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August 10, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 253

Vojislav Kostunica

by Dragoslav Grujic

President of the Democratic Party of Serbia

Personal information: Born 24. April, 1944 in Belgrade. A Serb, and Orthodox Christian. Married.

Education: Graduated from high-school in Belgrade. Graduated law in 1966, obtained an MA in 1970, followed by a Ph.D. four years later. He worked as an assistant lecturer at the Law faculty until 1974, when he signed a petition for Professor Mihajlo Djuric to be freed from prison. He was dismissed from the University as unsuitable. He declined an offer to return in 1987 refusing to be reinstated by the same people who once dismissed him. Currently works as a consultant at the Centre for Philosophy and Social Theory at the Institute for Social Sciences. Published his Ph.D. thesis under the title "Opposition in capitalist political systems". He is also co-author, with Kosta Cavoski, of the monograph "Party pluralism and monism".

Political career: In the 70's he was an active member of the Committee for the freedom of thought and expression. Founding member of the Democratic Party (DS) and its vice-president between 1990 and 1992."I consider myself one of the founders of the DS in the most direct sense which at the same time is not formal. First talk of DS began in the circle of friends which included Kosta Cavoski, Leon Kojen and myself". After the split within the DS, he founded the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and, with 418 votes in favour and only one against, was elected its president in December 1992. "DSS was formed because within the DS there were two programs, two souls in one body, and it could not survive as a single party". Member of the Serbian parliament since 1990.

He entered politics in the role of an educator: "A few years ago, when I began my political career, I considered our most important task to be to explain to the people what democracy is.

What has his experience in politics taught him: "It is now clear to me that the ignorance of the public is much greater, and that it must first of all learn the first letter of the political alphabet, which is the meaning of word politics: what is politics, what is political activity. This can only be achieved through political education".

How does the opposition function: "The trouble with our opposition is that its activity is to a large extent non-political".

Why did he enter the 1992 election under the banner of DEPOS: "We decided to go on with those elections against our will, in order to maintain the unity of the party. We made a compromise by adapting to the demands of reality, but without renouncing our principles".

He is therefore not in favour of consistency at any price: "To remain consistent irrespective of political reality is possible only in small political parties, clubs and sects". "A big party must maintain the balance between principles and reality".

What did he say after the 1993 elections: "It is ripe, but the conditions did not allow the results to follow this fact".

What is Serbia's greatest problem: "It is the fact that no one is in charge of domestic policies, no one is running the economy, while the foreign policy is in the hands of one man".

Serbia's basic national interest: "First of all survival of the people, and then the solution of the problems of statehood. This means the establishment of the nation state".

How can this be achieved: "Neither through war mongering nor defeatist policies. The outlines of such a state could be obtained through negotiations. Of course, national questions can not be resolved bit by bit- first down to the Drina, then beyond, since Serbian ethnic entity is indivisible".

Where would its borders be: "It is the area of Serbia, Montenegro, Republic of Srpska, and the Republic of Srpska Krajina".

What is your political formula: "Democratic revolution rather than socialist evolution".

What is nationalism: "It is the last stage of communism and a means of keeping the communist elite in power".

How others see him: "Most principled politician of the opposition". "The man who killed the DS". "Seselj in a tail coat". "Milosevic's bitterest rival". "Political favourite of Biljana Plavsic". "Main obstacle to the unification of the opposition".

Would he go to see Milosevic: "We do not need the coffee served by Serbia's number one host".

Why he never laughs: "I entered this business, party politics, expecting that it will be over sooner. Part of the discontent is linked to the fact that my involvement in politics has lasted longer than I expected. On the other hand I am more and more certain that there is nothing to laugh about, but a great deal to fight for. In any case, where there is no room for laughter, there is room for hope".

What are his hopes: "That the period behind us and the one ahead of us will reveal the exclusivism, and the balefulness of every kind of exclusivism, communist or any other, and that democracy will finally rule in Serbia".

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