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Witness 2000: review of the year Jacky Rowland
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Jacky Rowland on seeing Slobodan Milosevic fall from power
Milosevic
October
In this month:
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited North Korea. Israeli-Palestinian violence worsened. Suicide bombers attacked a US navy destroyer in Yemen, killing 17.
Ivory Coastís President Roberl Guei was ousted in favour of Laurent Gbagbo.
In the UK, the Human Rights Act came into force, the widest reform of the legal landscape in centuries.
Four people died when a train derailed north of London. The accident prompted a crisis of confidence in the British rail network.
The British Navy had a crisis of its own when its Hunter Killer nuclear submarines, backbone of the fleet, were recalled amid safety fears.
No such problems in space where the first full-time crew arrived to man the International Space Station.
In business, the world's top tobacco companies publicly conceded that cigarettes are addictive and deadly. Another dotcom became a dotgone when European CD retailer Boxman collapsed.
Mobile phone company Vodafone got a toehold in China with a mobile phone deal. China also won permanent access to US markets, a step closer to entering the World Trade Organisation.
The footballing world saw the end of Wembley Stadium - and Kevin Keegan, the England coach.
He dramatically quit following the teamís 1-0 loss at their final game at Wembley against Germany. Authorities controversially chose a Swede, Sven-Goran Eriksson as his successor.
After the triumph of the Olympics, the Sydney Paralympics were considered just as successful.
The Pope reassured politicians that divine inspiration was not at hand - he named St Thomas More as their patron saint.
Gao Xingjian became the first Chinese novelist to win the Nobel prize for Literature. Donald Dewar, the first leader of Scotland's newly re-established parliament, died in office, aged 63.
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Fall of a dictator
Milosevic's fall was sudden and swift - and surprised Yugoslavia. BBC Belgrade correspondent Jacky Rowland witnessed it all happen.

Read the transcript

It has been a momentous year here in Belgrade.

Who could have predicted 12 months ago the kind of events that we would witness here outside the Yugoslav Federal Parliament building back in October.

On that momentous day, 5 October, I was here in this very park opposite the parliament building - and I was watching along with tens of thousands of other people as the parliament building behind me here was in flames.

There was smoke coming out of the parliament building and protesters storming the parliament.

Hundreds of thousands of people were rising up against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.

At the time, in this park, I was struggling to cope with the teargas that was coming out of canisters in clouds of smoke all around me.

At the same time, I was struggling to believe that this was really happening. I had been aware for some time that the people of Serbia were desperate for political change, but really they seemed to be too tired, defeated and apathetic to actually do anything it.

But of course on that day back in October we were all proved wrong.

Now there is a certain amount of revisionism about what exactly happened.

Was it a revolution, was it an uprising, was it a coup?

Some people are suggesting now that it was more a coup than a revolution because it would appear that there was a certain amount of co-ordination between opposition politicians and the top levels of the Serbian police force.

But call it what you will, I think it was clear to anyone who watched those television pictures that were flashed all over the world back in October, that what happened here, the uprising that happened here, really did express the will of the vast majority of people here in Serbia.

Obviously the question now is what the future holds?

What the future holds for the new leadership of Vojislav Kostunica and what indeed the future holds for the former President, Slobodan Milosevic?

Many people here, certainly young people, could only remember a time when Mr Milosevic was in charge, when he was holding the reins of state, and it is quite difficult for the them now to contemplate a future without him.

There is a lot of discussion about whether Mr Milosevic should be brought to book.

It now seems likely that in the coming months and coming year, he may stand some kind of a trial here in Serbia.

But the whole question of war crimes will obviously be a much more thorny issue.

The international community is pressuring Belgrade to hand Mr Milosevic to face accusations of war crimes committed in Kosovo, maybe even crimes dating back to Bosnia.

I think it could be quite hard politically for the new authorities in Serbia to be seen to be handing over a Serb - a prominent former leader - to the international community.

What of the political situation here in Serbia over the next year?

We have parliamentary elections, elections expected to reaffirm the position of the Serbian Opposition.

They still call themselves the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, it is quite confusing, but we are going to see a coming year where they are really confirmed in power, not only at the Federal Yugoslav level, but also at the Serbian Republic level.

We have a position now where the opposition is in power and there is no real opposition.

But of course this alliance, that led the people to rise up against Mr Milosevic, was made up of a disparate group of 18 parties.

However, I won't be here to witness that, I am leaving the Balkans, I have been here for four years, it has been a momentous and eventful four years.

I have grown very attached to the country, very attached to the people of Serbia, but I am leaving to go to Moscow and of course I will be looking from afar with interest to see what the future holds for Belgrade, Serbia, the Serbian people and indeed for the other peoples in the Balkans.