In the mid-1990s, Slobodan Milošević was considered a guarantee of peace in the Balkans in the West. However, electoral manipulations and the Kosovo conflict have undermined its authority in the western half of the world. And economic hardships and lost wars eroded its domestic popularity. Finally, on October 5, 2000, today, twenty years ago, he was swept away by a coalition called the Serbian Democratic Opposition. In his last years, the heart of a politician referred to only by the nicknames “Balkan butcher” and “political pyromaniac” canceled his service in 2006 in his cell in The Hague.
Milošević unexpectedly stepped out of the gray mass of communist party functionaries in Yugoslavia after Tito’s death (1980) and then became a dominant politician not only in Serbia and Yugoslavia, but throughout the Balkans. In the mid-1980s, we witnessed a renaissance of Serbian ethnonationalism, and the people of Karagyorgyevich felt that despite their previous war heroes, they were treated as pariahs in many parts of Yugoslavia, from the Krajinas in Croatia to Kosovo. It was in this atmosphere that an event exploded in the news when a Belgrade politician on a routine visit to Rigomezda took down the police against the protesting local Serbs hard in front of the cameras and turned to the nationalists throwing stones at the words that later became legendary:
It suddenly came drunk with popularity Milosevic aggressively broke into power, kicking up all the rules of the game of the post-World War II Yugoslav political system. With his unscrupulousness he paralyzed his opponents for a long time; it was almost unbelievable that one would so shamelessly ignore all the elements of equilibrium that the Titos had devised after World War II to make this ethnically diverse state stable. With this, they gained international fame and respect for the socialist country in the Balkans, one half of which had climbed under the Turkish yoke barely a hundred years ago.
Milošević first defamed his former political mentor, Ivan Stambolić, in the fall of 1987, who was assassinated 13 years later, in the summer of 2000, by one of the intelligence brigade’s execution brigades. He overthrew the communist leadership in Montenegro, Vojvodina and Kosovo with street protests to bring his own supporters to power, winning half of the votes in the Yugoslav collective state presidency.
His political trademark was to proclaim fictitious mini-revolutions, either personally or through his minions: there was an “anti-bureaucratic revolution” against anti-nationalists, a “yoghurt revolution” referring to the street protesters ’method, and a“ log revolution ”when Serbs in Krajina part of the territory of a Member State.
The crippling astonishment first turned into anger in the Slovenian and Croatian member republics, igniting nationalist sentiments there. Muslim Bosnians and Orthodox Macedonians basically supported Yugoslavia, but Milosevic seeing his amok run, at one point they also tried to escape screaming. The seemingly stable Yugoslavia of the 1980s fell to its atoms by 1992, in the eyes of the shocked international community. Slowly, previously supportive Western leaders and diplomats also turned away from the politician elected Serbian president in 1989. In June 1991, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker took off from his plane in Belgrade with a mandate to make a final attempt to unite Yugoslavia (already in the arms of Milosevic). Barely a year later, sanctions for armed aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were already voted against Belgrade at the UN, and at the end of 1992 a “Christmas message” from the outgoing Bush administration was sent through diplomacy threatening military intervention. Milosevicet in the event of an outbreak of armed conflict in Kosovo after Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia.
Slobo, as many have nicknamed him, had a reputation for being a brilliant tactical and cunning negotiator, but as a strategist he proved to be really clumsy. As early as the 1990s, many felt that their policies could only lead to disaster. One of the main culprits in the break-up of Yugoslavia, the bloody ethnic wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and, last but not least, the severe impoverishment of Serbia, was seen by contemporary political analysts, although there is no doubt: and with tremendous power.
Slobo’s political career had dizzying highs and dramatic ups and downs. If the Balkans ever have a Shakespeare, Milošević will certainly be the protagonist of one of his works, because his deeds and fate Macbeth and III. Richard is quoted, the number of victims of the Yugoslav saga is no less than that of the war of the English Roses, and the fall of the negative protagonist is sufficiently theatrical and tragic.
At one of the climaxes of his power Milosevic he gave a speech in front of nearly a million people in Rigómező, on the 600th anniversary of the Battle of 1389. Even in the headwind of the Western world, he spectacularly won the Serbian presidential election against a millionaire from America, Milan Panic, in 1992. In the 1990s, the leaders of the Serbian democratic and nationalist opposition played it against each other countless times, ridiculed it, raised it up or threw it away in accordance with its current interests, and for a long time seemed simply invincible. For some time before the break-up of Yugoslavia (1992) and the Dayton Peace Accords, Western diplomats sought its favor because they saw it first as a guarantee of Yugoslav unity and then peace in the Balkans.
However, in countries plagued by brutal war, it soon became a symbolic object of hatred, first among the enemies of the Serbs and then among the Serbs. When the Croatian operations of Lightning and Storm in 1995 swept out the Serbs in Krajina, Milosevic spectacularly left them alone. The Dayton Peace Accords were perceived as treason by some Bosnian Serbs, as Milosevic signed that they could not be part of the Serbian mainland.
However, the occupation of the territories beyond the Drina has been a fundamental goal of Serbian nationalism since the middle of the 19th century: it costs what it costs, even with the Monarchy. The 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, followed by the Serbian military withdrawal from Kosovo in the summer of 1999, which the Belgrade propaganda machine tried to see as a victory with tragicomic effort, and the bitter exodus of Kosovo Serb civilians from their homeland were all part of Milošević’s self-sufficiency.
This was followed by domestic political slaps. The years in power have worn a lot with his once good reflexes and intuitions: in the summer of 2000, he called out early elections completely unnecessarily, as he was convinced that he could not have an opponent in the fight for the presidency of the then former Yugoslavia (Federation of Montenegro and Serbia). Then it didn’t happen that way; the Serbian opposition eventually found in the person of Vojislav Koštunica, a nationalist with an impeccable past, who was able to defeat Milošević in the elections. Of course, by this time Slobo’s nimbus, which had been much worn out, had been defeated in the war, impoverished by sanctions and shattered by organized crime.
Political assassinations and mafia accounts alternated on a weekly basis: Arkan, the uncrowned king of the Serbian underworld at the time, whose paramilitary units, the Arkan Tigers, carried out so many brutal massacres in the villages of Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in the 1990s; but a defense minister and a deputy interior minister were also killed in Belgrade during these times – just a few examples of a long list of 200-300 assassinations.