Dr Milivoj Bešlin

The Reform of the Yugoslav Federation and Serbia: Deconstruction of the Centralistic Paradigm and Emergence of Alternatives





Case study 1

I. Introduction

In the post-WWII period – having uncritically taken over the Soviet model, gripped by war psychosis over the Trieste crisis and then, in 1948, over Stalin’s possible aggression – the Yugoslav federation was actually functioning as a pseudo-federation, as defined by Branko Petranović.1 With all the power concentrated in the Politbureau of the CPY the monolithic party’s was a priori restricting any serious attempt at federalism in practice that would have implied a realistic level of decentralization and redistribution of political and economic power among several centers.2 The value orientation of the state-socialist model was codified in the 1946 Constitution developed by the Soviet paradigm dating back in 1936.3 The Constitution defined the new Yugoslavia as a “federation of a special type” given that the proclaimed equality of all nations united by their own free will in a common state was effectuated through “sovereign rights and statehoods of people’s republics as constitutive elements of the federal state,” according to Edvard Kardelj.4 In its initial stage the socialist Yugoslavia existed – as Ljubоdrаg Dimić put it – in “the spirit of the ideas about partisan Yugoslavianism” and with “absolutely centralized power” since its republics, though entitled to institutions, constitutions and emblems (names, coats of arms and flags) of their own, had to have their decisions adjusted to the federal constitution and laws, which had supremacy over republican and applied to the entire territory of the federation.5

However, the situation as such could not have been sustainable for long in the nationally plural state; as of the early 1950s, according to Olivera Milоsаvljеvić’s study, the tensions have been growing between more and more prominent “republican particularism” – “republicanism” – and federal top authorities – “centralism” - perceived at the time not only as a simple sum of republican representatives – as they were later on - but – as “a supra-republican and hence separate power center opposed to republican interests.” It was as early as after the first decade of Yugoslav federalism that it was obvious that a “system of controlled decentralization to the level that lessens the strain of centralism but disables disintegration of the federation” should be institutionalized.6 And yet, in this period Yugoslavia’s centralized system, along with predominance of federal institutions – prevented any strengthening of republican authorities and, hence, a more essential federalization.

Be it as may, the growing consciousness about the necessity for a higher degree of decentralization to harmonize the existence of all parts and national entities of the Yugoslav state resulted in dosed, discreet antagonism within the top party and state leadership and much ambivalence on the part of the Yugoslav President. At the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia of March 14, 1962, laying bare the antagonism between “republicans” and “centralists” Tito was still closer to the old practice of centralism. Top party officials were alerting of the depth of the social crisis, arguing, “Is our country still capable of holding its ground, to disintegrate not? Much blood has been shed in the name of the unity of our peoples, the unity of our community! And all this is now being questioned! So is this community capable of living or not? There are separatist tendencies…Some people of ours are more and more seeing the character and nature of decentralization as disintegration.”7 Tito called decentralization processes in the Yugoslav state and society dangerous, saying, “We should not be expected or blamed for strongly preventing such tendencies all the time.”8 Criticizing the practice of decentralization Аlеksаndаr Rаnkоvić told the same meeting, “Everyone seems to care for his own interests only, for his own sector or republic.” He resolutely condemned “dissolution” of the role of the League of Communists /SKJ/, as well as some republican and provincial leaderships turning SKJ into “a coalition of communists.”9 Unlike him, Edvard Kardelj was warning against “actual hegemonism and abolishment of the principle of people’s self-governance” for, as he put it, Yugoslavia could not make progress without unity, but the unity implying full respect for “national policies and independent republics.”10 The same as Kardelj never questioned the wholeness of the Yugoslav community, Rаnkоvić expressed doubts about the existence of republics; however, their different approaches to the practice of federalism were evident.11 Concluding the meeting, Tito invoked Rаnkоvić’s words and made it clear – by idealizing the post-war experience in the functioning of the federation – that party policy should be the one of Yugoslavianism with due respect for national specificities.12 Having condemned the growing particularistic tendencies but also claiming there would be no return “to the old” the Yugoslav President again manifested ambivalence while his strong criticism of /the attempts/ at “disintegrating and undermining our socialist community” only maintained the status quo for another couple of years.

Political, social and economic relations established in the 1950s in the Procrustean bed of the 1946 Constitution were maladjusted to the realities of the Yugoslav community of the early 1960s, as evidenced at the above-mentioned meeting of the Executive Committee of the Central Committee of SKJ. Given that the principle of federalism was undeniably “one of fundamental organizational tools and characteristics of Yugoslavia’s not only governmental but also political and social systems,” as Jovan Đorđević13 put it, a radical change of the character the Yugoslav federation and dismantlement of the predominant centralism turned to be a first-rate task: the course towards it was a thorny one; the milestones of the process were the 1963 Constitution, the Eight Congress of SKJ (1964), the Brioni plenum (1966), 1967 and 1968 amendments to the Constitution, while the adoption of the third ‘set’ of constitutional amendments in 1971 and Yugoslavia’s last Constitution proclaimed in 1974 were the U-turns ensuring the upper hand to the constitutional concept of decentralization relying on national-emancipatory foundations of Yugoslav federalism.

By its character and provisions the 1963 Constitution was a compromise between centralism of the time and actual federalism that was aspired to; as such it was a logical product of the period and transitional process in politics that had generated it. All the aspects of the Constitution mirrored discontinuity with the theory and practice of the Soviet constitutionality and, as such, was a sui generis legal act providing not only a set of governance norms but also a “social code;”14 for, it was not only meant to establish a political system but also to entrench self-governance as a fundamental social frame for Yugoslav integration.

The 1963 Constitution defined Yugoslavia as a “federation of equal peoples united by their own free will” but also as a “community based on the rule of working people and self-governance.” The Article 2 of the Constitution listed all the republics making up the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia /SFRY/, whereas for the first time in theory and empiric of Yugoslav constitutionality this Constitution determined the character of a federal unit; it denoted republics as “state-socialist democratic communities based on the rule of working people and self-governance.”15 Besides, the fact that the very spirit of the Constitution promoted the principle that the federation had only the right explicitly provided to it under the highest legal act – the provision meant to emphasize the prerogatives invested in republics – testified of the changed character of the Yugoslav federalism. In early 1963, on the eve of proclamation of the new Constitution, Josip Broz Tito was still advocating the middle course the very concept of the Constitution actually promoted. By warning against the nation-state mix-up he argued that integration could not be contrary to or to the detriment of individual republics or nationalities, the same as republics could not have all the attributes of statehood.16

The new Constitution did not put an end to remodeling of the Yugoslav federation; on the contrary, this complex process was entering on a new, more intensive stage. The Eight Congress of SKJ held in December 1964 placed the national question on the agenda – more transparently and clearly than ever before –with a view to suppressing Unitarian tendencies that stood in the way of fundamental dismantlement of centralism; this will, finally, result in fundamental reforms of the Yugoslav federalism that emanated in the amendments interpolated in the 1963 Constitution. Addressing the Congress President Tito warned against deformation of SKJ policy for the national question, and specifically stressed out the thesis about the nation as an obsolete category that should die out; all this associated “assimilation and bureaucratic centralization, Unitarianism and hegemonism” that should have had nothing to do with Yugoslav communists.17 He clearly renounced national unification and “Unitarian neglect of socioeconomic functions of republics and autonomous provinces” but also too emancipatory tendencies of walling oneself off “into one’s own (republican, author’s note) borders,” which was for him equally harmful to normal process of economic and social integration.18 Hence, at the Eight Congress the Yugoslav President was still declaring himself publicly as a representative of the middle course, and demonstrated once again his ambivalence about the problematic of federalism and decentralization. While indicating the tendencies of further development of the character of federalism in his report to the Congress, Edvard Kardelj, the author of the Constitution, insisted that Yugoslavia was “multiethnic community” in which “economic aspects were crucial” to interethnic relations; consequently, “national economic independence…is a specific form of working people’ self-governance.” According to Kardelj, every people should have the right and the opportunity to “live and progress in accordance to results their work” and, therefore, “no power beyond the people itself” could influence its development.19

Historians agree that the Eighth Congress addressed “high sensibility” more explicitly, the topic that had been openly discussed in the party for twenty years; other speakers, therefore, avoided to have their say about the problematic. The Congress – the same as Tito’s and Kardelj’s addresses – indicated the course to be followed in the dismantlement of the centralistic system and reform of the character of the Yugoslav federalism. Namely, the legitimacy of Yugoslavia’s transformation was not only sought in sovereignty of nations but also in the concept of the self-governing sovereignty of laborers as pillars of this historical process. In this context, the Brioni plenum, the ouster of Ranković and constitutional reforms were only a logical sequence, while the Eighth Congress was a starting line “of the ten-year struggle for the reform of the federation,” as Dušan Bilandžić put it.20 Latinka Perović was reasoning along the same lines when she wrote that this Congress “would go down in history by the significance it attached to interethnic relations” in Yugoslavia; for the first time after the WWII these relations were considered comprehensively, which will turn to be a far-reaching move since the national question would remain on the agenda for ten years after this Congress of SKJ.21 From inter-party constitutional debates in 1961-63, and especially from the Eighth Congress in 1964, throughout the ensuing decade, to the proclamation of Yugoslavia’s last Constitution in 1974, the issue of the character, and of the sum and substance of Yugoslav federalism – of the level of decentralization – remained high on the agenda as a fundamental topic and a driving force of the country’s political life.

II. True Decentralization:
Constitutional Amendments and the Reform of the Federation

Major architect of the Yugoslav federalism and constitutionality Edvard Kardelj was rather anxious about the future of Yugoslavia, about the time when the authority of the revolutionary generation of politicians emerging from the war – the unquestionable factor of social integration – would be there no longer. Generations to come, he reasoned, will have to build their influence on efficient problem-solving of the present time, rather than on legitimacy earned in the past. And in such circumstances they could impose on the society “some Unitarian, centralistic tendencies” that would question Yugoslavia’s unity. One of key tasks of the reform Kardelj saw far beyond the economy was “the establishment within the system itself of such relations that would fully guarantee that under no condition anyone could be forced to anything.” Explaining his view he said, “We have not get together in Yugoslavia because of Yugoslavia but because of socialism. And if we are unaware that it is socialism that keeps Yugoslavia united, then there is no other factor that could unite it…”22 Rationalizing interethnic relations in Yugoslavia, Kardelj was saying that it was wrong to treat them as something exceptional – “as if relations between Yugoslav nations were any different from relations between some other nations.” “Nothing is exceptional about these relations apart from the fact that the fate has brought us together, that we are ethnically close to one another, etc. However, many other nations have similar relations. Therefore, we should not seek to solve problems of some exceptional relations but of normal ones.”23 And for Kardelj, three positions on the reform of the federation and further settlement of the national issue had crystallized. The first was centralistic and bureaucratic counting on central funds and pressure on the federation; to him, Serbia was a protagonist of these “Unitarian, centralistic tendencies” but also of the “remnants of pan-Serbian theories.” Opposition to such threatening trends in Serbia proper, he argued, was not strong enough. Serbia as the biggest republic and the Serbs as the biggest nation and their orientation are “by far more decisive than a stance of any other nation,” he said, adding that he did not underestimate other nationalisms but that it was Serbian nationalism and centralistic course that would not face strong resistance in Serbia proper that could “inflict the biggest harm to the country’s unity.”24 The second position he detected in less developed republics that supported the centralistic orientation fearing that de-etatization and decentralization could result in less support to their economic development. He called such stance unjustified, explaining that the support to those less developed would be bigger if the Yugoslav economic system was modernized and developed, and capable of growing through individual economic growths of each of the republics. And the third position was the one of developed republics, Slovenia and Croatia, that were oriented towards decentralization at any price even should this decentralization be “etatistic” and implied pressure from republics to other republics – from developed to underdeveloped. For Kardelj, progress was preconditioned by elimination of “the etatistic federal cake,” that is, by liquidation of federal investment funds.25

The sum and substance of the changes in the character of the Yugoslav federalism was effectuated with a new constitutional concept implemented through three sets of constitutional amendments the Federal Assembly passed from 1967 till 1971. The head of Tito’s office testified that Tito had been convinced that acceptance and implementation of these amendments would “liquidate nationalism,”26 which was the reason more to give them a green light.27 Out of six amendments in the first set – declared in the Federal Assembly on April 18, 1967 – three dealt with powers assigned to the federation. They invested more authority to the Chamber of the Peoples of the SFRY Assembly, reduced the federation’s opportunity to finance investment, while the Amendment 4 – as a direct outcome of the Brioni plenum – provided that “the safeguard of the constitutional order” (State Security) shall be no longer be under sole authority of the federation but of republics as well.28

Following months-long adjustments the Federal Assembly proclaimed the second set on December 26, 1968: its consequences on Yugoslavia’s development – especially that of Serbia – were far-reaching. Out of thirteen amendments most aimed at fortifying “republics’ statehoods.” That was most evident in the seventh amendment that listed all the republics and thus emphasized their statehood, whereas both provinces were explicitly quoted in the eighteenth amendment: the provinces were thus promoted to “constitutive elements of the federation” and more consistently tied to the Yugoslav federalism as they were denoted as parts of the Republic of Serbia but at the same time as the elements of the federal state.29 Further on, the seventh amendment attributed the term “socialist” to provinces making them equal to republics in this sense (so the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija was renamed the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo).30 The eighteenth amendment explicitly provides, “The Federation shall protect constitutionally recognized rights and duties of autonomous provinces.”31 President of the Republican Constitutional Commission Dragoslav Marković, the strongest opponent of provinces’ calls for larger autonomies among Serbia’s leadership, explained his position saying, “Socialist autonomous provinces are elements of federalism but are not federal units.”32 Besides, the 1968 amendments provided that a territory of an autonomous province could not change without the consent of provincial assemblies. Provincial and republican judiciaries were equalized so that “The Supreme Court of the Province shall have the rights and duties of a republican supreme court in the territory of the province.”33 Regulating most of a province’s powers, the 18th amendment defines such territorial unit as “socialist, democratic, sociopolitical community with specific ethnic structure and other specificities, wherein working people effectuate social self-governance, regulates social relations with provincial laws and other acts, ensures constitutionality and legality, direct economic development and the development of social services, organize organs of power and self-governance, ensures equality of peoples and national minorities, prepares and organizes defense of the country and protection of the constitutional order, and perform other duties of common interest to the province’s political, economic and cultural life and development – except for the duties in the interest of the republic as a whole, as provided by the republican constitution.” The same amendment also provided that “in the territories of autonomous provinces, autonomous provinces” are also responsible for performing the duties and tasks of the federation.34 And consistently with the policy of “full national equality in all rights and duties, the last, 19th amendment in 1968 equalized peoples and national minorities – more precisely, Yugoslav and minority nationalities.35 Thus minority nations in Yugoslavia became – de facto and de iure – legitimate and equal factors, rather than just cultural or linguistic entities – implicitly deprived at most – like in most other countries.36

The Constitutional Commission of the Federal Assembly began discussing the third set of amendments at the very beginning of 1970. Its chairman, Milentije Popović, specified three problems republics could not reach elementary agreements on: foreign currency regime, distribution of income and expanded reproduction. However, as early as in October 1970 constitutional changes supported by the highest political leadership were outlined at the Committee’s sessions with both parliamentary chambers. A new institution was to be established – the Presidency of SFRY – invest it with powers and specify its ties with other federal institutions. Besides, relations between the federation on the one hand, and republics and provinces on the other had to be formulated anew, the parliamentary system redefined and, finally, economic relations between the federation and republics distinguished. The Coordination Commission of the Constitutional Commission continued working on further adjustments.

At the joint session of all constitutional chambers of the Federal Assembly on October 28, 1970, Chairman Milentije Popović summarized the essence of the ideas for the third set of constitutional amendments, claiming that they were among crucial political issues for dealing, above all, with “relations between the federation and republics.” According to Edvard Kardelj, the Commission’s main task was to harmonize views and pave the way for a political agreement on major issues between republics, provinces, institutions of the federation and other sociopolitical organizations. He argued that reaching of “consensual solutions by peoples and national minorities of Yugoslavia” would be the final outcome of this endeavor, which, as he put it, “unifies and strengthens” the Yugoslav community. In his view, the imperative for constant harmonization of stands derived from the fact that Yugoslavia was a multiethnic society and state – hence, the Federal Assembly, as the supreme legislative body, would have to harmonize stands with “responsible” republican assemblies. For him, that would contribute to democratic climate in the country.37

Members of the Joint Constitutional Commission confirmed basic intentions of constitutional amendments, saying that “working people, peoples and national minorities exercise their sovereign rights in socialist republics and socialist autonomous provinces, while within the federation exercise the right that are in mutual interest provided under the Constitution.” According to the suggestions backed up by the Constitutional Commission, the character of the SRFY was twofold – a federal state of voluntarily united peoples and their socialist republics and provinces, based on the rule and self-governance of the working class and all “working people;” and, a “self-governed, democratic community of working people and citizens, equal nations and national minorities.” And, according to Jure Bilić, the amendments had just consistently worked out in detail the principle of earlier Yugoslav constitutions – “republics are basic mainstays of governmental functions except for the rights that are assigned to the federation.” In his view, however, it were only the amendments that fully effectuated this “rule” as they relied on equality and parity, the more so since federative bodies were “not supranational creations but common organs of all republics and autonomous provinces.” As a federative community, Yugoslavia rested on republics as “sovereign states of peoples.”38 The Federal Executive Council /SIV/ was tasked with harmonization of stands; the purpose of the practice of institutionalizing the system of consent was to avoid any majority vote or outvoting. From the economic angle, the amendments, as Kiro Gligorov put it, were after affirmation of a single Yugoslav market but also of the right of “nations and republics to decide on their incomes.”39

The draft of the amendments was presented in 1971. Addressing the highest party body, Edvard Kardelj called it “an agreement of progressive forces” of the Yugoslav society, but also determined it as “a renewed platform of brotherhood, unity and equality of the peoples of Yugoslavia.” Invoking the solutions reached by AVNOJ – actually at the Second Session of AVNOJ in 1943 in Jajce – which he labeled “our first Constitution” for having “determined the foundations for the life together of peoples of Yugoslavia and the rule of the working class,” Kardelj said that basic solutions of the draft had made the fabric of all Yugoslav constitutions that far. In his view, however, all Yugoslav constitutions have reflected social realities against which they have been proclaimed but also “the balance of power” of the time. He said that the 1963 Constitution “was unable” to put an end to the system based on “state-property relations,” which was why the economic reform in 1965 evidenced the strong need for further reforms of the constitutional system. Reforms undertaken in the Yugoslav society, aiming at “free cooperation, consent and agreement between republics” should have brought down “the mechanism of supranational state structure in the federation” to a minimum that would have been in the true interest of all nations, republics and provinces.40 In this context, he referred to continued dispossession of the state capital and benefit division and accumulation, the redistribution of which had incited strong grudge and generated nationalism, as he put it. The need for further decentralization he also justified by quoting the disputable interventionism had been mostly concentrated in the federation, which could have no longer settled the conflict of opposing interests by coercion but had had to seek agreement with the mainstays of self-governed interests – republics. In everyday life the discrepancy between self-governance and state centralism was seen as conflicts between republics and the federation.41

He also reminded that the changed structure of Yugoslav nations has been a strong motive for constitutional amendments. After the war and the revolution, he said, they had been economically rather underdeveloped and mostly rural, but already in the late 1960s and – regardless of mutual differences – they had “turned into modern nations that could not but call for preconditions to their full and comprehensive economic, political and cultural affirmation.” However, the reform of the federation was in that context just the first step toward resolution of other pressing problems the more so since unresolved economic ones had been still assuming the character of interethnic conflicts. Kardelj saw interethnic conflicts, nationalism, etc. a structural problem of inter-republican relationship and federal arrangements. He emphasized again that the view about Yugoslav nations being different from all others – that they were “not actually nations though their consciousness was midway through transformation” – was among the origins of Unitarian tendencies, nationalism, etc. He called this stance a dangerous delusion that could result in a wrong turn towards resolution of the national question in the Yugoslav federation. For his part, he argued that Yugoslav nations were “formed and stabilized” and had “long tradition and formed consciousness.” This is why, he continued, they could not and would not settle their differences in some other way than all other nations worldwide would had not the Yugoslav social structure been such that it was channeling Yugoslav nations toward internationalism. Modern times, he argued, were beyond – economically at least – national autarchy since every nation was aware, without being forced to from outside, that in the conditions of the time larger cooperation and integration were the only way to have their interests met. On the other hand, Yugoslav nations had not come together just to benefit economically and politically, but because they were close one to another, had similar ethnic origins and, above all, shared “the consciousness developed in the revolution and their mutual struggle for the self-governed, democratic and socialist society,” said Kardelj.42

Bearing all this in mind, the role of republics as “states and instruments of the rule of the working class” was more than obvious, and any denial of republican statehood had to be eliminated – and that was actually what the amendments had to accomplish. It is pointless to negate the necessity for decentralization of statehood functions, said Kardelj, as there were scores of etatistic prerogatives that were easier to regulate at the level of republics than at the federal level; “It is easier for people in a republic to bear with some governmental regulations and changes that originate from their republic than from the federal level.”

Therefore, Kardelj called the narrative about the danger of “republican etatism” – even when meant to protect self-governance – “the defense of centralism in the federation.”43 Speaking of the dilemma – whether Yugoslavia was a federation of the above-mentioned constitutional changes made it into a confederation – he said that Yugoslavia could not be classified as any conventional form of federalism or confederalism, because it was “not only a special socialist state but also a self-government community.” Referring to key elements of the Yugoslav federalism, constitutional amendments had affirmed, Kardelj listed: every nation’s right to self-determination, including the right to secession, that emphasizes the “voluntary character” of the Yugoslav unification; statehood and sovereignty of nations and their republics within the unique Yugoslav community; and, position of each nation in the Yugoslav community that guarantees it “the opportunities for independently disposing of the entire social reproduction in the republic,” which stand for a mechanism of protecting it from exploitation; ties between Yugoslav nations established in their mutual revolution, which strengthen their collective consciousness, revolutionary solidarity and internationalism; the guarantee of a unique Yugoslav market and economic area, which was why basic regulatory functions were in the hands of federal bodies to ensure equal position to all enterprises and republics; the safeguard of the consciousness about “fated unity” that directs Yugoslav nations towards protection of their independence and national security – which was why the foreign policy was vested in the federal state; Yugoslav People’s Army /YPA/ as “mutual and unique armed forces and the core of defense forces of the peoples of Yugoslavia;” republics making consensual decisions in the federation – as provided under the Constitution - on all issues vital to their equal economic and political position; and, building of such structure of basic federal bodies that ensures republics’ direct participation in federal bodies’ policy-making and implementation.44

Advocating for the third set of constitutional amendments in 1971 Yugoslav President Tito argued that they “meant strengthening of our socialist community, rather than its weakening and disintegration” since the new constitutive concept would remove “the causes of misunderstandings between republics, as well as between the federation and republics.” Constitutional amendments, he said, will settle many “discrepancies of the life in our multiethnic, socialist community.” He was emphasizing – freed from any delusion that all the problems could be solved – that the amendments would certainly “reduce the existing contradictions and prevent new ones.”45 “They will ensure full freedom to all peoples and national minorities in all the six republics,” said Tito. This is not about disintegration, he claimed, but about “integration though on different foundations” given that the amendments were meant to result in “full national equality.”46 And yet, he was most concise about the amendments at a closed meeting of the highest party leadership: he boiled down their sum and substance to “homogeneity established along other, democratic lines.”47 Tito perceived new constitutional solutions as the policy of national equality in action, explaining that “no one in a single republic, no nation and no national minority would want to see other national minorities kept under…but the full exercise of the right of every nation, and national equality.” However, fully aware of his integrative role, he was warning like in all his speeches that “the interest of the whole, of our unity” should be always born in mind and that “no one should care for his interests only but for interests of other as well.”48 Pinpointing a strong and unique party as a warrant of state unity, Tito told party leaders that SKJ “knows no borders, republican, local or any other.” “The ideological-political action and the ideological-political role of the League of Communists should be one and only in the entire country.”49 He even concluded at the meeting of the top party leadership, “We, the communists, know no borders in Yugoslavia. This is what I think. This is how we managed our revolution, and this is how we fought the war, knowing no borders.”50 In late 1971 he was saying that the League of Communists was “the only factor” entitled to “ideological-political action within the Yugoslav frame.”51 Such stance of his was not only a topnotch guarantee of the country’s unity but also relativized in a way decentralizing provisions of the new constitutional concept that could have been seen as much too radical.

Political stabilization to be attained should new solutions be acceptable to all and should they, above all, “clear up the matters” in the economic domain, as he put it, was one of the major reasons why Tito strongly supported constitutional changes. The Yugoslav President argued that what Yugoslavia needed as “a clear table so that every republic, every nation, knows where it stands.” This would, he said, settle accumulated controversies, neutralize conflicts and mutual accusations that Yugoslav peoples were “exploiting,” “robbing,” “cheating,” etc. one another.52 And when it came to the amendments, he said, “It should be stressed that this is not about trifles. Rearrangement in any state is a big deal. Namely, establishing such relations in a multiethnic state such as ours is a big deal…ensuring that all peoples are satisfied…”53 However, in September 1969 he used to say, “As a community of many nations we are distinguished in the world, while each one separately would mean nothing. And some abroad are already rubbing their hands – I read about it every day – saying that we are disintegrating and having troubles we could hardly overcome. All in all, if this one – meaning me – dies, everything falls apart. I don’t want this to fall apart, so in tandem with you I will be doing my best not to let it break down, never to let it break down.”54

The third, most radical set of constitutional amendments, proclaimed in the SFRY Assembly on June 30, 1971, brought about fundamental and far-reaching changes in the legislation and practice of the Yugoslav federalism. It included twenty-three amendments (20-42) that not only supplemented or corrected the Constitution but “radically changed the entire complex of relationships in the constitutional matter.”55 Apart from the amendments regulating the socioeconomic domain, their major impact was further reform of the federation and “national relations,” given that most of those 23 amendments were the so-called national amendments that fundamentally reshaped the character of the Yugoslav federalism. Already the very first amendment adopted in 1971 indicated the fundamentals and spirit of the new constitutional concept. Namely, it provided, “Working people, peoples and national minorities shall exercise their sovereign rights in socialist republics and in socialist autonomous provinces…and in SFR Yugoslavia whenever it is in the common interest.”56 The next, second paragraph of this 20th amendment relativizes its character quoting that Yugoslavia is “a federal state as a state community of voluntarily united peoples” and their republics and provinces.57 In the third paragraph, the amendment defines a republic as “a state based on people’s sovereignty, and self-governance of the working class…and /on/ equality of peoples and national minorities.” Or, as Tito himself put it in April 1971 in a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, “Sovereignties of all the six republics stand for an all-inclusive, Yugoslav sovereignty.”58 The twenty-fifth amendment guaranteed a unique Yugoslav market, but the 34th annulled the right of the federation to establish funds or take upon itself financial obligation, unless assemblies of all the republics and autonomous provinces give their consent to it.59 The only function and authority of the federation in the domain of economic relations rested in its assistance to underdeveloped republics and the Province of Kosovo. As provided by the 27th amendment, the Board of Governors – assembling governors of federal, republican and provincial banks – had the charge of the National Bank of Yugoslavia.60

Along with the already existing bodies of the federation – Federal Assembly, Federal Executive Council and President of the Republic – the 36th amendment provided the establishment of a new institution Tito has insisted on: the collective Presidency of SFRY tasked with “harmonizing common interests of republics and autonomous provinces…in the implementation of the rights and duties of the Federation.”61 Composition of the Presidency was based on parity, while all the decision the institution was making on the state community were consensual; after Tito’s passing away it was supposed to take over the function of a collective head of state. Tito himself acknowledged that this was an attempt at preparing for the transition of power after his death. He said, “The Presidency should prepare itself for its function with my participation, whereas I would have the right to transfer to it many of these prerogatives.” The plan was to ensure political continuity given that Tito wanted to “retire one day.”62 The same as the Presidency, the Federal Executive Council and the Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia had to be based on parity – composed of “equal number of members from each of the republics.”63

In almost all cases the Constitution obliged federal bodies (Presidency, Federal Executive Council, Federal Assembly, etc.) to “harmonize stands” so that all the decisions would be legal. Legal expert Јоvаn Đоrđеvić called this constitutionally contingent unanimity “a back door veto.”64 The 33rd amendment regulated the methodology of “harmonizing stands.” It provided that the federation “shall make a decision only on the basis of the stands harmonized with relevant republican and provincial bodies.”65 Accordingly, any federal decision had to be initiated by the Federal Executive Council, which was “ensuring harmonization of stands” with republican and provincial executive councils.66 In fact, republics and provinces were deciding on their policies that were then harmonized by inter-republican committees, while the federation just verified republican and provincial decision –that had already been made and harmonized. And finally, the Constitution could be changed only by a decision of the Federal Executive Council which, in turn, had to be approved by all the republics and autonomous provinces – ergo, by a consensus, which categorized the Constitution as a tougher one.67

And yet, the concept of federalism based on the primacy of nations and their historically constituted political formations – republics – did not change “the theoretically founded and permanent” character of the Yugoslav constitutional law – “the working man” as the only political mainstay of sovereignty, said Jovan Đorđević. In his view, the idea of “undivided sovereignty” had been safeguarded, but the stance about republics and provinces as communities wherein mainstays of sovereignty (“working people, peoples and national minorities”) basically exercised their sovereign constitutional rights emphasized.68 Constitutional amendments turned Yugoslavia – de iure and de facto – into a consensual community of peoples that had created it in the first place – the state was essentially and consistently federalized. Namely, Edvard Kardelj denoted all the three sets of amendments to the 1963 Constitution as “the first phase” of changes that “established relatively new relations between the Federation and republics;” the federation’s new role and reduced powers were determined accordingly. After all, the 1974 Constitution provided nothing new about the federation’s function and prerogatives of the republics and provinces given that the 1971 amendments had already delivered “a comprehensive solution” and had been, therefore, incorporated in Yugoslavia’s last constitution “without any fundamental change whatsoever.”69

Consistent and fundamental federalization of the state – through three sets of constitutional amendments – was followed by federalization of the League of Communists. The Ninth Congress of SKJ – the first since the WWII convened after party congresses in all the republics – was held in March 1969. Successive party congress in late 1968 had already elected all federal bodies, including the membership of the SKJ Presidency, which the “Yugoslav” congress just verified.70 The process – launched on the wave of the “reformist orientation” following the Brioni plenum - was labeled “reorganization” or “transformation” of the League of Communists, aimed at de-etatization, democratization and de-bureaucratization.71 Also, in November 1968, synchronously with enlarged authorities of autonomous provinces, Vojvodina and Kosovo branches of the League of Communists of Serbia /SKS/ became independent communist leagues though formally determined as constitutive parts of Serbia’s unique party structure. The new SKJ Statute provided that organizations of the League of Communists in autonomous provinces “decide on and implement their tasks independently” on the basis of SKJ and SKS programs and statutes but “in accordance with autonomous province’s socio-political, economic, cultural and national conditions and needs.”72

So, with SKJ as a crucial factor of integration, the Yugoslav federation continued functioning along the lines – resulting from compromise, rather wide public debate and comprehensive consultations – believed to have found a lasting, sustainable and modern solution to the national issue. The 1971 amendments turned Yugoslavia – de iure and de facto – into a consensual community of peoples that had created it in the first place, into a fundamentally federalized state with elements of confederalism, while the basic characteristics of it considerably changed federalism were – to a large extent – planned by ruling structures in republics – above all in the two biggest of all.

III. Understanding Yugoslavia as a Complex State:
Marko Nikezić’s Leadership and Reform of the Federation

Comprehensive reforms, including in the federal domains – and, in this context, the changed concept of the Yugoslav federalism – are closely connected with the modernization and democratization course of the League of Communists of Serbia, personified in Marko Nikezić and Latinka Perović (1968–72). The ideas about a complex state and the necessity for fundamental reforms of the federation that would turn Yugoslavia into a consensual community of equals were strongly, and above all, also backed by Milentije Popović, Mijalko Todorović, Koča Popović, Predrag Ajtić, and others. However, this chapter focuses on two central figures of SKJ in this period. In the offices they occupied the two have formulated the above-mentioned orientation more systematically than others, while adjusting it to the comprehensive reformist and modernization constellation. Theirs was the policy of radical discontinuity with centralistic model that has associated Serbia for decades, and of fundamental understanding of Yugoslavia as a complex state. This was a policy for absolute equality of the constituents of federalism – the one that abandoned completely the idea about Serbia in need of a common state more than others, and the key guardian of Yugoslavia. Nikezić was quite explicit when saying that “the Republic of Serbia’s identification with Yugoslavia as such belongs to the past,” and advocating that Serbia should “concentrate on itself” – on its own economic and political development since the unity of the country could be attained only through equality of all nations; hence, neither the Serbs, as the biggest of all, should have “special rights nor special obligations.”

For Marko Nikezić the policy of Serbia’s “concentration on itself” was its focus “on the realities” of social and economic development, whereby the biggest republic would take the same attitude towards the federation as others, rather than be “someone aspiring for more but turning inferior in the practice.” This is why Serbia should be freed from “the sense about its special mission” in the safeguard of Yugoslavia and made to “turn to itself and set off its creative powers.”73 And this was why Nikezić was optimistic after the adoption of the constitutional amendments in 1971 – solid arrangements, as he put it, created the conditions for more sedated debates on all the differences at the level of everyday life, instead of earlier debates “on principled and celestial issues, but on the issues to be solved in worldly manner,” above all by compromise or, “as the English say, through the division of difference.”74 Referring to the need for a compromise between Yugoslav republics, in March 1979, before the highest party organ, he reiterated his leadership’s stance about “Yugoslav formulas” for equal respect to be paid to the interests of all Yugoslav republics and nations.75 There should be no longer “more important” issues concerning just two or three republics be they the biggest of all – Serbia and Croatia. No agreements between these two republics would be of any avail to Yugoslavia as they would just stand “for an attempt at imposing their stands on others.” And yet, neither was such consensual agreement in the interest of all acceptable in just any form, but only if it was within the framework of constitutionally defined federal institutions. The beginning of every new course has been unacceptable since “we have where and on the basis to build on together.”76

And when it came to the relations in the federation, in Latinka Perović’s view every centralistic orientation that would question independence of republics and provinces could only speed up “disintegration processes in Yugoslavia” rather than contribute to its unity. Further on, she argued, it was full independence and responsibility of all parts of Yugoslavia” that could ensure a “new unity.” This implied full functionality of remaining powers of the federation, “the republics and provinces had transferred to it as their common functions.” And the practice of the questions of the Yugoslav community never to be discussed “outside the institutions established for the purpose” should be developed in full, she said. Under the circumstances (highly independent republics and provinces), the League of Communists should act as a “factor of unity” but to act in this way it should further democraticize, she argued.77 In her view, solutions to all disputable questions should be sought in legitimate federal institutions, “together with others,” in a “peaceful way, without imposing one’s views on the rest but also without bypassing delicate and biting issues.” Yugoslav institutions – she saw as “synthesis” – are not perfect, she warned, but “their imperfection has not caused the crisis but the fact that decisions are often made outside and past them.” Such approach by the League of Communists of Serbia /SKS/ is not “a matter of style but of politics,” she said, but a matter of “overall and longstanding” interest of the entire Yugoslav community; therefore, “looking beyond the present time” behind any dispute they are seeing a possibility for an agreement. “SKS’s clear-cut commitment to strengthening the independence and responsibilities of the Republic must have disappointed Serbian nationalists aspiring to a special role for Serbia, as well as all other nationalists hiding their nationalisms behind the thesis about Serbia being the stronghold of the resistance to change because it wanted to safeguard the existing relations in the Federation,” she reiterated on this occasion.78 “Today, SKS cannot be successful without others,” she said, adding that without a clear democratic concept and program the league would found itself disoriented against the background of political complexities of the time; and “the character of republican statehood against self-governance and multiethnic composition of our Republic” could not be clarified without a well-defined program. Besides, further development of autonomous provinces within the Republic and the Federation could not be determined unless Serbia was democratically oriented. Hence, only Serbia’s democratic orientation – “equal among equals, turned to itself and as responsible as others for undertakings in the Yugoslav federation” – made it possible to put an end to federal centralism that, under such circumstances, would isolate Serbia itself while turning it against others, she said.79

Latinka Perović addressed the well-known 17th session of the SKJ Presidency of April 1971 on behalf of Serbia’s party leadership. Referring to their concept of understanding Yugoslavia at the times of crisis, she first touched on the Brioni plenum calling it “the starting point of visible changes and reforms of economic and social relations, national issues, and the development of the Yugoslav community as a federation of equals.” “A new policy and some new people have emerged from this orientation,” she said. This orientation need not necessarily be the only one but it is the one SKS has been fighting for, along with all “progressive and thinking people” in the Republic. And the other way round – every attack at the SKS policy was nothing but “an impetus to conservativism, pan-Serbian nationalism and to the forces we confronted at the Fourth Plenum.” With this she put across a clear message to the federal political center.80 She reminded that the policy of “clean bill” has been accepted in Serbia, primarily because of the wish to have “everyone rewarded by what he accomplished;” Serbia, therefore, will keep on insisting on these principles. And speaking of constitutional amendments she reminded of the past debate on them and of SKS’s arch enemies – nationalism and centralism. The entire process related to the amendments, she said, was focused on proving that Serbia was not the stronghold of the resistance to reforms of the federation; “Our commitment to constitutional changes was not enforced” since the new system incorporated Serbia’s economic interests as well and its belief that the Yugoslav community was sustainable only against the background “of equality and equal responsibility of all.” The thesis about Serbia’s resistance to changes rested on the assumption that “stands of the opponents of SKS attract more attention than SKS stands on the changes.” In saying this she implied the activities by the nationalistic intellectual opposition and the party’s conservative wing. “The Socialist Republic of Serbia and its representative bodies had no objection whatsoever to the constitutional amendments,” reminded L. Perović. “Over the debate on the amendments SKS has been positive about three crucial issues – the character of the federation, republican statehood and autonomy for provinces, as all the three elements express the community and the respect for the interests of all. The functions of the federation had to be decided consensually, which was the precondition to its sustainability, and it is in vital interest of the Serbian people that exactly such democratic, socialist community could further prosper.”81

In her view the litmus test of Serbia’s orientation was its attitude toward the provinces. “The economically isolated, politically autocratic Serbia would not recognize the provinces’ economic and political independence within the federation and the Republic. The self-governing and democratic Serbia could not imagine the position of the position of the provinces otherwise. Our stance is that the provinces are constitutive elements of the Yugoslav federation and integral part of the Republic.” The premise is, she said, that republics and provinces, the same as nations and national minorities, are sovereign and absolutely equal, and that Yugoslav institutions should be at the same time capacitated for implementation of the policy agreed on.” These institutions, she argued, are “the venues of agreement reached on equal footing.” “Serbia’s hegemony” could not have safeguarded the Yugoslav community – and the SKS Central Committee had fought against a policy as “to the full.” However, crucial to socialist affirmation of national identity, she said, was the attitude towards nationalism – and the Serbian nationalism was most threatening to the Yugoslav community – “actually and potentially.” The “war” against nationalism will take up time in Serbia as well, but it is of vital importance that the same struggle “is waged everywhere.” This was her clear message to the officials of the Croatian Central Committee, above all to Savka Dabčević and Mika Tripalo, but also to the Yugoslav President himself who was backing them up.82 And when referring to Serbian-Croatian relations she said that this should not be a central issue in Yugoslavia, since this thesis (about the central issue) suited nationalists the most – “Agreement with Croatians at the detriment of all others comes first, and use the balance of power to settle accounts with Croatians” was their motto. Such stands would first went in for communists in all the republics, and finally go after Yugoslavia itself. Besides, the changes made at the level of the state and society, she said, could not have bypassed the League of Communists; this is why the League should not be “made into the means for the safeguard of centralism” that had been eliminated in the state and the society. The League of Communists should mirror the complexity of the entire community, she argued, and, therefore, should build “the unity of conviction” through new relations in the society and by providing answers to the question about the kind of community Yugoslav peoples would want to have against the background of economic development, modernization and democratization.83 Nikezić analyzed the simultaneous process of breaking up with the centralistic model of the party and the state between two tendencies: for federalization of the party and for the “return to the old,” when all decisions had been made Yugoslavia’s “center” while republics and provinces had been just implementing them. Despite the party’s decentralization and segmentation of its influence, he said, everyone agreed that the League of Communists was one and only, and that such state of affairs never questioned the responsibilities resting on parties in republics and provinces. In his view, nations, as reflected in federalism and the existence of republics and provinces, were Yugoslavia’s specificity. But what was one and only for all were self-governing and socialist traits of the society – as reflected in the totality of social relations. As a leading political force the League of Communists, according to Serbia’s reformer No. one, should demonstrate, ideologically and in practice, both traits: the society’s unique socialist character5 and multiethnicity of the Yugoslav federal constellation.84 Therefore, he said, the constitutional amendments made a foundation for a democratic Yugoslavia of equals; and in Serbia, its league of communists he was at the helm of, has had no wish to have these amendments “discreetly adopted,” but to make people fully aware of them, to make the party “fight” for their adoption, to have the masses accept them, but also to have them influence collective consciousness in favor of the concept of a complex state. People’s perception of province’s autonomy – the issue that laid bare “conservative forces” and “reactionary thinking” – should be changed in particular, he argued. Had not the League of Communists confronted these forces, its modern concepts would not have be turned into its policy or accepted by public at large in Serbia. The struggle against Serbian nationalism, he said, was at the same time the precondition for survival and development of socialism in Serbia, as well as a prerequisite to its progress as a Yugoslav community and a part of modern world. And, most of all, the struggle against conservative forces, defeated in the revolution, preconditioned Serbia’s safeguard of the modern concept and prospects for development. Communists in Serbia are fully aware that Serbian nationalism would first choke Serbia itself in Yugoslavia, closed the door on democratic forces and ruin all chances for the emergence of an economically and culturally developed and modern country, he emphasized.85 Marko Nikezić was often reiterating the theses of his well-known speech in Sarajevo in 1970, as well as the argument Latinka Perović was using in her talks with people working in culture – “The Serbs outside Serbia are at home, free and equal in other republics,” rather than “subjugated parts of the Serbian nation.” Some people would not agree with this, said Nikezić, describing the visit by a delegation of Serbs from Lika (Croatia); members of the delegation told him that their kinsmen had cried at his words in Sarajevo – “We are not custodians to the Serbs outside Serbia.” “Nationalism in Serbia is a constant,” he said, “and for, the struggle against this continuity is the purpose of our political action.”86

On November 11, 1971, on the eve of the third, last phase of modification of the 1963 Constitution when nationalism was legitimizing itself and permeating all the pores of public life, President of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Serbia Marko Nikezić delivered in Sarajevo his paradigmatic speech to the political committee of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He spoke about Yugoslavia as a unique state ensuring sovereignty to equal nations through their republics that are “basically, and as a rule, national states of Yugoslav peoples.” Confronting the nationalistic objective of the integration of the entire Serbian ethnic space with the idea of a democratic and polycentric federation, he saw the prospects for the Serbian people for living in one community exclusively along the course of the Yugoslav transformation – within “a democratic, socialist federation wherein all the citizens are free to express their national feelings and culture, and free to move to and work in any socialist republic of ours.” Only such multiethnic, decentralized and essentially socialist community meant to the Serbian nation, as well as to all other, full achievement of their “aspiration for freedom and unity.”87 In brief, further federalization in the service of the achievement and safeguard of long-lasting integration. This was Serbia’s ruling elite’s well-thought-off and creative response to nationalistic challenges that, calling for resistance to constitutional changes, offered time-tested “hegemonistic claims” as solutions. These pretensions could be defeated only with successful, so planned federation, he said.88 In his view, the Serbian nation “finds” its identity and expression in Yugoslavia and in Serbia, inasmuch as in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, the republics where the Serbs live side by side and on equal footing with other nations. This is why Serbia’s no matter what aspiration to take care of all the Serbs in Yugoslavia would be “pure nationalism,” he said in Sarajevo.89 Nikezić also said that many Serbs who had moved to Belgrade from other regions were not only nourishing unitary sentiments but also offering their “formula for Serbia’s behavior” out of fear of being marginalized. And speaking of the party, he said that SKJ could not have been more unisonous than the Yugoslav society, for “like the society, like SKJ.” “The League of Communists neither could nor should have reflected some artificial unity or unison, some mechanical formula, given that we had all agreed to live together with all our differences.”90

For Marko Nikezić the issue of the provinces was the issue of the complexity of Serbia’s “being” – the provinces themselves, he argued, should say what position they were advocating for themselves but also stop being used as agents of pressure and arbitration in Serbia proper; here he referred to Tito’s frequent meetings with Kosovo leaders and Kosovo’s Provincial Committee’s arguments against the policy of the SKS Central Committee. On the other hand, he said, many Serbian communists had not yet “swallowed” autonomies by raising the question of whether asking how come that as they often raised the question of whether the very purpose of the provinces needed to be reconsidered given that republics were being constituted as nation-states; hence, how could Serbia get constituted as such with two provinces within it?

The issue of autonomies is the issue of “acquired democratic rights” that should be neither reduced nor abolished but only extended not matter what Serbian conservatives argued for, he said. Conservatives were thinking in the categories belonging to the past, which is itself a “nonsense” as it “took people back to the past to quarrel over such nonsense instead of discussing what it is we could do together to solve economic problems.” “If we do not work on these solutions we shall be fighting over banners but, actually, fighting over Kosovo;” and Serbia “cannot be built on industry and on the Kosovo myth at the same” – and this is what has to be decided once for all: are we for conservativism or modernism?91 This is why these “conservative tendencies” according to which only centralism and Serbia’s special role are keeping Yugoslavia alive should be fought against, he used to say. And this is why, he explained, ever since the Brioni plenum the League of Communists of Serbia has been “in war” with the Serbian nationalism.” “I would like to be able to say that this is the case everywhere, it would have been of great help to us should everybody take such attitude towards nationalism of their own,” he said alluding to the situation in Croatia. “Problems cannot be solved in Yugoslavia if there is a consensus solely on the need to fight Serbian nationalism.” The struggle against Serbian nationalism has been on the priority agenda, he said, not only because this nationalism will claim Bosnia-Herzegovina but also because the question itself reveals “who speaks on Serbia’s behalf.” These two tendencies have always been on the agenda – they were either treading on each other or been in war with each other, since that was all about “who overmasters whom in Serbia.” To him especially dangerous was also the alliance with nationalistic ideology. Those who would admit nationalists to the party under the pretext that it does not matter if they are “pushing our cart” forgot to ask themselves “who will be the one to decide the course this cart will take.” Serbia’s leadership, he said, wanted to “make it clear” what attitude towards nationalism it has taken. As long as he was at the helm of the League of Communists of Serbia there will be no alliance whatsoever with nationalists or the policy of “Serbs getting together.”92 Asked by reporters from the West whether there was the Serbian question to be coped with in Yugoslavia, he retorted, “I don’t think so.”93

Speaking of nationalism that denied the idea of a complex state and decentralization, Latinka Perović though the crucial issue were the provinces as “factors of democratic unity in Serbia’’ but also “the factors of its stability” a possible nationalistic and conservative orientation would call into question first. Therefore, the issue of Serbia’s “democratic evolution” and further development of policy of national equality was above all the issue of provincial autonomies as they would be the first to fall when two opposing orientations clash – the modernist and reformist one, and the dogmatic-conservative. This is why the provinces were major indicators of the orientation Serbia was gravitating towards – either towards “the conservative, autocratic and actually pan-Serbian” or “democratic” one. Another issue nationalism would deny flatly was the possibility of the federation’s functioning on the principles of amendments. She disagreed with the thesis that nationalism has been defeated, especially not after Karađorđevo. “The hell it’s been defeated, we shall have to go on defeating it in Yugoslavia for generations to come. We’ve been defeating it in Serbia ever since the Fourth Plenum but it gets over all the time. That’s a hundred-headed hydra that grows out of social dispute,” said L. Perović. As problems “with nationalism” she also quoted permanent use of the Serbs outside Serbia and misuse of cultural institutions for nationalistic ideology.94

Marko Nikezić particularly referred to two “closed territories,” the army and diplomacy as two institutions that do not fully respect the structures of the complex state and where everyone should have a say about policy-making; these institutions, he said, should not remain beyond mutual decision-making as strongholds of federal centralism. It is most important, he added, to pay heed to institutional frameworks and direct the work of these institutions through the federal government, the parliament, and so on. Operations of these two major “branches” of the Yugoslav policy should be discussed and “executed” only once all the parties reach an agreement – after that “nothing should be changed except through legal Yugoslav institutions.”95 That was the idea about fundamental decomposition of the federal centralism and most striking example of discontinuity with the concept of the Yugoslav post-war federalism. As for Serbia, having scanned the situation in the field, Nikezić said that it was more and more taking stands of its own – now almost like other republics – and that the theses that Serbia had to identify itself with Yugoslavia and the federal leadership were fading away.96 And explaining the unitarian tendency of Serbia’s general public he said that throughout one century the Serbs while fighting against the monarchist regime, gendarmes or corrupted ministers had nevertheless had seen the state as their own, and so they had the army: they had passed down their identification with state and the army to both Yugoslavias. And this means not, he added, that in the process of decentralization Serbia would accept to have less statehood than other republics or some special authority of the Yugoslav political center over its territory.97 On many occasions he had warned that SKJ could not be a panacea for the shortcomings of the entire system. The federal political center should never question “the level of independence and responsibility republics have taken upon them.” “Otherwise, we would be imposing more centralism through the back door.”98

Addressing the press Latinka Perović said that it was most important – now in full swing of the debate on the third group of constitutional amendments – to clear up what Yugoslavia really was. Or, more precisely, to clarify its character – was it a federation or a federal state, and was it a union of nations or, at the same time, also a community of working people and citizens. To Serbia’s party leadership all these issues were not only the question of legislation but of fundamental political clarification of the character of the state and society. Referring to critics in Serbia proper – actually to qualms that are not, as she put it, “groundless” – she said that, in the new situation, Serbia was above all duty bound to “give much more weight to political positions of other republics” and especially take into account “the situation in and disposition of the masses.”99 Asked whether, as some were saying, Serbia was actually disintegrating, the Secretary of the Central Committee said that such views deserved a thorough debate. Serbia is on its way to finally giving up that it could not impose its interests on others, as well as that the interests of Yugoslavia “cannot be identified with its own.” That is why Serbia is faced with historical responsibility to make its own decision on the future course of its development, she said; in brief, to concern it with interests of its own, intensive economic progress above all. Serbia’s position in Yugoslavia, the same as the position of any other republic, will depend on its endeavor and economic progress made, said Perović. She did not deny that in 1970 there had been serious opposition to constitutional amendments and the reform of the federation in Serbia, which had been most of all manifested as “nationalistic concern for Yugoslavia and Serbia’s standing.” This resistance had been in the focus of all debates on constitutional amendments, she said, emphasizing that the party leadership thought it was high time to put an end to other unrealistic assessments – about Serbia being the stronghold of all the resistance to ongoing changes.100

For Nikezić, the short reckonings make long friends policy obliging “all the republics and nations” was crucial to their equality, and to their individual national and state emancipation. Such policy could be criticized as incomplete or imperfect but only under the condition that everyone had accepted it as a starting point. The criticism that not everything was in “mutually settled accounts,” he said, cannot be used as an excuse for building social and interethnic relations on “unclear bills.” Whenever this policy had to be departed from, it should be departed from with full consciousness that something has to be sacrificed so as to have some other problems solved. It is all about compromise – an irreplaceable instrument of any society. “Settled accounts” the same as other phases of the reformist process, he said, caused anxieties and adverse responses in Serbia. And yet, the reformist leadership had insisted on two elements only – on definite opposition to centralization and on the maintenance of the common market. All other segments had to remain open to discussion and compromise. Marko Nikezić was warning against Serbian nationalists and conservatives who thought the “short reckonings make long friends” policy unacceptable, claiming that the party leadership “being concerned with the SR of Serbia only, actually recognizes the situation imposed on it and thus betrays the Serbhood as a whole.”101 He argued that the official Serbia was interested in having economic and political functions of the federation reduced – without delay – to joint decision-making by all in Yugoslavia.102 “Working on clear-cut mutual relations and republics taking over functions of the federation” was on the priority agenda of the Serbian party leadership.103 Referring to Serbia’s motives for the policy of settled accounts Latinka Perović said the main one was that “everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor.”104

Seeing Serbia’s constitutionally defined borders as realistic and lasting, Nikezić’s leadership was primarily concerned with social and cultural development, decentralization projects and processes of deetatization and weakening of the state – which was for nationalistic circles a deified and absolute precondition to national goals. In Serbia, this dilemma between two diametrically opposite alternatives was nothing new – but was manifest more than ever before within a hegemonic party, but also in the society as a whole.105

IV. Ideological concepts
of the Serbian nationalism deny Yugoslavia as a complex state

Democratization of Yugoslavia’s political scene in the second half of the 1960, more media freedoms, ongoing debates on the reform of the federation, etc., raised a nationalistic tide throughout the country. The Serbian nationalism – decentralization, more independence for republics and autonomy of provinces, the concept of a complex state and affirmation of nations the very existence and equal position of which it could not have accepted but with a heavy heart – had sparked off, was reaffirmed and exemplified in a number of noteworthy manifestations.

The debate on constitutional amendments at Belgrade’s Faculty of Law on March 18-22, 1971 brought together many outstanding members of Serbia’s intellectual elite. What made this addition to the discussion of the third “wave” of radical amendments of the 1963 Constitution a significant event was the sharp and explicit manner in which participants raised the so-called Serbian question with emphasis on “one-sided and problematic” solution that would pave the way to Yugoslavia’s last constitution in 1974.106

Law Professor Pavle Ristić’s criticism of constitutional amendments focused on “Serbia’s geographic, economic, national and political position,” more precisely, as he put it, on its inequality vis-à-vis other federal units. The crux of this constitutional anomaly is in Serbia’s autonomous provinces, he argued adding that to his understanding of the amendments they were ranked as “constitutional elements of the Yugoslav federation.”107 For Ristić, this thesis was legally founded on the right to veto granted to the provinces, as well as in their being represented in federal bodies where they could decide independently from the rest – all of which turning autonomies into elements of the Yugoslav federalism (“new federal units”) that in fact avoid being controlled by the “mother” republic. The fact he emphasized as notably problematic from the theoretic point of view was that the provisions on the provinces did not apply to all federal units – to all subjects to the federation – but “just to the SR of Serbia.” And this, he argued, indicate Serbia’s inequality and subjugation by the new constitutional concept.108 This, further on, departs from fundamental postulates of federalism – above all from every federal unit’s right to self-organization – and thus seriously questions Serbia’s constitutionally guaranteed sovereignty. Though the amendments provided that the provinces were parts of Serbia and elements of the Yugoslav federalism, their being represented in federal bodies gave birth to second thoughts and arguments that the state “is being split and torn to pieces.” And yet, his criticism did not target the reform of the federation as such as much as it did the fact that the autonomies were defined both as elements of the Yugoslav federalism and the Yugoslav question, which, as he put it, “leaves one under the impression that one of the functions of the federation is to decide on a certain model of relations between the SR of Serbia and the provinces and so to determine, in advance, the status of the latter while restricting considerably the Constitution of the SR of Serbia to do so.” Consequently, constitutional provisions were preventing Serbia from arranging itself its relations with the provinces and thus arbiter their autonomies, entitled to derogate or abolish them at will, any time, without any interference by the federal top. The provisions obviously counted on a change in the constellation of domestic policy and the fact that against a changed ideological background a provincial autonomy would be easier to abolish should it depend on the “mother” republic only. Prof. Ristić also stressed that the majority nation in Serbia feels deprived because of “national minorities’ paternalism over the Serbs in the very republic the Serbian nation has constituted as an expression of its sovereignty.”109 Dramatizing the thesis about the majority nation’s inferior position in the federal unit of its own, he claimed that never before in the history of constitutionality has a sovereign nation in its “own state” been prevented from exercising “certain sovereign rights in some of its parts,” thus alluding to provinces Vojvodina and Kosovo. Commenting on frequent arguments about unfair settlement of the national question – to the detriment of the Serbs – he said this was the cause of “stronger and stronger nationalistic sentiments among the Serbs as they feel that their mother republic was being subjugated and treated unfairly;” solutions as such, he added, were leading to complete disintegration the SR of Serbia within “borders are neither ethnic, national nor historical.”110

At the very start of his discussion Law Professor Andrija Gams said outright that constitutional amendments equaled disintegration of Yugoslavia under political pressure. Labeling amendments historically unjustified, politically unbalanced, ideologically confusing and scientifically ungrounded, Gams said that Serbia had found itself unjustly accused of centralistic pretensions and hegemony and was, therefore, compelled to accept the policy “contrary to its interests.” He identified the “origins” of coercion in a strong group from Croatia whose policy was creating “situations greatly disturbing the people…especially in the areas these situations are actually taking place.” Referring the “hardly explicable dilemma” – about sovereignty invested either in republics or in the federation – he fiercely argued against the status of provinces he called “wrongly determined.” “What the provinces actually are?” he asked himself aloud and then spoke about “the inconsistent and vague” criterion for their constitution. “Is it a historical tradition that matters here (was it so Dalmatia should have been a province), is it ethnic or national diversity (was it so we would have to give a province not only to Shiptars in Macedonia but, most of all, to Serbs in Croatia, at least in the places they inhabit homogeneously)?”111 He also discussed the national question from the angle of economic inequality and exploitation of poorer, Eastern republic by developed, Western ones.112 What caused this, he said, was that the common market had been split up into national economies and so “developed republics were trying to impose their goods on underdeveloped ones, while buying their raw materials at low prices.” Developed republics will be closing more and more their markets to the goods and capital of other republics, he argued, while using their economic supremacy to expand economically to the underdeveloped. And most “exploitative” of all was Slovenia. All this, he predicted, would originate conflicts more serious than any up to then, since Serbia had carried the heaviest burden, was “proclaimed the origin of many evils and given many attributes such as Unitarianism,” and was especially tied by the official stand about noninterference into affairs of other republics, most of all of Croatia – and that was utterly wrong.

According to Živomir Đorđević’s interpretation of the amendments, they were reshaping Yugoslavia into “a community of republics and autonomous provinces” since central institutions had no means whatsoever or power necessary for the realization of their authorities. However, the blade of his criticism was also cutting the status of the provinces as indicators of Serbia and the Serbs’ inequality in Yugoslavia. Many are dissatisfied with the change in the Yugoslav Constitution, “probably even all or at least the majority of the Serbs,”113 he said, and to illustrate his point he referred to the pun popular among “the people” at the time: Serbia is composed of two provinces and „Užas“114 (literally meaning “horror,” but actually an acronym for “proper” and Serbia – Serbia proper, translator’s remark). It was the departure from centralism that provided the sum and substance to the earlier form of provincial autonomy since at the time of strong central bodies “the question of Serbia’s physiognomy and its ties with autonomous provinces was less sensitive than today when Yugoslavia is being mostly constituted as a community of republics, actually on the confederative principle.”115 In the situation as such, argued Đorđević, the Serbs do not see their own republic clearly, and could not be asked to be “less interested in their state” than other Yugoslav peoples. According to him, in the crux of Serbia’s inequality is not the very existence of provinces but in the fact that the issue has not been solved in a principled manner – or that the possibility that other republics too have their autonomous provinces had not been provided. Commenting of the authorities’ thesis about the provinces as “Serbia’s riches,” Đorđević asked ironically why was it that “other republics were not allowed to have such riches” and appealed to like-minded figures in Vojvodina and Kosovo – those who had already declared themselves as opponents to equal position of republics and provinces – to strongly advocate for a change in draft amendments. Claiming that the status of provinces was identical to that of republics, he pictured Serbia as “a premature baby or a monster creation,” and the essence of draft amendments as “a swindle.” Arguing against benefits from Vojvodina’s autonomy, he stressed the well-known nationalistic thesis about a “senseless” historical justification for its autonomy which it had strived after “in a foreign and hostile state” as a mode of the safeguard of the Serbian national identity and unification with Serbia. Having achieved this goal, Vojvodina “with its majority Serb population needs autonomy no longer” given that Serbia is not a hostile state, which in itself makes any autonomous arrangements meaningless. Appealing to all political factors in Serbia to join hands in the resistance to constitutional changes, he predicted “the foreseeable future to be dark and uncertain” as one could expect “establishment of six or eight independent states on this soil.” Serbia has existed “before socialism and will exist after it,” he said, since the people and soil are always here. To end with, he openly argued against establishment and special protection of certain nations thus directly undermining the constitutional principle of ethnic equality, as well as against “the enforced principle” that “every of our republics stands for a certain nation’s state.” This principle seems to “ignore” that one nation could be organized in several republics, he said, alluding to inter-republic borders dividing the Serbian ethnic space.116 And it was this ethnic and cultural “disintegration” of the Serbian people – he saw as obliteration of Yugoslavia’s primordial legacy – that made Đorđević fiercely criticize constitutional amendments for not having envisaged the possibility of reintegration of some sociopolitical communities (republics and provinces) within the federation. With this he openly questioned the issue of republican borders in Yugoslavia.117

However, most critical of all participants in the debate at the Faculty of Law in March 1971 was philosopher Mihajlo Đurić. As he admitted himself, he came to the debate intending not to speak about its topic; the debate on constitutional amendments just provided him the opportunity to the problem he saw as pressing: position of Serbia and the Serbs against the new constitutional backdrop that was “imposed on Serbia” but presented as “its own will and need.” For Đurić too, the main reason why the Constitution had to be changed was “nationalistic madness” of “threatening proportions” over the past couple of years; alluding to developments in Croatia, he accused an “aggressive,” “sectarian” and “hateful” nationalism privileged by the regime and hence considered legal. He interpreted constitution-makers’ “impatience” and “irritability” saying “They know too well what it is they will profit from all,” whereas commenting on the constructive attitude of the Serbian party he saw as confused, embarrassed and hesitating – and on whom the changes were imposed – he said, “They know exactly what it is they are losing.” Constitutional changes aimed against “the most vital interests” of the Serbian people are fundamentally changing the character of the Yugoslav community and actually erased the very idea about a community as such, he argued. “It is as clear as a day that even at this point Yugoslavia is hardly more than a geographic notion since several independent and mutually confronted nation-states are being established on its soil or, to put it precisely, on its ruins.” “However, far it be from me to insist on saving at any price something that cannot be saved and something that in its present form or façade was not even worth making.”118

He called the distinction made between a nation and a state enforced and appealed to everyone’s conscience to admit – in the name of historical responsibility to the nation they belong to – that “at this point, most important to the Serbian nation is its identify and integrity, and so the issue of its political and legal unification.”119 Borders between all Yugoslav republics, he said, are only “conditional,” especially the borders of SR of Serbia that are far from being “national or historical borders of the Serbian nation,” while their “inappropriateness,” “arbitrariness” and “unsustainability” are striking when viewed as a nation-state borders.120 These borders are inappropriate to any republic, except for Slovenia, and particularly not to Serbia, he said. Emphasizing that as many as 40 percent of Serbs live outside the so-called Serbia proper, he asked himself if the Serbian nation had the right to be indifferent to its “many parts beyond the present borders of SR of Serbia” – and, moreover, at the time when nation-states are being constituted in the territory of Yugoslavia.121 Being dispersed all over the country, the Serbs, said Đurić, should be, as they always have been, “more interested in Yugoslavia than any other nation constituting the common state.

The Serbian nation, he went on, has been in an unequal position anyway but the adoption of the constitutional amendments will make this “woeful fact” even more deplorable – as, besides Serbia, the Serbs are living in four out of five republics but “live as they should” in none. To illustrate this theses he said that Croatia’s and Macedonia’s constitutions did not provide guaranteed rights to the Serbs, while in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbian nation, although “the majority population,” was not entitled to use “its Cyrillic alphabet;” this was planned to separate them from the body of their national culture and destroy their unique cultural-spiritual space. And last but not least, the Serbs in Montenegro are even being denied the right to the national name of their own, he stressed.122 To him the constitutional changes were like rubbing salt into Serbs’ wounds. He also claimed that the Serbs had been “unjustly” accused of centralism and Unitarianism put into practice in the post-war period so as to “prevent the question of national responsibilities for the genocide against the Serbian nation in the WWII from being raised.”123 To end with, he appealed for leaving “delusions of the past” behind, emphasizing that “the Serbian nation should look after itself, and start thinking about its survival and fighting for its endangered national identity and integrity; as for the constitutional amendments, they should be entirely turned down; one should not be concerned with having them prettied up ephemerally but demand some other, more serious, responsible and “historically justified solutions,” he said while just hinting at what these solutions could be.124

His paradigmatic speech – effective in many ways – charted a course of Serbian nationalism more explicitly and clearly than any other – but also emanated the accumulated national frustration of a part of Serbia’s nationalistically oriented intellectual elite. What Đurić’s address summed up was that on the ruins of Yugoslavia – a failed project – and by annihilating “conditional,” “administrative,” “approximate,” “unhistorical,” “unjust” and “temporary” republican borders – Serbian ethnic space should be integrated.


Dobrica Ćosić’s book “Moć i strepnje” (Power and Misgivings), published in 1971 in Belgrade, mostly contains his speeches and remarks about culture and cultural policy in the period 1966-71. The thread of the entire writing is the narrative about serious threats to the Serbian cultural-spiritual heritage generated by “disunity and partition” and the necessity for the Serbs’ reintegration.125 At the very opening, in the notes he made for his lecture at the Kolarac People’s University in 1967, Ćosić is varying the thesis about the disunited Serbian ethnic space throughout the history and calls this segmentation the most tragic characteristic of the Serb national culture – its doom. “The factors in power are persistently encouraging this disunity in time, space and essence,” wrote the member of the Central Committee of SKS at the time, explaining that a whole ideology has been established for this purpose, as an amalgam of “Austro-Hungarian and Cominform concept for the Balkans and Yugoslavia.”126 The problem is, he argues, in non-existence of “true awareness” about this in the Serbian culture, as well as in the fact that conditions for its emergence have never been created despite the “passionate historical endeavor” for political and cultural “unity and interconnection” of the Serb nation, achieved at “heavy cost;” the cost of “two and a half million of Serbs” who had died for “their liberation and unification;” and this legacy of political, ethnic and cultural unity has to be defended since “the Serbian nation is not yet a homogeneous whole and lives not in a single state or one federal republic,” he wrote in 1967. In this lecture in which he accused communists of anti-Serb policy, Dobrica Ćosić “raised, for the first time, the Serbian national question,” writes publicist Slavoljub Đukić.127

He also rivets readers’ attention to the position of the Serbs outside Serbia, especially those in Croatia the society of which, he argues, has developed a trend of disregarding or even denying the Serbs’ right to call their language by its proper name, and denies them the right to “express and confirm their national individuality on equal footing with the Croats.”128 Calling naïve and hypocritical the argument that nationalisms of smaller nations (such as “Shiptars” and “Slovenians”) are harmless, he went against the Yugoslav practice whereby the struggle against nationalism implied first a showdown with one’s own nationalism. As for Serb communists, Ćosić was accusing them of differentiating not the freedom-loving heritage and “the goals of their national culture” on the one hand, and the paradigms opposite to them on the other; and he was criticizing them for belittling the values “they have no understanding of,” imposing the national guilt complex on their people, “distorting historical facts, slander and fabricated affairs, “conversing” the dead, swearing at the past “as such…”129

The creed of his book verbalized in the stance that “What the Serbian national culture as a whole tragically misses today is the concern for the place, role and significance it has not but should have in Balkan, Yugoslav and global community of people” is probably most explicit in the last article.130 The article titled “Defeats and Goals” is actually an address he had delivered in his capacity as the chairman of the 64th annual assembly of the Serbian Literary Commune /SKZ/ publishing house on May 17, 1971 in Belgrade.131 These “goals” of his were inseparable from the changed mindset and situation with “far-fetching consequences” for the culture of the Serbian nation – because major national and cultural goals “testified at battlefields and scaffolds, in dungeons and concentration camps” and paid for dear, were “radically remolded and denied.”132 He implicitly accused the regime of having made “the deepest and most far-fetching” changes that were “hardly comparable to anything in Europe” and made “against the will of the people and intellectual elite” only to “choke the Serbian nation’s spirit of collective creativity.”133 Reminding that SKZ had been established to promote education and culture and was dedicated to strengthening of “spiritual and cultural unity of the entire Serbian nation,” he emphasized that in the post-war period its activity had been restricted to the Republic of Serbia and thus not covering the entire Serbian ethnic space in Yugoslavia. This problem became pressing when the “centralistic paradigm” was abandoned and Yugoslavia rearranged – all of which, he said, “question seriously the right to expression of the spiritual wholeness of the Serbian nation” and segmented “the historical and contextual unity of the Serbian culture.” Only Austro-Hungary and Hitler’s Third Reich, besides the League of Communists, had denied this Serbian “cultural-spiritual” unity independently from borders or the scope it covered, he argued.134 He anathemized the regime for its inconsistency and unprincipled policy, and reminded that not a single KPJ/SKJ document since 1941 had ideologically or legally disputed the undeniable right to the maintenance and development of “the culture of the Serbian nation as a whole” given that the federation was seen as a form of democratic integration of the Serbian ethnic space. The proclaimed principles, he argued, were diametrically opposite to the actual practice as after 1945, the Serbs, naïve believers emanating the Yugoslav socialist idealism, were renouncing their “national individuality” while suppressing, hushing up or inadequately expressing “collective consciousness of the entire nation” and asking not enough to have “the Serbian culture confirmed as a whole regardless of republican and territorial divides and borders.”135 The consequences of this harmful policy of “well-known actors” were serious – above all, the Serbian national culture was reduced to “the borders of today’s Republic of Serbia,” while “some powerful people were calling” any insistence on “the wholeness of the Serbian national culture – a pan-Serbian desire,” he said.136 Such attitude towards the Serbian nation also made “the regressive particularism in culture” bloom, and regional and political criteria dominant – all of which, in the final analysis, dissolved “the one and only…cultural consciousness of the Serbian nation, led to its historical regression and once again raised the national question – believed to be settled long ago. Calling for resistance to such policy of the regime, Ćosić was condemning labeling the people who would not accept it “pan-Serbian nationalists,” “centralists,” and the like. On behalf of the institution he chaired, Ćosić was interpreting “the newly structured” Yugoslav socialism that reaffirmed nationalities and national independence, and demanding guaranteed rights for the Serbs outside Serbia to “free expression of their belonging to their national culture as a whole.” For those cultural rights, he argued, could be denied to no one.137

Naming all the writers, artists and others working on culture in general who have pledged their names or works to the ideology of the Serbian nationalism would make a long list; however, one of the loudest and most outstanding in 1971 was proofreader and literary critic Živоrаd Stојkоvić. Calling the ongoing reform of the federation “a preparation for the establishment of eight states within a state,” she commented on the developments in Croatia; he labeled the demands of the Croatian leadership “political pseudo-problems” in the background of which were cultural institutions as unofficial political strongholds that were destabilizing the country “paid for dear…with hundreds of thousands” of human lives.138 According to Stојkоvić, Yugoslavia reached its “most critical point” in 1971 – when the federation “based on illogical and unnatural crossbreed of national and territorial republics” was manifesting all its deficiencies resulting from “an improvised” constitutional concept endorsed back in wartime. He tore to pieces Yugoslavia’s AVNOJ bedrock: he called it “nothing less artificial but far more antagonistic” than the one of the first Yugoslavia. As for the proposed constitutional amendments he explicitly called them “coup d’état,” aimed against “national, historical and cultural identity of the biggest nation of this country,” the executors of which were the country’s top leaders; he accused the latter of “ascribing centralism to the Serbian nation – the only one without a center of its own.”139 This is why, he argued, constitutional provisions were not crucial as such but their fatal consequences on “the status and situation of the Serbian nation in Yugoslavia;” this nation will get “none out of so many nation-states…although it is practically as numerous as all others taken together.” And what is it that guarantees “genuine rights for the Serbs” in “the states and territories to be allocated to other nations,” he wondered. Not for the first time he compared – and was not alone in it – the national policy of the ruling communists on the one hand, and Austro-Hungarian and Nazi policies on the other. Reminding of annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 – the “kiss of death” for Serbia and Montenegro - Živоrаd Stојkоvić claimed that what Austria failed to do, “are doing now those at whose initiative and insistence is Yugoslavia being killed under the veil of constitutional amendments.” As the kiss of death for the Serbian nation, new constitutional arrangements are “taking it back to square one” when it had been disunited, isolated and cut off in “four states wherein it makes majority population” and “three other wherein it is not recognized as a nation.”140 Hence, of all Yugoslav nations only the Serbs are not equal. After the WWII the Serbian nation, he argued, was cut off in republics and its ethnic territories were “reduced,” whereas the amendments would now boil it down to the territory “smaller than Nеdić’s occupation zone.” This turns the Serbs into “tenants” in the state “twice established mostly thanks to them,” the state that is now “shaped and reshaped” by those entitled the least to do it “cost them least.” Accusing all other Yugoslav nations of “separating the Serbs” with republican borders “so as to put themselves together” and “seeing the un-Serbianized Yugoslavia as not good enough for them,” Stојkоvić warned “those who have done most harm to the Serbs” that they were “not aware of what they are actually doing.” “These newly emerged petty nation-states without any national roots are raising once again the knotty, painful and far from innocent and safe the Serbian question in Yugoslavia.”141 He offered no solution to this raised question but hinted at the methodology of its settlement: “The Serbs have never been given their rights at meetings, congresses or plenums – this was where, as a rule, they were losing them.”142 This was Stојkоvić’s warning to the people involved in “dangerous games of lynching history, language and even vital interests of the Serbian nation in Yugoslavia.” He was especially critical about Serbia’s authorities that, as he put it, under the once slogans of the Austro-Hungarian aggressive campaign, proclaim one’s “duty of being concerned with the Serbian nation in the parts of the country where it had been biologically exterminated and exposed, ever since, to the peacetime genocide of assimilation” – pan-Serbian nationalism. Accusing these authorities of “indignation” with and “allergy” to everything national, he said they did not care at all about their own people doomed to have those “most responsible” among them reiterating the arguments Vienna used to play on just to prove “how ideologically and intellectually they are emancipated today.”143

The above-mentioned but also many other manifestations144 clearly mirrored transformation of the nationalistic policy – the so-called Serbian Yugoslavianism or centralism – into a pan-Serbian, state-building platform as the only alternative to the much opposed federalized Yugoslavia at the time.145 Besides, what emerged from the process of ideological modification – to be promoted two decades later – was the stance of the Serbian nationalistic opposition; the stance historian Sima Ćirković best defined in his lapidary phrase, “Either a federation tailored to Serbia and Serbs, or a Serbia as a nation-state in the territories inhabited by Serbs.”146

V. Conclusion

Comprehensive reforms of the second half of the 1960s and the early 1970s were mostly focused on the domain of the federation; hence, the constitutional reform and decentralization of the Yugoslav federalism were closely connected with the League of Communists of Serbia’s /SKS/ democratic and reformist course. This meant the policy of radical discontinuity with the centralistic model associating Serbia and its political structures for decades. And in-depth understanding of Yugoslavia as a complex state – belonging equally to all and functioning in the interest of all – implied absolute equality of all constitutive elements of the federalism and a break-up with the idea about the Serbs in need of a common state more than others and, therefore, having to “defend” it more than others and “from” others. So the Serbian party leadership renounced Serbia’s role of Yugoslavia’s “watchdog;” moreover, it broke up with the practice of identifying Serbia with Yugoslavia while promoting the idea about Serbia minding its own business and focused on its economic, political and cultural development; further on, it advocated the thesis that unity of a complex community could be achieved only if all nations were equal and, consequently, that the Serbs, being the biggest, could not have any special rights of duties. Unlike so many times in the past, territorial expansion and dreams about some imaginary borders were not substrates for the sake of which development and modernization would be given up. To harness its energy for modernization and make it focus on its own development Serbia had to be freed from atavistic, nationalistic ideas about its special mission as Yugoslavia’s watchdog. Having understood the sum and substance of a complex state, Marko Nikezić and his reformist party leadership renounced all manifestations of centralism, advocated genuine federalization, energetically stood for the policy of “settled accounts” between federal units, broken up with centralism, but also renounced the pan-Serbian concept of national homogenization as political methods while advocating instead fundamental autonomy for the provinces as prerequisites to Serbia’s democratization, and, last but not least, denied Serbia’s “custody” of the Serbs outside Serbia – and constituted a program that was not only unlike but quite opposite to Serbia’s decades-long, deep-rooted conservative tradition. Fully aware that nationalism is Serbia’s only form of conservativism but also the only tradition it had, Nikezić’s reformists radically broke up with practically all ideological premises of Serbia’s elites in the 20th century, and put forward a new concept of Serbia’s identity within its actual and constitutionally defined borders; with this they actually offered quite a novel political philosophy compatible to the democraticized concept of Yugoslav federalism and perception of Yugoslavia only sustainable, against the background of liberalization, as a complex community of equals. Speaking for a democratic, socialist Yugoslav federation as a minimal though a constitutionally guaranteed frame for all of its nations – the frame within which the question of Serbs outside Serbia could only be settled but also the position of provinces as elements of the republic and the Yugoslav federation affirmed – they came up with a modern approach, diametrically opposite to anachronous, territorial pretensions of the nationalistic intelligentsia preferring territorial expansion to modernization and development and the ethnically-based, pan-Serbian entity –modeled by defeated and sentenced quislings in the WWII – to a Yugoslavia of diversity and equality.

Confederal elements of the constitutional amendments passed in 1967–71 that reshaped the federation and made it “flexible” consolidated anew the values of the Serbian nationalism; it was there already but its manifestations had been sporadic, individual, incidental and usually not public. In the late 1960 public figures who have revived the so-called Serbian question were speaking and acting openly, organized better and better, and setting the foundations for long-term activity; and, the nationalistic ideology, swept underground when the dogmatic current won out in SKS (1972), lay in ambush waiting to put its compatibility with conservative socialism in use.

In the period this paper is focused on – when the matrix of centralism suffered defeat and was no longer legitimate foundation of the common state – leading members of Serbia’s critical intelligentsia (Dobrica Ćosić, Mihajlo Đurić, Mihajlo Marković, Pavle Ivić, etc.), having abandoned Yugoslav centralism, turned into more and more explicit advocates of national and territorial integration of the Serbs, as the only alternative to the delegitimized, worn off centralism. Having taken root in this period, the thesis about a federation to the Serbian nationalistic ideology’s taste or a nation-state incorporating the entire Serbian ethnic space – as the only alternative – was waiting for its day. Refusing to accept a decentralized state of Yugoslavia – imperfect though most acceptable form for ethnic integration of the Serbian nation – nationalists were openly advocating that Yugoslavia doomed to collapse – if not to be destroyed – was nothing to be grieved over; for, Yugoslavia as such was unworthy of being created in the first place. Grudges about Yugoslavia’s organization “have always, more or less strongly, strove after its destruction or, to put it precisely, after ethnically-based, pan-Serbian separatism,” as historian Olivera Milosavljević put it.147 In the said period, the members of Serbian critical intelligentsia also set the foundations of axiomatic patterns of thought to be turned – two decades later – into the predominant matrix of the Serbian nationalistic elite’s struggle a radical rearrangement of Yugoslavia. These patterns – made public more or less evasively in this period – led to the conclusion that the post-war Yugoslavia had been created only to hush up the truth about WWII genocide the Croat ethnic collectivity committed against the Serbian nation; that the ruling League of Communists – now a proven Serb-phobic - was the arch enemy of nationalistic aspirations for the pan-Serbian unification; that more than one third of the Serbian nation – actually all the Serbs outside Serbia – was discriminated against; that the inter-republic borders were conditional, imposed, provisional, approximate, unjust, un-ethnic, administrative and subject to change in different historical circumstances; that decentralization reflected anti-democratization, and the “pre-Brioni” centralization stood for a priori democratic solution; that it were the Croats’, the Slovenians’ and the Albanians’ separatism and nationalism that had triggered off the constitutional reform; and that all this diametrically opposite to vital interests of the Serbian nation: its nationalism was persecuted, the nation itself found itself in an unequal position, whereas the regime was synchronously encouraging or tolerating nationalism of other peoples of Yugoslavia. This argumentation was systematically shaping a political culture of martyrdom not immanent in the Serbian nationalism only.

The alternatives referred to in the paragraphs above – and not new in the history of Serbia – emerged from the reformist wing of the monopolistic party and circles in the nationalistic, opposition intelligentsia alike. The concept promoted by the former went down in history after their defeat (1972) whereas that that of the latter stepped down the public scene for the time being to wait for its time to come. It did not have to wait for long. In the second half of the 1980s the already delegitimized, petrified and dogmatized communist ideology and the nationalistic alternative – integrated. The synergy of these two, seemingly confronted elements, achieved after the Eighth Session of the Central Committee of SKS in 1987 will give birth to a system the tragic outcome of which is still waiting for its rational researchers.









1 Brаnkо Pеtrаnоvić, Јugоslоvеnskо iskustvо srpskе nаciоnаlnе intеgrаciје, Bеlgrade, 1993, p. 86–92; Branko Petranović, Momčilo Zečević, Agonija dve Jugoslavije, Belgrade, 1991, p. 216–217.

2 Though Yugoslavia’s specific development does not necessarily have much in common with classic theories of federalism, modern theoreticians argue that the federal constitutive system or polycentrism posits that an individual is a member of different, autonomous political units within which to act, whereby the individual has access to a bigger number of rival political structures.. Vincent Ostrom, Politička teorija složene republike, Zagreb, 1989. p. 131. Jovan Đorđević, „Savremene teorije o federalizmu“, in: Federacija i federalizam, Niš, 1987, p. 9–11.

3 Јоvan Đorđević, Ustavno pravo, Belgrade, 1977; Mirоslаv Јоvаnоvić, „Prеslikаnа ili sаmоbitnа društvеnа izgrаdnjа: kоmpаrаtivnа аnаlizа Ustаvа FNRЈ (1946) i „stаljinskоg“ Ustаvа SSSR-а (1936)“, Tоkоvi istоriје, 1-2/2008, Bеlgrade, p. 280–289; Ustav Federativne Narodne Republike Jugoslavije, Belgrade, 1956.3

4 Branko Petranović, Momčilo Zečević, Jugoslovenski federalizam – ideje i stvarnost, tematska zbirka dokumenata, drugi tom 1946–1986, Beograd, 1987, p. 211–244; Ljubоdrаg Dimić, Istоriја srpskе držаvnоsti, Novi Sad, 2001, p. 329–337.

5 Ljubоdrаg Dimić, nаv. dеlо, p. 333–337; Branko Petranović, Momčilo Zečević, Jugoslovenski federalizam – ideje i stvarnost, Vol. 2, p. 234–244.

6 Olivera Milosavljević, „Centralizam i republikanizam – nacionalizam u Jugoslaviji 1945–1955“, Sociologija, Vol. XXXIV, No. 3, Belgrade, July-September 1992, p. 365–367 and 369.

7 „Stеnоgrаm prоširеnе sеdnicе IK CK SKЈ“, in: Pоčеtаk krаја SFRЈ – Stеnоgrаm i drugi prаtеći dоkumеnti prоširеnе sеdnicе Izvršnоg kоmitеtа CK SKЈ оdržаnе 14–16. mаrtа 1962. gоdinе, prepared, Miоdrаg Zеčеvić, Bеlgrade, 1998, p. 31–32.

8 Ibid, p. 258.

9 Istо, str. 104–108.

10 Istо, str. 192–196.

11 One of best known debates about different concepts for development of the Yugoslav federalism was the one-year one between writer Dоbrica Ćоsić and Dušаn Pirјеvec. It was triggered off in January 1961 by Ćosić's interview with the Zagreb-seated „Telegram,“ and the writer's centralistic-unitarist stands that questioned the very reason for the existance of republics within Yugoslavia. Strongly responding to this, Pirjavec claimed that republics would sustain and safeguard „all their natural functions“ as they stand for „clearly defined national organism and are, as such, indisputable, as indisputable as the will of teh peoples having created them.“ While Ćosić saw republican-national particularisms as the biggest threat, Pirjavec identified the danger in centralistic-integralistic demands. Though the polemic was personal in nature, those informed detected in the stands of a Serbian and a Slovenian intellectuals two incompatible concepts for Yugoslavia and its future, clashing over a constitution about to be drafted. Latinka Perović, „Kako su se izražavali različiti politički interesi u Jugoslaviji? in: Dijalog povjesničara/istoričara, 9, Vršac, 2004, str.189–209; Dobrica Ćosić, Nada i akcija, Beograd, 2000, str. 185–260; Slavoljub Đukić, Dobrica Ćosić – Čovek u svom vremenu, Beograd, 1989, p. 121–137, 145–147; Dobrica Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), Beograd, 2001,p. 215–218; Jasna Dragović Soso, Spasioci nacije – Intelektualna opozicija Srbije i oživljavanje nacionalizma, Beograd, 2004, p. 70.

12 Transcript of the meeting, “Pоčеtаk krаја SFRЈ – Stеnоgrаm i drugi prаtеći dоkumеnti prоširеnе sеdnicе Izvršnоg kоmitеtа CK SKЈ оdržаnе 14–16. mаrtа 1962. gоdinе, p. 252–261.




13 Јоvаn Đоrđеvić, Ustаvnо prаvо, Bеlgrade, 1977, p. 132.




14 Јоvаn Đоrđеvić, Ustаvnо prаvо, str. 338; Јаnkо Nicоvić, Ustаvni rаzvој Srbiје 1804–2006, Bеоgrаd, 20072, str. 420–421.

15 Ustav Socijalističke Federativne Republike Jugoslavije; Ustavni amandmani od I do XLII (iz 1967, 1968. i 1971. godine), Bеоgrаd, 1971, str. 52, 95.

16 Josip Broz Tito, Nacionalno pitanje i revolucija, Beograd, 1977, str. 240–242.




17 VIII Kongres Saveza komunista Jugoslavije, Beograd, 7–13. decembra 1964, stenografske beleške, I, Beograd, 1965, str. 343.

18 Istо, str. 343–344.

19 Istо, str. 411–413.




20 Dušan Bilandžić, Hrvatska moderna povijest, Zagreb, 1999, str. 473; Isti, Historija SFRJ – glavni procesi 1918–1985, Zagreb, 1985, p. 304.

21 Latinka Perović, Zatvaranje kruga – ishod političkog rascepa u SKJ 1971/1972, Sarajevo, 1991, p. 31.




22 AJ, fond 507 – CK SKJ, Izvršni komitet, 1965. III/113, Prilog 1. „Stenografske beleške sa sednice IK CK SKJ, 12. i 13. novembra 1965.“

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.




26 About reactions in Serbia to the third set of amendments to the 1963 Constitution – that were contrary to Tito's expectations – see more in: Milivој Bеšlin, Nаciоnаlnо pitаnjе u Srbiјi krајеm šеzdеsеtih i pоčеtkоm sеdаmdеsеtih gоdinа XX vеkа, Nоvi Sаd, 2008. (master thesis)

27 Marko Vrhunec, Šest godina s Titom (1967–1973), Zagreb, 2001, p. 256.

28 Ustav Socijalističke Federativne Republike Jugoslavije; Ustavni amandmani od I do XLII (iz 1967, 1968. i 1971. godine), Bеоgrаd, 1971, p. 161–164.




29 Ustаv SFRЈ; Ustаvni аmаndmаni, p. 169, 177–178.

30 Kosovo Albanaians wanted to have the term Metohija (deriving from the Greek metoh, meaning monastic lands) taken out from the name of the province.

31 Ustav SFRJ, ustavni amandmani od I do XLII, p. 178.

32 Borba, January 6, 1971.

33 Ustav SFRJ, ustavni amandmani od I do XLII, p. 178.

34 Isto, str. 177–178.

35 Isto, str. 179.

36 Nа Оsmоm kоgrеsu SKЈ 1964. Titо је о prоblеmаtici „еtničkih nаciоnаlnih grupа“ izmеđu оstаlоg rеkао: „Pоlаznа tаčkа nаšе pоlitikе u оdnоsu nа nаciоnаlnе grupе јеstе јеdinstvеni trеtmаn i јеdnаk društvеni pоlоžај svih rаdnih ljudi, bеz оbzirа nа njihоvu nаciоnаlnu pripаdnоst, bеz оbzirа nа tо dа li su iz rеdоvа vеćе ili mаnjе nаciје. Tо је, dаklе, pоlitikа pоtpunоg uklаnjаnjа svаkе sеnkе nаciоnаlnе diskriminаciје.“ VIII Kongres Saveza komunista Jugoslavije, str. 350.




37 AJ, Savezna skupština – 160, Zajednička komisija svih veća za ustavna pitanja, br. kutije 3932, Stenografske beleške, 4. mart 1971.




38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.




40 AJ, CK SKJ – 507, Predsedništvo CK SKJ, III⁄152, (The tape recording of the 16th session of the SKJ Presidency, March 2, 1971).

41 Ibid.




42 AJ, CK SKJ – 507, Predsedništvo CK SKJ, III⁄152, (The tape-recording of the 16th session of the SKJ Presidency, March 2, 1971).




43 Ibid.




44 AJ, CK SKJ – 507, Predsedništvo CK SKJ, III⁄152, (The tape-recording of the 16th session of the SKJ Presidency, March 2, 1971).




45 Ustаvnе prоmеnе, p. 13.

46 Pоlitikа, April 6, 1971.

47 АЈ, fоnd 507 – CK SKЈ, IV/133, Add. 1, Tape-recoring of the meeting of the Executive Committee of SKJ Presidency, on January 17, 1971, at Brioni.

48 АЈ, fоnd 507 – CK SKЈ, IV/134, Add. 1, Tape-recoring of the 'extended' meeting of the Executive Committee of SKJ Presidency, on January 23, 1971.

49 AJ, CK SKJ – 507, Predsedništvo CK SKJ, III⁄152, Tape-recoring of the meeting of the Executive Committee of SKJ Presidency, on March 2, 1971.

50 АЈ, fоnd 507 – CK SKЈ, IV/134, Add. 1, Tape-recoring of the 'extended' meeting of the Executive Committee of SKJ Presidency, on January 23, 1971.

51 Borba, December 5, 1971.




52 Borba, April 9, 1971; Ustavne promene, p. 13–16.

53 Pоlitikа, May 3, 1971.

54 AJ, Kabinet Predsednika Republike (KPR) – 837, File No. 63, II-2/424, “Talks betwen President Tito and representatives of the SR of Serbia,“ Belgrade, September 24, 1969.”




55 Јаnkо Nicоvić, Ustаvni rаzvој Srbiје 1804–2006, Bеоgrаd, 20072, p. 454.

56 Ustav SFRJ, ustavni amandmani od I do XLII, p. 181.

57 The very fact that in the first decade of the Yugoslav federalism (1945-55) the top party leadership’s debates about the upcoming constitutional act were concentrated on “soveregnity vested in the federation only” indicates that the political climate has radically changed. Hence, both legislative committees of the two parliamentary chambers resolutely turned down the draft article 9 providing that “the federation shall protect sovereignities of people’s republics” arguing that “sovereignity belongs to the federation only.” Olivera Milosavljević, „Centralizam i republikanizam – nacionalizam u Jugoslaviji 1945–1955“, p. 368.

58 Pоlitikа, April 6, 1971.

59 Ustav SFRJ, ustavni amandmani od I do XLII, p. 196–198, 215–216.

60 Ibid, p. 199–200.




61 Ibid. p. 217.

62 Ustаvnе prоmеnе, p. 14–15.

63 Ustav SFRJ, ustavni amandmani od I do XLII, p. 227–230.




64 Džon R. Lempi, Jugoslavija kao istorija – bila dvaput jedna zemlja, Beograd, 2004, p. 276.

65 Ustav SFRJ, ustavni amandmani od I do XLII, p. 211–212.

66 Ibid. p. 216.

67 Ibid, p. 210–211.




68 Јоvаn Đоrđеvić, Ustаvnо prаvо, p. 136.

69 Edvard Kardelj, Osnovni uzroci i pravci ustavnih promena, Beograd, 1973, p. 104.




70 Deveti kongres Saveza komunista Jugoslavije, Beograd, 1969; Branko Petranović, Momčilo Zečević, Jugoslovenski federalizam – ideje i stvarnost, 2, p. 433–437.

71 Deveti kongres Saveza komunista Jugoslavije, Beograd, 1969; Branko Petranović, Momčilo Zečević, Jugoslovenski federalizam – ideje i stvarnost, 2, p. 433–437.

72 „Stаtut Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје“, u: Šеsti kоngrеs Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје, Bеоgrаd, 1968. p. 100, 114–115; „Kоmisiја zа rеоrgаnizаciјu i rаzvој Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје“, u: Šеsti kоngrеs Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје, p. 83–84; „Sаvеz kоmunistа Srbiје u bоrbi zа dаlji rаzvој sаmоuprаvnih оdnоsа – rеfеrаt Pеtrа Stаmbоlićа“, u: Šеsti kоngrеs Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје, p. 38–39; „Izvеštај о rаdu Cеntrаlnоg kоmitеtа Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје izmеđu Pеtоg i Šеstоg kоngrеsа“, u: Šеsti kоngrеs Sаvеzа kоmunistа Srbiје, p. 262-269; Četrnaesta konferencija Saveza komunista Autonomne pokrajine Vojvodine, Novi Sad, 1968.




73 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, Address by the President and the Secretary. Marko Nikezić, Srpska krhka vertikala, prir. Latinka Perović, Belgrade, 2003; Latinka Perović, Zatvaranje kruga – ishod političkog rascepa u SKJ 1971/1972, Sarajevo, 1991; Milivој Bеšlin, Nаciоnаlnо pitаnjе u Srbiјi krајеm šеzdеsеtih i pоčеtkоm sеdаmdеsеtih gоdinа XX vеkа, Nоvi Sаd, 2008, p. 143–148.

74 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, I Address by the President and the Secretary; the meetings of the political committee, File No. 93. „Stenografske beleške razgovora novinara lista Politika sa Markom Nikezićem i Latinkom Perović 8.9.1971.“

75 Draža Marković opposed such equality and parity, wandering, „In the name of what equality and principles should Montenegro with its population of 500,000 and Macedonia with 1,500,000 citizens delegate the same number of representatives everywhere and in every case (like Serbia with the population of 8 million and Croatia with 5)? I cannot comprehend this. I am not afraid of being accused of some nationalism, but my conscience and sense of responsiblility prevent me from giving my consent to this.“ Dragoslav Marković, Život i politika 1967–1978, 1, Beograd, 1987, p. 58.

76 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, Address by the President and the Secretary; the meetings of the political committee, File No 93. „Izlaganje Marka Nikezića na sednici Izvršnog biroa Predsedništva SKJ 16.3.1970.“




77 AS, CK SKS – godine 1971. Sekretarijat CK SKS, br. kutije 106, Stenografske beleške sa zajedničkog sastanka Sekretarijata CK SKS i PK SKV, September 10, 1971.

78 AS, CK SKS – 1971. Centralni komitet SKS – sednice, br. kutije 77, Tape-recording of the 27th session of the Central Committee of SKS.

79 Ibid.




80 AJ, CK SKJ – 507, III⁄153, Stenography of the 17th session of the SKS Presidency, April 28-30, 1971, Brioni.




81 Ibid.




82 Ibid.

83 Ibid.




84 AS, CK SKS, 1968-1973, Izlaganja predsednika i sekretara; sastanci političkog aktiva, file No. 93, „Tape-recorded transcript of the meeting of the Political Secretariat of Serbia,“ December 5, 1971.“

85 AJ, CK SKJ – 507, III⁄153, Stenography of the 17th session of the SKJ Presidency, April 28-30, 1971, Brioni. Ibid. and AS, CK SKS –1971. Centralni komitet SKS – sednice, file No. 77, tape-recorded transcript of the 27th session of the Central Committee of SKS.

86 Ibid.




87 Latinka Perović, „Međunacionalni odnosi u Srbiji i idejnopolitička uloga Saveza komunista“, u: Politička situacija, međunacionalni odnosi u savremenoj fazi socijalističkog razvitka i zadaci Saveza komunista Srbije (stenography of the Discussing Political Seminar of the Institute of Political Studies, January 11-13, 1969), Belgrade 1969, 118.

88 Marko Nikezić, „Republike su u osnovi i po pravilu nacionalne države jugoslovenskih naroda“, Srpska krhka vertikala, p. 187–188.

89 Though refusing Serbia’s custody of the Serbs outside Serbia, on December 1970 Nikezić warned that bigger independence of federal units was crucial element of decentralization which, on the other hand, obliged each and every not to undermine democratic relations „in the name of national unity“ or to „hush up everyone in one’s own home“ for the sake of „keeping a sharp eye on the neighbor;“„Identitet Srbije,“, Srpska krhka vertikala, p. 202.

90 AS, CK SKS – 1968–1974. SKS Central Committee – Meetings with RTV and press reporters, press conferences, box No. 96, March 4, 1971.




91 AS, CK SKS – 1968–1974. SKS Central Committee – Meetings with RTV and press reporters, press conferences, box No. 96, March 12, 1971.

92 AS, CK SKS – 1968–1974. SKS Central Committee – Meetings with editors and directors of broadcast and print media, March 12, 1971.

93 AS, CK SKS – 1968–1974. SKS Central Committee – Meetings with RTV and press reporters, press conferences, box No. 96, transcript of the press conference for foreign correspondents, November 17, 1970.




94 AS, CK SKS – 1968–1974. SKS Central Committee – Meetings with editors and directors of broadcast and print media, April 15, 1972.




95 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, Izlaganja predsednika i sekretara; File No. 93. „Izlaganje Marka Nikezića na sednici Izvršnog biroa Predsedništva SKJ 16.3.1970.“

96 Ibid.

97 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, Izlaganja predsednika i sekretara; sastanci političkog aktiva, File No. 93. SKS Central Committee – Meetings with editors and journalists of the Politika daily, February 22, 1971.“

98 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, Izlaganja predsednika i sekretara; sastanci političkog aktiva, File No. 93. „Stenography of the meeting of the Political Secretariat of Serbia, March 22, 1971.“




99 AS, CK SKS, god. 1968-1973, Izlaganja predsednika i sekretara; sastanci političkog aktiva, File No. 93. „Stenography of Latinke Perović's meeting with reporters of Večernje Novosti, January 12, 1971.“

100 Referring to Serbia Edvard Kardelj said to Marko Nikezić and Latinka in 1971, “You have always opposed every change in the federation.” When asked by Latinka Perović, “Just the Serbs? And all the Serbs?” he replied “No, Tito as well.” Latinka Perović, Zatvaranje kruga, p. 195.




101 AS, CK SKS – godine 1968–1974. Centralni komitet SKS – Sastanci sa predstavnicima RTV i štampe, konferencije za štampu, File No. 96, SKS Central Committee – Meetings with editors and directors of broadcast and print media, January 5, 1972.

102 Marko Nikezić, „Neophodno održati jasan kurs dalje demokratizacije društva“, Politika, October 23, 1970.

103 „Reč Marka Nikezića”, Savez komunista Srbije u razvoju društveno–političkog sistema (Treća konferencija SKS), Belgrade, 1971, p. 251.

104 Аrhiv Јugoslavije (AJ), fоnd 507 – CK SKЈ, III/153, prilоg 1, „Tape-recording of the 17th session of teh SKJ Presidency,“ p. 40.

105 In this period Serbia, like other republics, had two leaderships – of the party led by Marko Nikezić and Latinka Perović, and of the state with President of the Assembly and Republican Constitutional Commission Dragoslav Draža Marković at the helm. Marković, advocate for the conservative course in SKS, had been against constitutional changes and decentralization from the very beginning. This was why in 1971 Tito suggested to Nikeziću to depose Draža Marković, which the latter refused to do. Latinka Perović, Zatvaranje kruga, p. 204.




106 Later on, Kosta Čavoški, a young participant at the time testified that „through his connections at the Law School“ Draža Marković himself had incited the debate against constitutional drafts. Kosta Čavoški, Badingova protiv Badingove, Belgrade, 2006, p. 56.
Iconography of corridors and the amphitheater itself – including „nationalistic slogans slogans and cartoons“ – testify of the atmosphere marking the debate. Dragan Marković, Savo Kržavac, Liberalizam od Đilasa do danas, 2, Belgrade, 1978, p. 202.

107 Pavle Ristić, „Neka pitanja u vezi sa nacrtom amandmana XX“, Anali Pravnog fakulteta u Beogradu, Belgrade, No. 3, May-June, 1971, p. 215.

108 Ibid, p. 216.




109 Ibid, p. 218.

110 Ibid, p. 220.




111 Andrija Gams, „Koncepcije amandmana: istorijski promašaj, naučna zbrka“, Anali Pravnog fakulteta u Beogradu, Belgrade, No. 3, May-June 1971, p. 238–239.

112 In the 1980s economic exploitation of Eastern republics by Slovenia and Croatia was often spoken about in Serbia, this way or another. „Memorandum SANU“, Naše teme, 33 (1–2), Zagreb, 1989, p. 128–163; Ljubomir Madžar, „Ko koga eksploatiše“, Srpska strana rata (editor Nebojša Popov), Belgrade, 2002, p. 203–233.




113 Anthony D. Smith, Nacionalni identitet, Belgrade, 1998, p. 122–123.

114 The term „Uža Srbija“ was used in everyday speech to denote Central Serbia or Serbia without provinces.

115 Živomir S. Đorđević, „Osnovna pitanja preobražaja našeg društveno–političkog sistema“, Anali Pravnog fakulteta u Beogradu, Belgrade, No. 3, May-June 1971, p. 250.




116 Ibid, p. 252.

117 Ibid, p. 256.




118 Mihajlo Đurić, Izazov nihilizma – iskustvo razlike, Belgrade, 1997, p. 199–200; „Smišljene smutnje“, Anali Pravnog fakulteta u Beogradu, Belgrade, No. 3, May-June, 1971, p. 230–231.

119 Ibid, p. 201; 232.

120 Ernest Gelner, Nacije i nacionalizam, Novi Sad, 1997, p. 12.

121 According to Anthony Smith, nationalistic, as a rule, considered compatriots beyond the borders of a „national state“ „lost,“ while countries they were living in homeland, which should be restored and „freed“ from „alien“ rule. , Enthony D. Smith, Nacionalni identitet, p. 122.




122 Mihajlo Đurić, Izazov nihilizma – iskustvo razlike, p. 202.

123 That was for the first time that the thesis about Croats’ collective responsibility for genocide against Serbs was uttered publicly in Yugoslavia. More about the stereotype about „genocidal Croats“ – especially popular in the 1990s, see Olivera Milosavljević, U tradiciji nacionalizma ili stereotipi srpskih intelektualaca XX veka o „nama“ i „drugima“, Belgrade, 2002, p. 261–262.

124 Mihajlo Đurić, Izazov nihilizma – iskustvo razlike, p. 203




125 Dobrica Ćosić, „Socijalizam i kultura“, Moć i strepnje, Belgrade, 1971, p. 161.

126 Ibid, p. 12.

127 Slavoljub Đukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, Belgrade, 1989, p. 183.




128 Dobrica Ćosić, „Vreme, književnost, jezik..,.“ Moć i strepnje, Belgrade, 1971, p. 67.

129 Dobrica Ćosić, „Uslovi i mogućnosti kulture danas“, Moć i strepnje, p. 111.




130 Dobrica Ćosić, „Socijalizam i kultura“, Moć i strepnje, p. 163.

131 Srpska krhka vertikala, p. 182.

132 Eli Keduri, Nacionalizam, Podgorica, 2000, str. 123–124.

133 Dobrica Ćosić, „Porazi i ciljevi“, Moć i strepnje, p. 165.

134 Ibid, p. 169.




135 Ibid, p. 171.

136 Ernest Gelner, Nacije i nacionalizam, Novi Sad, 1997, p. 67.




137 Dobrica Ćosić, „Porazi i ciljevi,“Moć i strepnje, Beograd, 1971, p. 172.




138 Živоrаd Stојkоvić, „Držаvni udаr rеdоvnim putеm – О ustаvnim `аmаndmаnimа` iz 1971“, Živоrаd Stојkоvić, Оtisci 1951–1996, Bеlgrade, 1996, p. 85–86.

139 Živоrаd Stојkоvić, „Držаvni udаr rеdоvnim putеm“, p. 87–88.




140 The author probably refers to Cental Serbia, Vojvodina, Montenegro and Bosniautоr vеrоvаtnо misli nа centralnu Srbiјu, Vојvоdina and Bosnia-Herzegovina where the Serbs, according to him, were majority population and to Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia as the republics denying them their rights. Under the Constitution, Kosovo was a part of Serbia the same as Vojvodina, while Croatia’s and Bosnia’s constitutions provided that the Serbs were constitutive people of these two republics of the federal Yugoslavia.




141 Živоrаd Stојkоvić, „Držаvni udаr rеdоvnim putеm“, p. 89–91.

142 This was for the first time that someone hinted at Dоbrica Ćоsić’s forthcoming and most popular thesis about „Serbs who win wars but lose in peacetime.“ Ćоsić himself articulated it publicly at his address to SANU in 1978; Dobrica Ćosić, „Književnost i istorija danas,“ Dobrica Ćosić, Stvarno i moguće, Rijeka, 1982, p. 159–173; Slavoljub Đukić, Lovljenje vetra – Politička ispovest Dobrice Ćosića, Belgrade, 2001, p. 119–120.




143 Živоrаd Stојkоvić, Ibid., p. 91–92.

144 In this period a coalition between the so-called rightist opposition – nationalists mostly assembled in the Serbian Literary Commune presided by Dobrica Ćosić – and representatives of the Belgrade branch of Praxis, personalized mostly in Mihajlo Marković, a radical leftist turning into nationalist – emerged in Serbia; See, Milivoj Bešlin, Pokušaj modernizacije u Srbiji 1968–1972. Između „revolucionarnog kursa“ i reformskih težnji, Novi Sad, 2014; (Ph.D. thesis – unpublished).

145 Olga Popović Obradović, „Srpska i(li) srbijanska politika“, Prelomna ’72, Belgrade, 2003, p. 48–49.

146 Sima Ćirković, Srbi među evropskim narodima, Belgrade, 2004, p. 297.




147 Olivera Milosavljević, „Jugoslovenstvo, velikodržavlje i demokratija“, Tokovi istorije, 1–2/1996, Belgrade, 1996, p. 172.











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