Friday, September 23, 2005

Myth: Only Milosevic and Serb nationalists objected to the 1974 constitution and sought change.

FACT: The leaders of the Republic of Serbia had been objecting to the 1974 constitution, and its creation of essentially independent quasi-republics out of Serbian territory, practically since it had been issued. The “Blue Book” prepared by Serbia’s leadership in 1976-7, for example, warned that the 1974 constitution was splitting Serbia into three separate states, that the economic unity of Serbia was being destroyed by the provinces’ uncoordinated and independent economic policies, and that the question would begin to arise as to whether the Serbian people was “on an equal footing with the other peoples of Yugoslavia [and were] exercising their historical right to a national state within the Yugoslav federation”. (http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2005-01-18.htm) The “Blue Book” was suppressed, but Serbian leaders brought up the matter again in the 1980s. Ivan Stambolic, elected leader of the Serbian party in 1984, for example, campaigned for amendments to Serbia’s constitution, which the other republics eventually agreed to in 1986. It was in fact Ivan Stambolic, Milosevic’s immediate predecessor, that set up the Constitutional Commission that formed the amendments that were passed in 1989, and he presided over its first meeting in 1986. (http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2004-12-01.htm)

Objections to Serbia’s status under the 1974 constitution were nothing new, then, and not only had Serbia sought amendments for some time before Milosevic, but the constitutional amendments that were passed in 1989 can actually be directly attributed to Milosevic’s predecessor, Ivan Stambolic. Milosevic therefore cannot be blamed - as he is - for the alleged negative consequences of the 1989 constitutional amendments. The idea that the 1989 amendments to Serbia’s constitution were motivated by nationalism, or that Milosevic was a nationalist for wanting them effected, also no longer makes sense, as Ivan Stambolic and Dragoslav Markovic (who prepared the “Blue Book”), were both prominent liberals (and are still lauded in the West as such), and later opposed Milosevic, even accusing him of nationalism. It was also not just Serbs that saw the necessity of constitutional amendments - see “MYTH: Milosevic passed the constitutional amendments unilaterally, without the agreement of the rest of Yugoslavia".

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