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Yearbook 2009

Serbia. The global financial crisis hit hard on Serbia during the year. The currency was severely eroded and salary cuts were introduced for public employees. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted loans of EUR 3 billion, subject to conditions for cuts in public spending. An initial disbursement of just under 800 million was made, but the IMF withheld the second disbursement with demands for faster austerity. Up to one fifth of public sector jobs were reported to be threatened, while official unemployment was around 20 percent. A strike wave swept through the country over the summer. It was largely employed by former governmental but now privatized companies who protested against wages, pensions and social insurance.

2009 Serbia

According to countryaah, Serbia's former president Milan Milutinović was unexpectedly released in February by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Milutinović was prosecuted as the highest culprit for abuse during the Kosovo war of 1998-99, but according to the court, it was not proven that he had control over the Serbian forces. Five other high-ranking political and military leaders were convicted at the same time by the Hague Tribunal. The men, who received between 15 and 22 years in prison, were the first Serbs sentenced for war crimes in Kosovo. The defendants obeyed then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, who passed away in the Hague detention in 2006. Several people were convicted by Serbia's courts for war crimes committed under Milošević's regime. In March, 13 soldiers were convicted of murdering prisoners of war in Croatia in 1991, and in April four police were convicted of a massacre of 48 Kosovo Albanians in 1999.

In December, the EU abandoned its visa requirements for Serbs, which was seen as an important step towards integration in Europe. Before the end of the year, Serbia had also submitted its formal application for membership in the EU.

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