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Context of '1996-2001: 1989 Speech by Milosevic Wildly Distorted by Western Media'

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Slobodan Milosevic, leader of the Serbian branch of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, visits Kosovo to consult with local party officials. While there, Kosovar Serbs ask him to focus on their issues in a subsequent visit, which will happen on April 24. Between the two visits, Milosevic’s staff organizes large demonstrations by Kosovar Serbs. [Vickers, 1998, pp. 228]

Entity Tags: Slobodan Milosevic, League of Communists of Yugoslavia

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milosevic returns to Kosovo, ostensibly for further consultation with local Yugoslav communist officals, but Kosovar Serbs see his visit as showing the Serbian government’s concern for their grievances, while Kosovar Albanian leaders think he will calm the situation. Milosevic, looking surprised, is exuberantly welcomed by Serbs, yelling “Slobo! Slobo!” The Serbs blame Albanian communist party leaders for allowing violence against Slavs in the province. Milosevic tells the Serbs that they should stand their ground in Kosovo and get more involved in federal issues. In Kosovo Polje, Milosevic addresses Kosovar Serbs who want Belgrade to provide more security, and who had fought with Albanian police, using stones piled up in advance. Milosevic says that it does not matter which groups are in the majority or minority, and that Yugoslavia’s existence depends on Serbia keeping Kosovo. This town is historically significant to Serbs, because it is close to the site of a storied and inconclusive battle on June 28, 1389 between the Ottoman Turks (counting among their allies some Serbs and Bulgarians) and Serb rulers, allied with Hungarians, Bulgarians, Bosnians, and Albanians. [Vickers, 1998, pp. 12-14, 227-228; Kola, 2003, pp. 174]

Entity Tags: League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

The Central Committee of the Federal LCY (League of Communists of Yugoslavia) endorses Serbia’s demands for constitutional changes. On November 19, Serbian LCY leader Slobodan Milosevic speaks at a rally of 100,000 people in Belgrade, reportedly the largest gathering since the end of World War II. Milosevic says he will “establish peace and order” in Kosovo and that “Kosovo is the very center of [Serbia’s] history, its culture, and its memory. All people have a love which burns in their hearts for ever. For a Serb that love is Kosovo. That is why Kosovo will remain in Serbia.” [Kola, 2003, pp. 177]

Entity Tags: League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

Two days of Kosovar Serb demonstrations about the economy, after earlier demonstrations had been dispersed by police, persuade the leadership of the Montenegrin communist party, the LCY, and the government to resign. Momir Bulatovic, a supporter of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, becomes the new leader of the Montenegrin LCY. This follows Kosovar Serb protests in October 1988 that toppled the provincial government in Vojvodina, another part of Serbia. [Kola, 2003, pp. 175]

Entity Tags: League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia, Momir Bulatovic

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

Deputy Secretary of State Designate Lawrence Eagleburger is called to testify in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Yugoslav situation. He tells the senators that Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milosevic’s actions are “very harmful,” creating “the worst [conditions] with regard to the national question since the end of the war,” and says that ethnic Albanians are the victims and the US should speak out. He also says Yugoslavia is “used to reacting adversely to any outside intereference.” [Kola, 2003, pp. 184]

Entity Tags: Yugoslavia, Lawrence Eagleburger, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, United States of America, US Department of State, Slobodan Milosevic

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

Several members of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY)‘s Political Bureau, including Kosovar representative Kole Shiroka, resign to protest Slobodan Milosevic’s push for the removal of Kosovar Albanian leaders. The resignations precede the Eighteenth Plenum of the Central Committee, which will meet on October 17. [Kola, 2003, pp. 175]

Entity Tags: Yugoslavia, Kole Shiroka, Slobodan Milosevic, League of Communists of Yugoslavia

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

The League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY)‘s Eighteenth Plenum does not approve Slobodan Milosevic’s proposal that the Central Committee be purged; Milosevic, the leader of the LCY’s Serbian branch, retains his post. National LCY leader Stipe Suvar, a Croat, and Milan Kucan, leader of the Slovenian LCY, criticize Milosevic. Suvar proposes a confidence vote in the Politcal Bureau, but Milosevic rejects the idea, because he is a regional leader and the Plenum represents the entire Yugoslav party. Milosevic also ignores the Plenum’s vote to fire his aide, Dusan Ckrebic. The Slovenian leadership is willing to consider Serbia’s demand for constitutional amendment in exchange for more capitalistic economic policies. Milosevic says the recent Serb demonstrations show the high level of civil liberties in Yugoslavia, while Kosovar LCY leader Azem Vllasi, an ethnic Albanian and target of Serb demonstrations, says they are one aspect of “a well-disguised attempt to change the policy of national equality in Yugoslavia and the country’s foundations.” [Kola, 2003, pp. 175-176]

Entity Tags: Yugoslavia, Azem Vllasi, Dusan Ckrebic, League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Milan Kucan, Stipe Suvar, Slobodan Milosevic

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

Slobodan Milosevic speaking in Kosovo on June 28, 1989, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo.Slobodan Milosevic speaking in Kosovo on June 28, 1989, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. [Source: Tomislav Peternek/ Polaris] (click image to enlarge)Professor Gil White will point out in 2002 that Slobodan Milosevic’s 1989 speech in Kosovo in front of a huge crowd is consistently misrepresented as a call to ethnic war, when in fact it was the exact opposite—a call for racial tolerance and reconciliation. [Gil-White, 2/9/2002] In the speech itself, Milosevic said, “Equal and harmonious relations among Yugoslav peoples are a necessary condition for the existence of Yugoslavia… Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage. The national composition of almost all countries in the world today, particularly developed ones, has also been changing in this direction. Citizens of different nationalilties, religions and races have been living together more and more frequently and more and more successfully… Yugoslavia is a multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it.” Milosevic ended the speech, saying “Long live peace and brotherhood among peoples!” [National Technical Information Service, 6/28/1989; BBC, 6/28/1989] In 1996, the New York Times describes this speech as follows: “In a fervent speech before a million Serbs, [Milosevic] galvanized the nationalist passions that two years later fueled the Balkan conflict” [New York Times, 7/28/1996] On the anniversary of the speech in 1998 the Washington Post reports, “Nine years ago today, Milosevic’s fiery speech [in Kosovo] to a million angry Serbs was a rallying cry for nationalism and boosted his popularity enough to make him the country’s uncontested leader.” [Washington Post, 7/29/1998] In 1999, the Economist described this as “a stirringly virulent nationalist speech.” [Economist, 6/5/1999] In 2001, Time Magazine reported that with this speech, “Milosevic whipped a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy in the speech that capped his ascent to power.” [Time (Europe), 7/9/2001] Also in 2001, the BBC, which in 1989 provided the translation of Milosevic’s speech quoted above, claims that in 1989, “on the 600-year anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje, [Milosevic] gathered a million Serbs at the site of the battle to tell them to prepare for a new struggle.” [BBC, 4/1/2001] Richard Holbrooke repeats these misrepresentations in his 1999 book, referring to the speech as “racist” and “inflammatory.” Holbrooke even calls Milosevic a liar for denying the false accusations. [Holbrooke, 1999, pp. 29]

Entity Tags: Slobodan Milosevic, Richard Holbrooke

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

On June 9, 1999, NATO has been bombing Serbia for 78 days (see March 24, 1999). Serbian ruler Slobodan Milosevic capitulates, agreeing to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo. Kosovo technically remains part of Serbia (which is still called Yugoslavia) but it is essentially taken over by NATO. Within months, nearly 50,000 NATO peacekeeping troops occupy Kosovo, and the United Nations takes over its administration. [Washington Post, 9/19/1999]

Entity Tags: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Slobodan Milosevic

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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