Friday, September 23, 2005

Myth: Milosevic controlled a "Serb bloc" on the Yugoslav Presidency, which he aimed to use to dominate Yugoslavia.

MYTH (in full): Despite abolishing the autonomy of the (previously) autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, Milosevic kept their places on the Presidency of Yugoslavia in order to create a “Serbian bloc” of votes that he controlled, with which to dominate Yugoslavia.

FACT: As already explained, the autonomy of neither Kosovo nor Vojvodina was abolished by the 1989 constitutional amendments. It was therefore perfectly natural that they keep their own independent federal representatives, which the Federal Constitution said that they should have. The representatives of Kosovo and Vojvodina continued to be elected by the Kosovo and Vojovodina assemblies respectively, and were not appointed by Milosevic, who had no control over who they were or what they did.

Kosovo’s representative on the Presidency, for example, continued to be Sinan Hasani (who had previously been President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia) for a few months, and then in May 1989 the Kosovo Assembly elected a new representative, Riza Sapundzija (another ethnic Albanian), ( the highest ranking Kosovo economist. ( Riza Sapundzija answered to the Kosovo Assembly, not Milosevic, and the same applied to Vojvodina’s representative. The representative of Vojvodina was certainly a Serb, as the majority of Vojvodina’s population was Serbian, but it is an absolutely racist assumption to assume that as a Serb he must have been a puppet of Milosevic. Vojvodina’s rulers and representatives throughout the 1980s had been Serbs, but had opposed the constitutional change that Milosevic had supported whereas many prominent Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians, and others had supported them, and in 1990-1 Bosnia’s representative to the Yugoslav Presidency, Bogic Bogicevic, was also a Serb, but, like all representatives, he obeyed the government that chose him, not the President of Serbia.

Montenegro’s representative on the Presidency, Nenad Bucin (until March 1991), is also alleged to have been part of this “Serbian bloc” controlled by Milosevic, again with no validity. Nenad Bucin was a liberal reformer who advocated participation in government by non-communists, and had been democratically elected to his position by a referendum of the Montenegrin populace in 1989. ( He answered to the Montenegrin Assembly and government, and how exactly Milosevic could have “controlled” him is beyond me. That Montenegro often had similar positions to Serbia is hardly surprising, given their shared support for the preservation of Yugoslavia, and does not make them puppets of Milosevic, any more than the Macedonian government was a puppet of Milosevic when it made a joint statement with Serbia in July 1990 declaring support for the preservation of federal Yugoslavia. (Balkan Tragedy, p.447, note 29)

The claim of Milosevic’s detractors that he created and controlled a “Serbian bloc” on the Yugoslav Presidency, and Croatia, Slovenia and the others had to secede to escape domination by this “Serbian bloc”, is therefore without any basis. Serbia had just one representative on the Presidency of Yugoslavia, out of a total of eight, and could not have dominated Yugoslavia even if it had wanted to.


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