One million in poverty, at least one million unemployed
The population of Serbia is becoming increasingly poor. In a joint research project, the World Food Program and the Belgrade Center for Economic Studies came to the conclusion that the average monthly salary in Serbia amounts to USD 60, and the average pension is USD 50, while 800,000 people still remain unemployed.
According to the report, a million people in Serbia live in poverty. The number of unemployed is estimated to be about one million, but many unofficial sources estimate that four million of the nine million inhabitants of Serbia are unemployed.
The Movement for a Democratic Serbia (PDS), a member of the ruling coalition, issued a statement saying that changes in society had not begun, because DOS was functioning poorly. PDS announced that it will continue to critisize the coalition and refuse to take responsiblity for mistakes it had not made.
Governor of the National Bank of Yugoslavia Mladjan Dinkić said in an interview with Reuters that Yugoslavia was threatened with social unrest if Western countries continued to make their financial aid contingent on the extradition Slobodan Milošević to the United Nations Tribunal. "If by the end of the summer there is no improvement in the country, we might be facing mass protests," said Dinkić.
At the assembly session of the Bank for International Settlement in Basel, Dinkić said that Yugoslavia would need between one and one and half million dollars per year over a period of next three years in form of donations or loans, in order to be able to recover from war and a decade of isolation under international sanctions.
Dinkić warned Western countries to be less insistent on the issue of Milošević's extradition, because Yugoslavia was willing to cooperate with the UN Tribunal. He intimated that Milošević could be sent to the Hague during this summer, when most of the people are on vacation, because this would diminish the possibility of protests, reported Radio B92.
The European Union intends to invest EUR 4.65 billion by 2002 for reconstruction in the fields of law enforcement, justice and customs in countries of Southeastern Europe, the Beta news agency reported, quoting a source close to top Yugoslav authorities. Representatives of the EU countries expressed their readiness to help state institutions of the region during a meeting with representatives of five countries of the region.
After talks between Yugoslav Vice-Prime Minister Miroljub Labus and a delegation of the World Bank, it was announced that the first tranche of the loan amounting to DEM 80 million (the whole amount is DEM 220 million) was approved. The Mission of the World Bank is continuing talks with Yugoslav experts about future cooperation.
Representatives of the Government of Serbia, the Yugoslav National Bank and the European Agency for Reconstruction signed a donation contract worth EUR five million. The money will be invested in smaller firms via banks chosen by the Agency as a credit granted for ten years with a ten percent interest rate per year.
However, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch appealed to the international community to postpone the conference of donors for Yugoslavia scheduled for 29 June until Yugoslav authorities hand over those indicted for war crimes. The organization announced that there would be no peace in the Balkans until justice has been served. This could only be achieved by arresting all war criminals.
Milošević closer to the Tribunal?
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić visited Sarajevo last week. As a leader of the Serbian trade delegation he met with highest officials of Bosnia and Hercegovina. Điniđić and Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zlatko Lagumdžija have agreed that similar economic reforms needed to be carried out in both countries. Protection of investments, a ban on dual taxation and ways of making the flow between Bosnia and Hercegovina and Serbia smoother were the main topics of the meeting.
"We are to cooperate with The Hague Tribunal by all means, and what remains is a matter of technical details. A complicated situation must not be reduced to individuals, but all who have been involved in war crimes must take their individual responsibility," said Điniđić at a press conference in Sarajevo.
The Yugoslav government has finally verified a bill of cooperation with the UN Tribunal and forwarded it to Parliament, where it will be disucssed on 21 June. In a strange coincidence, Yugoslav media announced for on the same day a visit by chief prosecutor of the Tribunal Carla del Ponte to Belgrade.
Milošević, who has been in detention since 1 April, decided to engage nine new attorneys, reported the daily Blic. It is not known what has motivated Milošević to take this step. One of the theory is that Milošević had come to the conclusion that his detention was only the "waiting room" for the Tribunal and was preparing a defence team. According to another version, Milošević is trying to draw attention to himself once again, in order to prevent his delivery and obtain his release from prison.
And in other news...
- Journalist Milan Pantić, 48, was killed in his home town of Jagodina. An unidentified person ambushed Pantić and attacked him with a knife, Beograd.com reported. Pantić was investigating activities of Milošević's party, Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), and Yugoslav Left (JUL), Milošević's wife's party, during their absolute rule in this southern city in Serbia.
- The government of Serbia dismissed Vuk Obradović from the office of vice Prime Minister. Prime Minister Đinđić had demanded the dismissal following accusations of sexual harassment, which threatened to affect the standing of the Government.
- The Belgrade District Court started procedures against former chief of the secret service Radomir Marković and his three assistants accused of revealing top secrets. The process will be closed to the public.
- "In the beginning, on its way to the Council of Europe, Yugoslavia is willing to sign the document on ethnic minorities languages. I believe that we shall know how to implement it. Our readiness in this respect is only a part of the political process in accordance with the highest political standards," said Rasim Ljajić, Yugoslav Minister for national minorities and ethnic communities opening the Seminary on the ethnic minorities European document organized by the Council of Europe.
- The visa regime for citizens of Yugoslavia for EU countries could be revoked or mitigated next year, reported Belgrade daily Glas javnosti, quoting sources in diplomatic circles. The issue could be resolved when the West becomes convinced that economic and political stability has been achieved and that they would not be faced by a tidal wave of immigrants.
- Miroljub Labus said after talks with Bodo Hombach, the coordinator of the Southeast European Stability Pact, that both parties achieved considerable improvement in their relations and that the first result of it would be the agreement on financing the reconstruction of the bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad destroyed during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.
Ljubomir Pajić, 15 June 2001
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