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April 24, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 186

Profile: Ivan Stambolic, Citizen

by Dejan Anastasijevic

Date and place of birth: 5 November 1936, the village of Brezova near Ivanjica, Central Serbia

Education: Primary schools in Ivanjica and Titovo Uzice (now Uzice), Secondary Industrial School in Rakovica, Belgrade School of Law.

Professional posts: Skilled worker - lathe operator at the Motor Industry in Rakovica, in the Tool Factory and the firm "Cer" in Cacak; director of the associated firm "Tehnogas" in Belgrade; President of the Belgrade Chamber of the Economy; President of the Serbian Presidency; Director of JUBMES (Yugoslav Bank for International Economic Cooperation).

Political posts: Communist Party member since 18. Moving quietly through various institutions, he covered the road from youth activist in Cacak via the City Committee of the League of Communists of Belgrade (president from 1982-84) to the Central Committee (president 1984-86); Serbian Prime Minister, President of the Serbian Presidency (from 1986-87)). Decorated with the Medal of Work and the Medal of Brotherhood and Unity with Gold Wreath. After the historic 8th session of the League of Communists of Serbia, followed by an unheard of campaign at the time, organized by his close associate Slobodan Milosevic, he was relieved from the post of President of the Presidency in December 1987. In February 1988 he was dismissed from the Presidency (according to the official version he resigned "because he was taking up a new post with JUBMES"). In June the same year, he lost his remaining political post, he was excluded from the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Serbia, along with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Dragisa Pavlovic and several others.

Since then: "Ever since 'that September' we get together on the 23 of the month. Some joke that we are true Serbs because we celebrate our defeat. And we answer, remembering Sartre, that there is a thin line between victory and defeat."

What was he like when in power: In many ways the typical official of the late Titoist era: a good administrator, but in principle, inert and without a clear political vision.

How did he take the defeat: Quietly and with dignity. He worked in a bank and avoided public exposure. In June 1992, during the students' protest, he visited the students of the Faculty of Philosophy, but refused to hold a speech. In his only political appearance (an interview to the paper "Student" of the same period) he condemned war and nationalism in principle. He didn't wish to answer questions about Milosevic.

Why the silence: "Nothing made sense anymore. During the past period that which had been wished was achieved. If I had said anything at the time, no one would have heard me. Nobody wished to listen to me.

Why in Sarajevo all of a sudden: He arrived with members of the "To Live in Sarajevo" group, in a "private visit to old friends".

What did he say about the Serbs and Serbia there: "What I said about the Serbs in Serbia will get to Belgrade. I feel that the time for this will arrive soon. But you must understand: all that has matured in me, which has settled, and which wants to get out, must get out in Belgrade."

What did he say of Milosevic: "I don't trust Milosevic on anything. No. I'll speak of him, honestly and courageously, when I decide to do so."

When will this be: " A lot of time will pass until there is honesty and courage."

Does he feel guilty about anything: "Yes, I felt guilty for having introduced Milosevic to all this, until the first elections in Serbia and when the results showed that the people were with him 104%".

However: "I am sure of one thing: not with my first or last step did I help raise this terrible cloud which has been obscuring all horizons for several years. This is a small consolation - barely enough to satisfy one's conscience."

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