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Page 1

Small arms and security in South Eastern EuropeREPORT

Ian Davis

May 2002

Small arms and light weapons in
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The nature of the problem

Page 2

Small arms and light
weapons in the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia

The nature of the problem

Ian Davis, Saferworld


MAY 2002

Page 47

Production and transfer
of small arms and light

THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA was a major weapons producer during the Cold War.
A combination of a relatively developed arms industry, the high levels of regional and
global demand for arms in the second half of the century and the large profits to be
made encouraged countries in the region to develop domestic arms production.
SALW were ‘given priority’ in production, because of the simple technology required
and the prevailing ‘people’s defence’ doctrine of the VJ. When Cold War tensions eased,
the industries in the area continued to produce for lucrative external markets.231

Before the wars of secession the different republics of Yugoslavia produced many
civilian and military goods jointly. But when tensions first erupted (and prior to the
imposition of sanctions), arms production began to be consolidated in Serbia, foreign
exchange reserves were consolidated in overseas accounts and strategic stockpiling of
materials took place. Countries within the former federation accelerated their produc-
tion of light weapons, either seizing the manufacturing capacities of a former state or
establishing new industries.232

In 1993 the Yugoslav defence industry was rejuvenated as Serbia and Montenegro
sought to reconstruct production lines. The Federal Department of Supply and
Procurement was converted from an army department to a state-owned holding com-
pany, under the brand name Jugoimport SDPR, and regrouped the defence industry
from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. There were also significant develop-
ments within the existing industrial base, particularly in gun barrel production and
aerospace. Priority was given to setting up production lines for battlefield equipment
at five locations in Serbia’s Morava Valley:

Cacak: ammunition; light AAA ordnance; depot-level AFV repairs
Lucani: explosives and ammunition
Trstenik: MBT precision mechanical devices; refurbishment and manufacture of hydraulic systems

for aircraft
Uzice: explosives and ammunition
Valjevo: ammunition.233

231 Op cit Gorjanc.
232 Ibid.
233 Beaver P, ‘Yugoslavian defence industry regrouped and rejuvenated’, Jane’s Defence Weekly, 28 August 1993.

Products and
producers in
the Federal
Republic of

History of arms
production in the

Federal Republic of

Page 48

Eight years on, it is difÞcult to know how much of this reconstructed defence-
industrial base remains. In 1995 Bosnian Serbs were reported to have been supplied
with explosives and ammunition from a Serbian munitions factory in the town of
Kragujevac.234 However, despite a number of clear violations of the military embargo
and sanctions on FRY,235 the sanction regime is thought to have succeeded in
damaging arms production capacity. In 1998, the FRY high technology arms industry
was described as ÔcrippledÕ, although it was suggested that the capacity to produce
weaponry appropriate for guerrilla warfare remained.236 SerbiaÕs appeal to Russia in
late 1997 for new tanks, missiles, helicopters and MiG 29 jet Þghters conÞrmed its lack
of large-scale domestic industrial capacity.237

Publicly available information on the current state of the FRY defence industry is
extremely sparse. We were grateful to the Serbian authorities for the opportunity to
meet representatives of Jugoimport SDPR and to visit two small arms production
facilities at Kragujevac and Uzice.

Serbian ofÞcials conÞrmed that defence production and exports had collapsed during
the last decade as a result of the sanctions, and that future military markets did not
look promising. Modernisation of defence production facilities was planned during
the 1980s, but as international events prevented this, Serbian defence production now
lacks the competitive and technological edge of West European arms manufacturing.
Despite each factory having its own R&D facilities, the loss of key personnel and
expertise during this period also seriously eroded SerbiaÕs ability to produce high
technology weapons. Low and middle technology weapons and spare parts appear to
represent SerbiaÕs best opportunities for breaking into new export markets. There is
a domestic Serb jet fuel production capacity at NLS RaÞnerija at Novi Sad, while the
LOLA centre trains staff to manufacture parts, including aircraft parts, and tele-
communications equipment.238

Despite serious damage during the NATO raids, we were told that all military-related
factories were functioning. The government had to make them work as part of the war
effort, and all resources during the conßict were concentrated on military production.
One interviewee told us that:ÒOnly when there is peace can you rebuild and switch to
civilian productionÓ.

Nonetheless, several government conversion programmes were introduced during this
period. Within Jugoimport SDPR seven new Ôdaughter companiesÕwere established,
largely for food production and clothing (with a special licence permitting the
company to sell the products within the domestic market Ð previously it had been
allowed only to export/import mainly defence-related goods). Of the 600 people
currently working in Jugoimport, 400 are now working on civil projects within the
daughter companies. Food production is seen as the key product for Jugoimport,
accounting for 50 percent of the company outputs. (Finding export markets for the
food was said to be problematic because of the perceived risk of contamination by
depleted uranium shells used by NATO). Other aspects of the conversion programmes
were less successful, due to a lack of resources for retooling or converting plants and
the limited availability of government funding. One plant transferred to producing
agricultural machinery and another to the production of surgical tables.

Until 1991 defence-related companies were in a very strong position. In addition to


234 ‘Documentary claims Serbia provided arms for Srebrenica massacre’, Reuters,, 29 May 1996.
235 Having obtained evidence that the arms embargo was being breached, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 740, of

February 1992 which expressed the Council’s concern that the embargo was not being observed. Resolution 787 of
16 November 1992 voiced the same concerns. In its second report to the Security Council the sanctions committee noted
46 reported violations of the sanctions of which two were established as having occurred.

236 ‘UN imposes arms embargo’, Reuters,, 1 April 1998.
237 Peric-Zimonjic V, ‘Serb police in tanks unmoved by UN embargo’, World News, Inter Press Service,,

8 April 1998.
238 FRY Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs website,

Small arms and light
weapons production in

Serbia today

Page 93

Section 10 Scope

The present regulation shall not apply to:

(a) Weapons used by KFOR, authorised United Nations security ofÞcers, UNMIK Police, the Kosovo
Police Service, the Kosovo Correction Service or legal persons who are international security
services providers registered and licensed pursuant to UNMIK Regulation No. 2000/33; or

(b) KFOR authorised weapons, except as provided under sections 7 and 8 above.

Section 11 Hunting and Recreational Weapons

Provisions on the possession of hunting and recreational weapons, as referred to in Schedule A
annexed to the present regulation, shall be set out in a separate administrative direction.

Section 12 Applicable Law

The present regulation shall supersede any provision in the applicable law which is inconsistent
with it.

Section 13 Entry into Force

The present regulation shall enter into force on 4 June 2001.

Hans Haekkerup
Special Representative of the Secretary-General


Page 94

This report was written by Ian Davis, Director of British American

Security Information Council, who undertook the research visits

when he was Arms and Security Programme Manager at Saferworld.

It is being published as part of Saferworld’s project on small arms and

security in South Eastern Europe.

Saferworld is an independent foreign affairs think tank, based in

London, UK, working to identify, develop and publicise more effective

approaches to tackling and preventing armed conflicts.

COVER PHOTO: German KFOR soldiers confiscate weapons from a Kosovo

police station, including AK-47 rifles, mortar shells, and nail-studded sticks.

46 Grosvenor Gardens
London SW1W 0EB

Phone: (+44) 20 7881 9290
Fax: (+44) 20 7881 9291

Email: [email protected]

ISBN 0 948546 88 3

Cover photo: David Guttenfelder/AP Photo

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