Context of Serbia

Serbia ( (listen), SUR-bee-ə; Serbian: Србија, Srbija, pronounced [sř̩bija] (listen)), officially the Republic of Serbia (Serbian: Република Србија, Republika Srbija, pronounced Read more

Serbia ( (listen), SUR-bee-ə; Serbian: Србија, Srbija, pronounced [sř̩bija] (listen)), officially the Republic of Serbia (Serbian: Република Србија, Republika Srbija, pronounced [repǔblika sř̩bija] (listen)), is a landlocked country in Southeastern and Central Europe, situated at the crossroads of the Pannonian Basin and the Balkans. It shares land borders with Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, and Montenegro to the southwest, and claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia without Kosovo has about 6.7 million inhabitants, about 8.4 million if Kosovo is included. Its capital Belgrade is also the largest city.

Continuously inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, the territory of modern-day Serbia faced Slavic migrations in the 6th century, establishing several regional states in the early Middle Ages at times recognised as tributaries to the Byzantine, Frankish and Hungarian kingdoms. The Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by the Holy See and Constantinople in 1217, reaching its territorial apex in 1346 as the Serbian Empire. By the mid-16th century, the Ottomans annexed the entirety of modern-day Serbia; their rule was at times interrupted by the Habsburg Empire, which began expanding towards Central Serbia from the end of the 17th century while maintaining a foothold in Vojvodina. In the early 19th century, the Serbian Revolution established the nation-state as the region's first constitutional monarchy, which subsequently expanded its territory. Following casualties in World War I, and the subsequent unification of the former Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina with Serbia, the country co-founded Yugoslavia with other South Slavic nations, which would exist in various political formations until the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia formed a union with Montenegro, which was peacefully dissolved in 2006, restoring Serbia's independence as a sovereign state for the first time since 1918. In 2008, representatives of the Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, with mixed responses from the international community while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.

Serbia is an upper-middle income economy, ranked "very high" in the Human Development Index domain (63rd position). It is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, member of the UN, CoE, OSCE, PfP, BSEC, CEFTA, and is acceding to the WTO. Since 2014, the country has been negotiating its EU accession, with the aim of joining the European Union by 2025. Serbia formally adheres to the policy of military neutrality. The country provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens.

More about Serbia

Basic information
  • Currency Serbian dinar
  • Native name Србија
  • Calling code +381
  • Internet domain .rs
  • Mains voltage 230V/50Hz
  • Democracy index 6.22
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 6647003
  • Area 88361
  • Driving side right
History
  • Prehistory and antiquity
    Prehistory and antiquity
     
    Lepenski Vir idol, 7000 BC
     
    Vinča culture figurine, 4000–4500 BC

    Archaeological evidence of Paleolithic settlements on the territory of present-day Serbia is scarce. A fragment of a human jaw was found in Sićevo (Mala Balanica) and is believed to be up to 525,000–397,000 years old.[1]

    Approximately around 6,500 years BC, during the Neolithic, the Starčevo and Vinča cultures existed in the region of modern-day Belgrade. They dominated much of Southeastern Europe (as well as parts of Central Europe and Asia Minor). Several important archaeological sites from this era, including Lepenski Vir and Vinča-Belo Brdo, still exist near the banks of the Danube.[2][3]

    During the Iron Age, local tribes of Triballi, Dardani, and Autariatae were encountered by the Ancient Greeks during their cultural and political expansion into the region, from the 5th up to the 2nd century BC. The Celtic tribe of Scordisci settled throughout the area in the 3rd century BC. It formed a tribal state, building several fortifications, including their capital at Singidunum (present-day Belgrade) and Naissos (present-day Niš).

    The Romans conquered much of the territory in the 2nd century BC. In 167 BC, the Roman province of Illyricum was established; the remainder was conquered around 75 BC, forming the Roman province of Moesia Superior; the modern-day Srem region was conquered in 9 BC; and Bačka and Banat in 106 AD after the Dacian Wars. As a result of this, contemporary Serbia extends fully or partially over several former Roman provinces, including Moesia, Pannonia, Praevalitana, Dalmatia, Dacia, and Macedonia.

    The chief towns of Upper Moesia (and broader) were: Singidunum (Belgrade), Viminacium (now Old Kostolac), Remesiana (now Bela Palanka), Naissos (Niš), and Sirmium (now Sremska Mitrovica), the latter of which served as a Roman capital during the Tetrarchy.[4] Seventeen Roman Emperors were born in the area of modern-day Serbia, second only to contemporary Italy.[5] The most famous of these was Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, who issued an edict ordering religious tolerance throughout the Empire.

     
    Remnants of the Felix Romuliana Imperial Palace, 298 AD, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; as many as 18 Roman emperors were born in modern-day Serbia[6][7]

    When the Roman Empire was divided in 395, most of Serbia remained under the Eastern Roman Empire. At the same time, its northwestern parts were included in the Western Roman Empire. By the 6th century, South Slavs migrated into the European provinces of the Byzantine Empire in large numbers.[8] They merged with the local Romanised population that was gradually assimilated.[9][10][11]

    Middle Ages
     
    The Coronation of the Serbian Tsar, Stefan Dušan known as Dušan the Mighty in Skopje, as Emperor of Serbs and Greeks in 1346.

    White Serbs, an early Slavic tribe from White Serbia eventually settled in an area between the Sava river and the Dinaric Alps.[12][13][14] By the beginning of the 9th century, Serbia achieved a level of statehood.[15] Christianization of Serbia was a gradual process, finalized by the middle of the 9th century.[16] In the mid-10th-century, the Serbian state stretched between the Adriatic Sea, the Neretva, the Sava, the Morava, and Skadar. During the 11th and 12th century, Serbian state frequently fought with the neighbouring Byzantine Empire.[17] Between 1166 and 1371, Serbia was ruled by the Nemanjić dynasty (whose legacy is especially cherished), under whom the state was elevated to a kingdom in 1217,[18] and an empire in 1346,[19] under Stefan Dušan. Serbian Orthodox Church was organized as an autocephalous archbishopric in 1219,[20] through the effort of Sava, the country's patron saint, and in 1346 it was raised to the Patriarchate. Monuments of the Nemanjić period survive in many monasteries (several being World Heritage sites) and fortifications.

    During these centuries the Serbian state (and influence) expanded significantly. The northern part (modern Vojvodina), was ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary. The period after 1371, known as the Fall of the Serbian Empire saw the once-powerful state fragmented into several principalities, culminating in the Battle of Kosovo (1389) against the rising Ottoman Empire.[21] The Ottomans finally conquered the Serbian Despotate in 1459. The Ottoman threat and eventual conquest saw massive migrations of Serbs to the west and north.[22]

    Ottoman and Habsburg rule
     
    The Battle of Kosovo (1389) is particularly important to Serbian history, tradition and national identity.[23]

    In all Serbian lands conquered by the Ottomans, the native nobility was eliminated and the peasantry was enserfed to Ottoman rulers, while much of the clergy fled or were confined to the isolated monasteries. Under the Ottoman system, Serbs, as well as Christians, were considered an inferior class of people and subjected to heavy taxes, and a portion of the Serbian population experienced Islamization. Many Serbs were recruited during the devshirme system, a form of slavery in the Ottoman Empire, in which boys from Balkan Christian families were forcibly converted to Islam and trained for infantry units of the Ottoman army known as the Janissaries.[24][25][26][27] The Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was extinguished in 1463,[28] but reestablished in 1557,[29][30][31] providing for limited continuation of Serbian cultural traditions within the Ottoman Empire, under the Millet system.[32][33]

    After the loss of statehood to the Ottoman Empire, Serbian resistance continued in northern regions (modern Vojvodina), under titular despots (until 1537), and popular leaders like Jovan Nenad (1526–1527). From 1521 to 1552, Ottomans conquered Belgrade and regions of Syrmia, Bačka, and Banat.[34] Continuing wars and various rebellions constantly challenged Ottoman rule. One of the most significant was the Banat Uprising in 1594 and 1595, which was part of the Long War (1593–1606) between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans.[35][36] The area of modern Vojvodina endured a century-long Ottoman occupation before being ceded to the Habsburg Empire, partially by the Treaty of Karlovci (1699),[37] and fully by the Treaty of Požarevac (1718).[38]

     
    The Great Migrations of the Serbs, led by Patriarch Arsenije III Čarnojević

    As the Great Serb Migrations depopulated most of southern Serbia, the Serbs sought refuge across the Danube River in Vojvodina to the north and the Military Frontier in the west, where they were granted rights by the Austrian crown under measures such as the Statuta Wallachorum of 1630. Much of central Serbia switched from Ottoman rule to Habsburg control (1686–91) during the Habsburg-Ottoman war (1683–1699). Following several petitions, Emperor Leopold I formally granted Serbs who wished to settle in the northern regions the right to their autonomous crown land.[39] The ecclesiastical centre of the Serbs also moved northwards, to the Metropolitanate of Karlovci,[40] and the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was once-again abolished by the Ottomans in 1766.[41][42]

    In 1718–39, the Habsburg monarchy occupied much of Central Serbia and established the Kingdom of Serbia as crownland.[38] Those gains were lost by the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739, when the Ottomans retook the region.[43] Apart from territory of modern Vojvodina which remained under the Habsburg Empire, central regions of Serbia were occupied once again by the Habsburgs in 1788–1792.

    Revolution and independence

    The Serbian Revolution for independence from the Ottoman Empire lasted eleven years, from 1804 until 1815.[44][45][46][47] The revolution comprised two separate uprisings which gained autonomy from the Ottoman Empire (1830) that eventually evolved towards full independence (1878). During the First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813), led by vožd Karađorđe Petrović, Serbia was independent for almost a decade before the Ottoman army was able to reoccupy the country.[48] Shortly after this, the Second Serbian Uprising began in 1815. Led by Miloš Obrenović, it ended with a compromise between Serbian revolutionaries and Ottoman authorities.[49] Likewise, Serbia was one of the first nations in the Balkans to abolish feudalism.[50] The Akkerman Convention in 1826, the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829 and finally, the Hatt-i Sharif, recognised the suzerainty of Serbia. The First Serbian Constitution was adopted on 15 February 1835 (the anniversary of the outbreak of the First Serbian Uprising), making the country one of the first to adopt a democratic constitution in Europe.[51][52] 15 February is now commemorated as Statehood Day, a public holiday.[53]

     
     
    Karađorđe Petrović and Miloš Obrenović, leaders of the Serbian Revolution

    Following the clashes between the Ottoman army and Serbs in Belgrade in 1862,[54] and under pressure from the Great Powers, by 1867 the last Turkish soldiers left the Principality, making the country de facto independent.[55] By enacting a new constitution in 1869,[56] without consulting the Porte, Serbian diplomats confirmed the de facto independence of the country. In 1876, Serbia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, siding with the ongoing Christian uprisings in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bulgaria.[57][58]

    The formal independence of the country was internationally recognised at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, which ended the Russo-Turkish War; this treaty, however, prohibited Serbia from uniting with other Serbian regions by placing Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian occupation, alongside the occupation of the region of Raška.[59] From 1815 to 1903, the Principality of Serbia was ruled by the House of Obrenović, save for the rule of Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević between 1842 and 1858. In 1882, Principality of Serbia became the Kingdom of Serbia, ruled by King Milan I.[60] The House of Karađorđević, descendants of the revolutionary leader Karađorđe Petrović, assumed power in 1903 following the May Overthrow.[61] In the north, the 1848 revolution in Austria led to the establishment of the autonomous territory of Serbian Vojvodina; by 1849, the region was transformed into the Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar.[62]

    The Balkan Wars and World War I

    In the course of the First Balkan War in 1912, the Balkan League defeated the Ottoman Empire and captured its European territories, which enabled territorial expansion of the Kingdom of Serbia into regions of Raška, Kosovo, Metohija, and Vardarian Macedonia. The Second Balkan War soon ensued when Bulgaria turned on its former allies, but was defeated, resulting in the Treaty of Bucharest. In two years, Serbia enlarged its territory by 80% and its population by 50%,[63] it also suffered high casualties on the eve of World War I, with more than 36,000 dead.[64] Austria-Hungary became wary of the rising regional power on its borders and its potential to become an anchor for unification of Serbs and other South Slavs, and the relationship between the two countries became tense.

     
    Great Serbian Retreat in 1915 led by Peter I of Serbia. As the part of Entente Powers during WW I, Serbia lost about 850,000 people, a quarter of its pre-war population.[65]

    The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Young Bosnia organisation, led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, on 28 July 1914.[66] Local war escalated when Germany declared war on Russia and invaded France and Belgium, thus drawing Great Britain into the conflict that became the First World War. Serbia won the first major battles of World War I, including the Battle of Cer,[67] and the Battle of Kolubara, marking the first Allied victories against the Central Powers in World War I.[68]

    Despite initial success, it was eventually overpowered by the Central Powers in 1915 and Austro-Hungarian occupation of Serbia followed. Most of its army and some people retreated through Albania to Greece and Corfu, suffering immense losses on the way. Serbia was occupied by the Central Powers. After the Central Powers military situation on other fronts worsened, the remains of the Serb army returned east and led a final breakthrough through enemy lines on 15 September 1918, liberating Serbia and defeating Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary.[69] Serbia, with its campaign, was a major Balkan Entente Power[70] which contributed significantly to the Allied victory in the Balkans in November 1918, especially by helping France force Bulgaria's capitulation.[71]

    Serbia's casualties accounted for 8% of the total Entente military deaths; 58% (243,600) soldiers of the Serbian army perished in the war.[72] The total number of casualties is placed around 700,000,[73] more than 16% of Serbia's prewar size,[74] and a majority (57%) of its overall male population.[75][76][77] Serbia suffered the biggest casualty rate in World War I.[78]

    Kingdom of Yugoslavia

    The beginnings of the idea of the first common South Slavic state were the signing of a declaration on the island of Corfu in 1917.[79] The Corfu Declaration was a formal agreement between the government-in-exile of the Kingdom of Serbia and the Yugoslav Committee (anti-Habsburg South Slav émigrés) that pledged to unify Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Montenegro with Austria-Hungary's South Slav autonomous crown lands: Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Kingdom of Dalmatia, Slovenia, Vojvodina (then part of the Kingdom of Hungary) and Bosnia and Herzegovina in a post-war Yugoslav state. It was signed on 20 July 1917 on Corfu.

     
    Great People's Assembly of Serbs, Bunjevci and other Slavs in Banat, Bačka and Baranja

    As the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, the territory of Syrmia united with Serbia on 24 November 1918.[63] Just a day later, on 25 November 1918, the Great People's Assembly of Serbs, Bunjevci and other Slavs in Banat, Bačka and Baranja declared the unification of these regions (Banat, Bačka, and Baranja) with the Kingdom of Serbia.[80]

    On 26 November 1918, the Podgorica Assembly deposed the House of Petrović-Njegoš and united Montenegro with Serbia.[81] On 1 December 1918, in Belgrade, Serbian Prince Regent Alexander Karađorđević proclaimed the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, under King Peter I of Serbia.[82][83]

    King Peter was succeeded by his son, Alexander, in August 1921. Serb centralists and Croat autonomists clashed in the parliament, and most governments were fragile and short-lived. Nikola Pašić, a conservative prime minister, headed or dominated most governments until his death. King Alexander established a dictatorship in 1929 with the aim of establishing the Yugoslav ideology and single Yugoslav nation, changed the name of the country to Yugoslavia and changed the internal divisions from the 33 oblasts to nine new banovinas. The effect of Alexander's dictatorship was to further alienate the non-Serbs living in Yugoslavia from the idea of unity.[84]

    Alexander was assassinated in Marseille, during an official visit in 1934 by Vlado Chernozemski, member of the IMRO. Alexander was succeeded by his eleven-year-old son Peter II and a regency council was headed by his cousin, Prince Paul. In August 1939 the Cvetković–Maček Agreement established an autonomous Banate of Croatia as a solution to Croatian concerns.

    World War II

    In 1941, in spite of Yugoslav attempts to remain neutral in the war, the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia. The territory of modern Serbia was divided between Hungary, Bulgaria, the Independent State of Croatia, Greater Albania and Montenegro, while the remaining part of the occupied Serbia was placed under the military administration of Nazi Germany, with Serbian puppet governments led by Milan Aćimović and Milan Nedić assisted by Dimitrije Ljotić's fascist organization Yugoslav National Movement (Zbor).

     
    Mothers with children at the Croatian Ustaše Stara Gradiška concentration camp, a camp for Serbs and Jews in the Independent State of Croatia during World War II. Pictured between 1942 and 1945.

    The Yugoslav territory was the scene of a civil war between royalist Chetniks commanded by Draža Mihailović and communist partisans commanded by Josip Broz Tito. Axis auxiliary units of the Serbian Volunteer Corps and the Serbian State Guard fought against both of these forces. The siege of Kraljevo was a major battle of the uprising in Serbia, led by Chetnik forces against the Nazis. Several days after the battle began the German forces committed a massacre of approximately 2,000 civilians in an event known as the Kraljevo massacre, in a reprisal for the attack.

    Draginac and Loznica massacre of 2,950 villagers in Western Serbia in 1941 was the first large execution of civilians in occupied Serbia by Germans, with Kragujevac massacre and Novi Sad Raid of Jews and Serbs by Hungarian fascists being the most notorious, with over 3,000 victims in each case.[85][86] After one year of occupation, around 16,000 Serbian Jews were murdered in the area, or around 90% of its pre-war Jewish population during The Holocaust in Serbia. Many concentration camps were established across the area. Banjica concentration camp was the largest concentration camp and jointly run by the German army and Nedić's regime,[87] with primary victims being Serbian Jews, Roma, and Serb political prisoners.[88]

    During this period, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs fled the Axis puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia and sought refuge in German-occupied Serbia, seeking to escape the large-scale persecution and Genocide of Serbs, Jews, and Roma being committed by the Ustaše regime.[89] The number of Serb victims was approximately 300,000 to 350,000.[90][91][92]

    According to Tito himself, Serbs made up the vast majority of Anti-fascist fighters and Yugoslav Partisans for the whole course of World War II.[93] The Republic of Užice was a short-lived liberated territory established by the Partisans and the first liberated territory in World War II Europe, organised as a military mini-state that existed in the autumn of 1941 in the west of occupied Serbia. By late 1944, the Belgrade Offensive swung in favour of the partisans in the civil war; the partisans subsequently gained control of Yugoslavia.[94] Following the Belgrade Offensive, the Syrmian Front was the last major military action of World War II in Serbia. A study by Vladimir Žerjavić estimates total war related deaths in Yugoslavia at 1,027,000, including 273,000 in Serbia.[95]

    Socialist Yugoslavia

    The victory of the Communist Partisans resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and a subsequent constitutional referendum. A one-party state was soon established in Yugoslavia by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. It is claimed between 60,000 and 70,000 people died in Serbia during the 1944–45 communist takeover and purge.[96] All opposition was suppressed and people deemed to be promoting opposition to socialism or promoting separatism were imprisoned or executed for sedition. Serbia became a constituent republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) known as the Socialist Republic of Serbia, and had a republic-branch of the federal communist party, the League of Communists of Serbia.

     
    The principle of non-alignment was the core of Yugoslav and later Serbian diplomacy. The First Non-Aligned Movement Summit Conference took place in Belgrade in September 1961

    Serbia's most powerful and influential politician in Tito-era Yugoslavia was Aleksandar Ranković, one of the "big four" Yugoslav leaders, alongside Tito, Edvard Kardelj, and Milovan Đilas. Ranković was later removed from the office because of the disagreements regarding Kosovo's nomenklatura and the unity of Serbia. Ranković's dismissal was highly unpopular among Serbs. Pro-decentralisation reformers in Yugoslavia succeeded in the late 1960s in attaining substantial decentralisation of powers, creating substantial autonomy in Kosovo and Vojvodina, and recognising a distinctive "Muslim" nationality. As a result of these reforms, there was a massive overhaul of Kosovo's nomenklatura and police, that shifted from being Serb-dominated to ethnic Albanian-dominated through firing Serbs on a large scale. Further concessions were made to the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo in response to unrest, including the creation of the University of Pristina as an Albanian language institution. These changes created widespread fear among Serbs of being treated as second-class citizens.[97]

    Belgrade, the capital of SFR Yugoslavia and SR Serbia, hosted the first Non-Aligned Movement Summit in September 1961, as well as the first major gathering of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with the aim of implementing the Helsinki Accords from October 1977 to March 1978.[98][99] The 1972 smallpox outbreak in SAP Kosovo and other parts of SR Serbia was the last major outbreak of smallpox in Europe since World War II.[100]

    Breakup of Yugoslavia and political transition

    In 1989, Slobodan Milošević rose to power in Serbia. Milošević promised a reduction of powers for the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, where his allies subsequently took over power, during the Anti-bureaucratic revolution.[101] This ignited tensions between the communist leadership of the other republics of Yugoslavia and awoke ethnic nationalism across Yugoslavia that eventually resulted in its breakup, with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia declaring independence during 1991 and 1992.[102][better source needed] Serbia and Montenegro remained together as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).[103] However, according to the Badinter Commission, the country was not legally considered a continuation of the former SFRY, but a new state.

     
    Serbian and other children refugees of the Kosovo War. The war ended with NATO bombing which remains a controversial topic.

    Fueled by ethnic tensions, the Yugoslav Wars (1991–2001) erupted, with the most severe conflicts taking place in Croatia and Bosnia, where the large ethnic Serb communities opposed independence from Yugoslavia. The FRY remained outside the conflicts, but provided logistic, military and financial support to Serb forces in the wars. In response, the UN imposed sanctions against Yugoslavia which led to political isolation and the collapse of the economy (GDP decreased from $24 billion in 1990 to under $10 billion in 1993). Serbia was in the 2000s sued on the charges of alleged genocide by neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia but in both cases the main charges against Serbia were dismissed.[104][105]

    Multi-party democracy was introduced in Serbia in 1990, officially dismantling the one-party system. Critics of Milošević stated that the government continued to be authoritarian despite constitutional changes, as Milošević maintained strong political influence over the state media and security apparatus.[106][107] When the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia refused to accept its defeat in municipal elections in 1996, Serbians engaged in large protests against the government.

     
    The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and territories of Serb breakaway states Republika Srpska and Republika Srpska Krajina during the Yugoslav wars

    In 1998, continued clashes between the Albanian guerilla Kosovo Liberation Army and Yugoslav security forces led to the short Kosovo War (1998–99), in which NATO intervened, leading to the withdrawal of Serbian forces and the establishment of UN administration in the province.[108] After the Yugoslav Wars, Serbia became home to highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Europe.[109][110][111]

    After presidential elections in September 2000, opposition parties accused Milošević of electoral fraud. A campaign of civil resistance followed, led by the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), a broad coalition of anti-Milošević parties. This culminated on 5 October when half a million people from all over the country congregated in Belgrade, compelling Milošević to concede defeat.[112] The fall of Milošević ended Yugoslavia's international isolation. Milošević was sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The DOS announced that FR Yugoslavia would seek to join the European Union. In 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was renamed Serbia and Montenegro;[113] the EU opened negotiations with the country for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Serbia's political climate remained tense and in 2003, the Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić was assassinated as result of a plot originating from circles of organised crime and former security officials. In 2004 unrest in Kosovo took place, leaving 19 people dead and a number of Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries destroyed or damaged.[114][115]

    Contemporary period

    On 21 May 2006, Montenegro held a referendum to determine whether to end its union with Serbia. The results showed 55.4% of voters in favour of independence, which was just above the 55% required by the referendum. This was followed on 5 June 2006 by Serbia's declaration of independence, marking the final dissolution of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, and the re-emergence of Serbia as an independent state, for the first time since 1918. On the same occasion, the National Assembly of Serbia declared Serbia to be the legal successor to the former state union.[116]

    The Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. Serbia immediately condemned the declaration and continues to deny any statehood to Kosovo. The declaration has sparked varied responses from the international community, some welcoming it, while others condemned the unilateral move.[117] Status-neutral talks between Serbia and Kosovo-Albanian authorities are held in Brussels, mediated by the EU.

    Serbia officially applied for membership in the European Union on 22 December 2009,[118] and received candidate status on 1 March 2012, following a delay in December 2011.[119][120] Following a positive recommendation of the European Commission and European Council in June 2013, negotiations to join the EU commenced in January 2014.[121]

    Since Aleksandar Vučić and his Serbian Progressive Party came to power in 2012,[122][123] Serbia has suffered from democratic backsliding into authoritarianism,[124][125][126] followed by a decline in media freedom and civil liberties.[127][128] After the COVID-19 pandemic spread to Serbia in March 2020, a state of emergency was declared and a curfew was introduced for the first time in Serbia since World War II.[129] In January and February 2021, Serbia carried the second-fastest vaccine rollout in Europe.[130][131][132] In April 2022, President Aleksandar Vučić was re-elected.[133]

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    Serbia is generally a safe place to visit. The locals are incredibly polite and helpful in case you require any assistance. (If you need any help finding/reaching a place, it's best to ask a younger person for help, as they are more likely to speak English.) However, you should always be aware of pickpockets, mainly in crowded tourist places and on public transportation. Street robberies, assaults or murders are highly unusual, even in dark or remote parts of a city/town. One should always watch out for drivers, who can be very rude to pedestrians or cyclists. There is also widespread intolerance against homosexuals.

    Emergency phone numbers are: 192 - police; 193 - fire dept. and 194 - ambulance.

    Following the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, reports of UXOs (unexploded ordnance) have occurred outside the major cities. Keep an eye out for markings which may signify a potential UXO zone when outside the cities and always stick to well-trod paths. If you find a suspicious object resembling a bomb/mortar/landmine, don't touch it. Report it to the nearest police station immediately. Most UXOs have been cleared, though, so it is very unlikely that you will find any.

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