Closing Statement at the Fifth SPS Congress
November 25, 2000
Speech delivered by: Slobodan Milošević Chairman of the SPS
In the elements for the discussion
of SPS members, in the preparation for this Congress, dramatic and highly
unfavorable circumstances, internal and external, were pointed out marking the
conditions in which the 2000 elections were held. At the same time, anyone in
this hall is fully aware what kind of violence and lawlessness prevailed after
the 5 October coup – setting on fire the Federal Parliament and the national
TV. The background of these events and the continuation of the occupation of
War against this country, is now a
money war. We have large-scale corruption at works here. A lot of money is in
circulation and great privileges are granted to those who should accept all
that is against this country – loss of independence, separation of
But the war against our country is
also waged through intimidation. The SPS headquarters in
The biggest force in the defense of the State and national interests is the SPS and that is why is it now targeted for major attacks. Its ruin or at least destabilization is a priority task of the enemies of our State.
That task is being carried out in a perfidious manner, from the inside, seeking to pit as many people as possible against each other. But through direct and brutal pressures – sacking and humiliating people, the party officials are often pressured into leaving the party.
At the same time, there is an absurd – all those that defended the country and were in the country during the war, are now labeled as enemies, while those who fled, supported the bombing campaign and cooperated with the aggressors, are now playing the part of patriots and saviors of the country. Thieves are saying that honest people are thieves.
These difficult times require that all those who may take responsibility do so. That is why the SPS has to reinforce its unity and reaffirm itself as a major factor in the defense of the State and national interests.
Therefore, the SPS has nothing more important to do than close its ranks in defending this program, in defending the interests of citizens and the people. This is a task that this Congress has to perform.
At the Fourth Congress, we concluded that the country was threatened. Our primary task concerned the unity and the need to mobilize "all patriotic parties and people". I also emphasize "in this time this is a priority task for this country". It was also assessed then that:
"Now the country is defending itself from the evil that is hovering above and we should have the left and the right join forces, believers and atheists, highly educated and those who are not, the old and the young, those that did not get along and spoke to each other, those who think that they have forever and for better parted their ways. They all have one thing in common – the love of their country. And they feel an obligation to defend it from becoming a colony where foreign armies will march in, whose economy will be in the function of development of other countries’ development, whose culture will be done away with, whose past will be wiped out and whose leaders will be bribed or blackmailed swindlers that every nation has even when the going is good, particularly so when the going gets tough".
The idea of the Government of national unity was successfully realized for entire seven years.
The tragic fault of the entire patriotic block which is the main cause for the current crisis was its inability to preserve the unity.
The lack of unity within the patriotic block, which successfully cooperated in the Government of the national unity for years, was brought about only partially due to narrow-mindedness of our party leadership, to a lesser extent and to a more extent due to immoderate demands of the Radical Party. In any case, the weakness of the patriotic block expressed through its inability to preserve the unity, was the main cause. And then the pressures exerted on the party only to look for its negative traits, even when there are none, and it surely has less of those than all the others.
Speaking of narrow-mindedness, as our weakness that came to the fore before the elections, I would like to say that this is the weakness that we did not manage to get rid of either in the preparations for this extraordinary Congress. Due to that weakness, our list for the party leadership does not include young people, farmers or women to the extent it is necessary in the SPS, despite our statutory norms.
Only nine months ago, we held the regular Fourth Congress of our party. We advanced a concept of further development of our society on the whole, as well as in certain fields, particularly in the economy. Our party prepared well for a Congress conceived in such way, because we wanted to confront the party and the widest public with responses that related to the perspectives of the society, which almost for a decade faced huge outside pressures and coped with many internal difficulties and the consequences of such pressures. And then, only a few months before the Congress, the war NATO fought against Yugoslavia, mostly in the territory of Serbia, ended.
In view of all of that, the Socialist Party of Serbia took as its task at the Congress to confront all citizens, the entire people, with the responses related to freedom, independence, economic development, social stability, international cooperation, situation in the region, our future, and partially the future in general.
Now, the same as then, I consider that the Congress was an invaluable contribution to the future of our country, and above all that it provided the answers that concerned other countries and peoples with which we enter the 21st century. These are not merely my assessments or the assessments of our party at the Fourth Congress of the Socialist Party of Serbia. Similar or identical assessments were made by many prominent international politicians and guests who attended the Congress and there were, as you know, the representatives from more than 100 parties from all over the world. Positive assessments of the Congress could be found in many international media, months later.
We have been, for many reasons, convinced that despite the difficulties that continued, primarily in the form of outside pressures, we are entering a period of renewal, reforms and development, hopeful that we shall find a common language with the international community, primarily with those democratic, progressive and human factors in the international community and start to shake off the pressure, blackmail and threats which for a decade have made our life difficult and tied our hands in terms of development, prosperity above all.
Immediately after the war, with great enthusiasm and great achievements we entered a period of the reconstruction of the country, rebuilding all that was destroyed in the war and we almost completed the reconstruction before the elections took place in September. Our public responded well to the reconstruction and its achievements, the international public followed it and where it commented it, the comments were very positive. How else could one comment a quick, successful and self-reliant reconstruction of the country ravaged by the war, without outside assistance and war reparations.
At the federal elections held in September, the Socialist Party of Serbia and its coalition partners – Yugoslav Left (JUL) and Socialist Peoples Party of Montenegro (SNP), could have won majority in Parliament. But, without its coalition partners, it could not win the majority in Parliament and it did not enter the Federal Government. It was the will of the SNP of Montenegro. In doing so, at the level of the Federal State, the Socialist Party of Serbia found itself in the role of opposition party. Among other things, we are having this Congress in order to prepare for the role of an opposition party in the Federal State and to assess the situation in the Federal State where we are opposition. But also to consolidate our party on the eve of the elections in Serbia.
The party that has for ten years been a ruling one, cannot possibly overnight, be it alone or with other parties, at the level of the Federal State or at the republican level, quickly and easily switch from the ruling to the opposition party.
Many parties in the world, particularly in Europe following a long or longer periods of rule had to adapt to the role of opposition. In this period, they usually lose members, but sometimes their old members returned after a while, there were tensions in the leadership which manifested through seeking justified or often unjustified responsibility, the changed or only considered that they had to change something, anything – program, name, leadership, structure of organization, approach to media, symbols ... believing that these changes would heal the wounds that the party suffered assuming the role of the opposition.
The countries with longer multi-party traditions have gained all these experiences long ago. They have not been followed attentively in our party, although I think that they have not been followed in other parties and our society on the whole, because since the Second World War until 1990, we lived in a different, one-party system. Now we need to learn about the experience of other parties in the world which faced a similar situation and take advantage of them to the extent they are good for us.
By all accounts, in such circumstances, the major tasks of any party
include establishing its identity, preserving its current identity but changing it somewhat or much, but insistence on the party’s identity is its major task. I think that in this respect, our party should maintain the concept of the development of society it embraced at its Fourth Congress in February, and to be an opposition from the point of view of that concept, to all that is taking place in the Yugoslav society now, to the extent it is contrary to our perception of the interests of the Yugoslav society.
As at the previous Congress, we shall continue to advocate the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a common State of two equal republics – Serbia and Montenegro. We shall therefore be against the so-called "community" of Serbia and Montenegro, as a state solution for these two republics.
As at the previous Congress, we shall advocate our positions on Kosovo, firmly believing that they are principled, genuine and just.
Of all the wounds we suffered, Kosovo is the most serious.
The former Yugoslavia started to die in Kosovo. Perhaps, in the beginning of 1980s, maybe 1970s or even 1960s, but surely in Kosovo.
Its independence and secession, fuelling of hatred between the Serb and Albanian people, ill-intentioned attempts at domination of one over the other, outside financial support, outside Yugoslavia, to trigger mutual conflicts – this is how the former Yugoslavia entered a tragic crisis.
But the same Kosovo story is the greatest wound of the present-day Yugoslavia. Outside factors did all they can so that the wound may never heal. These efforts resulted in fear that all living in Kosovo had to endure for years – Serbs and Albanians alike, in poverty engulfing all in Kosovo – Serbs and Albanians, in bombing that was killing all in Kosovo – Serbs and Albanians, in evil hovering over the heads of all children – Serb and Albanian.
One part of the international community blamed the Serbs and the authorities in Serbia for the alleged genocide against the Albanians. However, it is thanks to them, to that part of the international community, that genocide was committed against the Serbs. They have left Kosovo for most part. They are walking, as greatest European destitute, along the periphery of the territory where until recently their houses used to be and still are, the territory that used to be their native land and their centuries' old homeland. Those that remained, became the greatest martyrs and the greatest heroes of this century, and at this moment perhaps the greatest martyrs and greatest heroes in the entire world. In any case, the greatest patriots of all.
For more than a decade, the
That is why the violence against
Kosovo is violence against
But the Albanians in Kosovo, even those that currently enjoy the support of some powers which resulted in the Serbs being expelled from Kosovo, not even them are living a happy life. Even those that are filled with hatred and violence cannot possibly choose to live with that hatred and violence. Particularly when that choice was not a result of their own will and emotions but for foreign interests. These interests use Albanians as an instrument to break-up yet another country and occupy yet another territory.
SPS is advocating a free Kosovo in
If such political platform is undemocratic and inhuman, than the membership of this party seeks that a text of democratic and human platform be read.
I dwelled on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija since I felt that the dramatic situation in Kosovo required that.
Now, let me continue to explain the SPS platform and the policies that it should lead on the basis of this platform in the current circumstances.
Therefore, as at the previous Congress
will shall advocate the independence of
When those concessions are made (which is already the case), they are impossible to see immediately, i.e. it is not possible to see that these are concessions, and that interests of the State and its citizens are at stake. Facing the consequences of these concessions is something that comes later, often when it is difficult to remove the consequences.
The Socialist Party of Serbia has been warning to that for an entire decade. The composition of the Federal Government has prevented the SPS from protecting the State and its citizens from the position of power from dangers posed to their livelihood, in the wake of these concessions. But as an opposition party in Yugoslavia it will do all it can so that the broad public, the entire people be warned on the dangers to its survival, particularly for sound and successful development of society in case this practice of limiting the sovereignty and questioning the independence of the country be continued.
As was the case at the previous Congress, the Socialist Party of Serbia will advocate economic development in line with the principles of market economy and diversity of ownership relations which combined will provide for a better standard of the society and citizens. We do not have a problem with private ownership. But we do have a problem with all those forms of ownership that are manifested as depletion of national and individual assets, as give-away of the State and material and moral degradation of citizens that acquired their property for a long time and legally. At this moment, this process of (alleged) ownership transformation threatens to turn into something that the Socialist Party of Serbia feared might happen and what it warned might happen - selling of the State and social property at give-away prices to foreign and domestic buyers, foreign investments of dubious character without a possibility to control and assess to what extent are those investments in the national interest or perhaps contrary to it.
Hence the first consequences of the policies pursued in this field by a new Government such as huge price increases, particularly of basic staples, food, shortage of electricity (which we had even in the most difficult period of the sanctions and the war when during night the were bombs dropped on electricity supply systems, but tomorrow, we had enough power supply in the entire territory of the Republic as well as during the entire time after the war until the moment when these affairs fell into the hands of new authorities), increases in the price of electricity, increases in the price of medicines making them unavailable to a great number of sick people, great and sudden unemployment. In short, the fall of living standards.
In that respect, unemployment is not
only a consequence of wrongful economic policies, but it also has a political
dimension. A large number of people was sacked
exclusively on political grounds. In the 21st century in
However, speaking of violence, it is not manifested only through sacking and professional and human degradation at workplace, but it is manifested as violent physical removal of people from executive positions to which they were appointed by Governments, assemblies, or where they were elected by managing boards; the property of people of different political views is seized as well as that of parties and lastly, this also included physical violence towards people who hold different political views.
At first glance it may look unnecessary, but it is essentially necessary to emphasize that the Socialist Party throughout all these ten long and difficult years fraught with all the evils in this world, hovering above our small country and small people, managed to preserve not only the country, and ensure a relatively decent life for its citizens, but also managed to ensure the functioning of all institutions on which the State relies, guaranteeing citizens personal and property security. Today, the functioning of these institutions is threatened. They are in the hands of the forces that do not recognize the Constitution, laws and often not even elementary moral norms. Hundreds of directors, university deans, rectors, directors of hospitals, presidents of managing boards are thrown out from their offices and sacked from their positions to which they were appointed by assemblies and governments, under the threat of various groups or sufficiently angry people in the face of which legally elected or legally appointed people had to give way - to take a sick leave, without being sick, early retirement, or to take a holiday they do not need or even become really sick... Most of these people are prominent experts, honorable citizens, often with long professional and life experience.
Committed to the democratic functioning of the State and democratic society, the Socialist Party of Serbia not only expresses it deep concern for the fate of its beliefs, but expresses its most profound concern for the respect of fundamental human and civil rights in conditions when such rights are not protected by the competent institutions, but unidentified force will do all it can to suspend those institutions.
As at the Fourth Congress, the
Socialist Party of Serbia remains committed to a multi-party system and free
expression of different political views. Moreover, the SPS has initiated the
introduction of a multi-party system in
emphasized the need for a free, true and responsible management of the media. The Socialist Party of Serbia waged a long-term war with the media financed from abroad, whose task was to misinform the citizens of Serbia and Yugoslavia, to demoralize them, to discredit them and falsely accuse all for whom they assess are not sufficiently loyal to the interests outside Yugoslavia to limit the country's sovereignty. Consistently committed to such position until the present day, the Socialist Party of Serbia has to express its deepest concern with the fate of the society in which the media exclude different opinions and advocate only one opinion. Even if that one and only opinion were an expression of an absolute domination of a political party in the Assembly, the media which care about the principles of truth, freedom and responsibility, should not deprive their public of different opinions, even if they belonged to small parties, non-parliamentary parties or even individual political and intellectual views of the realities and future developments.
So, when I said that one of the most important tasks of our party at the present time was to establish its identity, I thought, let me repeat, that SPS should remain committed to all those values its has been committed to since its very inception, throughout this turbulent decade - freedom, independence, economic prosperity, free cultural development, constant improvement of standards, integration with the rest of the world, cooperation on an equal footing with all nations and peoples. SPS should also remain committed to the vision of the development of society advanced at the Fourth Congress. In addition, it should add to its identity an obligation of critical evaluation of the reality, in an analytical, principled, public and argumented manner, the reality that is contrary to, today even absolutely contrary to the commitments of SPS and the documents from the party's Fourth Congress.
The second task of the SPS in the present circumstances is not only the preservation of the party network, but expansion of its structure and of course, an accurate evaluation of its membership. After the announcement of election results, as well as after setting up majority in the Assembly contrary to pre-election campaign promises, after setting up the Federal Government with one leftist party and one coalition of 18 political groupings of different political affiliations, the membership of the Socialist Party of Serbia reacted painfully, and there was even some commotion, justified confusion, disappointment ... This is all a normal reaction from political and human aspect. I think that the initial thrust of such reactions is over and that the membership in all local and municipal organizations for most part gathered around their program and their obligations under the program, preparing themselves for the republican elections scheduled a year ahead causing justified surprise of its membership and probably justified discontent of the membership. Of course, now that the elections were called, the SPS has to prepare for them. In conditions of the media blockade this will be difficult. However, even if there were no elections, our party has a second great and important obligation - to consolidate the membership and activate and expand the network with a view to presenting the reality as it is and for the umpteenth time in a new and old and any way, say where the reality is leading the society and the citizens. If it is not to be changed.
As for its membership, some its members are leaving the party, in the first place from the leadership ranks. We should not of course, mourn them. It is now obvious that they joined the party because it was in power and that they stayed there while it was in power. For the first time when it is not, they are leaving. If only they were to do so quietly, as profiteering cowards... However, they are leaving it with a lot of noise, demonstrating that their departure from the party in whose leadership they were is also a departure from the policies to which they paid lip service until a month ago and it is still ringing in the ears of those who listened them on dozens of TV and radio stations. But not only words. They advocated the policies with which they now part with in deeds as well, before the very eyes of all SPS members and all citizens, because they did not take place three decades ago but three months ago. In turbulently parting ways with our party they are just buying a ticket for a new midst where they expect some profit, first of all material, then in terms of status and privileges and perhaps protection of assets they illegally and unlawfully seized.
The current analysis of political
situation in the country will not be faced with a difficult task if they should
seek to identify the radical changes that the political elite in this country
has gone through in this country. A decade ago, it was not the easiest job to
find documents indicating who was a member of the Crown Council from 1992 and
euphorically wrote on socialist self-management as a necessary outcome in 1976.
Such research efforts should now be very easy to undertake. In the course of
one autumn alone, the same persons spoke volumes of the resistance to NATO
aggression, while only a few days after the coup they supported European
social-democracy whose governments, as is well-known, took part in NATO
aggression. Not to mention those fierce national freedom-fighters of the
Serbian people from early 1990s who now renounce their participation in that
struggle, claiming that this national story is overtaken and now they see
themselves as citizens of
Difficult times exist, among other things, so that a man may prove his worth - whether in difficult times he will remain with those with whom he was when the going was good or will they now join others so that they may again have a good and prosperous time. In politics, the same as in life, there are people who are ready to always move to places where it is nice and sunny, particularly where the authorities are. But in life, the same as in politics, there are others who see that and should speak about that, not on account of those who move towards the authorities but for the authorities themselves. Because all authorities wishing well to its people, have to beware of the candidates who want to be peoples representatives, who present themselves as candidates for any authorities, those who are essentially interested only in representing themselves.
I am appealing the delegates of this Congress, to all members of SPS, to all those that can hear or read my words: the interest of our country is to be free, independent, developed and integrated with the rest of the world. The interest of our citizens is to live in peace and freedom, not fearing for their life and property, so that all of them can work and live well and better from their work, to respect their history and have a better future.
The Socialist Party of Serbia has a task - to protect, represent and realize such interests of the country and its people.
It is therefore not important how big it will be but what it will look like. The greatest party is the best party.
The Socialist Party of Serbia used to be that for ten years, may it continue to be like that in the future.