Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 06:59:17 AM EST
In a referendum on suday, a majority of 51.5 % of Serbia's electorate voted in favor of a new constitution. With an overall participation of around 53 %of the electorate, it means that nearly everyone who went to the ballot boxes supported it. And since a majority of the voters participated, it means the constution has been officially adopted.
So why should we care? The BBC has a short summary:
Among the constitution's 200 articles are guarantees for minority and human rights and the granting of a form of self-rule for the province of Vojvodina.
It also calls for the end of the death penalty - and a ban on human cloning.
Things are apparently moving in the right direction...but:
From the diaries - whataboutbob
Serbs living in Kosovo turned out in large numbers to support the new constitution.
Serbia's President Boris Tadic
We have accomplished one task but we shouldn't celebrate too much
Serbian President Boris Tadic
Some celebrated in the streets when the preliminary results were announced, waving Serbian flags and chanting: "Kosovo, we won't give you up." But the future is uncertain. Kosovo is officially a part of Serbia but has been run by the UN since the war ended in 1999.
The vast majority of the population are Kosovo Albanians who are demanding independence from Serbia. Serbs want the province to remain a part of Serbia. In perhaps the new constitution's most controversial part, the text proclaims the province to be an "integral part of the territory of Serbia".
For me this another Janus-face development on the Balkan. On the one hand, Serbia moves closer to become a true democracy, on the other hand the Kososvo issue still looms in the background without any satisfying solution in sight, ready to poison the politics of the region again.
But at least economically, Serbia is making some advancements:
According to Politika, net salaries in Serbia in September were 271 euros on the average, which is more than the May 1991 figure, when the average salaries stood at 268 euros. The salaries now are closer to the second half of 1990 values, the last year before the international sanctions.
Economic Institute associate Miroslav Zdravković says the factors for the growth are the strong dinar, and the steady rise in the average salaries which has continued throughout the year.
However, salaries are this year just under 40 index points above the GDP level, while the imports level stands at 50 index points above that of the exports. Beside the salaries, there is a strong flow of capital from abroad, mostly through investments.
The rise in the average salary does not stimulate a decrease in the unemployment rate. With this average, objectively insufficient for a normal lifestyle even compared to the regional countries, few people will take on jobs that pay less that the average wage. This leads to the phenomenon of a high unemployment rate, and a large number of vacancies that are never filled.
Wages coming back to pre-war level. This just underlines what a waste these last 15 years were. It is a shame. And I just hope that a reasonable solution for the status of the Kosovo, combined with a European perspective will finally close this chapter of death, destruction and despairt forever. Then again, I do not have any suggestions.