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Voice of America, 01-09-15

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>

SLUG: 2-280578 Serbia / Reform (L only) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:





    INTRO: Top leaders of Serbia say they believe progress has been made in the first 11 months of their government. But they also say more needs to be done. V-O-A's Barry Wood in Belgrade reports on a conference of Serbian officials about reform of the country's democratic institutions and the building of a market economy.

    TEXT: Despite recent tensions in the ruling coalition, the often feuding Yugoslav president and Serbian prime minister sat together as experts assessed the accomplishments and failures of the past year. Leading economic reformer Mirojlub Labus conceded that the first 11 months of the post-Milosevic era had yielded only partial reforms. Government-owned enterprises have not been privatized. There has been almost no foreign direct investment. But Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said he is pleased with the accomplishments of rebuilt relations with international institutions, the promise of foreign assistance, and monetary stability. He said Serbia and Montenegro could be ready to join the European Union by 2004 and become a full member by 2010. However, another reformer, Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic, said he is not convinced that the economy has yet reached bottom. Mr. Djelic said Serbia's economy cannot grow if the world economy slides into recession.

    /// DJELIC ACT ///

    I think the Serbian economy is so down it won't go much further down. However, it is sure that the elements of recession around the world, and particularly in the United States and Western Europe, can only be reinforced by the tragic events in New York and Washington.

    /// END ACT ///

    Before returning to Serbia last year, Mr. Djelic was an economist in California's high-tech Silicon Valley. He worries that terrorist attacks in the United States will slow U-S consumer spending and turn a sluggish U-S economy into recession. Speakers at the Belgrade conference warned that the reform momentum must be reactivated or the public will turn against the democratic reformers now in power. The Serbian gross domestic product fell by 60 percent during the last ten years Slobodan Milosevic's government. (Signed)
    NEB/BW/DW/JWH SLUG: 5-50135 Serbia's Revolution - One Year Later Serbia's Revolution One Year Later DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: It has been almost one year (October Fifth) since workers and students stormed parliament building in Belgrade and forced Slobodan Milosevic to surrender the Yugoslav presidency to Vojislav Kostunica, the man who had defeated him in a national election less than two weeks earlier. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports from Belgrade about how Serbia is doing one year into the post-Milosevic era.

    TEXT: Since late June, Slobodan Milosevic has been in The Hague, awaiting trial on war crimes charges. But although he is gone from Belgrade, his legacy is not easily overcome. Part of the reason for this is that he held power for 13 years, first as ruler of Serbia and then as president of the Yugoslav federation, made up of Serbia and Montenegro. But in addition to ruling for so long, Mr. Milosevic's left behind a republic scarred by corruption, economic depression, and losing wars in Croatia, Bosnia and, finally, Kosovo. Two years ago, Serbia was severely damaged by nearly three months of NATO aerial attacks that drove the Yugoslav army out of Kosovo. Since his ouster, Serbs have sought to reintegrate themselves into Europe, and Europe has for the most part been willing to accept them. It has lifted economic sanctions and ended Serbia's political isolation. But Serbia has a long way to go, especially economically. Still, the head of the Yugoslav central bank and the government's leading economic reformer, Mladjan Dinkic, is optimistic. He believes next year will be a good year, with increased foreign investment and higher living standards.

    /// DINKIC ACT ///

    Milosevic is in The Hague only since the beginning of July, the end of June. This was the last step which opened our country to the world. Now when the first big businessmen come here and realize that if they're present in Belgrade, they can do business in the whole of southeastern Europe, a lot of others will come and follow them.

    /// END ACT ///

    Another reformer is Boris Begovic, the chief economic adviser to the Yugoslav deputy prime minister.

    /// BEGOVIC ACT ///

    I think there was no revolution (October Fifth). There instead was a step-by-step movement toward democracy and a market economy. As being someone with the federal government, I think there are a few accomplishments in this period. One is breaking with the past, breaking with the past in terms of policies and in terms of basic institutional framework of the country.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Begovic concedes that most Serbs have yet to see any economic improvement. The average Serb is still earning a monthly wage of under 100 dollars. Vlatko Sekulovic is a Social Democratic member of the Serbian parliament and a member of DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia), the dominant political coalition in Serbia. He says that while there have been political gains in the past year, Serbs have yet to decide what kind of government they want, one that is fully part of Europe or one that that keeps its distance and retains traditional Serb values. New parliamentary elections are likely in Serbia next year. Mr. Sekulovic says the two principal leaders of DOS, Serb Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and President Kostunica, could be rivals in the election. He says the two men have quite different political views.

    /// SEKULOVIC ACT ///

    Some people are perceiving a Serbia that is more modern. A Serbia that is much more caring for its citizens and the every day life of its citizens. And the other Serbia, represented mostly by Kostunica, is thinking of a Serbia that is in the European Union but that at the same time is keeping some pseudo-values like traditional values, conservative values, nationalist values, which at the end of the day are incompatible with the modern world.

    /// END ACT ///

    There can be little doubt that Serbia is a better place than it was a year ago. It is becoming a normal European democracy. There is a free press. The borders are open. Corruption is being attacked. The mood of the people is much improved. But significant problems remain. Will Montenegro continue as Serbia's partner in what is left of the Yugoslav federation? The constitution has to be rewritten. The privatization and restructuring of industry has yet to begin. And what will happen to largely Albanian populated Kosovo, still technically a province of Serbia, but a place few Serbs expect will ever again be part of Yugoslavia. But having finally gotten rid of Slobodan Milosevic, many Serbs seem to have a sense of confidence that they can accomplish things they once thought were impossible. (Signed)
    NEB/BDW/KL/JWH SLUG: 2-280566 Europe / Airlines (L only) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:



    INTRO: European airlines are struggling to restore their links to the United States after the terror attacks against New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. V-O-A's Roger Wilkison in Brussels reports transatlantic air travel is slowly resuming amid tight security, enabling hundreds of thousands of stranded travelers on both sides of the ocean to finally head home.

    TEXT: European airlines announced their first westward flights Friday, a few hours after U-S airlines resumed flying transatlantic routes. An Air France flight from Paris to Atlanta was one of the first to get into the air, and two British Airways flights from London to New York and one from London to Philadelphia quickly followed. More flights are heading from European airports to the United States on Saturday. Lufthansa, the German airline, says it is resuming limited service, with 21 out of 25 scheduled flights taking off from Germany for such destinations as Atlanta, Dallas, and Newark. A Lufthansa spokeswoman says most such flights will be delayed because of heavy security at German airports. The airline canceled at least 80 round-trip transatlantic flights following Tuesday's terrorist attacks. It says those cancellations affected at least 50-thousand people. Sabena, the Belgian airline, says it is resuming some of its flights from Brussels to North America starting on Saturday. It says it will operate two scheduled flights to New York and one each to Boston and Montreal. But it says flights to Chicago, Dallas, and Washington remain canceled. In Zurich, Swissair says it is resuming normal service to U-S destinations on Saturday. Swissair says it has been waiting for U-S government approval for the flights to resume. It says that permission has now been given. But Swissair, like other European airlines, says passengers should expect longer check-ins and delays in take-off times because of stepped-up security and thorough searches of both check-in and carry-on baggage. Alitalia, the Italian airline, says it has scheduled two flights to New York on Saturday. The national carriers of Poland and Portugal have also announced a limited resumption of their U-S-bound services. The rescheduling of European transatlantic air services follows a decision Friday by European Union transportation ministers to ask the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization to implement tighter security on flights worldwide. (Signed)

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