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Dobrica Ćosić
Добрица Ћосић


In office
15 June 1992 – 1 June 1993
Prime Minister Aleksandar Mitrović
Milan Panić
Radoje Kontić
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Zoran Lilić

In office
15 June 1992 – 7 September 1992
Preceded by Branko Kostić
Succeeded by Suharto

Born 29 December 1921 (1921-12-29) (age 88)
Velika Drenova (Serbia), Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Nationality Serb

Dobrica Ćosić (Serbian Cyrillic: Добрица Ћосић) (born 29 December 1921 in Velika Drenova, near Trstenik, in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, today in Serbia) is a Serbian writer, as well as a political and Serb nationalist theorist. He was the first president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1993. Admirers often refer to him as the "Father of the Nation", due to his influence on modern Serbian politics and national revival movement in the late 1980s;[1] opponents often use that term in an ironic manner.[2]

Contents

Early life and career

Ćosić was born in 1921 in the village of Velika Drenova, in central Serbia, and before the Second World War was able to attend vocational agriculture school. He joined the communist youth organization in Negotin in 1939. When the Second World War reached Yugoslavia in 1941, he joined the communist partisans. After the liberation of Belgrade in October 1944, he remained active in communist leadership positions, including work in the Serbian republican Agitation and Propaganda commission and then as a people's representative from his home region. In the early 1950s, he visited the Goli otok concentration camp, where the Tito regime imprisoned thousands of its political opponents. Ćosić has always maintained that he did so in order to better understand the Stalinist mind. In 1961, he joined Marshal Tito on a 72-day tour by presidential yacht (the Galeb) to visit eight African non-aligned countries. The trip aboard the Galeb highlighted the close, affirmative relationship that Ćosić had with the Tito regime until the early 1960s.

In opposition

Until the early 1960s, Ćosić was devoted to Tito and Tito's vision of a harmonious Yugoslavia. Between 1961 and 1962, Ćosić got involved in a lengthy polemic with the Slovenian intellectual Dušan Pirjevec regarding the relationship between autonomy, nationalism and centralism in Yugoslavia. Pirjevec voiced the opinions of the Communist Party of Slovenia which supported a more de-centralized development of Yugoslavia with respect for local autonomies, while Ćosić argued for a stronger role of the Federal authorities, warning against the rise of peripheral nationalisms. The polemic, which was the first public and open confrontation of different visions within the Yugoslav Communist Party after WWII, ended with Tito's support of Ćosić's arguments. Nevertheless, actual political measures undertaken after 1962 actually followed the positions voiced by Pirjevec and the Slovenian Communist leadership.

As the Tito regime gradually decentralized administration of Yugoslavia after 1963, Ćosić grew convinced that the Serbian population of the state was imperilled. In May 1968, he gave a celebrated speech to the Fourteenth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Serbian League of Communists, in which he condemned then-current nationalities policy in Yugoslavia. He was especially upset at the regime's inclination to grant greater autonomy to Kosovo and Vojvodina. Thereafter he acted as a dissident. In the 1980s, following the death of Tito, Ćosić helped organize and lead a movement whose original goal was to gain equality for Serbia in the Yugoslav federation, but which rapidly became intense and aggressive. He was especially enthusiastic in his advocacy of the rights of the Serbian and Montenegrin populations of Kosovo. Ćosić is a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and is considered by many to be its most influential member. While Ćosić has been credited with writing the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, which appeared in unfinished fashion in the Serbian public in 1986, he in fact was not responsible for its writing. In 1989 he endorsed the leadership of Slobodan Milošević, and two years later he helped raise Radovan Karadžić to the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. When war broke out in 1991, he supported the Serbian effort.

During and after the Yugoslav wars

In 1992, he became the president of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro.

On Eastern Orthodox Christmas Eve of January 1993, Dobrica Ćosić appeared on Serbian television to warn of demands for “national capitulation” from western governments. “If we don't accept, we are going to be put in a concentration camp and face an attack by the most powerful armies of the world.” These outside forces, he said, are determined to subordinate “the Serbian people to Muslim hegemony.”[3]

Later that year Ćosić turned against Milošević, and was removed from his position for that reason. In 2000, Ćosić publicly joined Otpor, an underground anti-Milošević organization. In congratulating Ćosić on his 80th birthday, the late Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjić called Ćosić the "Serbian Thomas Mann." At the same time, Ćosić was also congratulated by then President of Yugoslavia Vojislav Koštunica and current President of Serbia, Boris Tadić.

As of 2008, Cosic still supports the actions of the Bosnian Serb Army under the command of Ratko Mladic during the Bosnian War.[4]

Literary life

Ćosić is a prolific writer who twice won the prestigious NIN award for literature, once for Koreni (Roots, 1954) and once for Deobe (Divisions, 1961). His novel Daleko je sunce (Distant is the Sun, 1951), which concerned the fate of a partisan detachment in the Second World War, was an instant success when published; eventually it was translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. Koreni is a story of life in the Serbian village, written in a Faulknerian style. Deobe is a three-volume novel about Četniks in the Second World War; Bajka (A Fable, 1966) a futuristic fable that condemns all variants of totalitarianism. Ćosić's most beloved novel is Vreme smrti (Time of Death, also three volumes, 1972-1975), which describes the fate of the Serbian people during the first year of the First World War. Vreme zla (Time of Evil, 1985-1991), another three-volume work, treats Serbia's relationship with Stalinism, and the first volume of Vreme vlasti (Time of Power, 1996, his final, as-yet unfinished novel), examines communism in power in Serbia. He has also published non-fiction works, including Stvarno i moguće (The Real and the Possible, 1983), Promene (Changes, 1991), Kosovo (2004) and Prijatelji (Friends, 2005).

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Famous quote

Quote from the musings of a controversial lead character of the novel trilogy "Deobe"(Divisions) 1961. Volume I, page 135: "A lie, trait of our patriotism" “We lie to deceive ourselves, to console others, we lie for mercy, we lie to fight fear, to encourage ourselves, to hide our and somebody else's misery. We lie for love and honesty. We lie because of freedom. Lying is a trait of our patriotism and the proof of our innate intelligence. We lie creatively, imaginatively and inventively."

Ćosić and Chomsky

In 2006, Ćosić received support in the press for his proposal for a partition of Kosovo from American dissident Noam Chomsky. In a [1] Serbian television interview, Chomsky was asked what the best solution for Kosovo's final status is. He responded:

My feeling has been for a long time that the only realistic solution is one that in fact was offered by the President of Serbia [i.e. Dobrica Cosic, then President of Yugoslavia] I think back round 1993, namely some kind of partition, with the Serbian, by now very few Serbs left but the, what were the Serbian areas being part of Serbia and the rest be what they called "independent" which means it'll join Albania. I just don't see…I didn't see any other feasible solution ten years ago.

This interview sparked a correspondence between the two dissident intellectuals, parts of which were published in the Belgrade magazine NIN.

References

  • Slavoljub Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu: Razgovori sa Dobricem Ćosićem (Belgrade: Filip Višnjić, 1989)
  • Jasna Dragović Soso, Saviours of the Nation (McGill-Queens University Press, 2001)
  • Nick Miller, The Nonconformists: Culture, Politics, and Nationalism in a Serbian Intellectual Circle, 1944-1991 (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2007)
Political offices
Preceded by
New title
President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Zoran Lilić
Preceded by
Branko Kostić
Secretary General of Non-Aligned Movement
1992
Succeeded by
Suharto


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