- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
During the 1990s, Serbia invested heavily in its military at the expense of other industries. At war with its neighbours, the country pumped money into looking after weapons, vehicles, barracks and bases.
Thirteen years have now passed since Serbia’s soldiers fought their last battle. The army is no longer an aggressive force; its generals no longer make threats.
All that remains are statements of regret, a faltering economy and a network of crumbling assets that the military cannot afford to maintain.
Many defence buildings – and the land on which they stand – are now being lined up for sale. The state hopes that the money it raises can help meet a pressing obligation to provide housing for some 14,000 employees of the armed forces.
The government revealed its plans for selling off military property in February 2006. It announced that the value of each sale would be set by the tax office, while the entire process would be supervised by the central property directorate. Bids from local municipalities would be given priority.
In practise however, most municipalities could not afford to take over property which had been valued at market prices. As a result, some of the military’s abandoned warehouses and barracks have ended up with private investors.
Colonel Alexander Ilic, a defence ministry official who is overseeing the disposal of surplus military assets, said the implementation of the plan had been “perfect”. So far, he said, the sale had netted €10 million and had enabled the acquisition of some 350 apartments for employees.
However, new owners have only been found for 60 of the 470 properties that have been placed on the market since 2006.
While the military seems pleased with the progress, it is unclear who is currently responsible for the hundreds of assets that have yet to be sold.
They risk falling into further disrepair as they wait for new owners. If their value also falls, could the once-prized assets of the armed forces eventually become worthless?
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.