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The Demise of Yugoslavia: A Political Memoir

Stipe Mesić
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    The Demise of Yugoslavia
    Book Description:

    A political memoir by Stipe Mesic, the last president of the former Yugoslav Federation, and key witness to the chain of events that would send the Balkan empire toppling, aided by notable figures like Slobodan Miloševic.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-87-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. 1-18)

    I was not only a witness, but a participant in the process of dissociation from twice-created Yugoslavia, once known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (“Three tribes of the same people”). It later became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and then the Democratic Federate Yugoslavia and eventually the Federate People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. At its end, it was known as the Socialist Federate Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).¹

    I present in this book excerpts from my personal diaries from the time when I was, as far as I was allowed to be, the president of the collective head of the...

  4. The Headless State May 15–June 27, 1991
    (pp. 19-56)

    At midnight on May 15, 1991, I was to assume the position as president of the SFRY Presidency, taking over for Jović. Days before the naming, newspapers were filled with speculation. Notably, there were no “whens,” but rather “ifs.” My friends and many acquaintances, of which I have a fair number in Belgrade, believed the “ifs” were senseless, since entrance to the cabinet was determined by the Rules of Procedure and followed the 1974 Constitution. Following this process, thirteen people from all six republics and two autonomous regions had served their turns before me.

    There had been no reason for...

  5. Sovereign, Independent Croatia May 28–June 30, 1991
    (pp. 57-92)

    It was two men with the first name Jacques that brought me to Belgrade on May 29, 1991. The first was Jacques Santer, Luxembourg’s president and current EC president. The second was Jacques Delors, the chair of the EC’s Executive Commission. I had initially refused to travel to Belgrade, denying coordinator Bajramoviè’s right to call Presidency sessions upon Jović’s orders. My reasoning was: “When it comes to Jovié, it is inevitably a fraud and I am not going to a meeting. Those who blocked the Presidency can now de-block it,” I said.

    But because of the Jacques, I made the...

  6. Belated Election of the Constitutional President July 1–4, 1991
    (pp. 93-124)

    The European trio—Jacques Poos, Gianni De Michelis, and Hans van den Broek, arrived in Belgrade once again. They came by two airplanes on the evening of June 30 to oversee what we had not been able to do ourselves, although we had promised it days earlier—the establishment of the Presidency of SFRY. More than one hundred journalists stood before the Belgrade Hall.

    Drnovšek did not come, but had sent a written message clearly supporting Mesić as president and B. Kostić as vice-president. “There is war in Slovenia, it is impossible to leave Ljubljana,” he wrote. Marković was also in...

  7. The Joint Brioni Declaration July 5–12, 1991
    (pp. 125-168)

    I was continuously in contact with Zagreb, and with acquaintances and governments from other towns across Croatia, but I was growing more concerned. My anxiety was increased by a letter from Croatian Prime Minister Josip Manolić to the Presidency, regarding the “threatening amassing of units at Croatian borders.”

    Correctly, Manolić assessed that the Army, “compromised both ethically and professionally” at home and abroad, could not give up its “role of the dominant subject in the resolution of the Yugoslavian political crisis.” In Croatia, not only was the Army not retreating to the barracks, but was instead gathering in crisis areas....

  8. Futile Cries for Peace July 13–August 6, 1991
    (pp. 169-222)

    I scheduled the 126th Presidency session in Veliki Brijun. That way we insured the presence of the gentlemen from Ljubljana—Kućan, and Drnovšek. At my demand, SFRY Presidency Secretary General Stari told members we should gather at the Neptun Hotel on July 16. B. Kostić, as if there had been no agreement, immediately requested that we meet the republic presidents in Ohrid. But Tuđman and Kućan refused to go to Ohrid and would only meet in Brijuni. I informed Stari and asked him for confirmation that this be repeated to everyone who was invited.

    When I arrived to Veliki Brijun...

  9. Serbia Angry at the World August 7–22, 1991
    (pp. 223-256)

    In its increasing isolation from the international community, Serbia had no choice but to accept the decisions on cease-fire and armistice, as the Army formally did even though they were never adhered to. The same happened with decisions made on August 6. The Army could no longer hide its participation in military actions with various groups of terrorist rebels and Serbian Chetniks. The destructive force of such attacks was increasing, with such targets as Osijek, Vinkovci, and Saborsko, as well as Ćeminac and Topusko in Banija. The YPA spearheaded units to block the island of Solta. Zadar and the surrounding...

  10. EC Declaration: Serbia and YPA as Aggressors August 23–September 2, 1991
    (pp. 257-292)

    The Presidency’s decisions on August 20–21 were well received by the world, but many of our ambassadors in Europe—as we heard from SFRY’s Ambassador to Germany, Boris Frlec—were informed that “it was not so much the decisions as their implementation, considering past experiences and different interpretations of the decisions by each republic.”

    In Germany, Michael von Studnitz, who headed the East Department inside Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Police Direction told us: “We could not understand how Yugoslavia does not perceive the economic disaster toward whish ... the country is headed. Milošević’s sentence on the fact that Serbs...

  11. Peace Conference at The Hague September 3–7, 1991
    (pp. 293-320)

    The basic facts outlined in the Cease-fire Agreement had little or no bearing on the violence that continued to rage in Crotia. Written into Cease-fire Agreement was the “cessation of all use of force, all armed formations and all persons bearing arms shall immediately and unconditionally restrain from all activities that may lead to armed conflicts.” But the fronts still thundered on September 1–2, and the days that followed.

    Gospić was continuously attacked from Lički Osik, Divoselo, and Ostrivice. On the day when the Cease-fire Agreement came into power, Gospic was showered by 120 Army mortars, 82 mm in size....

  12. Army out of Control September 8–22, 1991
    (pp. 321-352)

    I returned from The Hague believing we had made strong stride toward an internationally recognized sovereign, and independent Croatia. At the same time, Serbia, with its “Army of brotherhood and unity” made an even more visible step in fanning the flames of war. I found my desk overflowing with reports on the increase of aggression. Repeated attacks at the industrial zone of Sisak had occurred; mortars were destroying Novska, Gradiška, Gospić, and Otočac; fresh troops mobilized by force—part of the Banja Luka Corps—had gathered on the Okučani battlefield.

    There was no word on implementation of the Cease-fire Agreement...

  13. A Criminal Army Loses Its State September 23–October 10, 1991
    (pp. 353-368)

    Internationally speaking, things were moving slowly but visible. Although my letter to the UN Security Council lacked unity with the entire SFRY Presidency, and was thus considered unofficial, it did prompt the Security Council to hold a meeting September 25. When the session was announced, alongside the possibility of a UN resolution on Yugoslavia, I decided, “in my role as the president of the SFRY Presidency, and on behalf of the nations and citizens in Yugoslavia,” to address UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar. In my note to him, I did not hide the fact that I was writing of...

  14. Dubrovnik: An Estuary of Conscience October 11–November 3, 1991
    (pp. 369-396)

    The second Hague cease-fire agreement, which had been accepted by Milosević and Kadijević, as well as Tuđman, (“There’s nothing we are not prepared to do, personally, to stop the war, the destruction and the killing of women and children as soon as possible.”) was later denied by both men from Belgrade.

    Milošević and Kadijević said they had not signed anything, and if there had been talk of the Army’s withdrawal from Croatia, “there had been no mention of leaving the areas in which Serbs live.” The Army would, instead “remain where the Army is wanted, and it’s wanted in the...

  15. Ravaged Yugoslavia Formally Disappears November 4–December 5, 1991
    (pp. 397-418)

    I was beyond shaken and distributed by the destruction of Croatian cities particularly Dubrovnik, and tired of waiting for the world to do something that would give us respite from the nightmare. I returned to Zagreb and was forced to huddle in basements, horrified by the threatening whistles of sirens. In the cabinet, my loyal secretary, Meri, her beautiful eyes dry of tears, silently prayed for her Vukovar, and, while giving me the mail, indicated a letter from Lord Carrington with much hope: he was announcing a plenary session of the conference on Yugoslavia for November 5. He wrote that...

  16. Chronology of Events
    (pp. 419-422)