By spring of 1991 Yugoslavia was nearing terminal illness. The federal League of Communists had ceased to exist since the withdrawal of the Slovenian and Croatian branches. Although the federal premier Ante Markovic’s economic program managed to maintain relatively high wages and a stable currency, the political crisis was visible to all. The presidents of the six republics were holding endless sterile meetings trying to work out an impossible compromise between the Slovenians and Croatians willing to accept at most a loose confederation and the Serbians
pushing for a more centralized federation. There was an apocalyptic atmosphere in the circles of intellectuals among which I moved that spring in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubljana. A worn-out regime was on its last legs, but there was little joy and much fear about the prospects for the future. We did not expect any velvet revolution or magical fixes from the new mantra, “market and privatization.” Yet none could even imagine just how terrible the next two years would be. Only in Sarajevo, of all places, were dissident activists still relatively optimistic in early 1991.
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