that Member States could begin ratification of the SAA. The UK ratified the SAA on 11 August 2011.

On the 21 December 2009 Serbia submitted an application for EU Membership, and in October 2010 the EU forwarded Serbia’s application to the Commission for an Avis (opinion). Serbia submitted answers in January on the first round of questions to the Commission to inform its Avis. The avis was published on 12 October 2011 and recommended that EU Foreign Ministers grant Serbia Candidate Status, provided it continued to engage in good spirit with the Brussels-sponsored dialogue with Pristina and implement agreements already reached. However, the December European Council deferred the decision on granting Serbia Candidate status to the February General Affairs Council/March European Council, and specified conditions on progress on relations with Kosovo. The UK remains committed to supporting Serbia's progress towards EU membership, subject to the necessary conditions being met.

Serbia has benefited from the investment of over €2bn from the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession assistance, which funds Twinning and technical assistance projects. In addition, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the European Investment Bank; the World Bank; and many bilateral aid agencies operate in Serbia.
EU Enlargement - Serbia (http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/serbia/index_en.htm)

Relations with Kosovo

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. On 18 February, the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK would recognise Kosovo as a sovereign, independent state.

Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence and sought an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on whether the declaration of independence is in accordance with international law. The ICJ gave its judgment on 22 July 2010, finding that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law.

Serbia and Kosovo have since begun direct talks, brokered and mediated by the EU, on technical issues. The first round was on 8 March 2011. These talks do not cover status issues, but by September 2011 had produced agreements on customs and land registry. Other areas covered by the dialogue include telecommunications, trade, and education. Various set-backs and postponements have occurred, corresponding to episodes of increased tensions particularly in the predominantly Serb-populated north of Kosovo.
For more information please see our Kosovo country profile. (http://www.fco.gov.uk/content/en/country-profile/europe/fco_cp_kosovo)

Relations with the Neighbours

Serbia’s relations with its neighbours are complicated by the legacy of the 1990s. However in recent years regional relations have steadily improved; the European Commission described Serbia as “on the whole plays a stabilising role in the Western Balkans”.

Serbia’s relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina began to improve after Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic publicly apologised in Sarajevo ‘for any evil or disaster that any one from Serbia and Montenegro caused to anyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina’. President Tadic of Serbia attended the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on 11 July 2005.

On 26 February 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced its judgment on the case filed by Bosnia-Herzegovina against Serbia and Montenegro in March 1993, claiming violations of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. The ICJ found that Serbia had not committed genocide through its organs or persons and had not conspired to commit genocide, nor incited the commission of genocide.

However the court ruled that Serbia did not use its influence to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995, and that Serbia’s ongoing failure to punish those who had carried out the massacre continues to represent a breach of their obligations under the Genocide Convention.

On 31 March 2010, Serbia’s Parliament narrowly adopted a resolution condemning the crimes committed at Srebrenica. On 24 April of the same year, President Tadic was a party to the Istanbul Declaration, a Turkish-brokered commitment to Serbia recognising the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina and to long-term regional peace.

However, Belgrade’s close ties with the Serb entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, call into question Serbia’s role in working towards a stable and prosperous BiH.

On 10 September 2003, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic made a historic visit to Belgrade. It was the first visit by a Croatian head of state since the end of the wars in 1995. On 15 November 2004, the Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader made an official visit to Belgrade, followed by a reciprocal visit to Zagreb by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in November 2005. On 24 June 2007, Serbian President Boris Tadic apologised to Croatian citizens for crimes committed in the 1990s war in that country. He said, 'that actions of former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic represented one of “the darkest pages in the Serbian history.” Relations between Serbia and Croatia have continued to improve and deepen, despite occasional rhetorical exchanges between political leaders. Some issues still remain however, including the resettlement of Serb refugees in Croatia, the rights of the Croat minority in Serbia and the demarcation of the border between the two countries. Croatia has committed to supporting Serbia’s EU perspective.

In September 2007, Serbia ratified the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) in Brussels. CEFTA is a free trade area between Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Moldova, Croatia and Kosovo. Croatia will leave CEFTA upon EU accession. Kosovo’s representation within CEFTA is a continued source of tension and uncertainty.

Serbia's relations with the UK

UK representation in Serbia
UK Embassy in Belgrade (http://ukinserbia.fco.gov.uk/en)
Modern diplomatic relations between Serbia and the UK stretch back over 170 years. Notable episodes of co-operation in history include the UK’s support for Serbia in the first and second World Wars, with Churchill famously deciding to back the communist Partizans in 1944, which led to the liberation of Yugoslavia and the instalment of Josip Broz “Tito” as president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ). Meanwhile, during the World War II the Serbian Royal Family and government established in exile in the Ritz Hotel in London. And a group of Scottish nurses stationed in Serbia during World War II are still commemorated every year in four cities around Serbia.

Since the democratic changes in October 2000 the FCO has funded various projects to support Serbian anticorruption efforts, civil society, public finances monitoring, procurement procedures monitoring, independent media, human rights and judicial reform, through its ‘Reuniting Europe’ programme. Additionally, the cross-government Conflict Prevention Programme is being deployed to supporting local democracy, encouraging unbiased media coverage of political developments and promoting truth and reconciliation between ethnic communities, especially in the regions of south Serbia and Sandzak. The FCO has also contributed a total of £500,000 to the work of the International Commission for Missing Persons on DNA laboratory analysis and exhumations.

There was also a DFID mission in Belgrade until January 2011. This mission worked for eight years, supporting a range of democratic and administrative reforms, and reducing the potential for conflict; whilst also working to increase aid effectiveness and co-ordination among the donor community. track record of excellent work in Consistent with their Regional Assistance Plan the purpose of the DFID programme in Serbia is to enhance the effectiveness of the overall international community engagement in promoting and supporting poverty reduction in Serbia. DFID works to achieve this in three main ways:

Department for International Development (DFID) (http://www.dfid.gov.uk)

Cultural Relations

The majority of the UK’s communications and public diplomacy activities in Belgrade are organised around important bilateral links and dates, WW1 anniversaries, visits of sports clubs, University, youth and scout groups, celebrations of British national days, public promotions of the FCO/Embassy funded projects across the country, joint programme activities with other EU MS embassies and the EC Delegation etc.

In 2007 the Embassy published a photo monograph book to mark 170 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Serbia (Yugoslavia). More than 150 photographs from the Embassy collection, some even dating from the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century, were used to illustrate relations between the two countries. Two eminent Serbian historians, Chevening scholars, wrote the book preface.

On the same occasion the Embassy produced the documentary film “UK/Serbia: Partners Past Future”. The aim was to show different aspects of bilateral relations, i.e. co-operation in the fields of medicine, economy, culture, sports and education. Every year, together with local authorities of several towns across Serbia (i.e. Mladenovac, Kragujevac, Vranje), the Embassy commemorates Scottish nurses and other members of the British Medical Mission who were helping Serbian soldiers and people during the World War I.

For a decade now, EXIT music festival was the major consular challenge for the British Embassy in Belgrade, with around 10,000 British citizens making up by far the largest group of foreign guests. The Embassy establishes every year a special Consular Team, on-call in Novi Sad 24 hours a day. Furthermore, as part of the project, the Embassy set up the British Information Point (BIP), where distressed British citizens could seek first hand consular assistance or practical advice.

As a warm-up for the festival, held in July each year, the Embassy, together with the Youth Cultural Centre CK13 implemented a project entitled “Enter UK: Days of Great Britain in Novi Sad” (for two years in a row, 2008 and 2009). The main idea was to introduce local public with British social and cultural influences in Serbia. Issues of multiculturalism, (anti) racism, (anti) discrimination, football, fair play, (sub-) cultural influences and humour were addressed during two previous years.

In 2009 the Embassy provided technical support to the local police unit dealing with foreign citizens, and two senior officers visited colleagues in Avon and Somerset Constabulary for the Glastonbury Festival shadowing exercise.

The first Chevening Alumni Annual Conference (CAAC) was held in April 2008. The goal of the Conference, which gathered around 50 scholars and fellows, experts in the field of law, economy, political science, media, culture and education has been strengthening of the Alumni (i.e. introducing Chevening of the Year Award) and developing plans for the future. Regional Chevening Alumni Conference was held n 2009 gathering representatives of 9 alumni organisations from SE Europe. In October 2008 Chevening Alumni celebrated the 10th anniversary of the scheme in Serbia and inaugurated annual "Chevening of the Year" award.

Every year since 2008 the Embassy and British Council organise a Chevening Outreach Programme in all university cities in Serbia. The programme aims to encourage students from outside Belgrade to take an interest and apply for the scholarship. In 2011 the Embassy awarded five scholarships, plus others sponsored by a private firm and by a Serbian municipality.

Other British alumni groups in Serbia include LSE Serbia, the Oxford Club and the Cambridge Club. The most active local organisation working on promotion of bilateral links is the Anglo-Serbian Society (AnSeS). For 12 years in a row the Embassy has been supporting their International Summer School for Democracy, which is bringing together scholars, experts, youth leaders and activists from the UK, Serbia and SE Europe. The school was co-sponsored by the Hellenic Observatory of the LSE for the first time in September 2009.

Digital engagement is also a major part of Embassy's public diplomacy efforts. Web 2.0 tools/channels of the Embassy are: website (in English and Serbian), Embassy Blog at the external blogging platform ("UKinSerbia" at the blog of the B92 Broadcasting Corporation), YouTube channel (embbg) and Flickr account (UKinSerbia). The UKinSerbia Blog at B92 is in Serbian and discusses a wide range of issues - political, green, consular, defence, etc. - with Serbian and regional bloggers.

There are a number of Serbian organisations in the UK, for example, the Serbian Society, the Serbian Benevolent Society, the Novi Sad Association and the Association of Serbian Writers Abroad. The Serbian Orthodox Church has churches throughout England, including those in London, Birmingham and Oxford.

The British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. This institution is an integral part of the UK’s international relations and their work supports and complements the diplomatic, developmental and commercial work carried out by other UK organisations and agencies. The British Council has been operating in Serbia since 1940.

The foci of the British Council in Serbia have been to support Serbia in its institutional reform; development of skills for economic development; and the development of a more inclusive society on its path to EU integration. The British Council also works to promote cultural links between the UK and Serbia.

Serbian partners look to the UK and British Council for best practice and collaboration in the areas of education, culture and society. Young people look to the UK for education opportunities, for the development of their professional skills and for international experience and links. The work of the British Council earns trust and influence for the UK through facilitating the exchange of knowledge and ideas across cultural and geographical boundaries. Its country partners include ministries, University faculties, cultural institutions, the British Embassy, NGOs, OSCE and business partners.

British Council bilingual (http://www.britishcouncil.org/serbia.htm) website.

Inward Visits

-- 28 November 2011 - Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic met Foreign Secretary William Hague in London.

-- 16 November 2011 - Serbian President Boris Tadic, Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic visited London. They met the Prime Minister David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary William Hague, and the Minister for Europe David Lidington, as well as the Lord Speaker, and FCO officials. The delegation also had a tour of the Olympic Park and met with Lord Seb Coe.

-- 5 February 2010 - Serbian State Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dusan Spasojevic visited London. He met both MoD and Foreign Office officials, and also Parliamentarians.

-- 15-19 March 2010 – Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Ivica Dacic, visited the UK and met with the then-Minister for Europe, Chris Bryant, the Home Secretary and the Head of SOCA.

Outward

-- 31 October 2011 – The Minister for Europe, David Lidington, visited Belgrade.

-- 31 August 2010 – The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, visited Serbia. He met President Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic, and Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac. He also gave an interview to the local media.

-- 12-13 October 2009 - UK Foreign Affairs Committee delegation visited Belgrade and had meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic and Foreign Ministry officials.

-- 12-13 September 2009 - Baroness Taylor, then-Minister for International Defence and Security, visited Belgrade. She represented the Secretary of State at ‘Batajnica 2009’, an air show to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Serbian Air Force. Baroness Taylor also met with Defence Minister, Dragan Sutanovac. Her visit helped stress the importance of the UK’s relationship with Serbia.

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GEOGRAPHY

The Republic of Serbia has external borders with Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia to the west and north-west; Romania to the north-east; Bulgaria to the south-east; and Kosovo and Macedonia to the south.

The landscape ranges from flat plains in the north to hilly and mountainous regions in southern Serbia.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and Investment with the UK

UK Trade and Investment
(https://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/appmanager/ukti/countries?_nfls=false&_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=CountryType1&navigationPageId=/serbia_montenegro)

Trade Statistics show Serbia’s foreign trade reaching a total of US$ 31.7 billion in 2008. By 2010, however, this dropped to just US$26 billion.

In 2011, UK imports from Serbia amounted to £90.5 million, while UK exports to Serbia totalled £107.4 million. It is worth noting that significant volumes of British exports to Serbia are routed via third countries and therefore not captured by direct trade statistics.

Major UK investment in Serbia occurred in 2003 with the acquisition of the second largest tobacco manufacturer by British American Tobacco for approximately €87 million. The UK ranks in the top 10 investors in Serbia with cumulative 2000 - 2006 investments amounting to over US$ 307 million. Numerous UK service providers are successfully doing business in Serbia in areas such as law, accountancy, real estate, construction, engineering, marketing and public relations.

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POLITICS

Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party (DS) was re-elected President of Serbia in elections on 3 February 2008, narrowly defeating Tomislav Nikolic, then Acting Leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), in the second round of voting: Boris Tadic 50.31%; Tomislav Nikolic 47.97%. In the first round, Nikolic (with 39.99%) had been the leading candidate.

The parliamentary elections in May 2008 were brought on by the collapse of the Serbian government following the withdrawal of then Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) from the ruling coalition. The elections gave a thin majority to pro-European parties, led by Tadic's DS, with a decline in the number of deputies from the more radical and nationalist parties. The EU and Member States, including the UK welcomed the positive results for the pro-EU parties as a clear indication of Serbia’s desire for EU integration.

After the elections the major parties were engaged in tense coalition talks before a coalition government was finally formed on 7 July 2008. The coalition government is made up of the Democratic Party, under the leadership of Tadic, the Socialist Party of Serbia, led by Ivica Dacic, and G17 Plus under Mladjan Dinkic. Mirko Cvetkovic (DS) is the Prime Minister in this government, while the other ministries have been shared out between the coalition parties.

The results of the parliamentary election were as follows:
Party/Coalition Party Leader Parliament Seats % of Votes Cast:

For A European Serbia (ZES) Boris Tadic 102; 38%
Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Tomislav Nikolic 78; 29%
Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)/New Serbia Vojislav Kostunica 30; 12%
Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)* Ivica Dacic 20; 8%
LDP Alliance Cedomir Jovanovic 13; 5%
Hungarian Coalition Istvan Pastor 4; 2%
Bosniak Ticket for a European Sandzak Dr. Sulejman Ugljanin 2; 1%
Coalition of Albanians of Presevo Valley 1; 0.4%

The parties that make up the For A European Serbia Coalition are: DS, G17 Plus, SPO, SDP and LSV. The parties that participate jointly with SPS are: PUPS (Party of United Pensioner of Serbia) and JS (United Serbia).

September 2008 saw a bitter rift develop in the Serbian Radical Party over support for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. Tomislav Nikolic made a break with party leader Vojislav Seselj, who remains in detention in The Hague, accused of war crimes. Nikolic's new Serbian Progressive Party quickly gained support, with more than 20 Radical MPs defecting and opinion polls showing constantly that the Party had similar levels of popular support to the DS.

New parliamentary and local elections must be held in 2012, with a Presidential election before 2013.

Politics since the democratic changes

A landslide victory by the newly elected President Kostunica's DOS coalition in the Serbian Assembly elections in December 2000 saw Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Djindjic appointed as Serbian Prime Minister.

From 2001 until 2003, the DOS coalition government made good progress in building a democratic and stable future for Serbia. They implemented reforms in Serbia's administrative and legal institutions; devolved more power to the regions; brought stability to Southern Serbia (the Presevo Valley); and helped foster better relations with neighbours and the international community. Also the government's team of mainly young technocrat economists succeeded in reforming the banking system and tackling the inflation and currency instability that were a feature of life under Milosevic.

In March 2003 Prime Minister Djindjic was assassinated, and six months later the DOS lost its parliamentary majority. Early Parliamentary elections took place on 28 December 2003. Overall turnout was 58.8%, with the Serbian Radical Party winning most votes and gaining 82 of the 250 seats in government.

On 3 March 2004, the Serbian Assembly voted in a new minority government comprising the DSS, G17 Plus and SPO-NS, with support in the Assembly from the SPS. Former Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica was appointed Serbian Prime Minister.

Following Montenegro’s independence, the Serbian Government got two new Ministries: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence

Serbian parliamentary elections were held on 21 January 2007 following Montenegro’s independence and the adoption of the new Serbian Constitution. A coalition government was formed on 15 May 2007 between the Democratic Party (DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and G17PLUS. The leader of the DSS, Vojislav Koštunica, served as Prime Minister of this coalition government.

In June 2004, former SaM Defence Minister, DS leader Boris Tadic was elected President of Serbia. Serbia had been without an elected President since December 2002, when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia indictee Milan Milutinovic's term ended. Two sets of elections in 2002 and a third in 2003 were declared invalid because voter turnout failed to reach 50%. However in February 2004, the Serbian Parliament removed the 50% minimum turnout requirement and on 27 June 2004 Tadic was elected President with 53.7% of votes in a second round run-off. His SRS opponent, Tomislav Nikolic, won 45.0%. The turnout was 48.7%.

The Constitution

On 30 September 2006, the Serbian Parliament unanimously endorsed a new constitution for Serbia. This text was then put to a referendum on 28/29 October 2006. The electorate approved the new constitution with 53.04% voting in favour and the Parliament promulgated the new Constitution on 9 November 2006.

The Constitution contains some positive provisions on human rights and the protection of minorities. It is also positive that Serbia has decided to replace Milosevic's text in the former Constitution. But concerns have been expressed, including by the Venice Commission and the European Commission in its annual progress report on Serbia, about the transparency of the process by which the new text was agreed upon.

Following the endorsement of the Constitution by the Serbian Parliament on 09 November, President Tadic called parliamentary elections on 21 January 2007.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Following the fall of the Milosevic regime, the human rights situation in Serbia has greatly improved. Problems still remain, although many are typical of countries in political and economic transition. Serbia has ratified the majority of human rights related international conventions and since the separation from Montenegro, Serbia remains bound by these agreements.

Full and practical implementation of these legal provisions is now important. The authorities have made some progress. For example, new minority councils were elected in June 2010 for all the major ethnic groups in Serbia. These councils are intended to give the minorities the right of self-government in the often-sensitive areas of education, information, culture and use of language and script. However, not all of the National Minority Councils are up and running, and others vary in their effectiveness.

A Serbian Government strategy for tackling discrimination and better integration of the Roma community is also a positive development. The Serbian Government has also taken positive steps to address the inter-ethnic related problems in Southern Serbia through the formation of a Serb-Albanian Coordination Body.

We continue to encourage further efforts by the Serbian authorities in these and other areas. Establishing an independent judiciary, police reform, better accountability mechanisms for treatment of detainees by prison and law enforcement agencies, and combating human trafficking are key areas to address.

Serbia also needs to continue to tackle the problems associated with the conflicts of the 1990s, in particular improving the situation for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), bringing to justice those who perpetrated war crimes of mass genocide and ethnic cleansing, and addressing the issue of 'missing persons'.
The UK regularly raises human rights issues with the Serbian authorities and continues to fund projects to help improve the human and minority rights situation.. In recent years we have funded xx successful projects.

ICTY

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established in 1993 by the United Nations and is situated in The Hague in the Netherlands. It was set up through UN Security Council Resolution 827.

The objectives of the Tribunal are: to bring to justice those allegedly responsible for violations of international humanitarian law; to render justice to the victims of these crimes; to deter further crimes; and to contribute to the restoration of peace by promoting reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. All members of the United Nations are legally obliged to co-operate with the ICTY.

On 10 April 2002, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) passed a law on Co-operation with the ICTY. Although not perfect, this law provided a framework for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's, and therefore Serbia's, co-operation with ICTY, which included the transfer of people indicted for war crimes the ICTY in The Hague and granting the ICTY full access to archives and witnesses in Serbia. The law was amended on 14 April 2003 by the then Serbia and Montenegro government so that all indictees, regardless of the date their indictment, would be extradited to The Hague.

Serbia’s cooperation with ICTY has been assessed by the Court as having improved and deteriorated at various points over the last 8 years. In November 2004, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said that Serbia was “the single most important obstacle faced by the Tribunal”. From 2005 co-operation slowly improved, with a number of transfers to The Hague, including high profile indictees such as Vladimir Lazarevic, Sreten Lukic, Nebojsa Pavkovic and Radovan Karadzic. However, between Karadzic’s arrest in 2008 at mid-2011, the remaining two indictees, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, had remained at large.

Under continuing pressure from the international community, Serbia eventually arrested Mladic on 26 May 2011. He was extradited to The Hague 5 days later and his trial began on 3 June. A plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf. Serbia caught the last of the fugitive ICTY detainees, Goran Hadzic, on 20 July. He was extradited to the Hague on 22 July, and did not enter a plea at his initial trial hearing on 25 July.

The trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic

The Serbian Authorities arrested Slobodan Milosevic on 1 April 2001 and he was transferred to The Hague on 29 June 2001. The ICTY issued three indictments against Milosevic for alleged war crimes committed in BiH, Croatia and Kosovo accusing him of crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws and customs of war and genocide. His arrest and detention was one of ICTY's biggest achievements as he was the first head of state to face an international court since the Nuremberg Trials for the atrocities during WW2.

His trial started on 12 February 2002 with the prosecution presenting its case against Milosevic for alleged crimes committed in Kosovo, with the case for BiH and Croatia following on 26 September 2002. The ICTY prosecution finished presenting evidence against Milosevic on 25 February 2004. On 31 August 2004, the trial resumed with Milosevic calling evidence in his defence.

Milosevic represented himself in his trial, and the trial was delayed many times due to his ill health.

Because of this, in September 2004, the Trial Chamber assigned a defence counsel to represent him. Milosevic appealed this decision, and his appeal was upheld. However the Trial Chamber maintained the right to impose a defence counsel if Milosevic was unable to attend court.

The trial was due to last four years (until 2006), but Milosevic died unexpectedly in custody on 11 March 2006 of natural causes. His case was subsequently terminated. Milosevic's body was returned to Serbia where he was buried in his home town, Pozarevac.

The court transcripts of the Milosevic trial can be found on the ICTY website. (http://www.un.org/icty/)

Other information on ICTY Indictees can be found on the ICTY website

United Nations - ICTY (http://www.un.org/icty/)

Domestic War Crimes Trials

On 2 July 2003, the Serbian government passed legislation that facilitate trials of war criminals in Serbia for crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, regardless of the citizenship of the perpetrator or victim. The law provides for an investigation unit, a special detention centre and a witness protection programme. On 22 July 2003, the Serbian Parliament appointed Vladimir Vukcevic as war crimes prosecutor.

The special War Crimes Court opened on 9 March 2004 when six Serbs stood trial accused of their alleged involvement in the Vukovar (Ovcara Farm) massacre in Croatia in 1991. In May 2004 a further 11 suspects were charged. On 7 Sept 2006, 14 were found guilty, including Sasa Radak, who was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. On 14 December 2006, following appeals made by both the prosecution and the defence that the initial case had not been conducted properly, Serbia’s Supreme Court ordered a retrial of these 14 men.

In March 2004, a court in Belgrade sentenced an ex-police reservist to 20 years imprisonment for killing 14 and injuring five Kosovo Albanian women and children in March 1999. This was known as the Podujevo trial. The UK government assisted the Serbian judiciary by enabling the surviving victims, now living in the UK, to travel to Belgrade and give their testimonies at the trial. This was the first time non-Serb victims of war crimes had testified at a trial of this kind in Serbia. In late 2004 the Serbian Supreme Court ordered the retrial of this case due to 'gross violations of criminal procedure and witness interrogation provisions'. The Supreme Court confirmed the verdict in February 2006. Another four men suspected of the crime were arrested on 19 October 2007.

On 18 May 2006, the Serbian Supreme Court upheld the Belgrade District Court’s conviction of Milan Lukic, Dragutin Dragicevic, Oliver Krsmanovic, and Djordje Sevic of the "Osvetnici" (Avengers) armed group within the Republic of Srpska Army for the kidnapping and murder of 16 Bosniaks from the village of Sjeverin. This crime took place in Mioce, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in October 1992.

On 18 September 2006 the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court, presided by judge Olivera Andjelkovic, found Anton Lekaj, a former member of Kosovo Liberation Army, guilty of war crimes against the civilian population, and sentenced him to 13 years in prison.

On 10 April 2007 the Serbian War Crimes Chamber handed down verdicts on five members of a military unit, filmed executing six young Muslims near Srebrenica in BiH in July 1995. The Chamber sentenced two of the accused to 20 years in prison, one to 13 years (a reduced sentence in recognition of a guilty plea) and one to five years. A fifth person was acquitted and released.

The Chamber found that there was no evidence linking the actions of the military unit, known as "Scorpions", to Belgrade and that they had received their orders from the Commander of the Bosnian Serb forces Republika Srpska Army.

Local reactions to the verdicts were mixed, with some - including Serbia’s President Tadic - asking why the maximum sentences were not given. A leading human rights organisation disputed the judgement, claiming that the accused were part of a paramilitary unit linked to Serbia’s state security.

They also criticised the Chamber's ruling that there was no proven link between the crimes these men committed and the massacre of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in nearby Srebrenica, which also took place in 1995.

The UK supports all efforts to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice as part of the process of regional reconciliation.

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Last Updated: February 2012

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