Slobodan Milošević (20 August 1941, Požarevac, Kingdom of Yugoslavs – 11 March 2006, The Hague, Netherlands) was President of Serbia and of Yugoslavia. He served as the President of Socialist Republic of Serbia and Federal Serbia from 1989 until 1997 and as President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. He also led the Socialist Party of Serbia from its foundation in 1990.
- Nobody shall beat you.
- Remark to Serbs in Kosovo Polje (24 April 1987), as recalled by bystander Mitar Balevic at the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal
- Borders are always dictated by the strong, never by the weak.… We simply consider it as a legitimate right and interest of the Serb nation to live in one state. This is the beginning and the end.… If we have to fight, by God we are going to fight. I hope that they will not be so crazy as to fight against us. If we do not know how to work properly or run an economy, at least we know how to fight properly.
- Remarks at a meeting with Serb leaders (16 March 1991), as quoted in Doder and Branson (1999) Milosevic: Portrait of a Tyrant
- I tell you, Izetbegović has earned Sarajevo by not abandoning it. He's one tough guy. It's his.
- Remark at the Dayton Conference (November 1995), quoted in Richard Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 291
Kosovo Polje Speech (24 April 1987)
Remarks as entered into the record during the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal:
- This is your country. These are your houses. These are your cultivated fields and gardens, and your memories lie here. You are not going to leave your country, are you, just because you live hard there or because you have been weighed down by the injustices and humiliation? It has never been typical of the Serbian and Montenegrin people to yield before obstacles and to become demoralized when facing a problem, when coming upon hard times.
- I do not suggest to you, Comrades, that in staying you put up with the suffering and the situation that you're not satisfied with. Quite the contrary. You must change the situation together with all other progressive people here in Serbia and Yugoslavia.… We in Serbia and everybody else in Yugoslavia will strive to change the situation.
- If we legalised this state of lawlessness, then all those who are exposed to lawlessness are endangered. Today it is the Serbs and Montenegrins that suffer most from that, but tomorrow this could be the Albanians, too, and that is why, unless law and order is introduced and respected in the broader social and historical sense, this will be the interest of all of the inhabitants of Kosovo.
- Yugoslavia cannot exist without Kosovo! Yugoslavia will become disintegrated without Kosovo! Yugoslavia and Serbia will never give up Kosovo!
Quotes about Milošević
- Slobodan Milošević, more than anyone else, caused a division within the Left and Centre Left, dividing the pacifists, anti-imperialists and anti-Americans from the anti-fascists and the internationalists. He reminded too many of us that inaction can be as toxic and murderous as action. He prepared us - for weal or woe - for the new world.
- David Aaronovitch, "How the Butcher of the Balkans changed us", The Times, March. 14, 2006
- The story of Slobodan Milosevic is the story of a communist appartschnik in old socialist Yugoslavia who saw that the system was collapsing and decided to ride the tiger of nationalism in order to get to and preserve power. He wasn’t really much of a nationalist. I dealt with him extensively during a number of years. He had his prejudices, but probably somewhat less than the regional average. He was an opportunist and a tactician. He was a man of power and ambition. He was never much of a man of principles, and history shows that he was an extremely poor strategists. He was extremely keen in winning the small battles – but he failed to see that he was losing the wars … He played on the fears. His was the propaganda of fear and prejudice. His duel with Croatia’s Franjo Tudjman brought war first to Croatia and then, most fatefully, to Bosnia in 1992. They both tried to carve out their own pieces of that complex country at the centre of the Balkans. More than 100 000 people are likely to have died in the carnage, and millions had to flee their homes … He will be judged by history. Harshly. He brought disaster to his own Serbia.
- I got the impression that he behaved very differently when he was with you, than how he actually felt about you. He is someone who will flatter you, but doesn't care at all about you, a man who will use people.
- Braca Grubacic, editor of Mladost, as quoted in Adam LeBor (2002) Milosevic: A Biography, page 101-102
- We never fully understood why Milosevic decided to give Sarajevo to the Muslims. Certainly he had many good reasons. But in retrospect, the best explanation may be that he was fed up with the Bosnian Serbs and had decided to weaken their Pale base by giving away the Serb-controlled part of Sarajevo. By giving the Federation all of Bosnia's capital, perhaps Milosevic wanted to weaken Karadzic and stregthen the Serbs in other parts of Bosnia, especially Banja Luka. This explanation was consistent with one of Milosevic's main themes at Dayton: that the Bosnian Serb leadership had become an impediment, even though he had earlier made common cause with them. Milosevic had often talked of strengthening the "intellectuals" and businessmen of Banja Luka in order to weaken Pale; now he seemed to be putting his theory into action.
- Richard Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 293
- A remarkable challenge to Milosevic unfolded in the street of Belgrade in December , led by three politicians who banded together in a movement called Zajedno, or the Together Movement. For weeks, hundreds of thousands of Belgrade citizens braved subfreezing weather to call for democracy. But Washington missed a chance to affect events; except for one ineffectual trip to Washington, Zajedno had no contact with senior American government officials, and the Administrations sent no senior officials to Belgrade for fear that their visits would be used by Milosevic to show support. For the first time in eighteen months, Milosevic felt no significant American pressure, and turned back towards the extreme nationalists, including Karadžić, for support. His tactical skills saved him again, and within weeks, the Together Movement was together no more, as its leaders split among themselves.
- Richard Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 345
- Milosevic did not have quite the psychopathic power of a Saddam Hussein or an Osama Bin Laden. He was that most dangerous of people: the mediocre and conformist official who bides his time and masks his grievances. He went from apparatchik to supreme power, and though he rode a tide of religious and xenophobic fervor, it is quite thinkable that he never really cared about the totems and symbols that he exploited. In office and in the dock, he embodied the banality of evil. In the excellent 1995 book The Death of Yugoslavia, written by Laura Silber and Allan Little, and in the fine BBC TV series that accompanied it, you can actually see the petty tactics and cynical opportunism that he employed like a sluggish maggot at the heart of the state that just keeps eating remorselessly away. He apparently had only one true friend, his adorable ideologue of a wife, Mirjana Markovic, who used to cheer him up about his big-eared and stone-faced appearance and about the suicide of both of his parents. Beware of those resentful nonentities who enter politics for therapeutic reasons.
- Christopher Hitchens, "No Sympathy for Slobo: Let's not forget Milosevic's many crimes.", Slate, March. 13, 2006
- In some ways the young Milosevic resembled Stalin, a man initially - and how wrongly - categorised by his rivals as so unremarkable, he was dubbed 'the grey blur'. Like Stalin, Milosevic initially preferred to operate behind the scenes. Both men spent much time studying and mastering the mechanism of the apparat - as the party structure was known - its cell structure, the party heirarchy, and the way the party 'line' was developed, as a prelude to eventually taking power.
On a personal level, Milosevic and Stalin also share a history of parental deprivation, together with a whole range of twentieth-century political leaders, including Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein. Psychologists argue that an absentee father is likely to produce feelings of low self-esteem in a young boy. A child will question why his father has left, or does not want to be with him. The lack of a suitable domestic male role model also means the child is deprived of guidance following relationships in the wider world. In later life this can create a powerful drive to overcompensate. Some will seek to validate their self-worth through sexual promiscuitiy. Others enter politics.
- Adam LeBor (2002) Milosevic: A Biography, page 25
- This is a catastrophe for Serbia. This is the worst person who could have been chosen to lead Serbia at this moment and I am afraid for the future... He has no patience, he has all the qualities that will lead us to disaster.
- Draza Markovic, uncle to Milosevic's wife, as quoted in Adam LeBor (2002) Milosevic: A Biography, page 110
- The relationship between Slobodan and Mira is very strong and quite pathological. Milosevic was intelligent enough, but Mira gave him the love for power, and the ambition. She made him what he is.
- Dusan Mitevic, as quoted in Adam LeBor (2002) Milosevic: A Biography, page 22
- I think you're a damn war criminal and you should be tried as one.
- Joseph Robinette Biden, as quoted in Promises to Keep (2008), page 266.
- Kučan describes him as thus: "A beurocratic and vindictive despot who, if he survives, will end up in a psychiatric ward one of these days. He is not a communist, he has used the party to climb the ranks, he possesses a vocabulary limited to slogans which nevertheless flow freely and swiftly, having no intellectual impediment or nuances. His sentences are composed solely of four or five words". Like Ceausescu? "Yes, perhaps this is the best comparison. He is not accustomed to being contradicted, he can't tolerate opposition. He responds to the first insurrections because he has prepared himself, but he finds himself in difficulty at the second wave, when one must react swiftly. It will be difficult to compromise him. He holds the suggestive force of the fanatical Serbian mentality and, in some way, manages to charm his western correspondents.
- Demetriu Volcic (1993) Sarajevo: Quando la Storia Uccide, page 178