Democracy and rights
In Serbia, political parties with different
ideological grounds have been able to participate in
relatively free elections since the 1990s. For a long
time, the country seemed to be undergoing
democratization. But in recent years, development has
reversed and Serbia is now being identified as a country
where political and civil rights are being eroded, and
opposition, civil society and the media are increasingly
The negative development led to Freedom House 2018
lowering its valuation of Serbia, leaving the country in
the "partly free countries" category. It is the first
time in a decade that Serbia is not classified among the
free countries which, according to the organization's
way of calculating, covers over 40 percent of the
world's countries. The case for Serbia was about as
large as that in severely crisis-hit countries such as
Venezuela and Nicaragua. In Freedom House's annual
report on developments in 29 "transitional countries" in
the former Eastern bloc, Serbia 2020 fell to the third
of five categories used here, to the hybrid regime
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Serbia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The downgrading is due to deteriorating conditions in
political elections and continued attempts by the
government and allied media to undermine independent
journalism through harassment and dirt-throwing
campaigns. In addition, Aleksandar Vučić is accused of
attaching power to his person and exceeding his
constitutional role since becoming President in 2017
(see Political system).
On Transparency International's (TI) list of
corruption in the world, Serbia is ranked 91 out of 180
countries. At TI, too, the result is declining, and
roughly comparable to Bosnia and Kosovo (for the full
list see here).
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed in the
constitution, but the independence and diversity of the
media is limited by political interference, economic
dependence and self-censorship of journalists. On
Reporters Without Borders' ranking list of freedom of
the press in the world countries, Serbia 2020 came in at
93 out of 180 - a substantial drop from place 76 two
years earlier (the entire list is here).
The media climate has deteriorated following
Aleksandar Vučić's take-over as prime minister in 2014.
Media criticizing the regime can be publicly attacked
and accused of "trying to create chaos in the country"
or "overthrow the government" and they are often
subjected to arbitrary inspections by the authorities.
Government representatives expose individual journalists
to threats, harassment and physical violence.
Dirt-throwing campaigns have become commonplace. One
result of this is that the number of investigative
journalists has decreased and that many media channels
only focus on uncontroversial entertainment.
During Slobodan Milošević's time in power
(1987–2000), the regime was mainly utilized by the
regime to promote Serbian nationalism. The press was
free for a long time; it was more harmless to the regime
than the etheric media as few people could afford to buy
newspapers. In connection with the war in Kosovo, a
repressive media law was introduced in 1998. Many media
were closed or fined and journalists were imprisoned or
even murdered. Independent media played an active role
in Milošević's fall and the regime change in the autumn
of 2000 meant a more open media climate. Many media
changed their feet overnight, but some journalists
maintained an uncritical stance on those in power.
Freedom of expression prevails on the internet, but
some control can still exist.
Judicial system and legal security
The judicial system is formally independent, but the
legal security is still drawn with great flaws. It has
been difficult to rectify the widespread corruption in
the judiciary as well as the ties to the government.
Many judges have reported on external pressure.
Politicians often make judgments about legal issues,
even in current cases or in issues that are investigated
in the media.
Conditions in prisons are poor. Many facilities are
overcrowded and it is common for prosecutors to wait a
long time for trial, because the work in the courts is
In World Justice Project's comparison of the rule of
law in 126 countries, Serbia is ranked by comparable
states in the region (although Kosovo and Montenegro
were not included in the survey).
Post-war after the 1990s war
During the wars of the early 1990s, the United
Nations set up a special war crimes tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague. The
attitude of the court, which was active from 1993 to
2017, was long hostile in Belgrade. However, after
Slobodan Milošević's case, Serbia chose to cooperate
fully with the court, as a result of demands from the EU
and the US (see also Modern History). Milošević was
extradited to The Hague as early as 2001, but died in
2006 before the trial against him ended.
The majority of ICTY's targets concerned the war in
Bosnia, and of the 161 people charged, the majority were
ethnic Serbs. Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadžić and
Ratko Mladić were both arrested in Serbia, 2008 and
2011. Both were taken to The Hague and eventually
sentenced to life imprisonment.
A further number of people were extradited from
Serbia to The Hague, and several were sentenced to
prison while some were acquitted. Milan Milutinović, who
was the president of Serbia from 1997 to 2002,
surrendered himself to the tribunal which accused him of
abuse committed in Kosovo, but he was eventually
acquitted. Former Deputy Prime Minister and founder of
the extremist Nationalist Party SRS Vojislav Šešelj (see
Political system) was detained in The Hague for 13 years
before he was acquitted. A superior to ICTY changed his
sentence in 2018 and sentenced him to ten years in
prison, but found that he had already served the
sentence through his long detention.
It is intended that trials against lower-level war
criminals will be carried out in Serbia, but few
convictions have been sentenced in recent years.
Breakdown in the Kosovo talks
The talks on Kosovo's future rule collapse.
Judge of the Đinđić murder
Twelve people, including members of a special police force, are sentenced for
the 2003 assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić.
Plan for Kosovo
Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari presents a plan for how Kosovo
should be governed with independence as the ultimate goal. The plan is rejected
by the Serbs but welcomed by the Kosovo Albanians.
Election success for the nationalists
In the first parliamentary elections in independent Serbia, the
Ultranationalist Radical Party (SRS) has great success and becomes the largest
single party in the People's Assembly, with 29 percent of the vote. Only in May
can a new government be formed when a series of reform-friendly parties come
together under the leadership of Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica. The
government includes a newly created post as Minister of Kosovo.
Serbia member in NATO program
Serbia is adopted (together with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina) as a
member of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFF) program, although several suspected
war criminals have not yet been arrested.
New Serbian constitution
In a referendum, the Serbs approve a new constitution, declaring Kosovo to be
an insoluble part of Serbia. The vote is boycotted by Kosovo's Albanian
The Serbia-Montenegro Union dissolved
The Union of Serbia-Montenegro then dissolved a majority of Montenegrins in a
referendum the month before saying yes to independence. Soon after Montenegro's
declaration of independence, Serbia also proclaims itself as an independent
state and is allowed to take over the Union's seats in international bodies such
as the UN etc.
Slobodan Milošević is found dead in his cell in The Hague, where he was
charged with the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
The cause of death is determined to be myocardial infarction. Milošević was the
leader of Serbia first and then Yugoslavia between 1987 and 2000.