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Public image of Slobodan Milošević

The public image of Slobodan Milošević, concerns the image of Slobodan Milošević, the former president of Serbia and FR Yugoslavia among the residents of former Yugoslavia and worldwide. Before the Yugoslav Wars the public image of Slobodan Milošević oscillated from faceless bureaucrat to defender of Serbs. During the Yugoslav Wars his image again oscillated from Balkan Butcher to Guarantor of Peace and back.

From a faceless bureaucrat to defender of SerbsEdit

Initially being an unknown bureaucrat, Milošević used the Kosovo issue to gain a public image as a defender of Serbs at a mass Serb rally in Kosovo Polje in April 1987.[1]

From Balkan Butcher to Guarantor of Peace and backEdit

The government in Serbia led by Slobodan Milošević did not recognize the importance of public relations and good public image until the very end of the Wars in Yugoslavia.[2]

During the War in Croatia and Bosnian WarEdit

The attitude of the Western accounts toward Milošević oscillated from Milošević being demonized as the "Butcher of the Balkans" to Milošević being the "guarantor of the peace in the Balkans".[3][4] Because Milošević and Croatian president Franjo Tuđman had a key role in reaching the Dayton Agreement which ended a War in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they were not anymore portrayed as sponsors of the war and its key players, but as the guarantors of peace and stability.[5] In Serbia, the public image of Milošević as internationally recognized statesman was successfully used against his political opponents who were portrayed by government-controlled media as simple politicians in pejorative sense.[6]

Kosovo WarEdit

It has been alleged that NATO propaganda demonized Serbs and Serbian president Slobodan Milošević, presenting NATO's attack on Yugoslavia as a war between NATO humanitarian forces and satanic Yugoslav forces led by Milošević portrayed as Hitler.[7] Many scholars (like Chandler, Woodward, Burg, Hayden, Shoup, Cohen or Kent) refuted demonization presented in practically all mainstream accounts of the period such as pieces by Tim Judah, Nordland, Roy Gutman or Roger Cohen published in Newsweek, The New York Times and Time.[8] Some authors criticized some leftist scholars for disputing the guilt of Milošević referring to their works as conspiracy theories, attributing "enemy of my enemy is my friend" approach to them (because Milošević resisted the USA imperium).[9]

Shortly before NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began, some Western observers argued those very strong accusations against Milošević, whose image was portrayed as being bloody and barbaric. They perceived such strong rhetoric, which even used words as genocide and references to Auschwitz, as demonization of Serbia and Milošević aimed to secure the support of the domestic public for military intervention against Serbia.[10]

Demonization of Serbs and Milošević by media in the United States and European NATO countries was mirrored by Serbian demonization of NATO.[11]

Trial in Hague (2000 — 2006)Edit

The trial in ICTY in Hague significantly contributed to the public image of Slobodan Milošević. The prosecution presented a case portraying him as somebody who was most responsible for the atrocities.[12] Milošević died from heart failure before his trial concluded.


  1. ^ (Petersen 2011, p. 115) Slobodan Milosevic rode to power on a wave of discontent, using the Kosovo issue. Previously a faceless bureaucrat, Milosevic firmly established his public image as the defender of the Serbian people at a mass rally in Kosovo one night in ...
  2. ^ Sremac, Danielle S. (1999). War of Words: Washington Tackles the Yugoslav Conflict. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-275-96609-6. ... the government of Serbia, led by Slobodan Milosevic, did not recognize the importance of images and good public ...
  3. ^ Bataković, Dušan T. (2007). Kosovo and Metohija: living in the enclave. Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute for Balkan Studies. p. 75. ... of the signatories of the hard-won peace, went from being the demonized "butcher of the Balkans" to being the guarantor of ...
  4. ^ Pavlowitch, Stevan K. (January 2002). Serbia: The History Behind the Name. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. ix. ISBN 978-1-85065-477-3. Even in the 1990s there were oscillations in Western attitudes, from integration at all costs to absolute disintegration, and to re-integration; from Milosevic 'butcher of the Balkans' to Milosevic 'guarantor of the peace in the Balkans';
  5. ^ Weller, Marc; Wolff, Stefan (18 October 2013). Internationalized State-Building After Violent Conflict: Bosnia Ten Years After Dayton. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-317-96971-6. These leaders, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman, were thus given an opportunity by the international community, albeit grudgingly, to portray themselves as the guarantors of peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, rather than a key players in, and sponsors of, the conflict during the previous three-and-a-half years.
  6. ^ (SP 1995, p. 429)
  7. ^ Canadian Peace Research and Education Association (2001). Perspectives on human security: national sovereignty and humanitarian intervention. CPREA. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-9688083-0-6. Retrieved 15 August 2013. Demonization of Milosevic and the Serbs In its propaganda campaign to justify its attacks on Yugoslavia, NATO presented the Kosovo crisis as a war between the humanitarian forces of NATO and the devilish forces of Yugoslavia led by the Hitler-like Milošević.
  8. ^ Edward S. Herman (2003). Raju G. C. Thomas (ed.). Yugoslavia unraveled: sovereignty, self-determination, intervention. Lexington Books. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-7391-0517-7. Retrieved 27 August 2013. The wars were a "catastrophe that Slobodan Milosevic unleashed" (Tim Judah, The Times [London], June 29, 2001). This is comic book history, that follows the standard demonization process, and is refuted by every serious historian dealing with the area (Susan Woodward, Robert Hayden, David Chandler, Lenard Cohen, Raymond Kent, Steven L. Burg and Paul S. Shoup).
  9. ^ John Feffer (2009). "Why Yugoslavia Still Matters". Washington DC, USA: Institute for Policy Studies. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  10. ^ Smith, Karen E. (7 October 2010). Genocide and the Europeans. Cambridge University Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-139-49182-2.
  11. ^ Howard F. Didsbury (1 January 2003). 21st Century Opportunities and Challenges: An Age of Destruction Or an Age of Transformation. World Future Society. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-930242-58-9. Retrieved 15 August 2013. The media in Europe and the United States demonized Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbs, labeling Milosevic as another Hitler... The NATO countries and Serbs demonized each other...
  12. ^ Waters, Timothy William (2015). The Milosevic Trial: An Autopsy. Oxford University Press. p. 356. ISBN 978-0-19-027078-0. Did the Milošević trial leave the public with a truthful image of Slobodan Milošević, the Yugoslav wars, and his role in them? The Prosecution portrayed Milošević as the man most responsible for the atrocities.


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