Closing Statement at the First SPS Congress
July 16, 17 and 18, 1990

Speech by Slobodan Milošević – Chairman of the SPS:


The crisis facing Yugoslavia, which is exposed to the pressure of conservative and disintegrating forces, as well as the presence of such forces in Serbia herself, have made it necessary and justified to bring together socialist, i.e. left-wing forces, ideas and people in order to preserve peace and secure progress and social development. Peace and economic and cultural progress, the fruits of which will be equally enjoyed by all citizens, are the essence of our new party’s commitment at this moment. Our longer-term commitment is to create a society without economic exploitation and without political hierarchy. Hence, the existing programme reflects both permanent and current concerns. For this reason it will be adjusted to the changes in our society and our present-day world. In other words, it is expected to provide answers, in tune with our lasting commitments, to the current economic, political and cultural conditions prevailing in our age and in the Yugoslav society.

I wish to say that we decided to translate the idea of pooling left-wing forces into practice deeply convinced that with its programme, organisation and personnel the new Party would contribute to a truly peaceful, just and successful development of our society. Having said this, I do not contest the objections that this decision was taken too fast or too slowly, that the explanations given for this unification were incorrect, nor many other objections and warnings concerning the programme, organisation, personnel and even the idea as a whole. A party which is from the very beginning unwilling to hear and take note of the opinions of well-meaning, educated and respectable people doesn’t have nor could have any future. It applies to our new Party in particular as it has to base its ideas and its activity on creativity, criticism, humaneness and determination which should be the qualities of our struggle for a free and just society and of its proponents.

If there is anything in our political behaviour and hitherto habits that we should get rid of, then it is certainly the narrow-mindedness and vindictiveness which often characterised socialist and communist leaderships when dealing with any opinion that was at variance with current policy and the activities of politicians in power.

This Party will be able to contribute to the progress of our society if it recognises the opinions and criticism voiced by workers, farmers and the intelligentsia, those voiced by our Universities of which many, like for instance the ideas of the University of Belgrade, have long been the most progressive, although the most critical part of our general public opinion. This Party will seek to promote and develop all progressive ideas which have emerged in the world, in our country and in Serbia, and all the achievements made by the workers’ movement in the development of socialism in the world and in Yugoslavia.

Today we also have the task to avoid all the phenomena that brought about the crisis and slowed down our social development: bureaucratic arbitrariness, equalisation of the state and the party, violence, economic inertia, cultural isolation, aggressive intolerance of a different political opinion, long-standing hostility towards educated people and the new blindness for the concerns of workers and farmers, inclination to nurture the personality cult at all levels, cruel political hierarchy and cowardice.

The Socialist Party will further build its identity on the demands of our modern age and the times to come. The idea of socialism and the practice of socialism came into being at a certain time which had its relevant economic, political, cultural and social characteristics. The time we are living in today differs both in economic, political, cultural and social terms. While we remain committed to a society without economic exploitation and other injustices, we have to build this new socialism in accordance with major changes taking place at this point of time, but also in tune with the future.

Impressive technological and economic development of a considerable part of mankind, expansion of political freedoms, major economic and political changes in the status of workers worldwide, availability of education and culture to the broad strata of the population, positive changes in the size and structure of leisure, increasingly developed economic, political and cultural ties between states, nations and people in general, the conspicuous role played by science in the development of society, etc. - all these facts have changed the face of our present-day international community and both mandate and facilitate the creation of a new, more just and affluent world.

This Party is about to catch up on this world, and here in Serbia, it is being established with the desire to make its republic an equal and creative part of that more affluent and just world. In this context, left-wing forces should not fear that this Party will get closer to the right, just as right-wing forces should not hope that this Party will distance itself from the left. No one, except the extreme conservatives can contest the ideas such as economic, social, cultural, national and racial equality, freedom and dignity of each man. And these are the ideals of all left-wing parties, regardless of the fact that they differ among themselves, primarily by ways of achieving these ideals.

Our Republic has been making major efforts to overcome the economic crisis, to improve the standards of living, to enhance economic development, to revive industrial activity and agriculture, to wisely use the means and know-how of our people working both here and abroad. Our Party is eager to see the fruits of this economic and social prosperity being used by all citizens.

It is not our objective solely to have an affluent society, but also a just society. Many affluent nations have a large number of poor people and disenfranchised or politically passive citizens. We wish to build a rich society in which each individual will have equal conditions to prosper, to be politically free and active, to educate himself, to travel extensively and safely, and of course, to live in peace. These are our commitments today as we establish the Socialist Party of Serbia. Peace, economic prosperity, a free man and equal people are the values which the Socialist Party of Serbia is today putting forward as its commitment before its people and the citizens of Serbia.

These are the values which we will constantly have in mind in further developing our programme, organisation and leadership. If the programme fails to express the concerns of its members, if the organisation proves inefficient, if the leaderships become bureaucratised, we shall change them. The only lasting thing should be our commitment to a better, free and just life of man.

I hereby declare the First Congress of the Socialist Party of Serbia closed.