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Lazar Koliševski (Macedonian: Лазар Колишевски [ˈlazar kɔˈliʃɛfski] (listen); 12 February 1914 – 6 July 2000) was Yugoslav communist political leader in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia and briefly in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He was closely allied with Tito.
Lazar was born in Sveti Nikole, Kingdom of Serbia in 1914. His family were poor farmers. Koliševski's mother was Aromanian and his father was Bulgarian. In 1915, during the First World War, the region was occupied by the Kingdom of Bulgaria. His father was mobilized in the army, and during the war both Koliševski's parents died. Once left an orphan, after the war, when the area was ceded to Serbia again, he was taken by his maternal Aromanian aunts in Bitola. There he was raised up to school age and completed his primary education. Later Koliševski was sent to a technical school in Kragujevac. Here, Lazar began to follow politics and learn about communism. Because of the political activities he was arrested and expelled from munition factory, where he worked. During the 1930s he became a prominent activist of the Yugoslav Communist Party.
World War II
As Nazi forces entered Belgrade in April 1941, Bulgaria, the German ally in the war, took control of a part of Vardar Macedonia, with the western towns of Tetovo, Gostivar and Debar going to Italian zone in Albania. After the Bulgarians had taken control of the eastern part of the former Vardar Banovina, the leader of the local faction of Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Metodi Shatorov had defected to the Bulgarian Communist Party. While the Bulgarian Communists avoided organizing mass armed uprising against the authorities, the Yugoslav Communists insisted on an armed revolt. Meanwhile, the German invasion in the USSR occurred, and upon a decision of the Comintern and Joseph Stalin himself, the Macedonian Communists were reattached to CPY. As result in fall of 1941 Koliševski became the Secretary of the local Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party. On the ground, he began to pursue Shatorov's sympathizers and organized several small armed detachments to fight the Bulgarian authorities and their local adherents. In late 1941 he was arrested and sentenced to death by a Bulgarian military court. He wrote two appeals for clemency to Bulgarian Tsar and to Defense Minister. There he regrets the accomplishment, insisting on his Bulgarian origin. Later, after an intercession of the Defense Minister to the Tsar, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and Koliševski was send to a prison in Pleven, Bulgaria.
In late 1944, Koliševski was freed by the new Bulgarian pro-communist government, and soon became the Chairman of the Communist Party of Macedonia (a local division of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia). Near the end of the war Koliševski became the Prime Minister of the Federal State of Macedonia, a federal unit of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (DFY). It was essentially the highest office in the Federal State of Macedonia. For his efforts in the war, Koliševski was one of the many Macedonians who were awarded with the People's Hero of Yugoslavia medal.
After World War II, Koliševski became the most powerful person in PR Macedonia and among the most powerful people in all of Yugoslavia. Under his leadership, hundreds of people of Macedonian Bulgarian descent were killed as collaborationists between 7–9 January 1945. Thousands of others, who retained their Bulgarophile sympathies, suffered severe repression as a result. Kolisevski strongly supported the promotion of a distinct ethnic Macedonian identity and language in SR Macedonia. At that time some circles were trying to minimize the ties with Yugoslavia as far as possible and promoted the independence of Macedonia. Lazar Kolishevski however, started a policy fully implementing the pro-Yugoslav line and took hard measures against the opposition. He began also a massive economic and social reforms. Koliševski finally brought the industrial revolution to Macedonia. By 1955, the capital city of Skopje had become one of the fastest growing cities in the region and became the third-largest city in Yugoslavia. Thanks to Koliševski's reforms, the small Republic that in 1945 was the poorest area of Yugoslavia now had the fastest growing economy. After the second Five Year Economic Plan, PR Macedonia's economy advanced rapidly.
On 19 December 1953, Koliševski retired as the Prime Minister of PR Macedonia and assumed the office of President of the People's Assembly. He became the PR Macedonian head of state, but wielded less direct political power. However, he remained the Chairman of the League of Communists of Macedonia, the Macedonian division of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, which were the new names of the communist parties in Yugoslavia. He was still the most powerful person in the Republic because of his influence in the Yugoslav Communist Party. With his slow removal from politics in Macedonia he began traveling to other nations as a Yugoslav Diplomat. He made many major trips in the late 1950s and early 1960s to nations like Egypt, India, Indonesia and other nations that would later help form the Non-Aligned Nations. These diplomatic travels showed that Koliševski was very trusted by the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. Even after Tito had fall outs with some of his most trusted allies, Koliševski still remained.
After the Yugoslav Constitution of 1974 was passed, Koliševski grew much more influential in the Yugoslav political world. The new constitution called for a rotating Yugoslav Vice-Presidency. Koliševski was picked from the Macedonian leadership to be the Macedonian representative to the Presidency. On 15 May 1979 Koliševski was voted by the other Presidency members to become President of the Presidency and Vice President of Yugoslavia. On New Years Day 1980 President Tito fell ill, leaving Koliševski in the role of acting leader in his absence. Tito died five months later, on 4 May 1980. Koliševski held the office of acting head of the presidency of Yugoslavia for another ten days, before the office passed on to Cvijetin Mijatović.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia, he lived in Skopje, the capital of the newly proclaimed Republic of Macedonia and opposed to the anti-Serbian and pro-Bulgarian policy of the ruling right-wing party VMRO-DPMNE in the late 1990s. He died on July 6, 2000 and in 2002 a monument of Koliševski was erected in his birthplace by the left-wing local government.
- Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 0810862956, p. 117.
- Contested Ethnic Identity: The Case of Macedonian Immigrants in Toronto, 1900-1996, Author Chris Kostov, Publisher Peter Lang, 2010, ISBN 3034301960, p. 13.
- Молба за милостъ от Лазаръ Паневъ Колишевъ, затворникъ при Скопския областен сѫдъ, осѫденъ на СМЪРТЪ отъ Битолския военно-полеви сѫдъ по наказ. дѣло 133/941. по закона за защита на държавата
- УТРИНСКИ ВЕСНИК, Број 1475 понеделник, 16 октомври 2006. Archived 2007-08-10 at Archive.today
- Michael Palairet, Macedonia: A Voyage through History, Volume 2, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, ISBN 1443888494, p. 293.
- Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia by Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009; ISBN 0810855658, p. 287.
- Who Are the Macedonians? by Hugh Poulton, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000; ISBN 1850655340, p. 118.
- Bernard A. Cook, Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, 2001, ISBN 0815340575, p. 808.
- НИН, Београд, issue 2585, 13.07.2000, Krzavac, Savo. Bravar nije voleo zlato
- Аспекти на македонското прашање, Лазар Колишевски.
- Picture – From left to right, Lazar Koliševski (in Glasses), Josip Broz Tito, Milka Planinc, Azem Vllasi and General Kosta Nadj
- Letter by Koliševski on the Macedonian Partisan forces in Pirin Macedonia
- "Сите българи заедно." Tsocho Bilyarski, Llittle known facts about the life of Lazar kolishevski. (in Bulgarian) Contains pictures of original documents signed by Kolishevski, kept in Sofia.
Josip Broz Tito
as President of SFR Yugoslavia
| President of the Presidency of SFR Yugoslavia
4 May 1980 - 15 May 1980
| President of the People's Assembly of PR Macedonia
4 May 1980 – 15 May 1980
| President of the Executive Council of PR Macedonia
16 April 1945 – 19 December 1953
|Party political offices|
| Chairman of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Macedonia
1945 - July 1963