|The Daily Telegraph June 5, 1999
YUGOSLAVIA 'HAS BEEN BOMBED BACK TO 1945'
By Boris Johnson
The Yugoslav economy has been smashed by Nato bombardment
to the kind of primitive conditions that existed at the end of the Second
World War, according to official figures released in Belgrade.
As Tony Blair and other leaders gave warning that the West will
not pay to rebuild the country until Slobodan Milosevic is removed
from power, Serbs say they are facing an economic crisis of
Officials say that there are now 500,000 workers out of jobs, an
unemployment rate of about 27 per cent, with concealed
unemployment at 50 per cent. The elderly have been told that their
pensions will be frozen, and payments are now irregular.
At the latest count, Nato aircraft had destroyed at least 50 bridges,
six trunk roads, and five civilian airports. Belgrade says 20 hospitals,
30 health centres, 190 educational institutions, and 12 railway lines
have been badly damaged.
Yugoslavia's ability to manufacture cars has been entirely
eliminated with the destruction of the Zastava factory in Kragujevac,
which has in turn left 120 contractors facing bankruptcy. While the
Yugo cars produced at Zastava were perhaps unlikely to find an
enormous market in the West, the demolition has fuelled Serb
suspicions that one of the objectives was to open up Yugoslavia to
A month ago the oil giant Petrohemija was one of the pearls of the
Yugoslav economy, its value estimated by Western accountants at
about £600 million. The company's reservoirs are now all but
Yugoslavia's two largest oil refineries, at Pancevo and Novisad,
have been bombed to the ground, in addition to the Yugopetrol
warehouses. The effect has been increasingly to pastoralise the
economy, with agriculture rising from 35 to 50 per cent of the country's
gross domestic product, although farmers are said to be suffering from
popular fears about the poisoning of food.
The price of garlic has fallen to one dinar, from three dinars before
the bombing began, and other vegetables have shown similar
depreciation. The total bill is estimated by Yugoslav economists at
between £30 billion and £60 billion, and Yugoslavia will inevitably try
to claim war damages from Nato.
Some officials are already planning on the basis that they will
receive no such help, and are drawing up "work drives" to rebuild
bridges and roads, similar to the reconstruction which took place after
the Second World War....