Wednesday 30 November 2011
Ante Markovic, who has died at the age of 87, was a politician who as the former Yugoslavia's last prime minister tried to prevent the country's bloody break-up in the 1990s. A Croat born in Bosnia, he became Yugoslavia's prime minister in March 1989, two years before the former communist country started unravelling along ethnic lines.
"The start of his premiership will be remembered as the last period of optimism and hope in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," the Bosnian daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz said on its website.
During his tenure, Markovic launched an ambitious programme of pro-Western economic reforms, including the privatisation of state-run companies and the stabilisation of the dinar. The result was a halt to soaring inflation and atemporary rise in the country's living standards.
The reforms made him popular among Yugoslavia's liberals and brought the country to the threshold of the European Union. But he was hated by nationalists for his unifying stands and his efforts to mediate between the increasingly hostile leaderships of the six former Yugoslav republics.
In July 1990, he formed a political party supporting a reformed Yugoslav federation but was defeated in the elections by nationalist and separatist parties. Before he resigned in December 1991 under pressure from nationalists, Markovic tried to find a compromise between Slovenia and Croatia, the republics seeking to secede, and Serbia, which insisted that Yugoslavia remain a single entity. His efforts failed and the country was plunged into a series of ethnic wars.
"He was always against the war, against the break-up of the country," Bogic Bogicevic, the Bosnian member of Yugoslavia's collective presidency at the time of Markovic's tenure, said. "The others who wanted war and were for the break-up of the country were obviously more successful than him."
In 2003, he appeared as a prosecution witness at the war crimes trial of the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic at a tribunal in The Hague. He testified that Milosevic and the former Croatian president Franjo Tudjman both told him that they had made an agreement on the eve of the war in Bosnia in 1991 to divide the former Yugoslav republic between Serbia and Croatia.
After the wars, Markovic dedicated himself to a business career and consulting for governments, including that of Macedonia, and banks.
Born in Konjic, in the then kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1924, Markovic graduated from the Electrical Engineering Faculty at the University of Zagreb in 1954. He became president of Croatia in 1986.
He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
Ante Markovic, politician: born Konjic, Herzegovina 25 November 1924; died Zagreb 28 November 2011.
Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Competitive: Opilio Recruitment: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Bu...
£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning internet, do...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunity for someone l...
£35k - 42k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We have an exciting oppo...