Serbia Under Milosevic

Who is Milosevic?

Slobodan Milosevic — "Slobo" to friends and enemies alike — joined the Communist Party when he was 18. In 1984 he became Chairman of the City Committee of the League of Communists of Belgrade. In 1986 he was elected Serbian regional Communist Party President and was re-elected in 1988. In July, 1990, the League of Communists of Serbia and the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Serbia united to form a new party: the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Milosevic was elected President of the party, a post he formally held until his death in 2006.

In 1990, Milosevic was elected to the newly created office of President of Serbia in a multi-party election. He was re-elected in December,1992. A champion of a united Yugoslavia, Milosevic saw the breakup of the Yugoslav Republic during his presidency. First, in 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence. The following year, the Croats and Muslims in Bosnia seceded. During a three-year civil war, Milosevic supported Serbian rebels. However, due in part to economic crises and the impact of sanctions, in 1995, he was compelled to sign the Dayton Peace Accords, ending the civil war in Bosnia.

Slobodan Milosevic and his generals

Milosevic appears before the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague

Limited to two terms as President of Serbia, Milosevic was elected President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in July, 1997. Ethnic violence continued for the next few years, mainly in the province of Kosovo. In March 1999, following increased repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, NATO began bombing military targets in Serbia. In June, Milosevic agreed to withdraw from Kosovo, and the bombing was stopped.

Although Milosevic lost the Yugoslav elections on September 24, 2000, he attempted to manipulate vote tabulations for ten days, which set off a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience and strikes culminating in the storming of Parliament ten days later. The new Serbian government under Zoran Djindjic extradited Milosevic to the Hague on June 29, 2001 to stand trial on charges of war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia.

Refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the court, Milosevic insisted on defending himself when his trial began in February 2002. His declining health eventually prevented him from mounting his own defense and he was appointed a legal team with whom he refused to cooperate. After long hours of testimony and numerous delays, Milosevic's trial ended prematurely when he was found dead of a heart attack in his cell on March 11, 2006.