Serbia Country Profile Travel Guide Business Information

Serbia Country Profile Travel Guide Business Information

Serbia population Serbia religion Serbia history Serbia economy Serbia currency Serbia road travel & other Serbian national information

 Related pages  Contact the Serbian Consulate / Belgrade Visitors Guide

Danube River Cruises

Serbia & Montenegro Country Profile

Serbia Recent History

Few historians dispute that the 1919 Treaty Of Versailles was inherently flawed. The resolution of redefining Europe’s borders after WW1 some of which would address the void of the fallen Austrian – Hungarian Empire was no mean task and was not likely to be universally embraced by the races and countries involved.

The birth in 1920 of the politically designed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats & Slovenes, (subsequently’ renamed Yugoslavia nine years later) but dominated by the Serbs was from the outset destined to fail at some point. There is no doubt that when Croatian born catholic Marshall Tito (see right hand column) gained power in 1945 the break up of Yugoslavia was delayed. see related article below

After Tito’s death the communist grip on Yugoslavia began to diminish and nationalist politics came to the afore. By 1992 Slovenia and Croatia declared the independence but the Serbian controlled government in Belgrade refused to accept the new order. In July 1992 the Yugoslavian Army under the direction of the new President Slobodan Milosevic (See How Milosevic Politic’s Destroyed His Own Country) entered Croatia terroritory and open war raged for six months until a truce was agreed.

In January 1993 Croatian forces launched a sudden attack on the Serbian occupied Straits of Maslenica. This attack, like subsequent attacks in May and August 1995 resulted in most of the terroritory occupied by the Yugoslav (Serbian) Army in 1992 being returned to Croatia.

Whilst this going on Bosnia erupted into civil war as the Serbs in the country fought to remain part of Serbian controlled Yugoslavia. The Serbian forces forced the Muslim to retreat to Sarajevo and eventually surrounded the city. At the same Bosnian Croats who wanted Bosnia to become part of Croatia were fighting the Muslims in Central Bosnia.

After two years of fighting, ethic cleansing and failed peace keeping attempts by the United Nations all parties met at a US led talks to stop the wars. The Dayton agreement in November 1995 which created two self-governing areas within Bosnia – the Bosnian Serb Republic and the Muslim(Bosnjak)-Croat Federation. Both entities had the own armies and parliament. The Dayton Agreement also established of The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which comprised of Serbia, Montenegro and Albanian dominated Kosovo region. It additionally established a Nato-led peacekeeping force was given responsibility for implementing the military components and of the peace agreement, extensive powers, including the authority to arrest indicted war criminals it found in the process.

By 1998 The Kosovo Albanians who had sought independence for themselves formed a separatist movement – The Kosovo Liberation Army. The Serbian Army & KLA fought a war. During the war the Serbian force under the orders of the then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic committed War crimes which resulted in nearly a million Albanians fleeing Kosovo. On March 24th 1999 NATO forces entered Kosovo to protect the Kosovo Albanians. On June 10th 1999 the province of Kosovo became a United Nations Protectorate under resolution 1244 passed by the United Nations Security Council.

Two years later the reign of President Milosevic came to an end but the legacies of the civil wars were beyond repair – see related article. In 2006 the Montenegro people voted to break their ties with Serbia and declared themselves Independent State. On February 17th 2008 the new Government in Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. The once powerful country of Yugoslavia was gone replaced by Serbia a country with a new beginning. see related article below.

Serbia Population

The figures shown below exclude the United Nation’s Kosovo Protectorate which has a population in the region of 2.66m. The Administration of Serbia & Montenegro is centred in Belgrade the Capital of Serbia. The Capital of Montenegro is Podgorica. The population of Serbia is 7.4m and the population of Montenegro is 650,000 giving a total population of 8.15m.A 2002 census that included Kosovo indicates that the ethnic make up of this region is 63% Serbian, 14% Albanian & 6% Montenegrin. The remaining 17% are predominantly Croatian, Hungarian and Roma

Serbia Religion The major religions are Serbian Orthodox, Christianity, Islam & Roman Catholicism. Serbia Language The major languages are Serbian, Albanian and Hungarian.Serbia Currency The official unit of currency is the Dinar.

Serbia Business Economy

The combined economies of Serbia & Montenegro have an annual growth rate of around 2% and an unemployment rate of 34%. Inflation in Serbia is around 11-12% and inMontenegro 6-7%. Serbia’s major industries are machine manufacture. metallurgy, mining, electronics. production of oil based products and chemicals. Montenegro’s major industries are Tourism, aluminum production, wood refining and salt processing. CombinedSerbia & Montenegro’s major trading partners are The European Union (particularly Italy, Germany & France), Bosnia & Herzegovina ,Hungary, Slovenia, Macedonia, Russia and Croatia.

Serbia Tourism

Tourism to land locked Serbia will increase as the economic and political situation stabilises – initially in the form of business travellers seeking commercial opportunities.

Travel In Serbia

Public transport in Serbia is very old and tired. There is a policy of refurbishment and renewal underway but this is progressing only slowly. All modes of transport are very crowded. For information on public transport in Belgrade see the euromost Belgrade Transport Page

Road Travel In Serbia. 

Drivers need a valid international to drive in Serbia.  You must carry your vehicle registration document, hire contract** or written authority to drive the vehicle with contact details if you have borrowed it. You must also have you insurance certificate covering your driving in Serbia. The European Green Card Insurance is acceptable. Seat belts must be worn. ** Some hire companies do not permit their vehicles to be driven in parts of Serbia Kosovo and Albania for security reasons.

Road conditions are generally poor and sometimes in rural areas awful. The road linking Serbia to Montenegro – Ibarska Magistrala should be nominated as one of the worst roads in Europe. The motorway between Novi Sad and Belgrade is basically three lanes with the middle lane used for overtaking by traffic in each direction. This road is very dangerous. Motor ways charge tolls from 20 dinars upwards depending on the vehicle size. Cash is the only form of payment.

Some Serbian drivers are fairly aggressive and you should avoid getting into an argument with them as they may be armed.

Crime In Serbia

Tourists can be a target for pick pockets at airports and on public transport in larger towns and cities. Drivers with expensive cars and four wheel drives should be aware that these vehicles are a target for theft and being broken into. Serius crime rarely involves tourists. see also the Belgrade city guide.

Emergency Medical Treatment Healthcare In Serbia

Serbia has reciprocal healthcare agreements with some EU countries including the UK. However this arrangement does not always workout and sometimes you may have to pay for the treatment in cash. In someplace’s facilities are limited and medicines are in short supply.

Cautionary Health Warnings:

Rabies amongst dogs and foxes in urban and rural areas has been identified several times recently. If you are bitten by a dog go to a hospital immediately.

Outbreaks of Hepatitis A can occur in Serbia. The last outbreak was at the end of 2007. Visitors should boil all drinking water itself or use bottled water.

Bird – Avian Flu In Serbia

In 2006 in North Eastern Serbia an outbreak of the H5N1 (Avian Influenza) virus strain in dead dead swan was confirmed.  No human infections or deaths have been reported.The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  You are advised not to visit markets selling live animals, caged or wild birds and poultry farms. All egg and poultry dishes should be cooked thoroughly

Earthquakes In Serbia

Earth tremors in Serbia are not uncommon – earthquakes are less common. The last major quake was on April 19th 2008 in the Kopaonik mountain region measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale. It destroyed 1200 buildings in hamlets. No one was killed

Possession Of Drugs In Serbia

Anyone found in possession of drugs faces an automatic prison sentence

President Tito A True Yugoslav

There is no doubt that when Croatian born catholic Marshall Tito (who at 18 fought alongside Lenin during the Russian Revolution) took control of Yugoslavia in 1945 some political stability followed after he had ruthlessly removed those who opposed him. Though a confirmed communist he was proud of his country and fell out with Stalin who tried to interfere in the way he ran it. He developed good economic relations with west and after Stalin’s death he mended bridges with Moscow but was openly critical of the Russian oppression in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 68. He actively promoted that countries should not align themselves with either America or Russia.

In Yugoslavia he tried to accommodate the different ethnic groups by giving them a form of automny by establishing what he described as “symmetrical federalism”. He divided the country into the six republics and two autonomous provinces – Kosovo and Vojvodina. He saw this federalist policy as the means of giving ethnic communities their own identity but also assuring the internal security of Yugoslavia and its international independence. In 1974 he carried out a purge of political critics who he felt threaten the country’s stability and made himself President for the rest of his life. In 1980 three days before his 88th birthday he died in Slovenia.

How Milosevic’s Politics Destroyed His Own Country

Milosevic, who’s ancestors were Montenegrin was born in Pozarevac Serbia in occupied Yugoslavia in 1941. Whilst at school he met his future wife Mira Markovic, who came from a distinguished communist and partisan family. Mra often said that her ‘She Slobodan would become as glorious a leader as Comrade Tito himself’ who was the then president of Yugoslavia.

His father committed suicide when he was 20 and 13 years later his mother an active communist party member hanged herself.

He studied law at Belgrade University where he was head of student branch of the Yugoslav Communist League. Whilst there he became friends with Ivan Stambolić who’s own uncle was a key figure the country’s communist party. After leaving university he became an advisor to the Mayor of Belgrade. In 1968 , with the help of Stambolic he started work with Tehnogas and five years later became the company chairman.

The mentoring of Stambolic continued and in 1973 Milosevic became the boss of Beobanka a large Yugoslav Bank. In this role he travelled regularly to Paris and New York becoming a fluent speaker in English and French. In 1986 he became the leader of the Serbian Communist Party. In this capacity he turned his attention to the concerns of minority Serbs living in autonomous regions of Yugoslavia – and in particular Kosovo. He argued that these areas threatened not only the Serbian population there in but also the integrity of the Yugoslav State. By 1989 he had inspired the dormant nationalism of Serbs enough for them to elect him as President of Serbia.

Whilst his emotive nationalists speeches appealed to the Serbian population they awakened the nationalism of other ethnic groups in the autonomous area who feared that the independence bestowed on them by Marshall Tito was about to end. By 1992 Croatia and Bosnia fearing for their survival had respectively their independence and Milosevic armed the Serbian minorities in the new countries prior to invading them. He ordered his troops to commit genocide and in Bosnia the Muslim community was repeated targeted. The most documented of these attacks were the massacre of up to 8,000 muslim boy and men at Bosnian Serb officials have acknowledged for the first time that their security forces carried out the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

By now the terror and ethnic cleansing was being reciprocated by adversaries of the Serbia army with Serbian minorities being targeted and chased out of the regions including Croatia and Kosovo. In 1995 the Dayton Peace Talks followed by NATO peace keeping forces largely succeeded in stopping the carnage with Bosnia and Croatia being recognised as independent countries. However the Kosovo situation remained unresolved.

Serbian forces continued to dominate the province of Kosovo and fighting with the majority Kosovo Albanians detoriated in to a civil war. Milosevic was later charged with ordering that Serbian Government forces to enter Kosovo and execute a campaign of terror and violence against Kosovo Albanian civilians.

According to the charge this action between Jan 1st 1999 and 20th June 1999 ”had the objective of expelling a substantial portion of the Kosovo Albanian population from Kosovo in an effort to ensure continued Serbian control over the province”. During this time approximately 800,000 Kosovo Albanian civilians were forcibly expelled from the province, their homes looted and then destroyed. Some villages were shelled and any residents that survived were killed in massacres or forced to flee. On March 24th 1999 Nato Forces entered the province and by June the Serbian Forces were expelled.

Many Serbs felt that presence of NATO was a national humiliation. Others felt he had betrayed them as his actions had annexed a substantial part of the country for ever. The reign of Milestone was drawing to close though initial attempts by the Serbian people to reclaim their shrinking country from him through demonstrations in 1999 failed. However the one remaining partner of Serbia in the former yugoslavia began to distance itself from Serbia.

In October 2000 Milosevic was beaten in a general election but he refused to recognise the result and leave office. Thousands of outraged Serbians took to the streets. He approached the Serbian military for support which they refused him and on October 6th 2000 he finally resigned

In the following months evidence of war crimes sanctioned by Milosevic mounted and on 1 April 2001 in Belgrade he was arrested. On June 29 2001 he was transferred to the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) at the Hague in the Netherlands. He died in custody

Editorial Comment Europe Must Respect And Accept Today’s Serbia

One has to suspect that Milosevic had a high regard for Yugoslavia’s post war president Tito. It is likely that Milosevic wanted to be held in the same regard as his his predecessor. They had similarities in that they were both communists and both admired by Milosevic’s wife but that was all.

President or Marshall Tito was a man who had conviction he was a communicator and a diplomat. He was not a saint as his political purges showed but he had courage – few leaders in Eastern Europe told Stalin to get lost and lived to tell the tale. His policy of giving federal status to ethnic areas not dominated by Serbs may not have promoted inter denominational marriage but it provided Yugoslavia with stability, in the same way as the early development of the European Community established post war Europe. He foresaw the dangers of an expressed allegiance to a super power and advised the third world accordingly. Inspite of these attitudes the powerful and rich of both super powers were happy to holiday on the Aegean coast of Yugoslavia and the country and its citizens whatever their ethnicity respected.

In contrast Milosevic who was devoid of altruism was determined to have the same power and played the emotive nationalist card to achieve it. His behavior was comparable with that of Hitler who had invaded Yugoslavia when he was an infant. The outcome was similar a nation that was economically weakened and a people who were all tarred with the hate he represented.

Europe has to remember is the Serbs rejected Milosevic policies and now have to reestablish their country’s dignity as a credible democracy. This cannot be easier from a Serbian perspective as few people want to see a reduction in their territorial rights Against this background The Serbs have had to accept the loss of Kosovo in 2008 which was inevitable given the actions of Milosevic. Though they have not recognized Kosovo they have shown their civility by rejecting military action as option to reclaim their former province.

Serbia has come a long way in the last ten years and as individuals we should acknowledge this by respecting those who are Serbian. As a continent we should recognize them as rightful citizens of Europe and welcome them to the EU.

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