Zoran Đinđić

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Zoran Đinđić
Zoran Đinđić, Davos.jpg
Zoran Đinđić
6th Prime Minister of Serbia
In office
25 January 2001 – 12 March 2003
President Milan Milutinović
Nataša Mićić (acting)
Preceded by Milomir Minić
Succeeded by Zoran Živković
67th Mayor of Belgrade
In office
21 February 1997 – 30 September 1997
Preceded by Nebojša Čović
Succeeded by Vojislav Mihailović
Personal details
Born (1952-08-01)1 August 1952
Bosanski Šamac, PR Bosnia and Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia
Died 12 March 2003(2003-03-12) (aged 50)
Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
Cause of death Assassination
Nationality Serbian
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Ružica Đinđić (m. 1990–2003)
Children Jovana
Alma mater University of Belgrade
University of Konstanz

Zoran Đinđić (Serbian Cyrillic: Зоран Ђинђић, pronounced [zǒran dʑîːndʑitɕ] (About this sound listen); 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.

Đinđić was one of the original thirteen restorers of the modern day Democratic Party,[1] becoming its president in 1994.[2] During the 1990s, he was one of the co-leaders of the opposition to the administration of Slobodan Milošević, and became the Prime Minister of Serbia in 2001[2] after the overthrow of Milošević. As Prime Minister, he advocated pro-democratic reforms and the integration of Serbia into European structures.[3] He was assassinated in 2003 by Zvezdan Jovanović, a former Special Forces operative with ties to the Serbian Mafia.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Đinđić was born in Bosanski Šamac, 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.[citation needed] His mother Mila Dušanić, 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.[6] Eventually, the family moved to capital Belgrade, after his mother had gained a post there. Đinđić 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, Đinđić emigrated to West Germany[7] thanks to the intervention of former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who persuaded authorities to let Đinđić come to Germany instead of serving his sentence in Yugoslavia. He continued his studies with professor Jürgen Habermas in Frankfurt.

In Germany, Đinđić obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Konstanz in 1979. He became proficient in German. Later, while serving as Serbian prime minister, he also mastered English.

Political career[edit]

In 1989, Đinđić 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 Mićunović as President of the Democratic Party.[2]

After a massive series of public protests over election fraud perpetrated by the central government under Slobodan Milošević during the winter 1996–1997, Đinđić became Mayor of Belgrade, the first post-communist mayor to hold that post after the Second World War. United only by their political enemy, the coalition "Zajedno" (Together) with Vuk Drašković's SPO and Vesna Pešić's GSS collapsed only four months after their victory. Đinđić was voted out of his position as Belgrade mayor by the SPO, SPS and SRS.

Đinđić and his party boycotted the 1997 Serbian presidential and parliamentary elections, as did others in the "democratic bloc" including Vojislav Koštunica's Democratic Party of Serbia. This caused the Socialists and Radicals to sweep most of the seats, leaving the third largest portion to Vuk Drašković'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 Šešelj won the second round against the Socialists' Zoran Lilić; when the election was re-done, Šešelj lost to the Socialists' Milan Milutinović. This caused Šešelj 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 Drašković joined the Yugoslav government in early 1999, this left Đinđić as Serbia's main opposition leader as NATO's war began against Yugoslavia.

After former secret policeman, anti-Milošević publisher and journalist Slavko Ćuruvija was murdered on Orthodox Easter during NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Đinđić sought safety and fled to temporary exile in Montenegro, allegedly because he was next on the assassination list of then-President Slobodan Milošević's secret service.

In September 1999, Đinđić 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, Đinđić 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 Bulatović on 7 February 2000 in a restaurant, began taking place. Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Šešelj maintained during his testimony at Milošević'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 Bulatović, who successfully reversed the parliamentary majority won by Milošević and his allies, moving his party in alliance with Đinđić's Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS). In April, JAT chairman and Yugoslav United Left member Žika Petrović was gunned down as he was walking his dog. In late August, former Yugoslavia President Ivan Stambolić disappeared; he had been murdered on Fruška Gora mountain by members of Serbia's Special Operations Unit. Đinđić and his allies openly accused Milošević of these events, claiming that he had either ordered them or was no longer able to maintain control and should therefore step down.

Đinđić played a prominent role in the September 2000 presidential elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in the 5th October uprising that overthrew Milošević. While Koštunica headlined the effort in October, Đinđić lead the broad-based 19-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia coalition to its victory in Serbian elections of December 2000. He became the Prime Minister of Serbia on 25 January 2001. In 2001, Đinđić played a key role in sending Milošević to the ICTY in The Hague.[8] Later, Đinđić said that he became disillusioned with the protracted trial of Milošević, qualifying it as a "circus".[citation needed]. Đinđić said the court in The Hague was "allowing Milošević to behave like a demagogue and to control the trial".

In August 2001, after meeting with Koštunica's cabinet, former Serbian State Security officer Momir Gavrilović was murdered. Koštunica claimed that Gavrilović was briefing his cabinet about connections of some members of Serbian government with organized crime. This caused Koštunica and his 45 DSS members of parliament to withdraw from DOS and the government. Đinđić 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, Koštunica and his party openly accused Đinđić of involvement with organised crime.[9]

Đinđić and Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. Lindh was assassinated in Stockholm six months after Đinđić's assassination.

Đinđić 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. Đinđić had constant disagreements with his ex-coalition partner and then-Yugoslav federal president Vojislav Koštunica, who was his biggest political rival in Serbia itself. His earlier close relationship with the Montenegrin president Milo Đukanović had also cooled due to Đukanović's separatist aspirations for an independent Montenegro state.[citation needed]

Zoran Đinđić 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 Koštunica-Đinđić 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, Đinđić launched wide diplomatic campaign for the determination of Kosovo issue.[10]


As reported by Reuters on 18 March 2003, according to Carla Del Ponte, Đinđić had predicted his own assassination on 17 February just weeks before it happened.[11] Despite Koštunica's accusations of Đinđić 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 Milošević.[citation needed]

Under orders from Milorad "Legija" Ulemek, the former commander of the Special Operations Unit of Yugoslavia's secret police, Đinđić was assassinated by Ulemek's soldier Zvezdan Jovanović in Belgrade on 12 March 2003. Jovanović 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 assault rifle penetrated his heart and killed him almost instantly.[12]

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 Đinđić took power.[citation needed] Nataša Mićić, then acting President of Serbia, declared a state of emergency immediately. Zoran Živković was elected by the Serbian Democratic Party as Đinđić's successor.[citation needed]

On 23 May 2007, twelve men were convicted for assassination of Zoran Đinđić.[13] Among the convicted defendants was Ulemek, who, during the four years preceding the murder of Đinđić, 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 Jovanović, was charged with being the ringleader of the assassination plot carried out on 12 March 2003, when Đinđić 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 Jurišić, Ninoslav Konstantinović and Vladimir Milisavljević.[14][15][16][17]

Literary work[edit]

He published four books and more than a hundred articles and essays on various themes.

Books published in Serbian:

  • Subjektivnost i nаsilje, Nastаnаk sistemа u filozofiji nemаčkog ideаlizmа, (Subjectivity and Violence: A Continuation of German Idealist Philosophy) Istrаživаčko-izdаvаčki centаr SSO Srbije, Izаzovi, 1982, drugo izdаnje Novi Sаd, Dnevnik, 2003.
  • Jesen dijаlektike, Kаrl Mаrks i utemeljenje kritičke teorije društvа, Mlаdost, V Velikа edicijа idejа, 1987.
  • Jugoslаvijа kаo nedovršenа držаvа, (Yugoslavia as an Incomplete State) Književnа zаjednicа Novi Sаd, Anthropos, 1988.
  • Srbijа ni nа istoku ni nа zаpаdu, (Serbia Neither East Nor West) Cepelin, 1996.
  • Jedna srpska vizija, (One Serbian Vision) Ateneum, 2004

Personal life[edit]

Đinđić and his wife Ružica had a daughter and a son, Jovana and Luka, both minors at the time of his assassination.[citation needed]


Tomb of Đinđić on the Alley of Meritorious Citizens, New Cemetery in Belgrade

His state procession and funeral, held on 15 March 2003, was attended by hundreds of thousands of citizens and by foreign delegations. Đinđić'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".

Đinđić and Koštunica realised that they both needed each other for their respective goals. Koštunica believed that Serbia needed to join the West so that it could keep Kosovo and so that Republika Srpska could be maintained. Vojislav Koštunica, who served as Đinđić's political opponent and critic during his premiership, acknowledged his work two years later with these words:

Zoran Đinđić 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 Đinđić (created by Belgrade director Aleksandar Mandić). The documentary – "Ako Srbija Stane" (If Serbia stops)[18] – was a collection of edited speeches given by Đinđić 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"[19] (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 Đinđić's message, to put an end to the fleeing from responsibility, and to do the most for oneself so that Serbia does not stop."[citation needed]


  • We can tell the citizens we will fight for their rights and we can say that this is going to be the first government that will not be dealing with itself but with the interests of the citizens.
  • The difference between ethics and morality is quite essential. What is beneficial for one people is the ethics. Morality is the matter of intention, when I say I believe something is good and I will do it because my motivation is right. The fact that in the end it will be a disaster, is not my fault, I did it for good reasons. I despise that. I think that it is the excuse of the weaker. I am not interested in intentions. I am interested in consequences. Any one can have good intentions, which I believe is the matter of decency. I do not discuss others’ intentions.
  • Thanks to the plan and clear vision, we managed to bring this people from dictatorship into democracy, without any bloodshed. Thanks to the plan and firm vision, we may show this country a way out form the biggest economic misery ever suffered by a European county, and into economic prosperity.


  1. ^ Democratic Party official site: Reforming of Democratic Party (in Serbian)
  2. ^ a b c Democratic Party official site: Dr Zoran Đinđić (1952-2003) (in Serbian)
  3. ^ Laura Silber (14 March 2003). "Serbia Loses More Than a Leader". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  4. ^ Steven Erlanger (16 March 2003). "The World: Murder in Belgrade; Did Serbia's Leader Do the West's Bidding Too Well?". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  5. ^ "2 Suspects in Murder Of Serbian Premier Are Killed by Police". New York Times. 28 March 2003. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  6. ^ "time 05:37, Djindjic on ''Charlie Rose'', 23 September 2002". Charlierose.com. 23 September 2002. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Biography of Dr. Zoran Djindjic 1952-2003". Zorandjindjic.org. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Obituary: Zoran Djindjic profile, bbc.co.uk; accessed 22 August 2016.
  9. ^ Antiwar.com: GO FOR IT, KOSTUNICA! Archived 21 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Bilbija, Đ.; Ognjanović, R. (6 March 2003). "SRBIJA NIJE ŽETON ZA PLAĆANJE DUGOVA". novosti.rs (in Serbian). Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  11. ^ "LISTSERV 16.0 - JUSTWATCH-L Archives". Listserv.buffalo.edu. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "Serb police kill Đinđić suspects". BBC News. 28 March 2003. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Subjects of INTERPOL Red Notices convicted of Serbian Prime Minister’s murder
  14. ^ "The Serbian authorities are searching for..." Interpol.int. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  15. ^ B92: Zagreb: Uhapšen Sretko Kalinić; accessed 22 August 2016.(in Croatian)
  16. ^ B92: Uhapšen Miloš Simović; accessed 22 August 2016.(in Croatian)
  17. ^ Andrey Shary & Aja Kuge. A Prayer for Serbia: The Secret of Zoran Djindjic's Death; accessed 22 August 2016.
  18. ^ "www.srbijauevropi.org". www.srbijauevropi.org. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "Kapiraj-kopiraj". Kapiraj.org. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Milomir Minić
Prime Minister of Serbia
Succeeded by
Zoran Živković
Preceded by
Nebojša Čović
Mayor of Belgrade
Succeeded by
Vojislav Mihailović
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dragoljub Mićunović
President of the Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Boris Tadić