Serbia quietly marks 10 years since Milosevic was ousted

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Media captionArchive: How Slobodan Milosevic was toppled from power

Serbia's leader has said the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic 10 years ago marked the establishment of the Balkan country's democracy.

Marking the 10th anniversary at a conference in the capital Belgrade, President Boris Tadic said Serbia was closer to joining the European Union.

But commemorations of the event, in which crowds backed by a bulldozer stormed parliament, were muted.

There was little sign of any public gathering in Belgrade.

Both the EU and US sent congratulations, Brussels welcoming Serbia's democratic reforms and economic progress.

The EU would continue to support Serbia on its EU path, in both the political and economic sense, the office of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Ashton was quoted as saying by Serbia's B92 news website.

US Ambassador Mary Warlick said Serbia was "on the road towards integration into European and Western institutions in order to take the place it deserves among other democratic and progressive nations of the world".

"We see the day when Serbia will be a force of stability in the Balkans and the leader of regional co-operation," she said in an article published in the Belgrade daily Politika.

October Revolution

Hundreds of thousands gathered in Belgrade in October 2000 after what was widely believed to be a stolen presidential election, to oust a man who had led his people into wars, diplomatic isolation and economic meltdown, the BBC's Mark Lowen reports from Belgrade.

Image caption Ljubisav Djokic drove the famous bulldozer for the protesters 10 years ago

Mr Milosevic had presided over a disastrous decade, brutally repressing dissenting voices and leading his people into wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo as Yugoslavia collapsed, which provoked harsh economic sanctions from the West.

The crowds called for his resignation and then, spontaneously, they stormed parliament, setting the building ablaze.

The October Revolution, as it became known, forced Mr Milosevic to admit defeat and step down just a few hours later.

Ten years on, Serbia has changed but its development was halted when reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in 2003, our correspondent says.

Political analyst Ivan Vejvoda told the BBC that Serbia's aim of EU membership was now finally moving the country forward.

"I think there's a sense that with the movement towards the European Union, with the calming down of relations in the region, with the constructive approach vis-a-vis Bosnia and Croatia, there's a sense that we're definitely now picking up again," he said.

Slobodan Milosevic died in 2006 while standing trial in The Hague for war crimes.

Ten years on from the October revolution he is etched into the memory of this nation as it tries to move on and show a democratic, European face to the world, our correspondent says.

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