My name is Vesna Pešić.
I was born in Grocka in 1940.
Can you tell us what your occupation is,
what do you do?
I have a degree in philosophy.
I was Associate Research Professor at
the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory.
I was a professor.
Now I enjoy my hobbies,
as I'm retired.
Where do your parents come from,
My father comes from eastern Serbia,
My mother is from Vojvodina.
She was born in Vršac.
My mother was a French teacher
and my father was a lawyer.
Was your family affected
by the Second World War?
If so, in what way?
My father was imprisoned for four years.
That was it.
There were no other consequences.
Did the Second World War have any
notable influence on your family?
I don't know, I don't believe so.
Perhaps to the extent that
when my father was in prison,
amongst other prisoners he met
some professors from the Faculty of Law.
Bartoš, who knew everything by heart.
He could recite "The Capital" by heart.
He simply had a fantastic memory.
They were somewhat influenced by
communist ideas, so to speak.
So my father joined the Communist party
after the War.
He was a member of the League of Communists.
But he had already left by 1950.
My parents represented
that Yugoslav progressive youth.
They were not religious.
Quite the opposite.
My mother couldn't even stand seeing
priests of any kind on television.
To the point thatI had to intervene,
to tell her that priests were part of reality
and that she didn't have to be outraged
every time she saw them on television.
I don't come from a religious family.
I remember when I once asked what Serbdom was,
when it suddenly started appearing,
and my mother said that
it was some peasant thing,
and they preferred to play piano,
learn foreign languages and study.
What were your feelings and attitudes
concerning the Second World War,
the Partisan movement, the Chetnik Movement of
Draža Mihajlović, the government of Milan Nedić?
No one I knew died in that war,
nor was involved in fighting either
on the Partisan or on the Chetnik side.
My father was in prison and my mother
was left in Grocka with three small children.
She started tutoring,
since there was no school.
My mother was staunchly anti-Chetnik,
because they were carrying out raids
at the time.
She would sometimes describe,
in no great detail,
how they used to close the shutters when
Chetniks arrived, in order to hide from them.
I have no connections with the Chetniks,
or with the Partisans.
None of my family was in the Partisans.
Neither in my close, nor my extended family.
Who most influenced your views
on anti-Fascist resistance, and in what way?
Well, I was influenced by my parents.
They welcomed the liberation.
They were not anti-communist.
I've said already, that my father joined them.
He was a lawyer before the war,
he joined the Communists,
and became Deputy Public Prosecutor in Belgrade.
After he left the Party,
he went back to being a lawyer.
So I always leaned that way,
and later went on to study philosophy.
Because my father read a lot of that literature.
He read a lot of that kind of literature.
When he came back from work,
he would have philosophical conversations with me.
About materialism, idealism, and so on.
Those were the kind of conversations we had.
I grew up in a family
which accepted anti-fascist values,
if I can generalise.
Did your family follow political events?
Not really. I don't know how much
we followed political events.
I remember hearing about Informbiro,
what was happening.
My mother was teaching in grammar school.
She later talked about some people
being subjected to certain pressure
and made to work for Informbiro.
And it was very hard to stand up in their defence
and say: "I don't think it's him",
because then you risked becoming
So I know that at the time
there was a lot of pressure.
But my parents were not victims of Informbiro.
What was your attitude towards Brotherhood and Unity?
I don't know. It was somehow a given at the time.
In general, and later too.
I don't remember the post-War years very much.
But at the time the question of nationality
was definitely not important.
You didn't think of someone as a Serb,
a Croat, or I don't know, a Muslim.
That was not a criterion for anything,
for socialising, for friendship.
So you could say...
Looking at Brotherhood and Unity
as a slogan,
well we didn't talk about it at home,
proclaiming to be in favour of it.
We definitely didn't.
I just saw it as something normal.
We were open towards everyone,
no one drew any distinctions.
The time was such that
nationalism wasn't allowed,
I must say.
If such groups existed,
perhaps later in the '60s and '70s
in Belgrade it was known
who was leaning towards nationalism,
a few writers or other figures, but
for a long time nationalism had no importance.
I suppose that was also a part of communist propaganda.
It was taken for granted.
No one questioned it.
At least as far as I know.
What was your attitude towards self-managing socialism?
I had conflicting feelings about it.
Following the 1950s,
following the split with the Soviet Union,
when there was the need to come up with a new model,
that was when self-management appeared.
Naturally, first in some elementary form.
Later it developed into some incomprehensible
hollow phrases, so to speak,
exchange of labour, communities of interest,
various organisations of associated labour, etc.
Then it grew into something else,
which had good sides to it
in the sense that we got to choose
directors in our firms and companies ourselves.
Of course, that director would then get
a green light from some municipal committee.
Mind you, I was never a member of
the League of Communists.
It was usually people who
were members of the Party
who would become directors
or be assigned to various functions.
Experiments began in the economic sphere.
Although, mind you, I never took part in the economy,
I never did anything like that.
But it was obvious later, especially in the 1970s,
that companies had certain freedoms.
There were ideas of some kind of
and these directors started to develop
I think that was positive.
They started running companies in a way
that was not directed by the central government.
On the other hand, it led to
the creation of mid-level party
economic management in the republics.
In all of the republics and provinces,
behind closed doors,
- starting from 1962, I know a lot about it -
thet started to 'round off' their economies.
That meant duplicating factories, for instance,
each republic had its own television factory,
everyone had their own comprehensive economy.
I think in fact that the nationalist upheaval,
which occurred later,
came from that business sphere, the mid level.
And they later got rid the communists.
The communists served just as ideologists.
Other things started going on.
Later, they got rid of the communists.
They considered them useless bureaucrats.
For instance, what happened in Žuta Greda,
and also the Anti-bureaucratic Revolution
that Milošević orchestrated in Montenegro.
There you had the old communists.
Then these young ones, Milo Đukanović and Bulatović,
who had risen from Milošević's national movement,
took over and started getting rid of the old cadre,
labelling them a relic of the past.
In fact, at the time I cheered
for those who were in power,
rather than those who appeared
when the Anti-bureaucratic Revolution started.
I was in favour of the old cadre.
I cheered for them, because I understood
what these young ones were trying to do.
But it was in fact that middle cadre,
who were influential in the economic sphere,
who greatly contributed to the upheaval,
to that second nationalist counter-revolution.
What was your attitude towards the resolution
of the national question in Yugoslavia?
You know what?
The national question in Yugoslavia was resolved
very similarly to how
the national question was resolved
in the Soviet Union following the October Revolution.
At the time the resolution of the national question
was just a way
for the Soviet Union to keep some of
the territory of the old Russia
by using the communist ideology of the national states,
which were more or less just window dressing at the time,
because, naturally, everything was decided
by the central committees.
But the former Soviet Union
was at the time becoming 'decentralised',
taking into account various nationalities.
Some sort of nation states were created.
Later, when socialism started cracking
then it became a reality.
Before that it was no more than a formality,
but it did in some way play a certain role.
When you're formalising something,
it might initially just look theoretical,
but when circumstances change,
that formality takes on life.
It becomes active.
For instance, Macedonia used to be
Then Macedonia became a republic.
It had previously been an independent country
but then it joined Yugoslavia...
So it didn't have...
It wasn't a separate entity in the previous Yugoslavia.
Slovenia and Croatia, also.
They in effect became states with their own governments
with the emergence of the new Yugoslavia.
There were some attempts before the War
to federalise the old Yugoslavia.
Particularly from Croatia, where in 1939
the Banovina of Croatia was established.
Then the Serbian national question came up:
where did the Serbian borders lie? And so on.
So, that was before.
And then after the War it was resolved
so that each nation got its own state.
Back then it was called
the same as in Soviet ideology
- I wrote about it a lot so I know -
they became constitutive nations.
Those were constitutive nations.
That meant that every constitutive nation
had a right to its own state.
Now, there were also national minorities,
except they were not called national minorities
'All of our nations and nationalities',
that's how we referred to it.
Except that there was a problem.
Take the Serbs as an example of
they also lived in Bosnia,
they lived in Croatia.
In earlier periods, there were Serbs
living in Croatia.
Even some cousin of mine,
my ancestor, was a 'podban'.
He was a Serb and had a noble title,
he was a 'podban'.
So they had some kind of Serb institutions
as a minority in Croatia.
They represented some kind of a factor in Croatia.
And this was before the Communist Yugoslavia.
For instance, take Prosvjeta,
a Serbian cultural society in Croatia.
If you are a constitutive nation,
then you have no minority rights.
The logic is, you are a constitutive nation,
what would you need minority rights for?
So the idea of a minority, or a 'nationality',
mainly referred to the Albanians.
So they as a 'nationality' got Kosovo
as an autonomous province.
OK, Kosovo was somewhat different,
after the war.
Then Vojvodina also became an autonomous province.
For historic reasons, but also
because there was a Hungarian minority
who mainly lived in Vojvodina.
There were no other national minorities
at the time, Muslims weren't one.
You knew that someone was a Muslim,
but they didn't at the time take any political form.
It was later, in 1971, that Muslims
were recognised as a nation.
I don't know why it was that way,
that's irrelevant now.
So in fact, later, when conflicts arose
those constitutive nations
appeared as ghosts of sorts.
Even before that, when Serbs in Croatia
wanted to preserve Prosvjeta as an institution,
it was considered to be a form of nationalism.
You're a constitutive nation,
what would you need minority rights for?
That was a Soviet model of constitutive nations.
If you were a constitutive nation,
you had no minority rights.
According to the Constitution
you were equal to the others in that republic.
For instance, Serbs were a constitutive nation in Croatia.
The when Tuđman appeared, he brought about a new Constitution,
which turned Serbs into a national minority.
Then they complained, because they went from
being a constitutive nation to becoming a national minority.
That was the Soviet model. The national question
here was resolved in the same way.
Every nation was supposed to have its own state.
Were you informed about the events
at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s?
The student protests in Belgrade and Zagreb,
the Croatian Spring, the fall of the liberals in Serbia?
What was your attitude towards those events?
Well, you've just mentioned quite a few
very different events.
I, for instance, took part in
the student protests of 1968.
I supported the student movement.
However, it was not the same thing
in Belgrade and in Zagreb.
In Zagreb it was more of a national movement,
and here in Serbia it was more left wing.
All over the world then
- I was in America in 1968 -
sociology was becoming more radical,
the new left and its ideas.
That took root mostly in Belgrade,
less so in Bosnia and Macedonia.
There was some of it in Croatia,
but Croatia was at the time
more going along the national line,
whilst here it was more about
The new left was
the one who criticised.
It was very critical of the communist regime
and the social structure,
claiming that it had changed,
that it had become a class-based society,
that those in government were out of touch,
that they were not really favouring equality,
as they were supposed to.
There was criticism of - as Sveta Stojanović,
a philosopher and my old professor put it -
"a difference between the ideal and reality".
That was the main criticism.
There was a certain ideal, but
the reality was completely different.
So the new left appeared, with the
protests against the war in Vietnam,
that was happening in Belgrade too.
There were also many gatherings organised here,
which were very critical of
the existing ideology.
Later Praxis came about in Zagreb,
where they embraced the young Marx
and discussed alienation
and other issues.
Whilst Marxist views on base and superstructure
and dialectic materialism were pushed aside.
Those were dismissed,
and the more modern ideas, of alienation
and so on, were taken on.
It was derived from Erich Fromm, Marcuse,
and that critical philosophy.
Those sorts of ideas were gaining ground.
That student movement was very significant
because it was the first time
that people felt free to organise themselves.
They organised themselves freely,
not according to some hierarchy or command,
the way youth was organised
as a formal organisation.
It was completely independent.
That led to some of the leaders of 1968
entering into conflict with the regime
and some of them were later sent to prison.
From that, dissident groups were born,
some of which I was a member of too.
And what you were saying,
about the Croatian Spring...
The Croatian Spring caused
a lot of nervousness here.
Later when I was studying those periods,
there was a book, a very important book
entitled "The Serb Side of the War".
Sometime in 1993, Nebojša Popović,
and 27 of us researchers,
including Latinka Perović
Dubravka Stojanović, and everyone else,
we wanted to describe what
really went on in Serbia.
How the institutions changed under
the influence of nationalism, for instance.
We were researching politics
as a national institution, how it was changing,
the echoes and reactions.
How Milošević's propaganda came about,
how even the music was changing.
I was researching the national question
from a theoretical point of view.
How wars came about,
The Association of Writers of Serbia,
The Serbian Academy of Sciences, The Memorandum...
It was a book that analysed
all of those basic institutions,
including the Constitution,
how the Constitution contributed to it.
All of those constitutional and legal forms.
We titled it "The Serb Side of the War"
counting on the others to find the strength
and carefully examine what was happening
in their respective republics.
However, I see that it was only us who came up
with the Serb side of the war,
and the others haven't made much effort
to describe that period.
I think that that book is very important
because it brought together those intellectuals
who later constituted what became
known as "the other Serbia",
who were very critical of the war, of the crimes,
of everything that was happening in Yugoslavia.
The Croatian Spring caused upset
with the Serbs in Croatia,
partly because that movement was mixed.
They were at the same time
liberal in a way,
they grew out of self-managing socialism,
although later when I researched foreign literature
- I probably should have been better informed -
I then saw that they went pretty far.
They were asking to have their own currency,
to become a member of the United Nations.
It was a proper national movement.
I was never nationally oriented,
not pro-Serbian, not anti-Albanian, not anti-Croatian.
I never liked any kind of nationalism.
If something was nationalistic,
I didn't look at it positively.
It's my personal feeling that
the Serbian leadership at the time,
Latinka Perović and Nikezić,
who came to power in 1968, 1969,
responded to The Croatian Spring by deciding
that Serbia was no longer to be
the pillar of Yugoslavia.
Serbia wasn't going to have any special role
in preserving Yugoslavia,
but was instead going to turn to itself.
That was the modernisation that
they tried to carry out.
'We will turn to Serbia, to modernise Serbia.'
And then after that they were purged,
Latinka and Nikezić.
It was done in technocratic style,
but was also a sort of response
to the purge of the Croatian leadership.
It wasn't just a purge of
the Croatian leadership...
Many ended up in prison in Croatia
at the time.
Here, those who were imprisoned were more..
In 1968 there were big protests in Priština.
It was mostly Albanians who were locked up.
A lot less of that took place here.
Here, the sacking of Ranković in 1966
had more of an effect.
Perhaps that led to some people
ending up in prison,
but mostly it was...
There was a wave of layoffs,
in particular in the state security sector.
To be honest, I took the side
of the students,
those people from the League of Communists
seemed to me all boring,
so I didn't go much into it,
I didn't analyse the nuances.
They all looked to me the same.
I saw that Nikezić was using
some complicated language,
it was boring for me to read
it at the time.
When you're young you're not
that interested in politics,
unless it provides a reason to socialise.
So I didn't pay much attention.
I mean, at the time. Later, of course,
I started looking into it.
Were you conscious of the political turmoil
in Yugoslavia in the 1980s?
I'm not sure what turmoil you're referring to.
There was the miner's strike in Kosovo,
the economic crisis, Ante Marković's government.
Well, to be honest...
The 1980s and the beginning of it.
In 1981 there were big protests
in Kosovo and it lasted a long time.
There were big clashes in Kosovo.
At the time it was called counter-revolution.
Whatever occurred at that time, those nationalist
movements, they were not called nationalist,
they weren't given ethnic names,
but they were designated according to
revolutionary and counter-revolutionary ideology.
Then there was a change
and the protests by Albanians in Kosovo
started to be seen as an ethnic threat.
But there were also other things happening.
For instance, it was clear that Yugoslavia's survival
was being brought into question.
You see, in 1985 you already had Glasnost,
it was obvious that things were changing.
In a way it became clear that
Yugoslavia was an identity of sorts
which was supposed to be a manifestation
of socialist self-management.
I was doing research for a project
that I was working on at the Institute,
I was looking into all of the congresses,
which, of course, made for very tedious reading.
Starting from 1949, from the Fifth Congress onwards,
I followed what was going on
through those congresses.
At the Party Congress in 1964
- it was the Eight Party Congress -
a new thesis was suddenly introduced.
That was how they later came up with
the Constitution mentioning 'nation'
not as a bourgeois concept,
as was previously thought.
So 'nation' was reintroduced.
Not necessarily nationalism,
but nation was reintroduced as lege artis.
These winds were mainly coming from Slovenia
and Croatia, less so from Serbia.
So, 1990 and that uprising in Kosovo.
There was a loosening of discipline,
in particular following Tito's death in 1980,
when that integrating factor was gone.
Things were heating up, ideologically,
not only in our country but everywhere.
You had Gdansk in 1980, you had Poland.
Here in Belgrade, dissidents took part,
we gathered in front of the Polish embassy,
we were followed by the police.
I ended up in prison in 1982.
Various independent groups were established,
free universities set up in houses,
everything was suddenly changing.
And on the other hand, there was the slogan
"After Tito, Tito".
That crumbling system could not have come up
with a new expression.
There was also the economic crisis,
that too had an effect.
Then you had, for instance, the Slovenian
nationalists. They were the first.
I can tell you. They were the first.
They started talking about 'their' country.
And did so pretty openly, in Slovenia.
They were saying: "Slovenia will secede".
It was at some gathering of sociologists,
the Yugoslav Association for Sociology still existed,
when Rupel said: "If we want to
extract ourselves from Yugoslavia,
we have to make the Serbs become nationalist.
Until we awaken their nationalism,
we can't get out".
He was saying that openly.
Those kinds of ideas appeared at the time.
But it bothered them that
until Serb nationalism appeared,
they couldn't have their own 'little' nationalism.
They needed everyone to get on the bandwagon.
So they in fact stirred up nationalism.
And so nationalism started developing
in Serbia during the 1980s.
And in particular from 1985 onwards,
after the Đorđe Martinović incident
in Kosovo, nationalists took to the stage.
Then the Association of Writers of Serbia
turned completely nationalist.
Before, that was where we held gatherings
in support of Vojko Đogo...
All of those opposition gatherings were held there.
Then suddenly that same Association of Writers
turned into a sort of a nationalist hub.
And everything started moving in the same direction.
It was pretty full on.
Everyone who was considered to be a part
of the so-called liberal intelligentsia,
people who stood up for democracy,
human rights, political rights,
who wrote petitions and so on,
were all denounced to state security.
That movement of ours, for democracy,
for liberal democracy, was decimated
when Serbian nationalism appeared.
In particular when Milošević appeared as a leader.
Then many of us, who were part of liberal circles,
ran to the other camp.
Some of us stayed away and
But some did join the nationalist movement
and supported it.
In my opinion, the efforts of Ante Marković
were the last attempt to preserve Yugoslavia.
It was the first time I joined any party.
The Union of Reform Forces.
I joined Ante Marković's party.
It was set up in all of the republics
but it met with greatest support in Serbia.
In Croatia, they were already going down
a different road.
They didn't want to...
So, Milošević sabotaged it,
the Slovenes sabotaged it,
I mean, not the Slovenes but the
Slovenian leadership, the Serbian leadership
and the Croatian leadership.
When Marković set up his party in 1990,
The Union of Reform Forces, already
no one wanted to hear about it in Croatia.
Before that, another movement was organised,
a very different one, independent of the government.
Marković was in the government,
he was the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia,
or whatever it was called at the time,
the President of the Executive Council.
That was the Yugoslav government.
And we founded... On the Yugoslav level, we founded UJDI,
the Association for Yugoslav Democratic Initiative.
I was a member of UJDI.
We had a founding gathering,
I think it was in February 1989.
The idea was to form an association.
We didn't want to register as a party,
but we managed to pull some strings
and got approval
to register as a political organisation.
So we organised ourselves and registered
in Montenegro as a political organisation.
UJDI's intention was to stop
the disintegration of Yugoslavia,
and in particular to stop the kind of
disintegration that eventually happened, the war.
We were suggesting a change of
an Article of the Yugoslav Constitution.
The main, central Constitution.
Every republic had its own constitution.
We wanted to change the main Constitution,
so that at the multi-party elections
the majority of the people in Yugoslavia
would be able to discuss the ways in which
Yugoslavia could be preserved,
in which form, with what Constitution.
Or, in case no conclusion could be reached,
in case tendencies towards
independent national states prevailed,
then to see in what way
that could be done.
We wanted an opportunity to
come to an agreement.
If it came to every republic
becoming an independent state,
we wanted to have a democratically
elected body which would discuss it.
We had a lot of people
in Belgrade, in Mostar,
there were some in Bosnia who joined.
Žarko Puhovski was there too.
Milorad Pupovac was there,
So, there was a group from Zagreb,
a group from Belgrade, a few people from Bosnia,
in Mostar, and in Tuzla,
somewhere around Tuzla,
Lukavac I think the place was called.
There were people dispersed everywhere
who were members of UJDI.
However, evidently, that initiative
didn't survive. It fell through.
Then Ante Marković appeared,
so we supported Ante Marković.
We had the first elections in 1990.
Slovenia and Croatia organised the first
multi-party elections in May 1990,
and in Serbia we had them
only in December 1990.
Six months later.
We stood in those elections,
the Reform Forces and UJDI, as a coalition.
And we won one seat for UJDI,
Tibor Varady was elected, he is
a well know international legal scholar.
And Reform Forces won four representatives
For the Serbian presidential elections,
the Reform Forces had Ivan Đurić
running against Milošević,
and in favour of preserving a democratic Yugoslavia.
Those were the circumstances at the time.
He tried to preserve Yugoslavia
in some form.
As a federation, confederation, union, whatever.
However, it was all sabotaged.
That fell through too.
And the others, they didn't make much of an effort.
So us here, we were accused of supporting
because he had most support here,
it was weak in Croatia.
Then here, Dobrica Ćosić and the other
infamous Serb nationalists
accused us of scuppering Serbian plans,
and wanting to tie the Serbs
into some kind of Yugoslavia.
As you can see, I always found myself
on the other side,
in marginal but nonetheless
who were trying to do something.
I had a positive attitude toward Ante Marković.
I took part in his movement, in UJDI,
I was very active at the time.
Perhaps that's enough about that period.
Lots of things were happening, I can't
tell you about everything that went on in the 1980s.
I was a part of various organisations,
in committees for freedoms, freedom of speech,
I took part in that petitionary movement,
I ended up in prison in 1982.
We supported Poland.
It was really lively at the time.
The emancipatory movement was quite strong,
we fought for what we lacked.
Personal freedoms, freedom of speech,
legitimate democratically elected government.
Those were the ideas we promoted.
However, there was a wave of nationalism
rising strongly in Serbia,
in Croatia, in Slovenia.
For a while there was silence from Croatia,
but then Tuđman appeared and that changed.
Then we had some inter-republic meetings,
of sociologists and philosophers.
Philosophical and sociological societies
were very active at the time.
I was the President of the Sociological Society
from 1987 to 1989.
Đinđić was very active as a young philosopher.
We had discussions about civil society,
whether it was possible to have
independent non-governmental organisations,
civil organisations, under socialism.
The Slovenes were claiming that it was possible
to have it as part of a socialist union,
and we claimed that it wasn't,
that total freedom was necessary.
We went everywhere, held debates
in Zagreb, in Ljubljana, in Belgrade.
We had different debaters, we went from
place to place and discussed these questions.
There were a lot of debates at the time
mainly in dissident groups, from the republics
that I mentioned.
A lot less so in Macedonia, a lot less so in Bosnia,
they didn't take much part in it.
Mostly Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.
You mentioned that you were in prison in 1982,
how did that come about?
Well, you see,
later in the 1980s, there was
a completely different dynamic.
Following 1968 some people went to prison,
such as Vlada Mijanović,
famously known as Vlada 'Revolution'.
Milan Nikolić, Jelka Imširović and
were accused of Trotskyism
and sent to prison.
Then we made use of the philosophical
and sociological societies.
Mihajlo Đurić took part in debates
about the Constitution in 1974,
and for that reason alone he was locked up.
He was sentenced to a year and a half in prison.
Then we developed a petitionary movement
where we came up with all sorts of petitions.
There was the case of eight professors
from the Faculty of Philosophy.
Tito concluded that since the youth
was intrinsically good,
it must be that certain professors
were spoiling the youth.
So he came up with a list of eight professors.
Then they abused legal processes
because there was no legal way
to kick those professors out of the Faculty.
There was great solidarity shown
in the other republics.
For instance, at the time Trivo Inđić and
Nebojša Popov were assistants at the Faculty.
So in order to get rid of them, they asked
academics from Slovenia and Croatia
to write up reviews,
thinking that these would be negative.
However, that wasn't the case.
So they didn't manage to get rid of them
using internal reviews,
and they couldn't get anyone from other republics
to write up a bad review,
which would see them chased out of the Faculty.
Then they simply came up with a law,
some sort of lex specialis.
So they used that law to get rid of them,
because they couldn't have used
legal university procedures
to lay them off.
Those professors formed a small group
who had had their passports taken away
and their freedom of movement restricted.
Since we were all active in
philosophical and sociological societies,
we then developed a certain solidarity
towards those who were sent to prison,
who were punished or persecuted.
So in 1979 we wrote a petition
on freedom of movement.
You see, they would ask you to hand in
your passport, without any explanation.
The petition was not so much about the passport,
as it was a petition for the introduction
of a review procedure
for every decision of a state organ.
So that you could file a complaint and
ask for an explanation.
And that you would have the right
to dispute a decision.
That was one of the petitions.
Then in 1968,
there was some big petition.
But those were just the beginning.
Later it was a proper petitionary movement.
For instance, in 1980 in May
we started a petition
concerning Paraga, who later turned out
to be an extreme Croatian nationalist.
He was stuck in prison.
Those professors played a key role
with the petition movement.
There was also Srđa Popović, a lawyer,
He played a crucial role in writing
Many were his clients, including Paraga,
who was at the time 19 years old,
when he ended up in prison.
We started a petition to abolish verbal delict,
which came from Lenin's time,
and which made it possible to end up in prison
for something said.
That was the infamous Article 133
of the Criminal Code.
We called it verbal delict.
It meant that you could end up in prison for
saying something, singing, drawing, whatever.
In November of that same year we came up
with the petition to abolish Article 133.
I later wrote a book about it.
I couldn't get it published here
so it was published by a department, a youth
publisher in Maribor, in Slovenia.
I don't know where that is now.
So we came up with the petition
against verbal delict.
Then there was the petition for the change
of the Constitution, to make all equal before the law.
So it wasn't only about class, race,
I don't know, religion, nationality,
but we also had political beliefs.
We were constantly demanding and signing things,
and were recognised as a group.
There was another, nationalist group
which was formed after 1985.
But we differed from them.
These petitions of ours were also signed by
and at the beginning also by some nationalists.
At the beginning of the 1980s there
were not yet marked differences.
There was a certain pluralism.
It's not that only one sort of people
signed those petitions.
Then we tried to...
Then there was the banning of Praxis,
banning of the Korčula School,
which I didn't take part in.
I wasn't a member of the Korčula School,
I wasn't a member of Praxis.
I didn't take part in that.
Some of those gatherings were continued
in Komiža, in Croatia.
They were called Ante Fiamengo Days.
Even Šešelj was there once.
What a joke!
I remember that he kept to
shallow waters all the time.
Then Žarko Puhovski told him:
"Hey, you can't swim!".
Then we all joked how he couldn't swim.
Even he was there.
There were two gatherings in Komiža:
in 1981 and 1982.
That was where the opposition gathered,
democratic opposition, liberal democratic opposition,
and at the time Šešelj was in those circles.
Later he completely transformed.
He took a very different path.
Then there was a group from
the Faculty of Political Sciences
and those old dissidents, Milan Nikolić,
Imširović, and so on...
At the time martial law was introduced in Poland.
Here there was a gathering
organised by the Socialist Youth,
so an official, state sponsored event.
It was a youth gathering of
solidarity with the Palestinian people.
At that gathering in support of the Palestinian people,
which was formally organised
by a youth assembly,
nine of our activists appeared.
Some from the Faculty of Political Sciences,
there was Imširović, Milan Nikolić,
and so on, those old dissidents from 1968.
They appeared at that gathering
carrying a banner that said "Solidarność",
Solidarity in Polish.
The police saw them and confiscated
There were dragged into a bookshop,
the bookshop was call 'Communist'.
All of this took place at today's Pašić Square,
which was then called Marx and Engels Square.
They were dragged into that bookshop,
the 'Communist' bookshop, kept there,
and then they were sentenced to
50 days in prison each
for holding that banner.
They were of course already know by the
state security organs as the opposition.
At the time I was on a summer holiday.
In that first group there was Veselinka,
who was Boris Tadić's girlfriend,
then Branislava Katić, also - goodness me,
what's her name? - Jovica Mihajlović's wife.
I've forgotten now, I'll remember. Radica.
There were the three of them and
maybe there was a fourth girl?
They all ended up in Padinska Skela.
Then... we all gathered.
Vojislav Stojanović, who's been in France
for a long time now,
the brother of Laza Stojanović,
he assembled us at the Grgić cafe.
He told us that on the Friday when
that group had been arrested,
some protests started in front of
the bookshop, with banners and so on.
He told us - there was Nebojša Popov,
Sveto Stojanović, myself -
to meet in front of the bookshop.
I had just got back from holiday,
from Komiža probably.
So we met in front of the bookshop.
Before when they were standing in front of
that bookshop, protesting and so on,
the police didn't react.
However, this time when I came to the square
I saw that it was flooded with police.
It was all very well organised.
There were banners calling for the group
to be released,
there was Steva Milovanović,
a student newspaper member,
Ivan Janković, etc. In fact all of the
liberal opposition was in front of that bookshop.
So I went into the bookshop.
Nebojša Popov too.
We sat down on the benches,
inside the bookshop.
Nebojša Popov took some book to read.
The police were already inside.
Boris Tadić was there too.
There was Žaneta, some other girl,
she studied psychology.
The police started harassing
Boris Tadić and some of the younger people.
I said: "What is this for? Who are you?
How can you harass people in a bookshop?"
I was playing stupid a bit.
I mean, I knew what it was about.
I asked that policeman: "Who are you?"
He said: "I'm State Security".
I said: "Well it's not like it says
on your forehead that you're State Security.
I'm asking you to show me your papers".
He showed me some kind of ID.
It said: "Rale", for instance,
or some name like that.
Then I said: "What is this?
What kind of a name is this?
It's not like you're Tereza, a popular singer,
and everyone knows that her last name is Kesovija.
Or some artist who can use only his first name,
without giving the last name".
Since I started raising my voice...
Nebojša Popov, who died just recently,
who was the star of all of those movements,
I mean, he was very active,
he had his methods,
he was holding some book saying that
he was a member of a reading club
and that the way the police was disturbing us
was disgraceful, and so on.
Then they brought along a police vehicle.
Outside there were people, from Belgrade,
who we knew.
A lot of people came. Even my sisters were there.
At some point the policeman said:
"This comrade here", and showed towards Žaneta
and myself, then Boris Tadić, Nebojša Popov,
I don't know who else, they gathered us,
walked us through the crowds
and put us in some police vehicle.
They took us to Majka Jevrosima Street,
and then to 29th of November Street.
In the morning they put us in front
of some judge.
There was no evidence, nothing.
They were showing some photographs,
it was all useless.
We were all convicted. That girl Žaneta
was given 20 days because she was younger,
Nebojša Popov and I got 25 days.
Ivan Jaković, who's now a lawyer,
my great friend, got 30 days.
Dušan Dams, he escaped and then they pursued him
so he landed in prison too.
They locked us up and I was in for 25 days.
That was all about the Solidarity Movement in fact.
That movement was leaning towards the liberal movements
and against non-democratic regimes,
the Soviet regime, Stalin's totalitarianism, etc.
However it is called.
It wasn't Stalinism that we had,
in Yugoslavia there was some sort of liberal communism,
it wasn't as rough as in the USSR.
That's how we ended up in prison in 1982.
That was the time when various groups appeared.
In the 1980s, I was starting all sorts
We formed an organisation for
fighting against capital punishment.
They didn't allow us to register that association.
We wanted to discuss capital punishment,
with arguments against and for capital punishment,
but since capital punishment existed according to the Constitution,
we weren't allowed to register our association
because the Socialist Union did not accept
any citizen's union which was anti-Constitutional.
So it turned out that campaigning against capital punishment
was considered to be an anti-Constitutional activity.
So I was very active in those years.
I took part in all of the conferences,
also in UJDI, everywhere.
And then of course, in the 1990s I became
a lot more active than in the 1980s.
But it was all continuous, the way I ended up
taking part in the events of the 1990s.
What was your attitude towards
the political rise of Slobodan Milošević?
Extremely negative, of course.
Did you talk to anyone about
the political situation at the time?
Well of course! That was all that was talked about.
What else would we have done in those sociological
and philosophical societies, in our debates?
During the 1980s Belgrade was very lively,
even before the appearance of Milošević.
We held our debates mainly
at the Student Cultural Centre
and at the Youth Centre.
These were our hubs of sorts,
where we held debates and various things.
Our comrades from Poland came as guests,
they told us how they had organised themselves.
We learned about the horizontal
organisation and so on.
We talked a lot.
And then things started changing
in terms of being able to freely
debate in public spaces.
Sometimes it was forbidden. For instance,
when we set up UJDI in Belgrade,
the Student Cultural Centre forbade us to hold
the founding assembly for UJDI Belgrade there.
Then the Director of the Institute of Criminology
came to our rescue
so we held it there.
You could always find somewhere.
Then there was an important event
in the UJDI circles.
There was a group led by Srđa Popović when
we investigated the state of human rights in Kosovo.
That was when the famous book came out
"Kosovo knot: to untie or cut",
in which we did a detailed analysis of
what was happening in Kosovo.
I took part in it too, I wrote a text,
because I wasn't just a politician,
I also did research.
In that book I analysed rape crime,
since at the time there was talk of
Albanians raping Serb women.
That was one of the complaints of the Serbian people
in Kosovo at the time.
I then analysed rape crime in Kosovo
and in all of the other republics.
I came to the conclusion that
there was no inter-ethnic rape.
If there were rape crimes, these were mainly
intra-ethnic, rather than inter-ethnic.
Ivan Janković did a study on prisons:
who was arrested, who was imprisoned.
Srđa Popović wrote an introduction
on the conflict in Kosovo,
what it was about,
from a historical perspective.
There was also an interesting text
written by Svetlana Slapšak and
Nataša Kandić about responses and reactions
that appeared amongst politicians
who were preparing the terrain
for a nationalist environment
They analysed that.
It is a short, but very well known book.
You can download it from the Internet,
since, naturally, it's not available in print
That was interesting.
We managed to publish that book,
as a report from a Yugoslav commission regarding
the state of human rights in Kosovo.
We held events in three places.
In Mostar, in Priština,
and the closing conference about the state of things
in Kosovo was held in Belgrade.
The Albanians from Kosovo came also.
It was organised as a debate.
The result of all that was a report
which was published in Montenegro later also.
I remember so much political history,
I could write five volumes.
We need to move a bit faster.
What was your attitude towards the proclamation of independence
and the appearance of a multi-party system in Croatia?
I was in principle in favour of a multi-party system.
I wasn't against it, quite the opposite.
We in Belgrade saluted it.
1990 was a sort of crossroads when a
multi-party system was supposed to be introduced.
There was a big discussion whether
should be introduced by the old Assembly.
The old Assembly which was not multi-party.
I am talking about the Constitution of Serbia.
Whether the parliament - made up of members of
the League of Communists alone - should introduce a Constitution
or if we should first have multi-party elections
and then bring in the Constitution of Serbia.
That was a crossroad.
For instance, Ćosić supported bringing in
the Constitution first, and then calling elections.
We claimed that the Constitution could not be
introduced by a one-party assembly,
and that we had to have elections first.
And then at the founding assembly
a new constitution would be introduced,
not the one that was brought in in the end.
In that constitution Milošević wrote,
as was agreed in the one-party assembly,
that all the laws and directives
which were introduced in other republics,
and went against the interests of The Republic of Serbia,
would be invalid.
So he was the first one to start with
some sort of secession.
Of course I didn't want the breakup
I considered that it was better that
we preserved Yugoslavia.
And I was also not a Serb nationalist,
that was alien to me,
I never supported any kind of nationalism.
I didn't support Croatian nationalism, Tuđman,
or any other nationalism. Albanian included.
I never campaigned for any nationalism.
I simply didn't like it, nationalists
are not my cup of tea.
When you ask about different parties,
I definitely didn't like Tuđman's
and all those extreme, Ustashe parties
that were being created in Croatia.
The same goes for Chetniks here.
Jović, Šešelj, also Vuk Drašković at the time,
they all came from the Chetnik movement.
Although, Chetnik insignia and cockades first appeared
at Milošević's gatherings.
The first gathering of that sort was in Pančevo,
where I saw ushankas and cockades
and it left me totally flabbergasted.
They all seemed to be moving backwards,
as if they were not living in the present,
but in some distant past.
Things were presented in such way that
you would hear something over the radio,
you would panic about what you heard,
about some killings or something. And then you would figure out
that they were talking about the past.
That was the atmosphere at the time.
They were creating a warlike atmosphere.
It was clear that there was no way of stopping it.
So I wasn't critical of the multi-party system,
I was critical of nationalist parties
and nationalisms that were developing
under certain symbols.
In 1991 Stojan Cenović, Nebojša Popov and I
founded the Centre for Anti-war Action.
We saw that politics and Ante Marković
were not helping any more,
that war was near.
So we thought that the most important things
was to start with anti-war activities.
It was not about politics any more,
whether left or right,
whether to support this or that party.
We started with peace-preserving activities,
which were very intense.
Through that movement of ours,
the Centre for Anti-war Action,
I met Vesna Teršelič.
At that time in Zagreb,
two young men - Vesna joined a bit later -
set up the Anti-war Campaign.
So, in Zagreb they set up the Anti-war Campaign,
and we set up the Centre for Anti-war Action
We held a number of anti-war events.
I can't now list everything we did.
For instance, every evening
- you've probably heard about it -
we were lighting candles in front of the Presidency
for all victims of war, etc.
It was a bit different in Croatia.
Even those who were, so to say,
on the same side as us
had to acknowledge that Croatia was fighting
a defensive war.
Croatia had been attacked and
they had to acknowledge
that Croatia had been a subject of an aggression.
We were more free to criticise
because we had no obligation whatsoever
to support anything concerning the regime.
When did it become clear to you
that war was possible?
By the time we set up UJDI it was clear
that something of that sort was nearing.
There were signs.
Starting with 1989, you had HDZ
[Croatian Democratic Union] in Croatia,
you had national gatherings in Serbia.
There was that big gathering on St. Vitus Day,
where they say a million and a half people attended.
Or was it a million, not a million and a half,
who would know.
Milošević organised a whole series
of gathering, they were on all the time,
then there were the so-called
'happenings of the people', and so on...
It was on St. Vitus Day, in Kosovo,
when he got off the plane,
or was it a helicopter, he stepped into
this mass of people,
and said those famous words:
"If we don't know how to work..."
No, no, he didn't say it there,
it was a different gathering.
But there he said that
'some new battles were possible'.
So, the old battles were behind us,
but new battles might be approaching.
And he something else, was it in 1991
at some municipal thing, he said:
" If we don't know how to work and do business,
at least we know how to fight.".
That was a pretty clear message.
Then in Croatia there was Špegelj.
Croatia was arming itself.
It was importing arms.
The Slovenes had those Territorial Units,
that was a part of self-management.
Arms were in fact divided amongst the republics.
So it was pretty clear what was going on.
We not only had an idea, but it was crystal clear
that war was a threat.
It was a creeping war.
First Plitvice, then Borovo selo where
there were clashes, then Pakrac.
It was a war that was creeping up...
Paramilitary formations started appearing,
without anyone knowing who they were.
So we formed the Centre for Anti-war Action
in July 1991.
I think Croatia and Slovenia proclaimed independence
sometime in June.
It was clear that the negotiations
going on at the time
between the Republics, between the Presidents
of the Republics, were come to nothing.
They were incapable of agreeing to anything.
There was no agreement whatsoever
and it was obvious that it was leading to war.
There were clashes all the time, even fake news appeared.
How, for instance, some Serb babies
were killed in Vukovar,
and how some Serb man was cut
with a razor in Split,
that sort of thing.
There were all sorts of similar stories
which were in fact fabricated.
They also gave reports as if we were
in the middle of the Second World War.
They were dramatised.
Even the rhetoric was...
It was clear to everyone
what was coming.
So we started the Centre for Anti-war Action
as an organisation.
We didn't call it a peace organisation,
because peace was associated with peace and trees,
green grass, peace in the world.
We called it anti-war, so against the war.
To make clear what we were trying to achieve.
To be anti-war, and not just a peace organisation.
Because even in England, in Germany,
there are thousands of those peace organisations.
So we named it anti-war.
Our main slogan was that we would be
an organisation that would offer legal help
to everyone who wanted to escape being drafted
into that kind of war.
We gathered some young legal graduates,
Then we couldn't get a space,
we were being kicked out of everywhere.
Even by those who agreed with our ideas,
they didn't know what was going to happen,
they wanted to wait and see.
In fact, there was no legal provision,
no legal means of...
If you got a call from the military,
you had to respond.
In practice we couldn't do much,
but we created an atmosphere.
Later even Blagoje Adžić
and all those generals,
Kadijević, all those in charge of the
JNA [Yugoslav National Army],
who were directly involved in the wars,
they later said that we were to blame
for defeat in those wars,
because of the things we organised in Belgrade,
where only 15% of those called up actually joined.
People were hiding at different addresses.
Parents weren't opening the doors
when someone rang the bell.
There was quite strong resistance in Serbia.
Naturally, primarily in Belgrade.
In the provinces it's much harder to avoid
or mobilised into paramilitary units.
In Belgrade it was different. Some man even
left the battlefield in Vukovar
and drove a tank in front of the Assembly
here in Belgrade.
We held anti-war protests all the time.
In the Pioneers' Park...
Then we got together with some people from Tuzla.
We took some charters to Milošević to sign,
then we took the same charters to Tuđman.
They both signed charters stating
that there would not be a war.
There was another big action,
to prevent total war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We did that in 1991, when the war in Bosnia
hadn't yet started,
but it was clear that a war in Bosnia
would mean a terrible catastrophe.
So we started going to Sarajevo,
a group of us.
We asked for the government and
the opposition to meet.
Not only in Bosnia, but also
politicians from Serbia and Croatia,
both from the government and the opposition,
in order to prevent total war in Bosnia.
That was our idea - to prevent total war.
Nebojša Popov published it in the
a document about prevention of total war.
We held peace marathons in Duško Radović Theatre.
There were debates everywhere,
conferences, public gatherings,
protests that were called 'The last bell',
and so on.
Later we protested about Bosnia.
We were active from morning to night.
We staged a lot of anti-war activities.
I was at a gathering in Titograd
with Pero Luković,
Srđa Darmanović called us to come to Titograd.
Or was it already called Podgorica at the time.
We held this gathering.
We were amazed when we came to Podgorica
and saw everyone in uniforms,
shooting in the air and looking forward to war.
It was a real shock, since the atmosphere
in Belgrade was completely different.
However, there were a few peace supporters there too.
There was a small peace movement,
who in fact called us to come.
I remember someone from the audience
asking Pero Luković:
"Who would be better?" You see, Montenegrins
were great supporters of Milošević.
"Who would be better than Milošević?"
Luković replied: "Let me see. Third row,
seat number two. He would be better than Milošević".
That's what it was like.
But the atmosphere in Podgorica...
They were happy to be going to war.
Bulatović then reacted and started saying...
Montenegrins at the time took part in the war.
They plundered the whole of the coast,
they came up to Slano in Croatia.
They plundered all of those houses.
They took part in the bombing of Dubrovnik
at the end of 1991.
Then the Montenegrins started complaining,
how they were mobilised in all of the fighting,
and here in Serbia we were avoiding it.
In Montenegro mobilisation was 90% successful,
and we were shirking responsibility.
I'm not sure how much of it was down
to the influence of various organisations.
I wouldn't want to overstate the role
of these organisations.
But it was very lively, that story of
'the other Serbia'.
Some people are criticising it and attacking it now.
They don't even know what 'the other Serbia' is.
It was a Belgrade circle of independent intellectuals,
founded at the beginning of 1992,
which played a certain role
that was, of course, anti-war and
Even that famous French magazine,
what's it called,
translated one of our books
of the speeches we gave.
That circle of intellectuals
met every Saturday,
there was no discussion, people would come
to listen to the speakers.
That's where those speeches were given.
There was Latinka Perović,
Radimir Konstantinović, Filip David, Životić,
Ivan Čolović, Aljoša Mimica,
who's now dead. Životić has died too.
Some are already dead.
They were the main figures in that Belgrade circle.
We took the stage there and later stayed to
talk, to socialise.
We all more or less knew each other.
This took place every Saturday.
It's interesting that Milošević
didn't ban these gatherings,
not even in front of the Presidency,
where we gathered every evening.
He didn't ban the anti-war gatherings in Belgrade.
And there were many such gatherings.
Such as that Belgrade circle.
We weren't subject to much pressure...
Of course there were incidents,
for instance some White Eagle members would come,
to rip our banners or the black cloth
that was there for the victims of the war.
They would come and rip it.
That happened two or three times perhaps.
For instance, if we organised an anti-war gathering
in the Pioneers' Park, with music and so on,
then the others would put on uniforms
and stage a counter-gathering.
For instance, at the beginning of
Knez Mihajlova Street.
So it was very lively at the time.
Most of it was carried out by women,
feminist groups, Women in Black.
At the end of the day, I'm a woman too.
I'm not a man.
There were very few men in that movement,
It was mostly women who played a part
in those anti-war movements, more than men.
There was also Vesna Teršelić and Nataša Kandić.
They were much more engaged than men.
Perhaps it was traditionally...
There were men, of course, but they were mainly
supporting, not key figures.
What was your personal situation when the war started?
What has changed in your life?
You see, that was a period when everything
I worked at the Institute for Philosophy,
where we were all of the same kind,
so to speak.
Then some went across to the nationalist side.
At the Institute there was Koštunica, Đinđić,
Mićunović, Sveto Stojanović, Zagorka Golubović,
Nebojša Popov, Božo Jakšić and myself.
We were all on the same side,
so we had great freedom to engage.
Things changed terribly.
There was a change in the atmosphere,
in the media.
Very quickly we started our own media,
we managed to keep some alternative media going.
That was the time when B92 became popular,
and also Radio Boom in Požarevac.
There was also 'Our Battle' and some
other newspapers that we wrote for.
The Democratic Party started publishing 'Democracy'.
The media was split, as if cut in two by a knife.
It was Them and Us.
When it came to political opposition,
there was a party of which I was leader,
I became the leader of Citizens' Union in 1992.
We ot together to set up a party so that
people couldn't say
that they had no other choice but
to vote for nationalists.
Because the Democratic Party had always been
They were moderately nationalist,
but still nationalist.
We weren't happy with the Democratic Party
from the beginning.
When it was set up, we maintained a much more
than that of the Democratic Party.
So we formed the Citizens' Union.
So, there was the magazine 'Republic'
that was edited by Nebojša Popov...
It first started coming out in
Zagreb, Pupovac was the editor.
Then later that magazine moved to Belgrade.
Nebojša Popov edited it for over 20 years,
more or less until his death.
Everything changed and Serbia found itself
in a catastrophic situation.
We were under sanctions.
The United Nations issued sanctions.
So criminals, tycoons and so on...
They in fact played the role of
maintaining some semblance of life.
We had no petrol, we were buying it
in plastic bottles, in containers.
Life had changed completely.
We were buying cigarettes on the black market.
Everything was disrupted,
life had completely changed.
I remember us in the Institute getting packages
with sausages inside, detergent and so on.
Life had completely changed.
Our airport was closed for eight years.
We couldn't travel.
We would take the bus to Budapest.
At the time, the anti-war crowd was very popular.
We were invited to all sorts of conferences.
I remember we had to travel
in tiny cars to Budapest airport.
I even caused an incident there!
Once, we arrived at 5AM,
in torrential rain.
We found some entrance to the airport in Budapest.
We had only just got inside to shelter,
when the Hungarian police marched in,
started ordering us all out,
saying that the airport was closed.
I just yelled out: "Don't move!"
I sat down at the table and said:
They were yelling, yelling and in the end
they let us stay there.
I just yelled out: "No one move!"
to all of the people from our little minivan.
So we stirred up trouble everywhere we went.
Such were the times.
We found ourselves in various situations.
Not to mention my political involvement,
through Citizens' Union.
It was a party that was completely unsullied
regarding the national question.
At the time we had no support.
It was just a small circle of intellectuals.
Of course there were people who supported us.
Occasionally someone appeared.
But we weren't loved.
Šešelj made fun of us.
Everyone hated us.
But we were a political party.
Later we gained political weight in 1996,
when there was election fraud.
Perhaps even somewhat earlier,
because all of the others were tarnished.
We had moral credibility.
When they wanted to appear respectable,
they would call on someone from Citizens' Union
to gain credibility.
I was the leader until 1998.
Life was completely different at the time.
It's incomparable. Those were times of war.
It's true that there was no fighting here,
but after 1998 the war started in Kosovo.
Those years were something completely different
to what we have today.
Although many say that ideologically
we're going backwards.
Every period is specific in its own way.
In your opinion, what were
the key events of the war?
And when did the war end for you?
Perhaps the first signs were the events
in Plitvice, Borovo Selo,
then the Log Revolution in Knin.
Those were the beginnings of the war.
When the Croatian Ministry of Interior reacted,
then they wanted to employ aircraft,
and then Ante Marković stopped the attack.
It was, as I've said earlier,
a creeping war.
It wasn't like two armies proclaimed war
and attacked each other,
it was slowly heading that way.
Vukovar was probably the start.
When Vukovar happened,
it was completely clear.
The fall of Vukovar was in 1991,
here it was called 'the liberation',
that was when it became clear that
there was war.
The war with Croatia finished relatively quickly.
In April 1992 it spread to Bosnia.
Then you had...
The war in Bosnia ended with
the Dayton Agreement in 1995.
We had a group
led by Nebojša Popov, which was called
'To live in Sarajevo'.
We used email...
Here there was a magazine called Time.
Srđa Popović set it up in 1989
as an alternative magazine
that was supposed to offer fresh critique,
commentary, and so on, based on facts.
In the 1990s that was all more or less
financed or assisted from abroad.
That group 'To live in Sarajevo'
started life with the help of
Citizens' Union and the Centre for Anti-war Action.
We were a group who wanted to visit Sarajevo.
German peace activists were helping us a lot
and Dutch activists too.
The first thing they did was to
set us up with a bulletin board system, BBS.
It was an alternative electronic mail system.
Žarko Puhovski also set up ZaMirNET.
That's Croatian for ForPeaceNET.
So when I was in Paris in 1991
I gave them my email address.
That's how all of us peace activists
They made it possible for all of us
to be connected.
We all had our email addresses.
When I asked them in Paris:
"What's your email address?"
They said: "Excuse me, what's an email address?"
They hadn't heard of it.
And us peace activists here all had it.
At the time they didn't know what that was.
They were only trying it out
at technical universities and so on
and we were all already connected.
Other who took part in it from other republics,
they can also tell you that
we had email addresses.
So there was an idea for a group of us
from Belgrade to try to reach Sarajevo.
We fought very hard for that.
Nebojša Popov worked underground...
He was an incredible person.
It's such a great tragedy
that he died this month.
It's a great pain.
We used electronic communication
to send letters to people in Sarajevo
from their cousins and friends here.
They would come to our office and bring a letter.
And we had a girl who would then
send the letter electronically.
That's how letters reached Sarajevo,
which was completely cut off at the time.
We had various underground activities.
In 1994 Nebojša Popov succeeded:
a year before the Dayton Agreement was signed,
nine of us managed to reach Sarajevo.
We got into a tank with
those little windows...
We travelled via Terezino Polje by bus.
We travelled by a Serb bus to Terezino Polje
and there we changed to a Croatian bus
and entered Croatian territory.
We came to Zagreb where our
peace activist friends welcomed us,
our philosopher colleagues,
so we took a break there.
Then Mr Akashi, the UNPROFOR representative,
made it possible for us to use a military plane.
That was the first time I got onto a plane
that had no seats, but benches.
That military plane took us to Sarajevo.
We were the first to reach Sarajevo.
Later some other groups managed too,
Ivan Stambolić and so on,
but we were first.
We organised something in Pakrac too.
When Pakrac fell.
I went with Jelena Šantić,
our peace activist
who was working in Pakrac during the war.
I don't know if you're aware,
but Pakrac was a divided town.
A part of the town which was more rural
was under the Serbs.
The centre of the town was held by Croats,
and the Serb side, the forces of the
Republic of Serb Krajina
held the other part of Pakrac.
That Croatian part was very popular.
People from all over the world came,
to work with children, help them and so on.
Then someone from the UN in Vienna
got in touch with me,
to ask if we could find some
peace activists from Belgrade
to work with Serb children.
Then Jelena Šantić took over that,
our peace activist.
She was even arrested in the Republic of
Serb Krajina, but they let her go.
She developed those activities on our side.
We also sent a teacher, Branka Bedeljković,
she has died poor soul,
we sent her to work with Serb children.
Jelena Šantić also organised some help
from Holland, they donated seeds, wool,
got local women to knit,
all sorts of things.
When Pakrac fell, one of our peace activists
was stuck in Pakrac.
I think it was 5th of May 1995.
That was the first offensive of the Croatian Army
which conquered the town.
They ousted the forces of the
Republic of Serb Krajina.
When Pakrac fell, Jelena Šantić,
one journalist from Time and I
sat in my car and went to Terezino Polje.
Since the Croats already had an embassy here,
we went to ask for a visa.
I think Zvonko Marković was the ambassador,
we asked them to issue us visas to go to Croatia.
He said: "No. First of all,
what are you going to do there?"
We said: "We want to see what the situation
is like following Operation Flash.
We want to see what's going on in Pakrac".
I was never before in that part of
Yugoslavia or Croatia, in my life.
There's the Papuk mountain, it's a very nice area.
Pakrac was also a very nice town, cute.
He said to us: "You don't need visas.
I'll call people at the border.
They will know you're coming,
and they'll let you through".
So we came to the border in Virovitica.
In Virovitica they took off our Belgrade plates
and gave us new car registration plates.
We were welcomed by international brigades,
That's how we came to Pakrac.
A lot was happening in Pakrac.
It would take too long to tell it all.
There were so many things we organised,
we participated in.
That's what we did, that was
what life was like.
We all worked, my life was about being active
for morning to night.
Did you suffer any consequences
due to your activism?
Did members of your family, friends or colleagues
suffer any consequences due to your activism?
No one ever persecuted me.
If you're referring to the state.
In any way.
No. There were cases when I would get
a call from some lunatic or other.
There were incidents like that.
But I was never under any threat, no.
It's interesting, but we were never
As opposed to others...
At the beginning there were
cases of obstruction at Yutel.
But those groups...
Obviously, the majority of the people
in Serbia were against us.
They didn't like us at all. We were seen
as traitors of the Serbian people.
That was clear. But we didn't
suffer any pressure.
Also, I was working at the Institute.
There weren't layoffs because we had all
been there for a long time.
So I didn't suffer any consequences.
As for my family, fortunately no one
so there weren't any disputes.
I don't remember anyone suffering anything.
One of my cousins escaped to the Czech Republic
to avoid being mobilised.
And so on.
But there were no...
Perhaps there was a threat, later
when the protests started in Belgrade.
The three month long protests.
That was a different story.
It was no longer just about the war.
We were being seen as opposition.
Perhaps it was dangerous then.
I got beaten up on the bridge
when the police chased us.
But those were simply clashes
between the opposition and the regime,
it wasn't about the anti-war movement.
What is your opinion of the bombing of
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999?
You know what?
I was against those bombings.
I was against the bombardment
because it turned out
that the nationalist forces used
that bombing to further their aims.
Even when it was over.
Even after 5th of October.
No one pushed for the remembrance
of those bombings,
as something that we had to commemorate,
that we mustn't forget.
Today young people are more under
the influence of that sort of propaganda.
Nationalism returned to the main stage
to a great extent.
They are pushing for the NATO bombings
never to be forgotten.
It was pretty dramatic at the time,
but I could never cheer for bombs.
I didn't think that was right.
A lot of the people were
in favour of the bombings,
Lazo Stojanović for instance,
and some of my friends.
I thought that it wasn't right.
I was thinking that someone's child,
anyone, could get hurt.
I was after all a peace activist.
No, I couldn't agree with that.
At the end of the day,
what was the result of the bombings?
In the end those who dropped the bombs
It was mostly NATO, some 19 countries.
Those bombings were not formally
approved by the United Nations.
It was a humanitarian action
led by NATO.
It wasn't legal.
But fine, let's not go into the
legality of it now.
What was the result of the bombings?
To be honest with you,
I have no idea.
It only provided a reason
for the nationalists
to introduce some kind of state of emergency.
They still talk about it to this day.
Many had to flee at the time.
Đinđić escaped to Montenegro.
There were a lot of threats.
All of the newspapers had to be taken to
the then-Minister of Information, Vučić.
It ended with the Kumanovo Agreement,
which was basically pointless.
Resolution 1244 was adopted.
No one knew how to get out of it.
The opposition got involved too,
as a sort of mediator.
Then Ahtisaari appeared and managed
to broker an agreement.
I thought at the time that Ahtisaari
was some almost mythical character:
there was constant talk of this Ahtisaari person,
everyone waited for Ahtisaari like some saviour.
In the end they reached an agreement,
and the bombing stopped.
They were in a tricky situation,
they didn't know how to get out of it.
Milošević wasn't giving in
so they lost track of
what the point of it all was.
To this day I don't know what
their aim was.
Of course it's true that they wanted to
avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.
To tell you the truth, at the time
I was absent from Belgrade for a month.
I was watching CNN all the time.
They were showing refugees in Kosovo,
that was all that they filmed, nothing else.
The question is, had there been no bombings,
what would have happened there?
I'm still unclear about it.
There was this hypothesis
concerning the Rambouillet Agreement
which was supposed to end the conflict in Kosovo
and which Milošević refused to sign.
He didn't want to agree to NATO conditions.
So they said, fine, if you don't want to sign
the agreement, then we'll send you bombs.
I don't think that could have been the reason.
On the other hand, it could have been a double game.
Perhaps they were furious at Milošević
and they wanted to get rid of him
at all cost.
In May they accused Milošević of war crimes,
in order to put pressure on him.
He didn't fold under pressure, so
they threatened him with the Hague Tribunal.
He wouldn't give in, so they
didn't know how to get out of it.
Because it wasn't clear what the result
of those bombings was meant to be.
It remained a rather traumatic memory
in a way
although the Kumanovo Agreement was probably
the result of it.
As you know, Kosovo proclaimed independence.
They had previously informally
proclaimed independence, also.
Well, to this day that question remains unresolved.
Despite the bombings, that still remains
an issue they are trying to resolved,
in Brussels, with various agreements.
We still haven't cleared that up,
we still have the question of Kosovo
As a peace activist, I did not like bombs.
I didn't think that
the bombings served any purpose.
What do you think of the process
of dealing with the past,
the consequences of war and the
consequences of political violence?
Which political violence?
Political violence towards those
with different views.
When? Now? Or in general?
From the 1990s to this day.
What I think of political violence
and what was the other thing?
The process of dealing with the past.
There was no dealing with anything here
in the 1990s.
I'm asking from today's perspective.
Is it necessary?
That's what I'm saying. At the time
no one dealt with anything.
Of course we knew about Srebrenica,
and this and that.
Us activists, of course we knew.
We knew about the crimes, about Prijedor,
about the camps and I don't know what. We knew.
I was in those groups who dealt
with things all the time.
For me, that's not a problem.
Quite the opposite.
I participated in the organisation of the Hague Court,
dealing with persecutions and crimes.
That initiative came from Belgrade.
The Centre for Anti-war Action received
great support, so we organised it.
The first meeting was held in Sarajevo
in December 1992.
The Hague Tribunal was formed in 1993.
The initiative started from here.
It's a failed experiment that,
dealing with the past.
From what I can see today,
that story no longer holds water.
Some research was done that showed
that no one has a clue about anything.
The young generations know nothing,
and the older ones are not much better.
I think Marko Milanković wrote
an article, Peščanik published it,
where he used research data to show
how badly people were informed.
A somewhat higher percentage knows about Srebrenica.
Perhaps in Croatia, or in Serbia, people
know more about the sufferings of their own.
But even that awareness is low.
For instance, Serbs don't even know
where Serbs were victims.
Perhaps a higher percentage of Serbs
in Croatia are aware.
Or some Serbs here even.
Bratunac, for instance, that's where
Serbs were killed.
Not many people know about it.
They don't even know about the sufferings
of their own people.
Let alone about the suffering of others.
They haven't a clue.
All those initiatives that were
in vogue for a while,
as a key thing that everyone
should work on,
various truth commissions,
Nataša Kandić's REKOM, etc.
I think that's a failed experiment.
It doesn't of course mean that it's useless
what groups like Documenta and Nataša are doing:
gathering data about crimes committed,
detailing places and dates,
and then publishing books, documents.
But to have whole nations or wider groups
deal with something,
not a chance. It's the exact opposite.
Here we have Chetniks, there they have Ustasha.
It's worse than it was.
At least there used to be groups
who did something.
Now I think that no one is dealing with anything.
Quite the opposite.
It's all a political juggling act.
Of course, some political figures
have milder view in that respect.
Josipović and Tadić, rather than
Karamarko or whoever.
So they offer apologies, like Tadić
when he went to Srebrenica.
But there isn't any knowledge
of the politics of that time:
why did it come to wars, why were crimes
committed, what were the aims...
Nothing of the sorts.
You can hear people here say that
the Serbian people had to defend themselves.
If we went out in the streets now and asked
someone, they'd say that the war happened
because the Serbs had to defend themselves.
They don't know about the beginning
of the war in Croatia.
They will say that 200 000 Serbs fled after
Operation Storm. Which is a fact.
But they don't know that when Serbs were
setting up the Republic of Serb Krajina
they had expelled the Croats from that area
and they moved in.
I think that when it comes to these
postmodern wars, there should be a law
- perhaps there is one at the United Nations -
to prosecute countries for disrupting peace.
However, at the Hague Tribunal
there were no indictments for disrupting peace.
It wasn't specified whose fault it was
that the war had occurred.
So now everyone can say whatever they want.
If you write a book, like Dragan Markovina did,
who is from Mostar, who lives in Croatia,
or Viktor Ivančić, who is an antifascist,
or someone here, like Dubravka Stojanović,
it usually remains in closed circles.
We meet up when they come, people from Feral Tribune
for instance, or when one of us goes there.
People from anti-war circles gather and discuss.
But in some wider sense, in schools,
in society in general, there's nothing.
No dealing with anything.
In certain circles, it remained
the same as it was.
To conclude, what do you expect
of the future?
What do you wish for yourself, for those
close to you and for society in general?
I can't talk about that.
I don't wish anything for myself.
I want to live my life.
I don't know, I don't think about it.
And for the wider community?
- Excuse me?
For the wider community in these areas?
In Serbia, in Croatia? What do you wish?
I have a very bad opinion. Very bad.
After everything, after all the wars
and all the conflicts,
after the breakup of that former state,
which made certain sense...
What came out of it, I don't see
it as a blessing.
Perhaps Slovenia, they're always
doing a bit better.
People complain everywhere. In Serbia poverty is on the rise
debt also, our economy is a shambles.
There is no hope, people want
the same thing as these refugees,
to reach Germany or some other western country.
There's no future here. I'm not talking
about myself, I'm an old woman,
what kind of future am I to talk about?
In fact, that nationalism and those stories,
it all became transgenerational.
False stories are being passed down.
You know when you hear: "Srbijaaaa!"
It seems to me that the young ones
are worse than the old ones.
Us who are older, we know a few things.
These young ones haven't a clue.
They didn't grow up under Milošević.
They don't know anything.
And what they do hear, it's not something
that would have come from me,
So we're dying out and these new generations...
I'm sure that there are different people
amongst them too.
But they look to me rather disoriented.
Even those who aren't with the Dveri Movement,
or with Šešelj or I don't know who.
They're also completely disoriented.
Everything is falling apart.
The whole system is falling apart.
At least that's the case in Serbia.
I wouldn't say that in some near future
we'll see anything positive.
I don't think things will blossom in this society
in the near future. I don't believe it.