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Serbia and Montenegro

Efforts by Serbia and Montenegro to begin the process of integration into Europe, address issues of the country's future status-including that of the restive province of Kosovo-face up to corruption and war crimes, and deal with the economy dominated headlines in 2005. In October the International Monetary Fund temporarily suspended high-level talks with Belgrade following disagreements over Serbia's monetary and public-spending policies and the country's higher-than-planned inflation rate of 17%. The negotiations aimed at extending a nearly $1 billion standby credit arrangement were crucial for Serbia's transition process because they were linked to a $730 million debt write-off by the Paris Club of creditors, which had already canceled $2.3 billion of Serbia's $13 billion debt. In response Serbia's government approved a 2006 budget proposal of $6.9 billion, calling for more spending cuts in health services, aid to state-run companies, and salaries in the public-services sector. The government projected a surplus in 2006 of $560 million, compared with the budget deficit of $533 million the previous year. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus announced in November that he expected that Serbia and Montenegro would sign its first contract with the EU by November 2006. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), however, gave Serbia a strong warning that Belgrade had to deliver Bosnian Serb war-crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic by the end of the year or face "excommunication" from any Euro-Atlantic integration process.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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