Serbs remove Milosevic's name from school textbooks

Vesna Peric Zimonjic
Wednesday 12 September 2001 00:00 BST

Slobodan Milosevic, whose propagandists depicted him as the saviour of the Serbs during his years as the leader of Serbia and later of the rump Yugoslavia, has been dropped from history books introduced at the start of the school year in Serbia.

Although Serbian 14-year- olds have spent most of their lives so far under his rule, they will learn little of Mr Milosevic's time in office and the bloody wars he is accused of provoking while the old Communist federation of Yugoslavia disintegrated in the 1990s, for which he is now on trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The sections describing the 1990s consist of short, neutral chapters that cover the foundation of the rump Yugoslavia in 1992, the 1995 Dayton peace agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina, the 1998-99 war in Kosovo and the 11-week Nato bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999. But there is no mention of Mr Milosevic and his role in all these developments.

History textbooks for students in the final years of primary school even recount Mr Milosevic's downfall without mentioning his name. "Federal elections in September and polls in the republic [of Serbia] in December 2000 led to a change of power and a modification of domestic and foreign policy," the textbooks say.

The popular uprising on 5 October that toppled Mr Milosevic and marked the start of a new era in Yugoslavia's history is mentioned only in a caption to a photograph of protesters in front of the Yugoslav parliament. "Massive demonstrations in Belgrade on 5 October 2000", it says.

The new books are in sharp contrast to those used in Mr Milosevic's time. During his presidency, textbooks were filled with nationalist propaganda describing Serbs as a peace-loving nation who, without any reason, became victims of a world conspiracy.

So far there is no official explanation why the new history books avoid mentioning Mr Milosevic. The only statesman they do mention is Yugoslavia's former leader, Josip Broz Tito, who died in 1980.

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