1941-08-20 to 2006-03-11
Serbia - Montenegro - Kosovo - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Croatia - NetherlandsSlobodan Milošević was a Yugoslav and Serbian politician who served as the President of Serbia (originally the Socialist Republic of Serbia, a constituent republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) from 1989 to 1997 and President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. He led the Socialist Party of Serbia from its foundation in 1990 and rose to power as Serbian President during efforts to reform the 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia in response to the marginalization of Serbia and its political incapacity to deter Albanian separatist unrest in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
In the late 1980s, Milošević allowed the mobilization of Serb nationalist organizations to go unhindered by actions from the Serbian government, with Chetniks holding demonstrations, and the Serbian government embracing the Serbian Orthodox Church and restored its legitimacy in Serbia.
Milošević emerged in 1987 as a force in Serbian politics after he declared support for Serbs in the Serbian autonomous province of Kosovo, who claimed they were being oppressed by the provincial government which was dominated by Kosovo's major ethnic group, ethnic Albanians.
As animosity between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo deepened during the 1980s, Milošević was sent to address a crowd of Serbs at the historic Kosovo field on 24 April 1987. While Milošević was talking to the leadership inside the local cultural hall, demonstrators outside clashed with the local Kosovo-Albanian police force.
In August 1988, meetings by supporters of the Anti-Bureaucratic Revolution were held in many locations in Serbia and Montenegro, with increasingly violent nature, with calls being heard such as "Give us arms!", "We want weapons!", "Long live Serbia—death to Albanians!", and "Montenegro is Serbia!".
In Vojvodina, where 54 percent of the population was Serb, an estimated 100,000 demonstrators rallied outside the Communist Party headquarters in Novi Sad on 6 October 1988 to demand the resignation of the provincial leadership.
By 1989, Milošević and his supporters controlled Central Serbia along with the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, supporters in the leadership of Montenegro, and agents of the Serbian security service were pursuing efforts to destabilize the government in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
On 10 January 1989, the anti-bureaucratic revolution continued in Montenegro, which had the lowest average monthly wage in Yugoslavia, an unemployment rate of nearly 25 percent, and where one-fifth of the population lived below the poverty line. 50,000 demonstrators gathered in the Montenegrin capital of Titograd (now Podgorica) to protest the republic's economic situation and to demand the resignation of its leadership.
In 1990, after other republics abandoned the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and adopted democratic multiparty systems, Milošević's government quickly followed suit and the 1990 Serbian Constitution was created. The 1990 Constitution officially renamed the Socialist Republic of Serbia to the Republic of Serbia and abandoned the one-party communist system and created a democratic multiparty system.
Milošević's government exercised influence and censorship in the media. An example was in March 1991, when Serbia's Public Prosecutor ordered a 36-hour blackout of two independent media stations, B92 Radio and Studio B television to prevent the broadcast of a demonstration against the Serbian government taking place in Belgrade. The two media stations appealed to the Public Prosecutor against the ban but the Public Prosecutor failed to respond.
According to testimony by Krajina's former President Milan Babić, Milošević had abandoned plans of having "all Serbs in one state" by March 1991 in the secret Karađorđevo agreement with Croatian President Franjo Tuđman that discussed the partition of Bosnia.
Upon the Republic of Macedonia seceding in 1991, the FRY government declared Macedonia an "artificial nation" and it allied with Greece against the country, even suggesting a partition of the Republic of Macedonia between the FRY and Greece.
Milošević denounced the declaration of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Yugoslavia in 1992, and said that "Bosnia and Herzegovina was illegally proclaimed as an independent state and recognized.
Under heavy economic sanctions from the United Nations due to Milošević's perceived role in the Yugoslav wars, Serbia's economy began a prolonged period of economic collapse and isolation. The National Bank of FR Yugoslavia's war-related easy money policies contributed to hyperinflation which reached an alarming rate of 313 million percent in January 1994.
According to the World Bank, Serbia's economy contracted by 27.2 and 30.5 percent in 1992 and 1993 respectively. In response to the deteriorating situation, World Bank economist Dragoslav Avramović was nominated the governor of the National Bank of the FR Yugoslavia in March 1994.
In the wake of the Albanian boycott, supporters of Slobodan Milošević were elected to positions of authority by the remaining Serbian voters in Kosovo. The boycott soon included education on Albanian language in Kosovo which Milošević attempted to resolve by signing the Milošević-Rugova education agreement in 1996.
On 23 July 1997, Milošević assumed the presidency of the Federation (The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), though it had been understood he had held the real power for some time before then.
Milošević denies that he gave orders to massacre Albanians in 1998. He claims that the deaths were sporadic events confined to rural areas of West Kosovo committed by paramilitaries and by rebels in the armed forces. Those from the Serbian army or police who were involved were all, he claims, arrested and many were sentenced to long prison sentences.
Serbian police and military counter-action against the pro-Albanian separatist Kosovo Liberation Army in Serbia's previously autonomous province of Kosovo culminated in escalating armed conflict in 1998 and NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia between March and June 1999, ending in full withdrawal of Yugoslav security forces from the province and deployment of international civil and security forces.
Milošević was indicted on 24 May 1999 for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo, and he was standing trial, up until his death, at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He asserted that the trial was illegal, having been established in contravention of the UN Charter.
Ironically, Milošević lost his grip on power by losing in elections he scheduled prematurely (that is, before the end of his mandate) and that he did not even need to win in order to retain power, which was centered in the parliaments that his party and its associates controlled. In the five-man presidential race held on 24 September 2000, Milošević was defeated in the first round by opposition leader Vojislav Koštunica, who won slightly more than 50% of the vote.
Milošević initially refused to acquiesce, claiming that no one had won a majority. The Yugoslav constitution called for a runoff between the top two candidates in the event that no candidate won more than 50% of the vote. Official results put Koštunica ahead of Milošević but at under 50 percent. The internationally financed CeSID claimed otherwise, though its story changed throughout the two weeks between 24 September and 5 October. This led to mass demonstrations in Belgrade on 5 October, known as the Bulldozer Revolution.
Milošević was forced to accept this when VJ commanders he had expected to support him had indicated that in this instance they would not, and would permit the violent overthrow of the Serbian government. On 6 October, Milošević met with Koštunica and publicly accepted defeat.
Milošević was arrested by Yugoslav authorities on 1 April 2001, following a 36-hour armed standoff between police and Milošević's bodyguards at his Belgrade villa. Although no official charges were made, Milošević was suspected of abuse of power and corruption.
Following Milošević's arrest, the United States pressured the Yugoslav government to extradite Milošević to the ICTY or lose financial aid from the IMF and World Bank. On 28 June, Milošević was flown by helicopter from Belgrade to a U.S. air base in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina and from where he was then flown to The Hague, Netherlands.
Following Milošević's transfer, the original charges of war crimes in Kosovo were upgraded by adding charges of genocide in Bosnia and war crimes in Croatia. On 30 January 2002, Milošević accused the war crimes tribunal of an "evil and hostile attack" against him.
In June 2006, the Supreme Court of Serbia ruled that Milošević had ordered the murder of Stambolić, accepting the previous ruling of the Special Court for Organized Crime in Belgrade, which targeted Milošević as the main abettor of politically motivated murders in the 1990s.
In February 2007, the International Court of Justice cleared Serbia under Milošević's rule of direct responsibility for occurrences of crime committed during the Bosnian War. The president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), however, did state that it was "'conclusively proved' that the Serbian leadership, and Milošević in particular, 'were fully aware ... that massacres were likely to occur'".