|Minister Without Portfolio
In Charge of Emergency Situations
27 April 2014
|Prime Minister||Aleksandar Vučić|
|Preceded by||Sulejman Ugljanin|
|Minister of Construction and Urbanism|
27 July 2012 – 27 April 2014
|Prime Minister||Ivica Dačić|
|Succeeded by||Zorana Mihajlović|
|Minister of Capital Investments|
3 March 2004 – 7 July 2008
|Prime Minister||Vojislav Koštunica|
|Succeeded by||Milutin Mrkonjić|
28 May 1951 |
Čačak, FPR Yugoslavia
|Political party||New Serbia|
|Alma mater||M.Sc. University of Kragujevac|
Velimir "Velja" Ilić (Serbian Cyrillic: Велимир "Веља" Илић, pronounced [ʋělimir ʋěːʎa ǐliːtɕ], born on May 28, 1951 in Čačak) is Serbian politician and Minister without portfolio in the Government of Serbia.
Velimir Ilić graduating from the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Technology (Department of Construction Materials), later he worked for various construction firms, and then became a private entrepreneur himself in 1986.
In 2005, he obtained his Masters Degree from the University of Kragujevac. His qualification was granted by an academic supervisory board entirely composed of officials of his own New Serbia party. The academics who granted his degree stated they acted purely as academics in this case and not as party officials under the leadership of their student.
Velja's first political steps were taken with Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) in 1990. He quickly rose in the party hierarchy by forming a strong local branch in Čačak. His personable nature and imposing personality, quickly marked him out on the local political scene.
Mayor of Čačak 1996-2004
He was elected mayor of Čačak in 1996 by defeating the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) candidate. Shortly thereafter, in 1997 following the breakup of Zajedno coalition, he left the SPO, where he was the president of party's local branch, and founded his own New Serbia party.
During his tenure, Čačak became a small haven of anti-Milošević struggle similar to few other cities where different opposition parties held municipal power. Ilić ran the city successfully, attracting legitimate investors and developing local economy. He was extremely vocal and direct in his criticism of Slobodan Milošević and his regime, so much so that he was forced into hiding during the NATO airstrikes during Spring 1999, fearing brutal reprisal at a time when the regime often engaged in the practice of eliminating political opponents under the shield of NATO bombs.
In 2000 Ilić's New Serbia joined the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition along with 17 other parties. Ilić had a large role in the October 5 overthrow as he organized and headed a long motorcade of cars, buses and trucks that left Čačak on the morning of October 5, 2000 and arrived in Belgrade after going through (often forcefully) numerous police road blocks and check points along the way. Ilić and his men then positioned themselves right in front of the Federal Assembly building, addressed the crowd, which was already gathered in hundreds of thousands, and eventually led the charge on Parliament.
In the immediate days and months after the successful overthrow, Ilić enjoyed wide praise and enormous popularity. So, many, including Ilić himself, were surprised and unhappy about him getting very little in the subsequent division of power among the DOS members. In comparison, many other leaders of small parties within DOS that had considerably lesser profile than NS and Ilić, like Vladan Batić, Dušan Mihajlović, Goran Svilanović, Nebojša Čović, Rasim Ljajić, Žarko Korać, Dragan Veselinov, József Kasza, Mile Isakov, etc., all received high posts. Ilic on the other hand only got to be MP in the federal Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro in addition to his mayoral duties in Čačak.
So, even though he started out as a prominent member of the ruling coalition, Ilić's role was effectively marginalized over the coming years. He reportedly had an understanding with Zoran Đinđić that he'd be DOS' candidate for the President of Serbia, but nothing materialized in that regard. Since he didn't have a national platform through a high-ranking government position, Ilić was seldom featured in the media for anything other than his frequent outburst or spats with reporters.
Minister of Capital Investment 2004-2008
In late 2003 after dissolution of Serbia's parliament in anticipation of new elections, he reached out to his old friend Vuk Drašković (also a political non-factor at this point) and their parties entered a pre-election coalition. Surprising many, they managed to get 22 parliamentary seats, which they used to form a minority government with Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and G17 Plus party. Drašković became the Foreign Minister of Serbia-Montenegro, while Ilić got the position of Serbia's Minister for Capital Investment.
After elections in 2007, Ministry for Capital Investments was dissolved into three ministries. Velimir became minister of newly formed Ministry for Infrastructure.
On March 28, 2001, after accusation of being behind the incident at Čačak's Radio Ozon, when the windows on their station were shattered by unknown group of men, Velja answered: "We're not some petty Gypsies. When we wreck something, grass doesn't grow there again".
At a press conference held in Čačak on August 6, 2001, Ilić called Večernje novosti journalist Milena Marković "a teenage Belgrade junkie". He then proceeded to label Novosti's editor-in-chief Manojlo Vukotić a "disgrace to Serbian journalism whose asking price is 100 deutsche marks in cash and a bottle of beer".
He made threats when denying allegations by Nedeljni Telegraf reporter Dragan Novaković in an article headlined "Cypriot Partners of Velimir Ilić - Part of the Biggest Tobacco Mafia in Europe". "If I had really wanted to beat him up, he wouldn't have a single tooth left in his head now", Ilić said.
Ilić's most infamous public occurred during a summer 2002 live phone-in on Studio B radio station. Ilić was asked about road blocks that Serb refugees from Kosovo have supposedly set up in protest throughout different parts of the country. Being completely unaware of any protests he asked the host to clarify. Host explained that Nebojša Čović, then Serbian government coordinator for Kosovo, said the refugees were organized by Ilić. Upon hearing this, Ilić's mood instantly darkened and he began his tirade: "Listen to me now, Nebojša Čović is a communist piece of garbage and a Belgrade scumbag and you're free to quote me on that anywhere you want. That sick bastard should go to sanatorium, somewhere, and I'll be happy to pay for his treatment". After somewhat settling down, Ilić informs the host that he's been at home recovering from bronchitis for days and that he has no idea about any protests, but soon fires up again, this time against the Studio B radio station itself: "all of you bastards at Studio B can suck my cock, and also make sure to take good care of yourselves because I'll come to that shitty station of yours and throw all you asses out the window". Finally, Ilić ends his outburst by blasting Studio B TV journalist Olja Bećković, calling her "a jerkoff" and adding "If she was better looking, I'd let her suck me off, but she's way too ugly".
On October 11, 2002, as part of their call-in show Naslovna strana TV Čačak ran a story by journalist Jelena Katanić alleging that recently slain mobster Sredoje Šljukić was a member of Ilić's New Serbia. Ilić immediately called the station live and started insulting the journalist as well as the story editor. The very next day, accompanied by his personal security, he barged into the TV station's offices and shouted some more at journalists Jelena Katanić and Vesna Radović who happened to be present. Three days later, he held a press-conference saying the story violated the pre-election silence (second round runoff presidential elections contested between Vojislav Koštunica and Miroljub Labus were held on October 13) even if neither candidate was so much as mentioned in the story. Ilić also put forth his, by now usual insinuation that TV Čačak employees are all junkies and should seek treatment.
In June 2003, angered by a question from Novi Sad's TV Apolo journalist Vladimir Ješić about alleged ties of Ilić's brother Strahinja with organized crime and the construction of a tobacco factory in Čačak, Ilić stood up, kicked the open binder Ješić held in his lap, called him gay, and left the studio.
Since becoming Serbia's Minister of Capital Investment in March 2004, Ilić somewhat cleaned up his act, but he has still caused plenty of public image problems for the government he represents. For an example, he stated that he'll "will chop off (Minister of Finance) Mlađan Dinkić's fingers." Dinkić's party, G17 Plus threatened to leave the government coalition if Ilić did not apologize.
In August 2005, dissatisfied with the question posed to him, he verbally assaulted a B92 journalist calling her "mentally disturbed" and threatening to kill her and her editor. After a public scandal and an outcry in the media and the public, the government called an emergency session to discuss the issue. Velimir Ilić declined to comment or apologize citing he was the victim of a media smear campaign. Later that day a government statement expressing regret was issued and read by another minister, without an explicit apology or any repercussion for Mr. Ilić.
In reaction to the 2008 declaration of Kosovo independence, Ilic threatened the Liberal Democratic Party of Serbia leader Cedomir Jovanovic (one of the few Serbian politicians who openly advocate in favor of the independence of the Serbian province), saying he should feel "lucky if he stays alive until March, but that it will not be easy."
In February 2009 he was accused of using hate speech and the Public Prosecutor decided to investigate Ilić. From the parliament stand he questioned whether it is appropriate for a Muslim politician Rasim Ljajić to send invitations for the statehood day celebration. Ilić later said that he was misunderstood and that he only question whether it was appropriate for a minister instead of a president to hand out invitations for such an important event. Ilić also suffered a minor stroke on that day.
Ilić has five children with three different women. From the marriage with his first wife, he has a daughter. From his second marriage to Ljubinka, Ilić has two more children. Ilić is currently married to Gorica with whom he also has two children - daughter Natalija and son Jovan.
- "Serbia and Montenegro - 2001 World Press Freedom Review". International Press Institute.
- "Zgodan Instrument za dobijanje publiciteta" (in Serbian). NUNS.
- Mr. Ilić attacking a journalist on YouTube video
- "Izveštaj o napadima na novinare" (in Serbian). NUNS.
- "Oštar duel Kostreša i Ilića" (in Serbian). B92. 6 September 2007.
- What is at stake in the struggle for Serbia?, Bosnian Institute, February 26, 2008
- "Čanak tuži Velju Ilića" (in Serbian). Blic Online. 17 February 2009.
- "Tužilac traži snimak, Ljajić posetio Ilića" (in Serbian). Blic Online. 15 February 2009.
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