Reform and Conflict in Yugoslavia

Reform and Conflict in Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia entered on the long, crooked road to political and economic reforms as far back as 1948-50. Starting without previous signposts, the Yugoslav Communists have been on it for four decades; thus, their experiences and errors are relevant to both communist and noncommunist reformers. Many of the economic reforms proposed in other countries have been on the Yugoslav scene for decades. A number of solutions tried in Yugoslavia—workers’ self-management, political decentralization, freedom of travel, and an openness to the world—have been attractive to reformers elsewhere. This, despite the fact that each “solu- tion” raised new problems.

It is a mistake to assume, because of the more radical language used by East European reformers, that Yugoslav economic reforms are less far- reaching. To the contrary, long experience with the market, no matter how limited, gives the Yugoslays some critical distance from this newly fashionable notion. The Yugoslav economic reforms launched at the end of 1989 by Premier Ante Markovic give every impression of being both less draconic and more successful than those in Poland. The Yugoslav currency has been made completely convertible; that is, Yugoslays can legally purchase as many dollars, marks, francs or lire, as they can afford. The black market in currency is dead. Within less than a month more than $800 million was exchanged for the new “hard” Yugoslav dinar.

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