Serbia. Negotiations between the EU and Serbia on Serbian membership in the Union began formally in January. It was a symbolically important step towards integration in Europe, although it was expected to take many years before membership was in port.
|Land area||77,474 km²|
|Residents per km²||90.5|
|Official language||Serbian ; in Kosovo Albanian|
|Income per capita||$ 15,100|
|ISO 3166 code||RS|
|Time zone UTC||UTC + 1, daylight saving time UTC + 2|
|Geographic coordinates||44 00 N, 21 00 O|
According to Countryaah.com, Serbia population in 2020 is estimated at 8,737,382. President Tomislav Nikolić announced a new election in January, less than two years after the last election. The purpose was stated to be that the government needed a strong mandate for necessary reforms to revive the sluggish economy.
Nikolić’s Nationalist Party SNS (Serbian Progressive Party) also won a landslide victory in the elections in March and together with its allies gained almost half of the vote and its own majority. New Prime Minister became SNS leader Aleksandar Vučić. In the distant second place came the coalition partner, the Socialist SPS (Serbian Socialist Party), whose leader was the outgoing Prime Minister Ivica Dačić. He now became Foreign Minister.
The Democratic Party (DS), the former largest opposition party that ruled the country until 2012, was in free fall. DS split just a few months before the election when former president Boris Tadić formed a new party, the New Democratic Party (NDS). DS and NDS became about the same size, but together they received just over half as many mandates as DS previously had.
In May, Serbia was hit by the most severe floods in more than 100 years. Rising water levels and landslides forced 32,000 people from their homes and 51 perished. The city of Obrenovac was particularly hard hit. The natural disaster was called the worst in the country’s history and is estimated to have caused damage to just over EUR 1.5 billion.
The War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague (ICTY) in November released extremist nationalist Vojislav Šešelj, who has been in custody since 2003 on suspicion of crimes against humanity. Šešelj, who sat longer than anyone else in The Hague without judgment, was reported to be severely ill. On his return to Belgrade he was met by enthusiastic followers. The release became troublesome for the tribunal when Šešelj made threatening statements against Nikolić and Vučić, both of whom had a past within Šešelj’s ultranationalist party SRS (Serbia’s Radical Party) but who had downplayed nationalism and advocated, among other things, EU membership. Šešelj demanded new elections and a new economic policy, and played on popular anger over wage and pension reductions just announced.