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Serbia boasts good results over past three years

Oktober, 5. 2000.

Belgrade, Oct 6, 2003 - In an interview with Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic spoke about the government's achievements in the three years since the Oct 5 democratic changes and the oust of Slobodan Milosevic's regime. The following are excerpts from the interview.

On what has been accomplished since Oct 5, 2000:

"Serbia has made a significant progress over the past three years, but it is still a long way from what a majority of citizens and me personally wish to achieve. Today we live in a state in which people no longer fear they will be arrested or beaten up. Our citizens are no longer afraid whether shops will be supplied with bread, sugar or cooking oil, whether there will be enough electricity or oil products at petrol stations, whether someone will take their children to a war..."

On reform results:

"Three years after the Oct 5 democratic changes, Serbian citizens share the problems of the bulk of European citizens. They fight for better living standards, strive to keep their jobs or find new ones. We are reforming the education sector to give better schools to our children, investing in the health sector to improve treatment conditions for the elderly and the sick, strengthening institutions to make citizens feel safer. If we take an objective look at the results, we can see that a lot has been achieved, about 95 percent of what could have been done in the past three years. However, compared with what we need and what we want, we are still one-fifth of our way to our goal..."

On positive results of the new authorities:

"The biggest achievement of the new authorities is that people feel free to say whatever they want without fearing consequences. Social security level has been increased, with monthly salaries rising severalfold in real terms and several tens of percent in nominal terms. Supplies are no longer a problem. The state has restored its international position. Our ties with the European Union, the US and a majority of neighbouring countries are at a historic high. Not to mention results in achieving macroeconomic stability and the stability of the national currency, fighting organised crime, building hundreds of kilometers of new roads, creating new jobs and preparing social welfare programmes for those who lost their jobs. Also, the authorities have managed to put in place legislation to attract domestic and foreign investors, raise higher privatisation receipts than other transition countries and launch defence sector, army and education reforms. A lot has been achieved over the past three years, but if I had to single out the greatest accomplishment, it would be freedom and the fact that people feel they have opportunities they can seize. All this gives us the right to believe that there is a chance, a future for all of us as individuals and as a country, and that it is only up to our skill to grab the chance and turn it into reality.

On what could have been accomplished:

"We passed up Oct 6, when we should have broken away completely from the former regime. The Constitution should have been suspended and all senior officials, including the army chief of staff, the secret police chief, the Serbian President and the Constitutional Court President, retired so that we can start building a brand new society. The so-called legalists, hiding their unwillingness to break away from the past behind "legalism", prevented the authorities from making such cuts. If we had not bowed to such pressure, we would have done the right thing, made every procedure faster and more efficient and I would have been in a position to say that we have accomplished 200 percent of what could have been achieved over the past three years and that we have achieved 50 percent more than was necessary for us to be proud of ourselves, of our state and Oct 5.

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