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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Serbia changes national symbols
The Serbian coat-of-arms
Serbia's 'new' coat-of-arms dates back to the Middle Ages
Serbia's parliament has approved a new national emblem and anthem.

It is dropping a five-pointed communist star and restoring a coat-of-arms that was last used in the 19th century.

Serbia's new anthem, Boze Pravde or God of Justice, was sung by pro-democracy protesters who helped oust former President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

Lawmakers in Belgrade voted 183-0 to change the national symbols. Delegates from Mr Milosevic's Socialist Party boycotted the vote.

The socialists described the new anthem as "monarchist", AFP news agency reports.

Mr Milosevic is now standing trial for alleged war crimes at the UN tribunal in The Hague.

The anthems, flags, and emblems of Serbia and Montenegro have become a knot of contention between the two states, which formed a federation after the former Yugoslavia broke up in 1991.

Initial federal integration became a loose union last year.

Double-headed eagle

"These symbols are Serbia's true ones," the Associated Press news agency quoted parliamentary speaker Predrag Markovic as saying.

The coat-of-arms - which dates back to the Middle Ages - features a crown on top of a double-headed white eagle.

The new flag adds this crest to the upper left corner of the red, blue and white tricolour.

Even the colours of the flag of Serbia and Montenegro has been a source of wrangling.

For months the two countries could not decide between Serbia's dark blue and the paler shade of blue on Montenegro's flag.

In July Montenegro's parliament voted to adopt a new flag, national anthem and national day, as part of a push for independence from Serbia.

Serbia and Montenegro failed to approve a joint national anthem in time for this year's Olympic Games.

Timeline: After Milosevic
28 Jun 04  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
05 May 04  |  Country profiles
Ex-Yugoslavs row over flag
21 Apr 03  |  Europe

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