|6th Prime Minister of Serbia|
25 January 2001 - 12 March 2003
Nata?a Mi?i? (acting)
|67th Mayor of Belgrade|
21 February 1997 - 30 September 1997
|Born||1 August 1952|
Bosanski ?amac, PR Bosnia and Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia
|Died||12 March 2003 (aged 50)|
Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
|Cause of death||Assassination|
|Political party||Democratic Party|
(m. 1990; his death 2003)
|Alma mater||University of Belgrade|
University of Konstanz
Zoran ?in?i? (Serbian Cyrillic: , pronounced [z?ran d?î:nd?it?] ; 1 August 1952 - 12 March 2003) was a Serbian politician who was the Prime Minister of Serbia from 2001 until his assassination in 2003. He was the Mayor of Belgrade in 1997, and long-time opposition politician and a doctor in philosophy.
?in?i? was one of the original thirteen restorers of the modern day Democratic Party, becoming its president in 1994. During the 1990s, he was one of the co-leaders of the opposition to the administration of Slobodan Milo?evi?, and became the Prime Minister of Serbia in 2001 after the overthrow of Milo?evi?.
As Prime Minister, he advocated pro-democratic reforms and the integration of Serbia into European structures. His government ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and implemented innovations in line with the Council of Europe recommendations, which led to the introduction of institutions for the protection of human rights and freedoms and becoming Serbia and Montenegro a member state of the Council of Europe. His government strongly advocated cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Following the arrest of Special Operations Unit (JSO) members and extradition to the ICTY, the JSO organized an armed mutiny in Belgrade. ?in?i? was assassinated in 2003 by Zvezdan Jovanovi?, a former JSO member operative with ties to the Zemun Clan.
?in?i? was born in Bosanski ?amac, PR Bosnia-Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia where his father was stationed as an officer of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). His paternal side hailed from Toplica in southern Serbia. His mother Mila Du?ani?, a housewife, raised him and his elder sister Gordana; the family moved according to his father's jobs. Ten years of Zoran's childhood were spent in the town of Travnik, in central Bosnia. Eventually, the family moved to capital Belgrade, after his mother had gained a post there. ?in?i? attended Ninth Belgrade Gymnasium, subsequently enrolling at the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Philosophy, graduating in 1974. During his university days he developed an interest in politics. After being convicted by the communist authorities and through Party-controlled media for his role in his attempt to organize an independent political movement of Yugoslav students, ?in?i? emigrated to West Germany thanks to the intervention of former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who persuaded authorities to let ?in?i? come to Germany instead of serving his sentence in Yugoslavia. He continued his studies with professor Jürgen Habermas in Frankfurt.
In 1989, ?in?i? returned to SFR Yugoslavia to take a teaching post at the University of Novi Sad, and on 11 December 1989 together with other Serb intellectuals and pro-democracy activists he founded the liberal Democratic Party (DS) based on the similarly conceptualized Democratic Party that existed in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He became the party's Executive Board Chairman in 1990, and got elected to the Parliament of Serbia the same year. In January 1994 he replaced Dragoljub Mi?unovi? as President of the Democratic Party.
The new balance of power within DS led to an early party conference. At the party conference on 5 January 1994 in Belgrade, ?in?i? became president, pushing out personal political mentor Mi?unovi? who was forced into resigning as the local party branches turned against him. The (in)famous quip uttered at the conference by 41-year-old ?in?i? about 63-year-old Mi?unovi? was: "Mi?unovi?'s time has passed.... He's no Tina Turner who sings better now than when she was thirty". In his embittered speech at the conference during which he resigned his post, Mi?unovi? characterized the manner of ?in?i?'s takeover of DS as the "combination of Machiavellianism and revolutionary technique". In this internal party showdown with Mi?unovi?, ?in?i? also benefited from some discreet support in the Milo?evi?-controlled state-run media. Though many DS members didn't like the way this transfer of power was executed, symbolically referring to it as "oceubistvo" (patricide).
?in?i? managed to quickly move DS away from what he occasionally referred to in derisive terms as the "debate club" towards a modern and efficient organizational structure that functioned according to a business management model.
The following year, on 15 April 1995, regular party conference was held and ?in?i? got re-elected as party president. Though a much better organized party under ?in?i?, DS still experienced trouble formulating a clear stance on the national question. ?in?i?'s own actions perhaps made a good illustration of this seemingly confused standing on both sides of the issue. ?in?i? basically refused to acknowledge the national question as a real issue, making not a single mention of the Serbs living in other parts of the former Yugoslavia in his book Yugoslavia as an Unfinished State. At the same time he maintained close links with Bosnian Serb politician and the President of Republika Srpska Radovan Karad?i?, visiting him at Pale in February 1994 while American forces threatened to bombard Bosnian Serb positions. This seeming flip-flopping on the national issue was effectively used by DS' political opponents and ?in?i?'s critics across the political spectrum.
As the Bosnian War ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in November 1995, in addition to his grip on power domestically, Milo?evi? enjoyed stable support from the international community that recognized him as the "peace and stability factor in the Balkans". The next chance to dent his armour came at the November 1996 municipal elections, which the DS entered as part of an opposition coalition called Zajedno featuring SPO, DSS, and GSS. Democratic Party (at the time with a total of only 7,000 members across Serbia) joined Zajedno against ?in?i?'s personal wishes as he got outvoted on three separate occasions when the decision was discussed internally. Following opposition victories in key Serbian cities such as Belgrade, Ni? and Novi Sad, Milo?evi? refused to recognize the results, sparking three months of protest marches by hundreds of thousands of citizens. After a massive series of public protests over election fraud perpetrated by the central government under Slobodan Milo?evi? during the winter 1996-1997, ?in?i? became Mayor of Belgrade, the first post-communist mayor to hold that post after the Second World War. Under pressure, Milo?evi? acknowledged the results and on 21 February 1997 ?in?i? got inaugurated as the mayor.
Later that year ?in?i? made a bold decision to boycott the parliamentary elections on 21 December 1997, thus breaking up the Zajedno coalition. United only by their political enemy, the coalition "Zajedno" (Together) with Vuk Dra?kovi?'s SPO and Vesna Pe?i?'s GSS collapsed only four months after their victory. ?in?i? was voted out of his position as Belgrade mayor by the SPO, SPS and SRS.
?in?i? and his party boycotted the 1997 Serbian presidential and parliamentary elections, as did others in the "democratic bloc" including Vojislav Ko?tunica's Democratic Party of Serbia. This caused the Socialists and Radicals to sweep most of the seats, leaving the third largest portion to Vuk Dra?kovi?'s SPO. The boycott helped forced a second set of elections when the second round was ruled to have had insufficient turnout. Serbian law at the time mandated at least 50% turnout for a president to be elected.
In this case, Vojislav ?e?elj won the second round against the Socialists' Zoran Lili?; when the election was re-done, ?e?elj lost to the Socialists' Milan Milutinovi?. This caused ?e?elj to allege electoral fraud and lead protests against the government. He changed his mind however, when the Kosovo crisis began in early 1998, and his Radicals joined the government as a coalition partner. When Vuk Dra?kovi? joined the Yugoslav government in early 1999, this left ?in?i? as Serbia's main opposition leader as NATO's war began against Yugoslavia.
After former secret policeman, anti-Milo?evi? publisher and journalist Slavko ?uruvija was murdered on Orthodox Easter during NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, ?in?i? sought safety and fled to temporary exile in Montenegro, allegedly because he was next on the assassination list of then-President Slobodan Milo?evi?'s secret service.
In September 1999, ?in?i? was named by Time magazine as one of the most important politicians at the beginning of the 21st century. Upon his return to the country in July 1999, ?in?i? was charged with endangering state security in a trial that was closed to the public and subsequently found out to be rigged.
A series of mysterious assassinations, including the shooting of Yugoslav Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovi? on 7 February 2000 in a restaurant, began taking place. Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav ?e?elj maintained during his testimony at Milo?evi?'s trial that this murder was carried as a prelude to the successful hijacking of the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro in October 2000 by Predrag Bulatovi?, who successfully reversed the parliamentary majority won by Milo?evi? and his allies, moving his party in alliance with ?in?i?'s Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS). In April, JAT chairman and Yugoslav United Left member ?ika Petrovi? was gunned down as he was walking his dog. In late August, former Yugoslavia President Ivan Stamboli? disappeared; he had been murdered on Fru?ka Gora mountain by members of Serbia's Special Operations Unit. ?in?i? and his allies openly accused Milo?evi? of these events, claiming that he had either ordered them or was no longer able to maintain control and should therefore step down.
?in?i? played a prominent role in the September 2000 presidential elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in the 5th October uprising that overthrew Milo?evi? after further street protests. While Ko?tunica headlined the effort in October, ?in?i? lead the broad-based 19-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition to its victory in Serbian elections of December 2000. The Democratic Party was the largest party of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia block that won 64.7% of the votes in the December 2000 elections, getting 176 of 250 seats in the Parliamentary Assembly. In 2001 ?in?i? was appointed Prime Minister of Serbia at the head of the first post-Milo?evi? government on 25 January 2001.
On 1 April 2001, former president Slobodan Milo?evi? was arrested by Yugoslav authorities. Although no official charges were made, Milo?evi? was suspected of abuse of power and corruption. Following Milo?evi?'s arrest, the United States pressured the Yugoslav government to extradite Milo?evi? to the ICTY or lose financial aid from the IMF and World Bank. President Ko?tunica opposed extradition of Milo?evi?, arguing that it would violate the Yugoslav Constitution. Prime Minister ?in?i? called an extraordinary meeting of the government to issue a decree for extradition. Milo?evi?'s lawyers appealed the extradition process to the Yugoslav Constitutional Court. The court requested two weeks to deliberate the appeal. Ignoring objections from the president and the constitutional court, ?in?i? ordered the extradition of Milo?evi? to the ICTY. On 28 June, Milo?evi? was flown by helicopter from Belgrade to the U.S. air base in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina from where he was then flown to The Hague, Netherlands.
?in?i? played a key role in sending Milo?evi? to the ICTY in The Hague. The extradition caused political turmoil in Yugoslavia. President Ko?tunica denounced the extradition as illegal and unconstitutional, while a junior party in the ?in?i? coalition government left in protest. ?in?i? stated there would be negative consequences if the government did not cooperate. Additionally, the government argued that sending Milo?evi? to the ICTY was not extradition as it is a UN institution and not a foreign country. Following the extradition, Yugoslavia received approximately $1 billion dollars in financial aid. Later, ?in?i? said that he became disillusioned with the protracted trial of Milo?evi?, qualifying it as a "circus".. ?in?i? said the court in The Hague was "allowing Milo?evi? to behave like a demagogue and to control the trial".
In August 2001, after meeting with Ko?tunica's cabinet, former Serbian State Security officer Momir Gavrilovi? was murdered. Ko?tunica claimed that Gavrilovi? was briefing his cabinet about connections of some members of Serbian government with organized crime. This caused Ko?tunica and his 45 DSS members of parliament to withdraw from DOS and the government. ?in?i? attempted to expel the DSS members from parliament, referring to the existence of imperative mandate that places all deputies under the control of the party elected to parliament. Meanwhile, Ko?tunica and his party openly accused ?in?i? of involvement with organised crime.
?in?i? was received favorably by Western nations. His meetings with Western leaders George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and others strongly indicated that the West supported his politics. ?in?i? had constant disagreements with his ex-coalition partner and then-Yugoslav federal president Vojislav Ko?tunica, who was his biggest political rival in Serbia itself. His earlier close relationship with the Montenegrin president Milo ?ukanovi? had also cooled due to ?ukanovi?'s separatist aspirations for an independent Montenegro state.
Zoran ?in?i? had also increased economic reforms while prime minister of Serbia. Such reforms include price liberalization and a reduction of the money supply with the goal of achieving macroeconomic stability. Small-scale privatization also occurred with regards to banking assets and the financial sector. Lastly, the government of Serbia eliminated many trade barriers with the goal of eventually integrating into the European Union. The early economic reforms under the Ko?tunica-?in?i? government had been maintained after his assassination allowing the economy to increase substantially prior to the global economic crisis of 2008. However, unemployment still remained very high, and the pace and quantity of reforms did not return Serbia to the same living standards it had prior to 1990.
From January 2003, ?in?i? launched a wide diplomatic campaign for the determination of the Kosovo issue.
As reported by Reuters on 18 March 2003, according to Carla Del Ponte, ?in?i? had predicted his own assassination on 17 February just weeks before it happened. Despite Ko?tunica's accusations of ?in?i? being close to organised crime, the latter always insisted that he was determined to clean Serbia, and created the "Special Tribunal" with a witness protection program. This alarmed organized crime leaders who were intertwined with elements of the Serbian secret police which remained loyal to the ousted Milo?evi?.
Under orders from Milorad "Legija" Ulemek, the former commander of the Special Operations Unit of Yugoslavia's secret police, ?in?i? was assassinated by Ulemek's soldier Zvezdan Jovanovi? in Belgrade on 12 March 2003. Jovanovi? shot him from the building across from the main Serbian government building at 12:23 PM, hitting him once in the chest. The high-power bullet of a Heckler & Koch G3 battle rifle penetrated his heart and killed him almost instantly.
He was rushed to a hospital where he was treated, but pronounced dead one hour later. Ulemek was blamed as the mastermind of the crime. He was one of the leading persons in the Zemun clan, a leading organized crime group in Serbia. He was later prosecuted and convicted of being involved in some of the mysterious assassinations and assassination attempts that marked Yugoslavia in the months before ?in?i? took power.Nata?a Mi?i?, then acting President of Serbia, declared a state of emergency immediately. Zoran ?ivkovi? was elected by the Serbian Democratic Party as ?in?i?'s successor.
On 23 May 2007, twelve men were convicted for assassination of Zoran ?in?i?. Among the convicted defendants was Ulemek, who, during the four years preceding the murder of ?in?i?, had traveled to Switzerland, Austria, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Singapore and Croatia using a fraudulent passport that had been one of a batch of blank passports stolen from the Croatian Consulate in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999. Ulemek, along with Zvezdan Jovanovi?, was charged with being the ringleader of the assassination plot carried out on 12 March 2003, when ?in?i? was fatally shot. Three of the twelve men convicted are still on the run and remain the subject of INTERPOL Red notices. Specialist officers in INTERPOL's Fugitive Investigative Support Unit continue to liaise with and assist member countries in the investigation of various leads for the following individuals wanted by Serbian authorities: Milan Juri?i?, Ninoslav Konstantinovi? and Vladimir Milisavljevi?.
He published four books and more than a hundred articles and essays on various themes.
Books published in Serbian:
?in?i? and his wife Ru?ica had a daughter and a son, Jovana and Luka, both minors at the time of his assassination.
His state procession and funeral, held on 15 March 2003, was attended by hundreds of thousands of citizens and by foreign delegations. ?in?i?'s death represented a political and moral tragedy to many Serbs who saw in him a statesman of hope who offered peaceful coexistence with neighboring nations, integration to Europe and the rest of the world, economic prosperity and a brighter future. He appealed to people in Serbia whose goal is for their country to join the West, to join the European Union, and to become "normal Europeans" with "normal lives".
?in?i? and Ko?tunica realised that they both needed each other for their respective goals. Ko?tunica believed that Serbia needed to join the West so that it could keep Kosovo and so that Republika Srpska could be maintained. Vojislav Ko?tunica, who served as ?in?i?'s political opponent and critic during his premiership, acknowledged his work two years later with these words:
Zoran ?in?i? was the first to take this difficult task to lead government in very unstable times. Probably his energy and commitment made it possible for things to move forward. It is one thing to watch it from the sidelines and it is completely different to be a part of it. I understand that now when I am Prime Minister and watch things a bit differently. He was very important for the whole process.
Following his death, a small but influential movement emerged throughout Serbia and the Serbian diaspora organized around a short documentary about Zoran ?in?i? (created by Belgrade director Aleksandar Mandi?). The documentary - "Ako Srbija Stane" (If Serbia stops) - was a collection of edited speeches given by ?in?i? on a speaking tour in Serbia shortly before his death. A movement called "Kapiraj" created a network of students and other young people who were committed to copying and distributing the documentary free of charge. This campaign was known by the slogan "Kapiraj-kopiraj" (which means "Catch on and Copy" in Serbian) and its purpose was to have a "non-party initiative to have as many people as possible hear ?in?i?'s message, to put an end to the fleeing from responsibility, and to do the most for oneself so that Serbia does not stop."
| Prime Minister of Serbia
| Mayor of Belgrade
|Party political offices|
| President of the Democratic Party