Closing Statement at the Third SPS Congress
March 2, 1996

Speech delivered by: Slobodan Milošević Chairman of the SPS


Dear guests,

In the past few years Serbia has been living through difficult times. As her whole history was difficult it seemed to us that Serbia had already got used to them. Nevertheless, these difficult years have hit us hard. Namely, almost all of us believed, particularly after the Second World War, that a period of peace had set in, at least in this part of the world and, certainly, in Serbia. Regrettably, this was not to be. Behind us are several painful years of sanctions, refugeesm and war in our immediate neighbourhood. Serbia has assisted materially and morally all afflicted Serbs, those at war where a war was waged, those in peace who could not work, those in exile and those here and all this while she herself was under sanctions which, after all, had been imposed precisely as a consequence of this moral and material support to Serbs outside Serbia. This solidarity and sacrifices should be remembered for ever by the Serbian people, wherever they may be. Very rarely in history was a people faced with the need to show such solidarity and very rarely in history did a people succeed in doing so. This solidarity shown not only by the Serbian people, but also by all citizens of Serbia, is the lasting and most beautiful monument to their humaneness. And all those on whom this solidarity was showered should remember it as a message of kindness and a debt which one day they may be called upon to repay to a future generation. It is the memory of such messages of kindness and indebtedness that help both nations and people endure.

A new time is ahead of us in Serbia and in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A peace treaty has been signed, sanctions have been suspended, refugees will slowly start returning to their homes. Serbia now should turn to progress, first of all, to its economic development. It is quite understandably very exhausted economically, but even in the course of these several difficult years it kept going as best as such grave circumstances permitted. It is quite justified to expect Serbia’s economy to recover rapidly. To that end, it should make use of all existing and state-of-the-art economic and technological know-how and in this endeavour bring together the largest possible number of citizens, experts, workers, peasants, intellectuals and young people. The same applies to cultural development. Over the decades our country enjoyed a high reputation world-wide in all fields of human endeavour, including sports. Now, it should renew its artistic, research and sports resources. Economic and cultural development should be our political programme, our step into the next century which will make it possible for us at its very beginning to live in peace, committed to development and turned to the future. It would be both reasonable and essential for all those who have this orientation at heart to join forces in the interest of the development of our Republic.

For a number of years the Socialist Party of Serbia has, as the ruling party and the biggest party in the country, borne most responsibility for Serbia’s future development. It is, therefore, bound to support and itself make a contribution to every progressive effort to bring together the material resources and spiritual forces in our society in the interest of peace, economic and cultural prosperity. In the past few years the Socialist Party of Serbia sought to do its utmost in the interest of our society, focusing on the position and future of the Serbian people not only in Serbia, but also in the space of the former Yugoslavia. Even now we have reason to believe that we acted correctly by opting for this policy. Nobody, however, should claim that there were no mistakes, nationalist outbursts, wrong personnel decisions, political disloyalty, moral corruption, wrong assessments. The problem does not lie in mistakes, they are made both by the society and by individuals. The problem with mistakes arises when we refuse to recognise them, and those which are not recognised as such cannot be removed. We had to face many of these mistakes even before the Congress; we identified some during its preparation. We shall continue by all means to deal with them responsibly and without much fuss in the future as well, not only for the benefit of the Socialist Party of Serbia, but for the benefit of Serbia, its citizens and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Hence, I am confident that this Congress will represent a step which will bring us closer to the coming century, to better days, both for us and all those who long for peace and prosperity.


I wish every success and much happiness both to you and to your families.