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Vassar College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Balkans: Post-Conflict Transformation in Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia


Zoran Djindjic was the Prime Minister of Serbia and Montenegro from 2001 to 2003. Throughout the 1990’s, Djindjic was a leader in the Serbian opposition movement to President Slobodan Milosevic who advocated for major economic, social and political reforms in Serbia. In 2000, he helped engineer the removal of Milosevic from power. After two years in office and several attempts on his life, Zoran Djindjic was assassinated on March, 12th, 2003. Now, six years after his murder, Belgrade is in the process of constructing her memories of Zoran Djindjic. It is a special moment when, in the negotiation of a collective memory that will influence the identity of a society, memory becomes alive. This paper will explore that negotiation.

The paper begins by establishing a general biography of Zoran Djindjic, the political situation in Belgrade during the 1990’s under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, and definitions of memory and identity. After providing a context to understand the significance of Zoran Djindjic in modern Serbian history, I document and analyze memories of Zoran Djindjic. The qualitative research is restricted to an elite class of Serbian society: highly educated Belgrade residents who identify as Djindjic supporters and on the political spectrum of liberalism. Therefore, these individuals do not represent the whole of Serbian, or even Belgradian society.

In the interviews, people used Djindjic’s style of speech to describe him in their memories. Consistently, they remember Zoran Djindjic as an exceptional leader who embodied the values of hard work, personal responsibility, positive energy, and the ability to enact change. Their memories of Zoran Djindjic are connected to the mass demonstrations that ultimately removed Slobodan Milosevic from power on October 5th, 2009. Therefore, Djidnjic has already become a symbol of change/ the promise of change in the current manifestation of collective memories of this particular Belgrade community. Although these interviewees are aware of criticisms and compromises made by Djindjic during his political career, their memories focus instead of his vision of reformation and a modern, European, democratic Serbian society.


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