|THE SERBIA COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Serbia within the continent of Europe
Map of Serbia
Flag Description of Serbia: three equal horizontal stripes of red (top), blue, and white - the Pan-Slav colors representing freedom and revolutionary ideals; charged with the coat of arms of Serbia shifted slightly to the hoist side; the principal field of the coat of arms represents the Serbian state and displays a white two-headed eagle on a red shield; a smaller red shield on the eagle represents the Serbian nation, and is divided into four quarters by a white cross; interpretations vary as to the meaning and origin of the white, curved symbols resembling firesteels or Cyrillic "C's" in each quarter; a royal crown surmounts the coat of arms
note: the Pan-Slav colors were inspired by the 19th-century flag of Russia.
Official name Republika Srbija1 (Republic of Serbia)
Form of government republic with one legislative house (National Assembly )
Head of state President: Tomislav Nikolić
Head of government Prime Minister: Aleksandar Vučić
Official language Serbian
Official religion none
Monetary unit Serbian dinar (RSD)
Population (2013 est.) 7,131,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 29,922
Total area (sq km) 77,498
- Urban: (2009) 56.4%
- Rural: (2009) 43.6%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2012) 72.2 years
- Female: (2012) 77.3 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: not available
- Female: not available
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 5,730
1Excludes Kosovo, a disputed transitional republic that declared its independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008, unless otherwise indicated.
Background of Serbia
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918; its name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Communist Partisans resisted the Axis occupation and division of Yugoslavia from 1941 to 1945 and fought nationalist opponents and collaborators as well. The military and political movement headed by Josip Broz "TITO" (Partisans) took full control of Yugoslavia when their domestic rivals and the occupiers were defeated in 1945. Although communists, TITO and his successors (Tito died in 1980) managed to steer their own path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades. In 1989, Slobodan MILOSEVIC became president of the Republic of Serbia and his ultranationalist calls for Serbian domination led to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines. In 1991, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia declared independence, followed by Bosnia in 1992. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in April 1992 and under MILOSEVIC's leadership, Serbia led various military campaigns to unite ethnic Serbs in neighboring republics into a "Greater Serbia." These actions were ultimately unsuccessful and, after international intervention, led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. MILOSEVIC retained control over Serbia and eventually became president of the FRY in 1997. In 1998, an ethnic Albanian insurgency in the formerly autonomous Serbian province of Kosovo provoked a Serbian counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo. The MILOSEVIC government's rejection of a proposed international settlement led to NATO's bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999. Serbian military and police forces withdrew from Kosovo in June 1999, and the UN Security Council authorized an interim UN administration and a NATO-led security force in Kosovo. FRY elections in late 2000 led to the ouster of MILOSEVIC and the installation of democratic government. In 2003, the FRY became the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, a loose federation of the two republics. Widespread violence predominantly targeting ethnic Serbs in Kosovo in March 2004 let to more intense calls to address Kosovo's status, and the UN began facilitating status talks in 2006. In June 2006, Montenegro seceded from the federation and declared itself an independent nation. Serbia subsequently gave notice that it was the successor state to the union of Serbia and Montenegro. In February 2008, after nearly two years of inconclusive negotiations, Kosovo declared itself independent of Serbia - an action Serbia refuses to recognize. At Serbia's request, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in October 2008 sought an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on whether Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence was in accordance with international law. In a ruling considered unfavorable to Serbia, the ICJ issued an advisory opinion in July 2010 stating that international law did not prohibit declarations of independence. In late 2010, Serbia agreed to an EU-drafted UNGA Resolution acknowledging the ICJ's decision and calling for a new round of talks between Serbia and Kosovo, this time on practical issues rather than Kosovo's status. The EU-moderated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue began in March 2011 and was raised to the level of prime ministers in October 2012. Serbia and Kosovo signed the first agreement of pri nciples governing the normalization of relations between the two countries in April 2013 and are in the process of implementing its provisions.
Geography of Serbia
Bounding the country to the west are the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Slavonian region of the Republic of Croatia. Serbia adjoins Hungary to the north, Romania and Bulgaria to the east, Macedonia to the south, and Montenegro to the southwest. Kosovo, which Serbia does not recognize as an independent country, lies to the south as well, along the northwestern border of Albania.
The landforms of Serbia, a landlocked country, fall into regional groupings that roughly parallel the republic’s major political divisions. The plains of the northern Vojvodina region generally lie at elevations between 200 and 350 feet (60 to 100 metres) above sea level. The Fruška Gora hills interrupt these plains on the west, stretching along a triangle of land between the Danube and Sava rivers. Their highest point is 1,765 feet (540 metres). Much of the Vojvodina is blanketed by portions of a former plateau that rose up to 100 feet (30 metres) above the territory’s floodplains; the remnants are composed of fine particles of loess deposited by winds during the last glacial period in Europe.
Hills and high mountains characterize the central body of Serbia. Its western margins include sections of the Dinaric Alps, and its eastern borderlands are part of the Carpathian and Rhodope mountain systems. Between these flanking mountains lie the Šumadija hills, the core of the medieval Serbian state.
The granite ridge of the Kopaonik Mountains, in Serbia’s southwestern Dinaric zone, reaches 6,617 feet (2,017 metres). This is a tectonically active region notable for earthquakes. To the east the Carpathians are nearly as high; one peak in the Balkan Mountains (Stara Planina) bordering Bulgaria attains an elevation of more than 7,000 feet (2,100 metres). Summits of the Šumadija hills range from 2,000 to 3,500 feet (600 to 1,100 metres).
Serbia’s northeastern border follows the Iron Gate (Ðerdap) gorge of the Danube River, the most spectacular such feature in Europe. For a distance of 60 miles (100 km), the Danube flows across the Carpathian range, its bed dropping 90 feet (30 metres). The gorge consists of four narrow constrictions connected by three basins. Before the flooding that followed completion of the joint Yugoslav-Romanian Ðerdap hydroelectric dam in 1972, rocky outcrops confined the river at one point to a width of only 300 feet (90 metres). Upstream, in the Vojvodina plains, the Danube attains widths of up to 2 miles (3 km) and depths of 45 feet (14 metres) or more.
Serbia’s drainage is primarily to the Danubian system and flows into the Black Sea. The Tisa River is the most prominent tributary of the Danube in the Vojvodina, entering the province from Hungary south of the city of Szeged. Runoff from the southern slopes of the Fruška Gora flows into the Sava River, a major western tributary of the Danube.
The Morava, or Velika Morava, River is the largest stream entirely within Serbia. It has a length of 290 miles (470 km) and flows northward into the Danube, draining two-fifths of Serbian territory. Tributaries of the Vardar River tap a small section of southeastern Serbia; the river itself flows southward across Macedonia to the Aegean Sea. The valleys of the Morava and Vardar rivers have constituted a major route between central Europe and the eastern Mediterranean since prehistoric times. A railroad and modern highway now follow this ancient path.
Other than reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams, Serbia has no appreciable lakes. Its largest natural body of water is Lake Palić in the Vojvodina, with a surface area of less than 2 square miles (5 square km).
Three principal soil types characterize the region, corresponding to its major divisions in landforms and climate. The subhumid plains and tablelands of the Vojvodina north and east of the Danube are characterized by organically rich black earth soils (chernozems) derived from the decaying root systems of countless generations of native grasses. In the forested hills and mountains south of the Danube, the soils tend to be less-fertile and weakly acidic brown podzolics. In cultivated areas these have been enriched by the incorporation of nutrients from fodder crops and animal manures. Infertile podzol soils predominate in the mountains and are characterized by an ash-coloured upper layer resulting from the leaching of all but their insoluble quartz particles by the acids generated in the slow decay of pine needles and other litter of the forest floors.
Differences in elevation, proximity to the sea, and exposure to wind lead to significant climatic differences within Serbia. In general, however, the climate is continental, with cold, relatively dry winters and warm, humid summers. The difference between average temperatures in January and July in Belgrade is 40 °F (22 °C).
The Vojvodina most clearly exhibits characteristics of the continental climate. July temperatures average about 71 °F (22 °C), and January temperatures hover around 30 °F (−1 °C). Summer temperatures in mountainous areas of Serbia are notably cooler, averaging about 64 °F (18 °C). Air masses from eastern and northern Europe predominate throughout the year. Only occasionally do Mediterranean air masses reach Serbia from the southeast or south.
Precipitation in Serbia ranges from 22 to 75 inches (560 to 1,900 mm) per year, depending on elevation and exposure. The lowest amounts are found in the Vojvodina. Most precipitation falls during the warm half of the year, with maximums occurring in late spring and late autumn. Winter precipitation tends to fall as snow, with 40 days of snow cover in northern lowlands and 120 days in the mountains.
- Plant and animal life
The vegetation of Serbia forms a transition between central European and Mediterranean types. Before Austrian agricultural colonization began in the 18th century, the dry Vojvodina plains were a grassland steppe. However, it is evident that forests at one time dominated the region. Only about 5 percent of the area is now covered by trees, mostly in the higher parts of the Fruška Gora and in wetlands adjacent to the Danube and Sava.
Up to one-third of Serbia proper is in broad-leaved forest, mostly oak and beech. The regional name Šumadija literally means “forested area,” but large areas that were formerly wooded long have been cleared and put to cultivation. In mountainous areas trees cover two-fifths or more of the territory, depending on elevation and soil thickness.
Serbia has a rich diversity of wild animals. Among larger mammals, deer and bear abound in forested areas. Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are a distinctive feature of beech forests in the mountains.
Demography of Serbia
Most of the population of Serbia and neighbouring Montenegro is of South Slavic origin. Slavic tribes entered the region from the north during the 5th to 7th century ad, encountering Illyrian-speaking peoples. Although the Slavs acculturated large numbers of Illyrians, many of the latter retained their distinctive language and customs in the complex hills and valleys of present-day Albania.
Cleavages between southern Slav tribes developed over time, particularly after the establishment in the 4th century ad of the north-south “Theodosian Line” demarcating the eastern and western segments of the Roman Empire. Organization of the Christian church subsequently was based on this division. Missionaries from Rome converted Slavic tribes in the west to Roman Catholicism (these tribal groups becoming progenitors of the Slovenes and Croatians), while missionaries from Constantinople converted ancestors of Serbs and Montenegrins to Eastern Orthodoxy.
- Ethnic groups
The early Serbian homeland was in the vicinity of Serbia’s Kopaonik Mountains, including the Kosovo Basin and the region around the ancient capital of Ras (near modern Novi Pazar). After Ottoman armies overran this region in the 14th century, many Serb families fled the southern basins and found shelter northward in the hills of Šumadija. Albanian tribal groups then moved into former Serbian settlements.
More than four-fifths of the population of Serbia identifies itself as Serb. The principal minorities are Hungarians and Bosniacs (Bosnian Muslims). Roma (Gypsies) make up a small but distinctive group. Other minorities include Croats, Montenegrins, Bulgarians, and Romanians.
Excluding the Vojvodina, Serbs make up the vast majority of the inhabitants of Serbia proper. The proportion of Serbs there grew markedly during the 1990s, owing to an influx of Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Minority populations of Bosniacs, located in the southwest, and Albanians, scattered throughout Serbia proper, declined as many refugees fled to Bosnia and Kosovo.
In the Vojvodina, Serbs constitute slightly more than half of an exceptionally diverse population. Serbian refugees from the secessionist republics account for about one-eighth of the province’s total population. The second largest group is the Hungarians. At one time a large number of Germans lived in the Vojvodina, but the new communist government expelled virtually all German speakers in 1945. This group had descended from Austrian and German families brought to the Vojvodina by the Austrian empress Maria Theresa during the 18th century.
Before violence erupted in Kosovo in the late 1990s, Albanians constituted more than three-fourths of the province’s population, despite the fact that most Serbs traditionally considered Kosovo to be their cultural hearth. In the 1990s the regime of Slobodan Milošević engaged in a fierce struggle in Kosovo with Albanians who sought independence for the province after its autonomous status was revoked. Following clashes between Serbian police and military and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the Yugoslav government forced hundreds of thousands of Albanians to abandon their homes and flee to other countries, a process that came to be known as “ethnic cleansing.” In the wake of military intervention by NATO, many such refugees returned. After the peace agreement between NATO and Yugoslavia, some 200,000 Serbs and Roma fled Kosovo. When Kosovo declared independence in 2008, Albanians accounted for the overwhelming majority of its population.
Unlike Romanians or Hungarians, Serbs do not have a distinct language to set them apart from their neighbours. They speak essentially the same language as Croats, Bosniacs, and Montenegrins, although some pronunciation and vocabulary are distinctive. This language, linguistically termed Serbo-Croatian, is now identified as Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, or Montenegrin, depending on the ethnicity of the speaker. It is in its written form that Serbian differs from Bosnian and Croatian. Reflecting Serbian religious heritage, it uses a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet—a script originally developed by the Orthodox missionary brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius. Croatian is written in the Latin script of other Roman Catholic lands. At one time Bosnian used the Arabic alphabet, but it has also adopted the Latin alphabet. Serbian differs slightly from Montenegrin in the use of three letters, and Montenegrins use both the Cyrillic and the Latin. The Hungarian population’s Uralic language is unrelated to Serbian.
The distinguishing feature of Serbian national identity is its Eastern Orthodox Christian heritage, though probably less than one-tenth of the population actually attended church during the communist era. Throughout history the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church has viewed itself as the champion of Serbian national interests. During the Ottoman period it waged a long struggle against the influence of Greek clergy based in Constantinople. Because of its nationalist activities, the Ottoman regime suppressed the Serbian church from 1766 to 1832. Hungarians in the Vojvodina are divided between Roman Catholic and Calvinist Protestant groups.
- Settlement patterns
- URBAN SETTLEMENT
For many years a steady stream of migrants left marginal parts of Serbia to settle in Belgrade and other developed areas. According to the 1948 census, only one-fifth of Serbs were urban, but by the beginning of the 21st century approximately half the population of Serbia’s present territory was city-dwelling. Nevertheless, truly urban settlements in Serbia are relatively few. Belgrade achieved a population in excess of one million by virtue of its role as capital both of Serbia and of Yugoslavia (and its successor, Serbia and Montenegro). Other urban areas are market towns and centres of regional administration.
- RURAL SETTLEMENT
Significant differences exist between rural settlements in upland areas and those in Serbia’s basins and plains. Villages in the core region of Šumadija tend to be small, lying dispersed along roads that follow the crests of ridges. Houses are mainly constructed of logs or roughly sawn planks, with roofs of shingles; plaster frequently covers outer walls. Houses are usually spaced close together. In the plains of the Vojvodina, on the other hand, villages are large and widely spaced. They are much more recent than most highland settlements, since they appeared only during the 18th and 19th centuries, when Habsburg forces secured the Hungarian Plain. Most commonly they exhibit a gridiron form, reflecting sites originally laid out by Austrian military engineers.
Nucleated settlements of 5,000 to 10,000 inhabitants are common in the Vojvodina. Although they are larger than other rural settlements, they lack the nonagricultural activities and amenities that would classify them as urban. Their large size is derived from the early concern that farm colonists needed protection against raids from the Ottoman-controlled south; it also facilitated control of the workforce by landowners who had gained extensive farming territories. Typically, houses in villages are elongated, with ends adjacent to the streets. Fences or walls, often with elaborate gates, join adjacent houses to mark courtyards and to afford privacy and protection.
As the threat of Ottoman border raids waned in the 19th and 20th centuries, individual farmsteads began to appear in open fields between large villages. Originally serving as shelters during harvest times, these salaj (Hungarian: tanyák) later became family homes. Such dispersed farmsteads now give parts of the Vojvodina an appearance similar to the American Midwest.
- Demographic trends
The rate of population increase differs markedly by region. Between the 1971 and 1981 censuses, the total population of Serbia grew 10 percent. However, within the country, the Vojvodina had a net growth of only about 5 percent, while Kosovo, then a province of Serbia, expanded by more than 25 percent. In the 1980s the latter’s predominantly Albanian population had a birth rate double that of the rest of Serbia. Warfare in Kosovo dramatically altered population growth and settlement patterns in that region in the 1990s, with large numbers of Albanian refugees entering the province from other parts of Serbia. Today a life expectancy of about 70 years is characteristic of all parts of the country.
Economy of Serbia
In 1945 Yugoslavia adopted a socialist economic system modeled on institutions in the Soviet Union, but, following its break with the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) in 1948, a system evolved that allowed increasing opportunity for individual enterprise. Most farmers were gathered into collective farms until this unpopular policy was abandoned after 1953. In Serbia the institution continued mainly in former German estates in the Vojvodina, where the regime had resettled migrants from mountainous regions of Serbia and Montenegro. The communist regime also nationalized existing industrial enterprises and embarked on an ambitious policy of rapidly creating more. Using funds derived from the profits of manufacturing plants in the long-developed industrial regions of Slovenia and Croatia, it created large numbers of new enterprises in Serbia and other former Ottoman parts of Yugoslavia. Many manufacturing sites, however, were selected with an eye to providing job opportunities for political constituencies rather than for inherent advantages in the production process. Such enterprises continue to be called “political factories.”
Nevertheless, the economy of Yugoslavia grew rapidly for the ensuing three decades, although production in the southern republics significantly lagged behind that of the developed northern areas of Croatia and Slovenia. This lag largely reflected the long association of the southern regions with the Ottoman Empire, whose ineffectual bureaucracy had done little to promote investment, technology transfer, and improvements to the infrastructure within its lands. Within Serbia, only in the Habsburg-controlled Vojvodina did a commercialized economy emerge during the 19th century. Indeed, the inhabitants of Kosovo never achieved an annual per capita income greater than 15 percent of that of Slovenia during the entire period of greater Yugoslavia. Part of Kosovo’s problem could be attributed to its exceptionally rapid population growth. It is estimated that income per person in Kosovo would have doubled if the province’s demographic rate had slowed to that of the developed northern regions.
After the break with the Soviet bloc in 1948, worker self-management in factories and institutions was adopted. This program, which sought to address problems inherent in the highly centralized Soviet model of socialism, was codified in the Law on Associated Labour of 1976. Each Yugoslav worker belonged to a Basic Organization of Associated Labour (BOAL) that was based on the precise role played by the worker in the production process. The BOALs elected representatives to workers’ councils, which in turn created management boards and determined pay levels, investment policies, and specific goals for production. The workers’ councils also selected a director of the institution, who was charged with running the organization on a day-to-day basis. This system of self-management included not only factories and retail establishments but also schools, health clinics, and other public service institutions.
Although self-management permitted a degree of flexibility in managerial decision making, worker involvement in the BOALs led to substantial costs in time and efficiency. Management councils in factories tended to favour short-term increases in wages at the expense of long-term capital investments in more productive equipment. Dissatisfaction with self-management, and also with the diversion of profits to less-developed regions, played a large role in the secession of Croatia and Slovenia, both of which embarked on a program of economic privatization and complete repudiation of the socialist system. Socialist self-management remained in the reduced federation, but it faced daunting economic problems. Agriculture in Serbia has shifted notably from livestock to crop production and from commercial to subsistence provision. Industry similarly has regressed from the high-technology production of consumer durables to the making of single-use commodities. Widespread criminality and corruption also have taken their toll.
Not only did Serbia suffer from the loss of established markets and sources of raw materials in the other republics, but its labour forces exhibited markedly low discipline and productivity, which made it difficult to compete in world markets. Privatization of the economy began in 1990, but by the early 21st century only about one-third of output was derived from private production, which was largely concentrated in agriculture, retail trade, and services.
Economic sanctions imposed by the international community in the 1990s in response to the aggressive policies of Yugoslav dictator Milošević in Bosnia and Herzegovina severely stifled the rump federation’s economy, contributing to shortages of food, goods, and fossil fuels, as well as to elevated rates of inflation. Indeed, in the late 1990s some 20,000 Yugoslav companies—nearly one-third of the country’s total—were declared officially insolvent.
Air strikes by NATO in 1999 destroyed a significant portion of the transportation infrastructure and industrial facilities in Serbia, and an embargo on petroleum imports further exacerbated the federation’s economic malaise. Although humanitarian aid has softened the blow, the economy has yet to fully recover. After Milošević—later arrested and tried for war crimes—was ousted from power in democratic elections in 2000, international aid began to flow back into the country and sanctions were lifted. In particular, the European Union (EU) offered Yugoslavia and other countries of the western Balkans an opportunity to open negotiations for a “Stabilization and Association Agreement,” which would permit greater opportunities for trade with the EU.
Agriculture and forestry Agriculture has long been the mainstay of Serbia’s economy. Although fewer than one-fourth of economically active Serbs are now employed in farming (compared with nearly three-fourths in 1948), cropland occupies nearly two-thirds of Serbia’s territory. The principal area of commercial agriculture is the Vojvodina region and adjacent lowlands south of the Sava and Danube rivers, including the valley of the north-flowing Morava River. Three-fourths of sown crops in Serbia are grains. Corn (maize) predominates, occupying some one-third of the cropland, and wheat is next in importance. Other noteworthy crops are sugar beets, sunflowers, potatoes, oilseeds, hemp, and flax. Fruits and vegetables are also cultivated.
Hillsides are used mainly for raising animals. Pigs particularly forage in woodland areas. Dairy farming is a feature of the Šumadija hills south of Belgrade. Limited areas are sown with rye and oats. Orchards also are characteristic of upland areas—particularly plums, which form the basis for the production of slivovitz, a brandy that is the national drink. Owing to demand from western Europe, raspberries have become an important crop. Farming tends to be on a subsistence basis in the Serbian uplands. Rural families produce a range of crops for their own consumption. Some areas also produce tobacco commercially. In most villages vegetables are grown in garden plots adjacent to houses. Although woodlands in Serbia are plentiful, commercial forestry plays a relatively minor role.
- Resources and power
- NATURAL RESOURCES
Serbia is endowed with substantial natural resources, but it is notably deficient in mineral fuels. Some coal has been developed in the northeast, and the possibility exists for the expansion of mining there. The little petroleum that has been discovered is located in the Vojvodina. Among metallic ores, Serbia has some of Europe’s largest resources of copper. Concentrations of copper ore are located in the Carpathian Mountains near the borders with Bulgaria and Romania. Substantial amounts of iron ore also are present in this area. Northwestern Serbia, in the vicinity of the town of Krupanj, contains up to one-tenth of the world’s supply of antimony, though there is now little demand for the product. Serbia’s southwestern upland regions have timber and hydroelectric potential.
Mining and copper smelting developed in northeastern Serbia around Bor and Majdanpek. Lignite and bituminous coal are mined in the Kolubara River valley southwest of Belgrade and in parts of eastern Serbia.
Hydroelectric power and coal are the principal sources of energy in Serbia, which has no nuclear power stations. Facilities at the Ðerdap dam on the Danube generate significant electric power. The Bajina Bašta development on the Drina River ranks second as a hydroelectric generating source. Because the Drina forms part of Serbia’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, this creates a difficult problem for allocating power production.
Serbia’s large coal-burning power stations, which burn lignite from local beds, are located southwest of Belgrade, in the Kolubara River valley near the town of Obrenovac. A small thermoelectric plant using natural gas operates in the Vojvodina capital of Novi Sad.
Manufacturing industries are concentrated in the north, particularly in the vicinity of Belgrade, which has the advantages of a long-established infrastructure, a developed labour force, the largest single market in the republic, and the greatest concentration of existing enterprises to serve as both parts suppliers and consumers of products. An industrial area lies in a belt along the Zapadna (Western) Morava River from Užice in the west through Čačak and Kraljevo to Kruševac and Niš. Among the principal products of this area are automobiles, trucks, tires, batteries, and radio and television equipment. Kragujevac is the site of Serbia’s main automobile factory, built by the Italian company Fiat. Smederevo, east of Belgrade, has a major iron and steel facility, but it lacks ready access to quality coking coal. Textile production is prominent in Novi Sad and other towns of the Vojvodina.
The National Bank of Serbia (formerly the National Bank of Yugoslavia) regulates Serbia’s currency and is the central banking institution. In addition to numerous commercial and savings banks, there are many savings and loan institutions. Moreover, the Post Office Savings Bank plays a significant role in consumer savings.
After the collapse of the Yugoslav federation in 1991, Serbia endured crippling hyperinflation and in the 1990s issued several different currencies, which were subject to significant inflationary pressures. In 2003 the Serbian dinar became the republic’s official currency.
In 1989 a stock exchange opened in Belgrade, the country’s first operational exchange since 1941. Few Yugoslav companies were initially listed on the exchange, but with increasing privatization, it was anticipated that most enterprises would eventually be publicly traded.
Italy and Germany are the country’s two most important trading partners. Other important commercial partners include Macedonia, Russia, Switzerland, Greece, and Hungary. Owing to warfare and economic sanctions, exports dropped by about three-fourths in the 1990s. Manufacturing exports were particularly hard hit by sanctions, though other economic sectors also suffered losses. Similarly, imports fell by about half.
Unlike other parts of the former Yugoslav federation, Serbia received little foreign investment. The legacy of warfare and sanctions by the United States and the EU, together with problems of infrastructure decline, loss of human capital, and corruption, left the country generally unattractive to foreign investors.
Tourists have long been attracted to the distinctive architecture and frescoes of Serbia’s medieval Orthodox monasteries. More than 50 developed mineral springs have been another attraction, although these facilities traditionally have attracted domestic tourists. However, both domestic and international tourism declined significantly with the unrest of the 1990s.
- Labour and taxation
Industrial employment accounts for about half of total employment in Serbia, while the service sector employs about one-third of the workforce. Agriculture, which is responsible for about half the country’s gross domestic product, accounts for about one-fifth of total employment. A substantial proportion of the population is either unemployed or underemployed.
As in other socialist countries, a high proportion of Serbian women were employed outside the home. As the economy declined during the 1990s, women suffered disproportionately greater job losses as displaced men entered more stable employment areas that traditionally had been dominated by women.
During the Milošević era organized labour was dominated by the League of Unions of Serbia (SSS), the successor to the government-created trade union organization of the communist era; it was the only labour union that could negotiate with employers. The Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions and Nezavisnost (“Independence”), with its associated United Branch Unions, have emerged to contest the SSS’s predominant position.
Principal taxes include personal and corporate income taxes, excise duties, sales taxes, property taxes, taxes on financial transactions, payroll taxes, and use taxes.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Although Serbia has been a crossroads since it was traversed by Europe’s prehistoric Amber Routes (used for trade) between central Europe and the Mediterranean, it has lagged behind other parts of the continent in developing its transportation infrastructure. Part of the difficulty in building such networks lies in Serbia’s mountainous terrain and the limited commercial production that would generate the traffic necessary to justify investment in roads and railroads. After World War II the need to accommodate international freight traffic along the historic Vardar-Morava corridor, with connections to Austria and Hungary, prompted construction of modern highways. Further improvements began in the 1960s, when the number of automobiles in Serbia increased dramatically. Still, only about half of the republic’s roads are paved. In some rural areas roads constructed by the Romans are still in use.
Railroads first appeared during the mid-19th century in the Hungarian-held Vojvodina, where lines were built to transport crops to central Europe. Rails also reached Ottoman-held Kosovo from Salonika (Thessaloníki, Greece) in 1874. Within Serbia proper, the first rails connected Belgrade with Niš in 1884; a branch was then extended across the Sava River to Zemun near Belgrade, where it connected with the Hungarian rail system. By 1919 the famous Orient Express was using the Serbian line from Belgrade to Sofia, Bulgaria, as part of its route between Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul). Connecting lines were constructed in subsequent years, and Serbia now has a fairly extensive rail network. The country’s rail system suffered substantial damage during the 1999 NATO bombing, but much of the damage has been repaired.
The Danube and its tributaries, the Sava and the Tisa, constitute almost the entire system of inland navigation in Serbia. The NATO bombing destruction of the Novi Sad bridge disrupted traffic on the Danube, most of which was goods transported upstream to Hungary. Freight also moved up the Sava River as far as the Croatian town of Sisak.
Before the secessions of the early 1990s, an extensive network of air routes had been developed. Almost half of the airline passengers embarked or debarked at Belgrade, which was also the major centre of air freight transportation. Yugoslav Air Transport, the country’s principal airline, maintained links with the rest of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, North America, and Australia.
Yugoslavia had established a modern telecommunications system before the onset of warfare in the 1990s. However, like much of the country’s economic infrastructure, that system suffered severe damage from the NATO bombing. Part of the system has been restored through privatization, which occurred in the late 1990s, when the government sold nearly a 50 percent share to a group of Greek and Italian investors. After the lifting of sanctions against the country, the government signed accords with other European countries to expand Internet access and to utilize telecommunications satellites.
Government and Society of Serbia
- Constitutional framework
For more than four decades after the Partisan victory of 1945, Yugoslavia functioned as a communist federation. Its political evolution during the long presidency of Josip Broz Tito included the adoption of new constitutions in 1946, 1953, 1963, and 1974. After Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia declared independence in 1991–92, Serbia and Montenegro adopted a new constitution in 1992 that created a Yugoslav federal union comprising the two republics. However, that new constitution lasted little more than a decade. In the late 1990s there was widespread support in Montenegro for independence, though the EU and the United States voiced disapproval. In 2002, shortly before a planned referendum on independence, Montenegrin leader Milorad Djukanović negotiated an agreement (under the auspices of the EU) with Serb and Yugoslav authorities that called for greater autonomy for Montenegro in a continued loose federation with Serbia named Serbia and Montenegro. Most governmental powers under the new constitution, ratified in 2003, were reserved to the two republics, though foreign policy, defense, and individual rights fell under federal statutes. In June 2006 this federation was dissolved, as Montenegro achieved its independence. Serbia, meanwhile, continued as a successor state to the former federation of Serbia and Montenegro.
Serbia’s head of state is the president, who is selected by the National Assembly but whose powers are marginal. Serbia’s parliament consists of 250 members directly elected by the public.
The Serbian republican government lost direct control over the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and the Vojvodina in 1968, when they were placed under federal authority. But over the following decades Albanians began to press for full republic status within Yugoslavia, which elicited an emotional counterreaction from Serbs, especially regarding Kosovo. The Serbs were particularly distressed at what were perceived to be pressures forcing the shrinking Serb minority to emigrate from Kosovo. In 1989 Serbia reasserted its direct control over Kosovo and the Vojvodina, which led to increased tensions that eventually erupted into armed conflict. In 1999 NATO began a 77-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in response to increasing violence against its Albanian population; subsequently, the Yugoslav government agreed to remove its security forces from Kosovo. The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) then took over the administration of the territory. The Vojvodina regained nominal autonomous status in 2002, but some local groups continued to call for a more extensive form of self-rule. In 2008 Kosovo declared independence; although the United States and most countries of the EU recognized the new country, Serbia denounced the declaration as illegal.
- Local government
Local governments in Serbia’s communes (opštini) serve as basic units for services and tax collection. These communes are roughly 150 square miles (400 square km) in area, with an average population of 45,000. Urban communes have larger populations, many containing more than 100,000 inhabitants. The Basic Organization of Associated Labour chapters report to local commune assemblies and also elect representatives to them.
- Political process
Until the secessions of 1991–92, Yugoslavia permitted only one political party—the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). Like communist parties elsewhere in eastern Europe, the LCY originally maintained a monopoly on decision making. However, as branches in each republic and autonomous province grew more assertive, the party lost its monolithic character. During the period of secessions, branches of the LCY in Serbia and Montenegro adopted the name Socialist Party. Other political parties were legalized, and in 2000 an opposition alliance was even able to win the presidency.
In the early 21st century the pro-European Democratic Party (DS) and its offshoot, the centre-right Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), emerged as leading parties. In 2007 they formed the governing coalition of newly independent Serbia. The nationalist Serbian Radical Party also enjoyed strong support. The Socialists and other smaller parties maintained seats in the parliament as well. The DS-DSS coalition did not last long; in 2008 a pro-EU bloc known as For a European Serbia, led by the DS (and excluding the DSS), won the most votes in parliamentary elections. The pro-EU bloc then joined with a Socialist-led bloc of parties to form a government.
Under the banner of the combined Serbia and Montenegro, the country’s armed forces played an unusual role in the federal government, continuing a practice that has long been one of the state’s distinctive institutions. Legislation adopted formally in 1982, before the secession of the other republics, established a National Defense Council, which in time of war “or any other peril” could assume sweeping police powers—even making its own determination that such a situation exists. As a result, a small number of military officers held a considerable amount of power. The council invoked its powers during the secession period of the 1990s, utilizing the Yugoslav armed forces in vain attempts to prevent Slovenian and Croatian independence.
The armed forces of Serbia and Montenegro were led by a Supreme Defense Council composed of three presidents. The country maintained a policy of universal defense of the state. Its armed forces contain both professional military personnel and conscripts. All able-bodied males were required to serve 12 to 15 months’ active duty (conscientious objection is prohibited), after which conscripts became part of a reserve force. Recruits performed their service in the territory of their own republic. Almost all citizens, including women, were organized into a civil defense organization.
Independent Serbia continued the policy of compulsory military service, though it made plans to end the requirement. Its armed forces include an army, a navy, and an air force.
- Health and welfare
Interwar Yugoslavia was noted for the endemic presence of malaria, typhus, typhoid, syphilis, dysentery, and trachoma. By the 1980s, however, these scourges had been reduced to individual cases. Still, Serbia suffers from significant health problems. Even before the civil unrest of the 1990s, infant mortality was fairly high, especially in Kosovo. Only in the Vojvodina region did health standards approach those of central and western Europe. Despite marked improvements in medical services, the country’s population suffers from crowded housing conditions, poor nutrition, and lack of sanitary services.
Pregnant women, infants, and children up to age 15 receive complete health care, as do students up to age 26. All citizens also are entitled to treatment for infectious diseases and mental illness. Still, about one-fifth of the population remain outside the health care system.
Great emphasis is placed on training doctors. Before World War II one doctor served every 12,000 inhabitants in Yugoslavia. By the 1990s the number of doctors had increased dramatically throughout the country, though Kosovo was the most poorly served region, with about half as many doctors per inhabitant as the country’s other regions.
The communist regime of Yugoslavia established a comprehensive social welfare system that continues to provide a wide range of services in Serbia. All economically active persons are entitled to retirement and disability pensions; unemployment compensation and family allowances also are provided. These activities are the responsibility of commune governments, and significant variations exist between the administrative units.
Housing is a perennial problem, particularly for young people in urban areas. Most city dwellers live in small apartments in high-rise buildings. Although communes bear responsibility for housing construction, much of the new housing stock has been built by enterprises. Most villagers build and own their homes.
The civil strife in the 1990s left some two-thirds of the population impoverished and hundreds of thousands homeless. Assistance from the West only partially resolved the problem of housing, feeding, clothing, and providing medical care for a significant proportion of the population.
Eight years of primary education are compulsory in Serbia, beginning at age seven. Four years of secondary education also are available, divided between two types of schools: general secondary schools, which prepare students for universities, and vocational schools, which offer training that usually leads to admission to two-year technical colleges. There are several universities; the largest is the University of Belgrade, founded in 1863.
The communist regime of Yugoslavia made great strides toward eliminating illiteracy. In 1921 about two-thirds of Serbs and Montenegrins and nine-tenths of the country’s Albanians could not read or write. By the 1950s less than half the total population was literate. Less than one-tenth now remains illiterate, ranging lower in the Vojvodina.
Culture Life of Serbia
History of Serbia
Consolidation of a People
Serbs settled in the Balkan Peninsula in the 6th and 7th cent. and accepted Christianity in the 9th cent. Their petty principalities were theoretically under a grand zhupan, who usually recognized Byzantine suzerainty. Civil strife and constant warfare with their Bulgarian, Greek, and Magyar neighbors characterized the early history of the Serbs. Rascia, the first organized Serbian state, was probably founded in the early 9th cent. in the Bosnian mountains; it steadily expanded from the 10th cent. Bulgaria, meanwhile, challenged Byzantium for suzerainty over the Serbs.
Stephen Nemanja, whom the Byzantine emperor recognized as grand zhupan of Serbia in 1159, founded a dynasty that ruled for two centuries. His son and successor assumed the title king of all Serbia in 1217 with the pope's blessing. However, the king's brother, Sava, archbishop of Serbia, succeeded in having papal influence eliminated from the kingdom; in 1219 he won recognition from the patriarch of Constantinople of an autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian kingdom was at first overshadowed by the rapid rise of the Bulgarian empire under Ivan II (Ivan Asen), but under Stephen Dušan, who became king in 1331 and czar in 1346, Serbia became the most powerful empire in the Balkan Peninsula, much of which it absorbed. Its might contrasted sharply with the decadent Byzantine Empire.
Even among European states, Serbia was noted for its high economic, social, and cultural level. After Stephen's death in 1355, however, the empire decayed and fell victim to the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks. The Serbs suffered defeat at the Maritsa River in 1371; that same year the last czar, Stephen Urosh V, died without male issue. His successor, Lazar, contented himself with the title prince of Serbia. Lazar was slain in 1389 during the battle of Kosovo Field, in which the cream of Serbian nobility was massacred and the fate of independent Serbia sealed. For Serbs, Kosovo retains its symbolic significance, which contributed to Serbia's opposition in the late 20th cent. to Kosovo's separatist movement.
Lazar's son, Stephen, was allowed to rule (1389–1427) over a diminished and divided Serbia by Sultan Beyazid I, to whom he paid tribute. Although he and his successor, George Brankovich (reigned 1427–56), received the title despots (lords) from the Byzantine Empire, the Turks gradually absorbed their lands. The quarrel over the Brankovich succession facilitated the complete annexation of Serbia by Sultan Muhammad II in 1459. Belgrade, then held by Hungary, fell to the Turks in 1521. During the centuries-long Turkish occupation of Serbia, national traditions and the memory of the Dušan's empire were preserved by the Serbian Orthodox Church.
- Turkish Rule
Serbia became a Turkish province, with its pashas residing at Belgrade. Turkish rule in Serbia was more oppressive than in most Turkish provinces. The Serbian nobility was annihilated and its lands distributed to the Turkish military aristocracy, while the Christian peasants ( rayas ) were treated like virtual slaves. Although the Serbs were forbidden to possess weapons, frequent insurrections erupted. No attempt was made to curb Christianity; but the Serbian Church was placed in the hands of unpopular Greek Phanariots (see under Phanar). Many Serbs fled to Hungary and Austria to help those countries fight the sultans. Turkish reverses in 17th- and 18th-century wars against Austria and Russia revived Serbian hopes for independence.
The liberation struggle began in 1804, when Karageorge ("Black George," Serbian Karadjordje ) led a rebellion that eventually freed the pashalik (province) of Belgrade from the Turks. Russia, also at war with Turkey, then formed an alliance with Serbia. The Treaty of Bucharest (1812) forced Turkish recognition of Serbian autonomy, but Russian preoccupation with Napoleon's invasion allowed the Turks to renew their tyranny in Serbia. A revolt flared in 1815 under Miloš Obrenović, who in 1817 procured the assassination of his rival Karageorge and became prince of Serbia. Turkey proved unable to challenge his power. In 1829, Russia forced the Treaty of Adrianople upon the sultan, who had to grant Serbian autonomy under Russian protection and to recognize Miloš as hereditary prince. Except for garrisons in Belgrade and other fortresses, the Turks evacuated Serbia.
- Restoration of Serbia
Much of Serbia's ensuing history revolved around the bloody feud between the Karadjordjević and Obrenović families. Miloš's absolutist tendencies caused popular resentment and forced his abdication in 1839; his son, Michael, shared the same fate. In 1842, Alexander Karadjordjević was recalled to the throne. The Congress of Paris, meeting in 1856 at the conclusion of the Crimean War, placed Serbia under the collective guarantee of the European powers while continuing to acknowledge Turkish suzerainty.
Miloš returned to power in 1858 at the behest of the Serbian parliament, but died two years later. Miloš's son Michael returned to the throne in 1860. In 1867 the last Turkish troops left Serbia. Upon the assassination of Michael (1868), his cousin, Prince Milan Obrenović, succeeded.
Milan liberalized the constitution in 1869, granting more power to the Skupchtina (lower house of Parliament). He also supported the rebellion of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Turkish rule and in 1876 declared war on Turkey. The rout of the Serbs led Russia to enter the war on the Serbian side. The Congress of Berlin (1878) recognized Serbia's complete independence and increased its territory. The placing of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian administration disappointed the Serbs, however.
Serbia's championship of Pan-Slavism in the Balkans engendered bitter rivalry with Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. Milan, who was proclaimed king in 1882, harmed Serbian prestige by fighting an unsuccessful war with Bulgaria in 1885 over the question of Eastern Rumelia. The assassinations of King Alexander Obrenović (reigned 1889–1903) and his unpopular queen marked the end of the Obrenović dynasty.
With the accession of Peter I in 1903, the Karadjordjević dynasty entrenched itself. Peter restored the liberal constitution of 1889 and in 1904 appointed as premier Nikola Pašić, leader of the strongly nationalist and pro-Russian Radical party. The strengthening of parliamentary government and expansion of the economy greatly raised Serbia's prestige and exerted a powerful attraction on the South Slavs who remained under Austro-Hungarian rule. Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 was designed to quell sentiment in that region for union with Serbia. The angry Serbs retaliated by creating a Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece) to liberate the Balkan Slavs from both Austro-Hungarian and Turkish rule.
In 1912 the league declared war on and defeated Turkey, but the allies could not agree on division of the spoils. Dissatisfied with its failure to secure a major portion of Macedonia in the first of the Balkan Wars, Serbia in 1913 turned against and defeated its former Bulgarian ally in the Second Balkan War. Serbia's victory made it the foremost Slavic power in the Balkans but greatly increased tensions with Austria-Hungary. When a Serbian nationalist (acting without governmental collusion) assassinated Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, the empire declared war on Serbia, thus precipitating World War I.
The Serbian army fought bravely, but in 1915, when Bulgaria joined the Central Powers and Germany reinforced the Austrians, Serbia was overrun. The Serbian troops and government were evacuated to Kérkira (Corfu), where in 1917 Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, and Montenegrin representatives proclaimed the union of South Slavs. In 1918 the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, headed by Peter I of Serbia, officially came into existence. After that, the history of Serbia is essentially that of Yugoslavia.
- Serbia within Yugoslavia
Serbia's predominant position in the new kingdom was a major cause for unrest in Croatia and Macedonia in the period between World Wars I and II. After the conquest and dismemberment of Yugoslavia in World War II, German occupation forces set up a puppet government in a much-diminished Serbia. The Serbs waged guerrilla warfare under the leadership of Draža Mihajlović. Later, Marshal Tito and his pro-Communist partisans attracted the majority of the Yugoslav resistance fighters, while Mihajlović's following became mostly restricted to the Serbian nationalists. The Yugoslav constitution of 1946 stripped Serbia of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, which became constituent republics. In the postwar years, Serbia had one of the more conservative Yugoslav Communist governments. The desire of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo for independence or for union with Albania resulted in periodic unrest.
In 1986, Slobodan Milošević became leader of the Serbian Communist party. He and his supporters revived the vision of a "Greater Serbia," comprising Serbia proper, Vojvodina, Kosovo, and the Serb-populated parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Beginning in 1989, Serbia ended Kosovo's autonomy, which had been granted in the 1974 constitution, and sent in troops to suppress the protests of Kosovo's Albanian majority.
In May, 1991, Serbia blocked the ascension of Croatian leader Stipe Mesić to the head of the collective presidency, triggering the breakaway of Slovenia and Croatia and the end of the old Yugoslavia. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, established in 1992 by Serbia and Montenegro, was thoroughly dominated by Serbia, a situation that led by the end of the decade to a strong movement in Montenegro for increased autonomy or independence.
Serbia was the main supplier of arms to ethnic Serbs fighting to expand their control of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In response, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Yugoslavia, which were eased in Sept., 1994, after Yugoslavia announced it was cutting off aid to the Bosnian Serbs, and in late 1995 Serbia signed a peace accord with Bosnia and Croatia. Milan Milutinović was elected president of Serbia in 1997, but most power remained in the hands of Milošević, who became president of Yugoslavia (1997–2000). In Mar., 1999, following the continued repression of ethnic Albanians in the province and the breakdown of negotiations between Albanian Kosovars and Serbia, NATO began bombing military and other targets in Serbia as hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were forcibly deported from Kosovo. In June, Milošević agreed to withdraw his forces, and NATO peacekeepers entered the province.
The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) won early parliamentary elections held (Dec., 2000) after Milošević lost the Yugoslavian presidency to Vojislav Koštunica, and formed the first noncommunist, nonsocialist government in Serbia in 55 years. Zoran Djindjić became prime minister. The DOS pledged to create a market economy and to dismantle the authoritarian state Milošević had established, and subsequently (2001) turned the former president over to the UN war crimes tribunal at the Hague.
Relations between Djindjić and Yugoslavian president Koštunica became increasingly strained, with the prime minister more concerned about improving the economy and relations with Western Europe than preserving the Yugoslavian federation, which had become strained as Montenegro demands for greater autonomy turned increasingly into demands for independence. However, in Mar., 2002, a pact designed to preserve the federation was signed by Serbian and Montenegrin representatives. The pact, which was approved by the federal and republics' parliaments, gave both republics greater autonomy while maintaining a shared foreign and defense policy. The federation officially became the "state union" of Serbia and Montenegro in Feb., 2003.
Three elections for Serbian president in late 2002 resulted in a victory for but failed to produce a sufficient turnout to be valid under the constitution; Nataša Mićić was appointed acting president. Djindjić was assassinated in Mar., 2003, and Serbian officials accused a criminal gang of responsibilty. The assassination resulted in extensive arrests of governmental, security, and criminal figures associated with organized crime and the former Milošević regime, and 12 men were convicted of involvement in 2007. Zoran Živkovic was elected as Djindjić's successor.
A fourth attempt to elect a president failed, as the Nov., 2003, balloting again did not draw a sufficient number of voters. The parliamentary elections the following month resulted in a plurality for the the Serbian Radical party, an ultranationalist opposition party. Three pro-reform parties, however, formed a minority government in Mar., 2004, with the support (but not participation) of the Socialist party, and Koštunica became prime minister. That same month Kosovo erupted in anti-Serb violence that appeared designed to drive Serbs from mixed areas. Koštunica called, as he had before, for the partition of province into Albanian and Serb cantons. The United Nations and Albanian Kosovars rejected that solution, but Serbia remains opposed to complete independece for Kosovo, and the ultimate status of Kosovo is unresolved.
In June, 2004, Boris Tadić, a pro-Western reformer and the Democratic party candidate, won the presidency after a runoff, defeating Tomislav Nikolić, the Serbian Radical candidate and front-runner in the first round. When Montenegro finally held a referendum on declaring independence in May, 2006, Montenegrins approved the move, and the following month Montenegro declared its independence from the union of Serbia and Montenegro. Two days later, on June 5, Serbia proclaimed itself a sovereign state and the legal heir of the defunct union. The action marked the complete, if prolonged, dissolution of the former Yugoslavia into the constituent republics that had been established after World War II. In Oct., 2006, one of the parties in Koštunica's coalition withdrew, forcing new elections in Jan., 2007. In November Serbia adopted a new constitution; one of its articles proclaimed Kosovo an inalienable part of Serbia.
In 2007 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in a case filed by Bosnia that originated in 1993, found that Serbia had violated international law when it failed to prevent genocide against Bosnian Muslims and then failed to prosecute those responsible for it. The ICJ did not, however, find Serbia guilty of genocide, as Bosnia had charged. Such a finding would have required proving intent on the part of Serbia's leaders, and the ICJ had limited access to internal Serbian and Yugoslavian government evidence.
The Jan., 2007, parliamentary elections were inconclusive, with the strongly nationalist Radicals placing first, the president's party second, and the prime minister's third; no party won as much as 30% of the vote. A coalition between the president's and prime minister's parties seemed most feasible, but Koštunica's insistence that a coalition government take a hard line on Kosovo's independence stymied negotiations until mid-May, when the two parties agreed on coalition with two smaller parties. Koštunica remained prime minister, but divisions in the coalition have since threatened the government's stability. In Mar., 2007, UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, unable to reach a compromise with Serbia and Kosovo, presented a plan for Kosovo's eventual independence to the UN Security Council, but Russia insisted on a solution acceptable to both Kosovo and Serbia, and the year ended without a resolution to the issue.
Tadić was reelected in Feb., 2008. Shortly thereafter, Kosovo declared its independence, an act that Serbia refused to recognize. (In 2010 the International Court of Justice ruled, in a case brought by Serbia, that international law did not prohibit a unilateral declaration of independence.) Tensions in the government over joining the EU, many of whose members had recognized Kosovo, led Koštunica (who objected to proceeding with EU membership) to resign.
New elections were called for May, 2008. In early May a stabilization and association agreement with the EU—a first step toward EU membership—was signed, and in the subsequent elections Tadić's Democratic party placed first. After negotiations the party formed a government (July) with the Socialists, who favored entering the EU, and several other parties; Democrat Mirko Cvetković became prime minister.
One apparent effect of the new government's installation was the arrest (July) in Serbia of Radovan Karadžić, the former Bosnian Serb leader wanted on war crimes charges, and his extradition to The Hague. The EU, however, did not begin the ratification process for the agreement until June, 2010, over concerns about Serbian cooperation with the war crimes tribunal; in 2011, Ratko Mladić, the former Bosnian Serb commander, and then Goran Hadžić, a former Croatian Serb general and political leader, were also arrested and extradited. In Mar., 2010, the Serbian parliament condemned the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, Bosnia, and apologized for failing to prevent it from happening.
In Feb., 2012, Serbia agreed to allow Kosovo to participate in W Balkan regional meetings and to joint management with Kosovo of their common border. That agreement led in March to the European Union granting Serbia candidate status for negotiations on EU admission, but conflicting interpretations of the agreement subsequently stymied the joint attendance of Serbia and Kosovo at regional meetings. EU-mediated talks aimed at normalizing Serbia-Kosovo relations occurred in 2012–13; in Apr., 2013, an agreement was signed that was intended to integrate the Serb-dominated regions of N Kosovo into Kosovo's jurisdiction.
President Tadić resigned in Apr., 2012, in order to have the presidential election coincide with the May parliamentary elections; the resignation was intended to aid his party's chances of success. Slavica Djukić Dejanović, the parliament speaker, became acting president. The parliamentary elections were narrowly won by the Serbian Progressive party, and in a subsequent runoff election for the presidency, Tomislav Nikolić, the Serbian Progressive candidate, defeated Tadić. A coalition consisting of the Progressives, Socialists, and smaller parties formed a government in July, with Socialist Ivica Dačić as prime minister. In Sept., 2013, the government was reshuffled; the new cabinet consisted of Progressives and Socialists only.
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