Sunday, June 27, 1999 Published at 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Race to rebuild Balkans hots up
Dozens of bridges were demolished by Nato's bombers
The reconstruction of Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia is provoking rivalry between European countries eager to secure their share of potentially lucrative contracts and build influence in the Balkans.
The Itar-Tass news agency says that Yugoslavia has confirmed an order for Russian equipment worth around $150m to repair its electric power system.
Konstantin Zatulin, aide to Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, said the Moscow government had decided to finance the construction of a new rail-road bridge in Novi Sad, opposition-run Serbian Studio B TV reported.
According to a preliminary estimate by Yugoslav economists, Nato strikes caused damage worth some $29.6bn, not counting damage to military installations, residential areas in Kosovo and the ecological impact.
Pressure for aid
Economist Mladjan Dinkic, quoted by the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug, said Yugoslavia would need immediate financial aid of $1.17bn to help refugees, repair the electricity and heating systems, rebuild homes, repair key bridges and overpasses and launch social welfare programmes.
Up to two years will be needed to rebuild the main road from the Hungarian border to the southern Serbian town of Nis, according to Serbian Chamber of Commerce chairman, Momir Pavlicevic.
At the G8 summit in Cologne this month, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema argued that a way should be found to help the Serbian people "without consolidating a regime which isn't to our liking".
Meanwhile the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) has demanded that German firms get an adequate share in the Balkan reconstruction.
BDI managing director Ludolf von Wartenberg, quoted by the German news agency ddpADN, said Germany had provided one-third of the funds for rebuilding Bosnia-Herzegovina after the war there, but had won no more than 8% of the contracts.
But some of Nato's partners in eastern Europe have complained they are not getting a fair deal in the reconstruction projects, Hungarian radio said in a report on a recent Nato meeting in Budapest.
Hungary's Ambassador to Nato, Andras Simonyi, said he found such criticisms levelled against Nato to be "natural" .
Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov put his country's losses due to the war at more than $150m, but said the real cost was much higher, the Bulgarian news agency BTA reported.
Macedonia, another of the Nato partner states, has also complained about Western policy on reconstruction.
Macedonian Defence Minister Nikola Kljusev says he regrets the European Commission's "last-minute" decision to locate the agency for regional reconstruction in the Kosovo capital Pristina, instead of the Macedonian capital Skopje.
Mr Kljusev, quoted by a Macedonian news agency, said the war against Yugoslavia had cost Macedonia $172m a month.
"It is an insult to offer us credits for the damage we suffered," he said. "We want the damage to be paid for."
BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.