Closing Statement at the Second SPS Congress
October 23 and 24, 1992

Speech delivered by: Slobodan Milošević Chairman of the SPS


The assertion of the permanent political commitments of our party which has characterised this Congress, as well as the fierce criticism of the weaknesses in the achievement of our objectives which have been in evidence in the past two years testify to the vitality of the Socialist Party of Serbia and its capability to respond to the challenges of our time and the difficulties we are facing. Both with its hitherto activity and with this Congress, this Party has shown that it has no other interests at heart, but those of its country and its people. This Party pursues its policy (applause) in the interest of peace, freedom, independence, economic and cultural development and cooperation on an equal footing with all those who respect these values and wish for such cooperation. Although the crisis we are facing is not only the result of developments in Serbia, but largely the consequence of international interests and the policy pursued in keeping with those interests, we here in Serbia are obliged to do our best in order to weather the crisis as soon as possible. I here have first of all in mind the sanctions and believe that before long the factors behind these sanctions will start explaining how and what mistakes they have made just as now they are trying to say that they were wrong to prematurely recognise the former Yugoslav republics as this triggered bloodshed and outbreak of war. But, as far as the need to alleviate the pressure of sanctions is concerned, we bear huge responsibility because we have to secure the operation of the economy and normal life for our citizens through our economic and social policy programme under these conditions. The Government has undertaken a number of measures to mitigate the difficulties facing the Republic and our citizens. One of the most important among these measures is the assistance to the Serbian people in the war-afflicted areas. As is well known, Serbia has shown maximum solidarity with the Serbian people in the war-torn areas and particularly with the refugees who have come to Serbia from those parts. This assistance has been invaluable and has encumbered to a considerable extent our country exposed to economic sanctions. We have consciously undertaken to shoulder this burden and have to do it to the end. At the same time, however, we must address the common plight of the Serbian people. For example, we must take steps to ensure that the largest possible number of refugees who have come to Serbia return to their homes, particularly those capable of giving assistance and joining the citizens who are already there.

Of course, stopping the war will be of greatest assistance to the Serbian people in war-torn areas, as well as in the resolution of their problems in general. This contribution, i.e. the contribution to halting the war and establishing durable and just peace must be made by Serbia in every possible manner. This means that the Socialist Party of Serbia, as the ruling party, through all the institutions of government administration should pursue a policy conducive to restoring peace in the areas of the former Yugoslavia where war is now waged and a policy of economic, social and cultural development which will facilitate life in the conditions of sanctions and enable rapid recovery after they are lifted. At the same time, while addressing these current and serious difficulties imposed from outside, which we have to face every day, the Socialist Party of Serbia must seek to uphold its principle commitments on a lasting basis. These commitments reflect the progressive ideas of workers and the socialist movement in Serbia and Yugoslavia, as well as the most progressive economic and political ideas of our modern world and left-wing movement. These commitments are based, of course, on all the positive achievements which have emancipated the individual and ensured progress of our society to date. The largest number of our members are ready to subscribe to such commitments of the Socialist Party and act in accordance with them. I think that the SPS leadership which we elected this evening should encourage this general feeling of our membership in its future work much more than before, not only because this is the prevailing feeling among our members, but also because left-wing ideas are progressive and in the interest of the majority in our society, because they have a future, because this is the road which modern civilisation has opted for.

I find it necessary to stress this particularly because in the past two years some SPS members showed an inclination to deviate from the Party programme. While I do not wish to analyse the reasons for all this, let me only say that some were principled and others quite the opposite. In the future it will be necessary to reduce such deviations to the minimum.

Occasionally, the Socialist Party or, to be more precise, certain leaderships and individuals within it, acted sycophantically towards the opposition parties and one could get the impression that they wanted to please and to appease them. This may be (applause) the remnant of our recent past when there existed only one party which, being the only one, wanted to rally and bring together mutually opposing ideas and people. In a multi-party system, however, the ruling party is always exposed to criticism on the part of the opposition. True, this criticism is probably somewhat more principled, less aggressive and more humane than is the case in this country, but such criticism is, all the same, unavoidable. This Party has no reason why to avoid or shirk from such criticism.

Therefore, it is not the task of the ruling party to make unprincipled concessions to opposition parties, nor to determine its programme, organisation and personnel policy according to the criteria set by its political adversaries. It should, instead, act in line with its own policy, seeking to make its activities serve the interests of the society, of all citizens and each individual. In my opinion, this should be the responsibility of both the party leadership and its members, and is of paramount importance for its unity. For, there are many opposition, civil parties on Serbia’s political scene. And whoever finds their political orientation close to his own opinions has no place in the Socialist Party of Serbia (applause).

I call on all delegates to this Congress, and on all party members to demonstrate unity and join forces to help us weather this crisis. Current statistics show that both as a Republic and as a people, we are fending for ourselves in the circumstances imposed from outside much better than expected by those who have imposed them in the first place. But, in our Party (applause), as well as in our people there is an additional strength to surmount difficulties, to defeat the enemy and overcome troubles. This is why major efforts in the future should bring us even closer together, encourage us, mobilise us to get out of isolation, preserve peace, avoid poverty, defeat hatred and chauvinism, secure life and work in peace for our citizens and good-quality education and a happier future for our children and youth. These are the tasks which the Socialist Party of Serbia has the ways and means to accomplish. These tasks will remain with us for several generations to come. But, since we are living in turbulent and unstable times, we have to carry out most of them by ourselves and we have to do it fast. Time is running out. The tasks are daunting. But, there are many of us who are willing to grapple with current problems, and if we remain united we shall win in the end (applause).

In the name of such commitments and beliefs, I greet once again all participants in this Congress. I wish you all better, peaceful and more prosperous days. On behalf of all of us elected to the bodies of the Socialist Party of Serbia, I wish to thank you for the trust you have placed in us. Thank you (applause).