?edomir Jovanovi? in 2016
|Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia|
18 March 2003 - 3 March 2004
|Born||April 13, 1971|
Belgrade, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
|Political party||Democratic Party |
Liberal Democratic Party (2005- )
During the presidency of Slobodan Milo?evi? in Yugoslavia, Jovanovi? became one of the student leaders of the 1996-97 protests in Serbia at the age of 25. Jovanovi? along with fellow student ?edomir Anti? were one of the founding members of the "Student Political Club", abbreviated in Serbian as SPK, which successfully organized a massive boycott of the 1997 Serbian general election. In February 1998, the bulk of the SPK membership along with Jovanovi? himself joined the Democratic Party.
After the overthrow of Slobodan Milo?evi?, Jovanovi? was selected by the Democratic Opposition of Serbia to be one of its MPs, and he subsequently became the youngest parliamentary caucus leader in Serbian history, at the age of 29. In the post-Milo?evi? period, he was a target of several assassination attempts and attacks. On February 6, 2001, an explosive device destroyed Jovanovi?'s automobile. On March 31, 2001, he was left unscathed from a minor shooting incident at the scene of Milo?evi?'s arrest, during which he was a negotiator. In July 2002, Minister of Interior Du?an Mihajlovi? commented that "Jovanovi? was on all the hit lists" of "centers of power".
Jovanovi? was expelled from the Democratic Party in 2004 due to breaking party protocols. He subsequently founded his own political party in November 2005, called the Liberal Democratic Party. He was his party's candidate in Serbia's presidential elections in 2008 and 2012.
Jovanovi? was born in a middle-class family in Belgrade. His parents Jovica and Milena (née Mr?i?) Jovanovi? were both economists by profession. As a boy, he grew up in the New Belgrade neighborhood and completed the Ivan Gunduli? Primary School with average grades. Afterwards, he started attending the Ninth Belgrade Gymnasium, but soon after transferred to the Third Economics High School, from which he eventually graduated. He then enrolled at the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Economics, but after only a week of classes, decided to quit.
Jovanovi? served in the Yugoslav People's Army in 1992 in Gradi?ka during the Bosnian War. In one of his memoirs, ?edomir Anti? wrote that Jovanovi? was once proud of his military career in the Bosnian War, but that he experienced an ideological change about the war years later.
Jovanovi? eventually started attending Belgrade's Arts University's Faculty of Dramatic Arts (FDU), enrolling in its dramaturgy program, from which he graduated in 1998 at the age of 27. He never actually worked in his chosen profession, writing only a couple of plays that were never staged or published.
Jovanovi? was one of the student leaders of student protests in Belgrade during the winter of 1996-1997. The leaders of the demonstrations mostly composed of the membership of the SPK, an abbreviation for the Serbian Political Club. During the three months of demonstrations, Jovanovi?, ?edomir Anti?, and other SPK members were unwittingly followed and tracked by the State Security Service. Throughout the winter of 1996-1997, violent clashes with the state police and military occurred on multiple occasions. As a result of the clashes Jovanovi? was one of five representatives of the protest movement which met with General Mom?ilo Peri?i? and Internal Affairs Minister Zoran Sokolovi?. General Peri?i? told Jovanovi? that both the military and students "are above politics", and claimed to sympathize with the protest movement. However, the meeting with Minister Sokolovi? was far more tense, as Sokolovi? largely stonewalled Jovanovi? on the question of a protester named Predrag Star?evi?, who was killed on December 24, 1996.
After the protests died out in early 1997, Jovanovi? intended on quitting political activity for good. However, in a series of SPK meetings, Jovanovi? and ?edomir Anti? debated on the future of the SPK, with Jovanovi? arguing that the SPK should join the Democratic Party. Anti? eventually agreed, however the SPK virtually ceased to exist as a result, with many members dropping out when SPK joined the Democratic Party. Three SPK members ended up joining the Democratic Party of Serbia, which years later would be involved in an intense schism with the rest of the DOS coalition.
He was elected to the Serbian Parliament in the December 23, 2000, parliamentary elections, on the list of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), and also held the post of DOS' parliamentary caucus leader until 2003. At only 29, he was the youngest person ever in Serbian politics to hold such a position.
On the morning of February 6, 2001, Jovanovi? sat in a restaurant by the business club "Lutra" to attend a discussion with State Security executive Franko Simatovi?, the Minister of Interior Du?an Mihajlovi?, and Milorad Ulemek, who organized the meeting. Jovanovi? and Mihajlovi? asked Simatovi? about the Ibar Highway assassination attempt on Vuk Dra?kovi?, the murder of Slavko ?uruvija and the disappearance of Ivan Stamboli?. Simatovi? claimed not to know about any of the liquidations, to which Jovanovi? remarked, "Frenki, you know so little for someone who was second man in the State Security Service."
After the meeting, Jovanovi? got in his Mitsubishi Pajero to drive his wife to Avalska street in Belgrade. After having walked approximately ten meters away from his vehicle, the Pajero exploded, destroying several other cars in the vicinity. Approximately 30 minutes had elapsed from the meeting with Simatovi? and the car bomb detonation. The vehicle was left in a parking lot for four days, after which it was taken for investigation by the Yugoslav Institute for Safety.Mitsubishi's European division also investigated and concluded that the cause of the explosion was that of a time bomb. The former head of the Yugoslav State Security Service, Jovica Stani?i?, later commented that "someone from our agency did it".
On March 31, 2001, after a masked government unit stormed Slobodan Milo?evi?'s fortified villa, Jovanovi? negotiated with the former Yugoslav president for him to surrender peacefully. In an interview conducted by Ekspres in June 2016, Jovanovi? said that as Milo?evi? surrendered himself to the police, his daughter Marija asked him explicitly to commit suicide instead of surrendering. When Milo?evi? gave himself up to the authorities, Jovanovi? was removed by security after which Marija fired a pistol at the vehicle Jovanovi? was sitting in. In the same interview, Jovanovi? admitted that he feared more that Marija would get shot by the bodyguards than he did for his own life during the Milo?evi? villa standoff.
In 2014, Jovanovi? appeared on a televised episode of "Goli ?ivot" ("Naked life" in English) on TV Happy, during which he talked about some of his life experiences. In the interview, Jovanovi? talked about Milo?evi? and his arrest:
|"||"He was the only Serbian politician who looked like a president. After that I never said anything ugly about him and I refused to testify against Marija Milo?evi?, who on that fateful night shot at me. I knew it was out of desperation and I did not want to make an already hard situation for her even harder."||"|
In March 2003, following the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran ?in?i?, Jovanovi? advanced to the position of Deputy Prime Minister in the government of the new PM Zoran ?ivkovi?. It has been alleged that during his mandate as Member of Parliament, in addition to his regular duties, Jovanovi? assumed the role of Prime Minister ?in?i?'s government liaison - dealing with, and meeting individuals connected to Serbian organized crime circles.
When the press got a hold of this information, a storm of controversy was created by raising many questions about Jovanovic's role in Government's dealing with the mafia. Political opponents directly accused him of criminal involvement and of providing favours for shady individuals such as Du?an Spasojevi? (late leader of the Zemun mafia clan) and Milorad Ulemek (now convicted as the person who organized the assassination of Zoran ?in?i?). Various rumours, mostly carried and exploited by daily tabloids, included even those that he is using heavy drugs.
After continuous pressure from the media, Jovanovi? admitted to attending some meetings, but denied any wrongdoing, claiming that these contacts were made on behalf of the government in order to curb mafia activities and to secure political stability from the individuals left over from the Milo?evi?'s era. During one of his speeches, he stated: "my hands are dirty, but my conscience is clear (because I was cleaning up Serbia)".
The electorate did not exactly see it that way and Jovanovi?'s popularity dropped drastically as a result of this episode.
Realizing this, the Democratic Party brass marginalized his role within its ranks before the parliamentary elections in December 2003 by not even entering his name on the party's electoral ballot. He did not complain, at least not publicly, opting to instead focus on the coming party congress in February 2004 that was to determine its new post-?in?i? leadership. Jovanovi? was hoping to get a seat on the main board, but did not receive enough delegate support.
Dissatisfied with the party's new direction under the leadership of Boris Tadi?, Jovanovi? criticized him publicly, most notably for his policy of political cohabitation with Prime Minister Vojislav Ko?tunica's government. Being a fierce Ko?tunica opponent, Jovanovi? felt that the Democratic Party should actively seek ways to bring down his government, especially when Boris Tadi? was elected President of the Republic in June 2004. A couple of months after Tadi?'s inauguration, Jovanovi? wrote his party colleague an open public letter  on a per tu basis criticizing his political choices. Tadi? never even acknowledged the letter publicly until he was directly asked about it during an interview on a weekly political TV talk show Utisak nedelje. He admitted that he had not really bothered to read it and added: "When someone writes a letter, supposedly to me, by first making sure it gets published in the papers, then that's really not a letter but a political bid".
After his unsuccessful attempt to take over the DS leadership, Jovanovi? formed the "Liberal Democratic faction" within DS - knowingly breaching the party statute. The act was obviously not welcomed by the leadership and he was eventually expelled on December 3, 2004.
In the following period, Jovanovi?'s political activity became distinctly more direct. He gave bombastic interviews and in his strongly worded press releases frequently went after PM Ko?tunica's government officials, Ko?tunica himself, and the Serbian security apparatus. He repeatedly criticized the Serbian Orthodox Church, calling it dishonest, backward and dogmatic, protesting what he sees to be its interference in the country's politics.
Parallel to all of this Jovanovi? also founded a non-governmental organization called Center for Modern Politics (Centar za modernu politiku, CMP), but its activities were sporadic at best and it eventually folded.
In July 2005, Jovanovi? published a book, Moj sukob sa pro?lou ("My Confrontation with the Past"). He came out in favor of Kosovo's independence, thus becoming the only notable Serbian political party leader to do so and because of that he gained sympathies from many Albanians.
On November 5, 2005, Jovanovi? and his supporters founded the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to much fanfare, and Jovanovi? was elected as its first president at the age of 34.
Soon after, in December, he was the subject of a lengthy, very affirmative piece penned by Zoran ?irjakovi? in the influential American weekly magazine Newsweek, which, among other things, Jovanovi? used to further reiterate his stance on Kosovo and to declare his opinion that Bosnian Serb ties with Belgrade should effectively be severed.
The first parliamentary elections Jovanovi? led his party in were held in January 2007. LDP's electoral list also featured several minority parties and Nenad ?anak's League of Vojvodina's Socialdemocrats (LSV). With an aggressive "Od nas zavisi" campaign, he was hoping to ensure enough votes for LDP to become a significant factor when it comes to forming the ruling coalition. However, LDP received about 5-6% of the total vote, barely clearing the 5% threshold required to enter the parliament.
In November 2007, in anticipation of presidential election, Jovanovi? opened a public row with powerful and politically connected Serbian tycoon Miroslav Mi?kovi?. On Sunday, 18 November 2007, while guest on Utisak nedelje, a weekly television political talk-show, Jovanovi? claimed Mi?kovi? tried to get himself off the US entry visa blacklist, in exchange offering the American embassy in Belgrade to arrange prime minister Ko?tunica's cooperative and soft stance when it comes to the final status of the Serbian province of Kosovo whose independence America firmly supported.
Amid the controversy that was immediately raised, the next day, Monday, Jovanovi? went on B92 radio's morning talk-show Ka?iprst, claiming that Mi?kovi?'s liaison in this particular endeavour with the Americans was a well-known Belgrade journalist, stopping short of revealing his name. However, later that day, talking in the Serbian parliament, Jovanovi? revealed the journalist to be Bratislav "Braca" Gruba?i?. Mi?kovi? responded late in the day with a strongly worded press release, directly addressing Jovanovi? on a per tu basis, accusing him of being involved in Mi?kovi?'s eighteen-hour kidnapping in 2001 and of pocketing DM5 million from the ransom payment. Jovanovi? responded by filing an official complaint against Mi?kovi? in the Serbian police and publicly releasing a 4-page supposed internal Belgrade's American embassy document dated May 2007 in support of his earlier statements. The document was posted on Blic and B92 web sites. The US embassy in Belgrade, at the time headed by ambassador Cameron Munter, denied Jovanovi?'s claims as well as the authenticity of the document Jovanovi? forwarded to the Serbian media.
Years later in 2011, amid the WikiLeaks affair, and the revelation of US diplomatic cables, a particular cable written by Munter from the Belgrade embassy claimed that Jovanovi? used a forged document in his accusations against Mi?kovi?.
Jovanovi? was a candidate in the 2008 Serbian Presidential elections held in January. He was running under the slogan "?ivot je zakon!" (eng. "Life Rules") while emphasizing his determination to bring down every person inside or outside the Serbian government who "oppose the idea of providing a better life for the people of Serbia". Once again, Jovanovi? has directly accused Miroslav Mi?kovi?, a Serbian tycoon, of being one of the most responsible persons for the underdevelopment of Serbia in the recent years.
He finished fifth with 5.34% of the total votes, well behind Boris Tadi? and Tomislav Nikoli? who went into the second round runoff. Ahead of the second round vote, despite expectations from some circles, Jovanovi? decided not to throw his support behind Tadi?, opting instead to stay neutral. Tadi? ended up winning the election regardless.
For the second presidential election in a row, Jovanovi? was a candidate in the 2012 presidential elections in Serbia, held in May that year. His campaign included an internationally televised debate with Republika Srpska president Milorad Dodik. In the debate, Jovanovi? defended a previous statement he made saying that "Republika Srpska was founded on genocide and ethnic cleansing", referring particularly to the Srebrenica massacre. The debate exceeded its allotted time on television as the moderator failed to control the dialogue.
Jovanovi? finished in sixth overall in the 2012 presidential election, recording 5.03% of the national vote.
His wife Jelena is owner of "Agroposlovi", a Belgrade based business that operates a larger company named Fidelinka from Subotica, Serbia. Fidelinka offers flour products, pasta, breads, pastries, confectioneries, and starch. Jovanovi? is cited as a manager in Fidelinka.
In March 2011, during a parliamentary session about the 2011 Libyan civil war, Jovanovi? tried to criticize Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremi? on his visits to various countries in Africa at the time. Jovanovi? said "instead of going to the cannibals in Africa, he should react to the plight of the civilians in Libya." The Algerian Ambassador to Serbia, Abdelkader Mesdoua, subsequently issued a statement to Vuk Jeremi?, saying that Jovanovi?'s statements were racist and that he should apologize in the National Assembly of Serbia.