June 20, 1994 Vreme News Digest Agency No 143
The Kontic's List
by Seska Stanojlovic
Last week's diplomatic package was opened publically, probably in the wish to give importance to the first large promotion of (mainly internationally unrecognized) FR Yugoslavia's diplomatic corps. Premier Radoje Kontic read out the 11 names of the newly appointed heads of diplomatic missions. That caused much controversy despite the fact that there were no big surprises in the list.
The heightened public interest in diplomacy, especially its international representatives during this time of isolation, is quite understandable and reasonable.
FR Yugoslavia inherited over 90 diplomatic missions from the previous state including with most of the personnel in the embassies, consulates and culture centers dating back to times past.
Until recently, the federal government spent very little time and effort on its foreign representatives. Only three new heads of mission went abroad in the last three yearsRados Smiljkovic to Sofia, Ivan Mrkic to Cyprus and Aleksandar Prlja to Stockholm.
This spring Veljko Knezevic (an activist of the League of CommunistsMovement For Yugoslavia (SKPJ) became the head of the FRY bureau in Zagreb.
Suddenly late in May, the federal government awoke and in a single statement announced the ambitious ``revitalization'' of the diplomatic service. Stress was laid on efforts to ``open the door to a new penetration of our economy into the world.''
Now it seems the economic component of the revitalization got lost along the way.
The 11 new ambassadors include five Montenegrins (formally all have the same rank although they won't enjoy that status because of the sanctions). They are all career diplomats, headed by Montenegrin Foreign Minister Miodrag Lekic who is generally thought of as a diplomat in both manner and career. He was the former Yugoslavia's ambassador to Mozambique. The other four, former Consul General in New York Ljubomir Djukic who is going to Pyongyang, former Ambassador to Jordan Zoran Popovic to Damascus, David Dasic to Brazil and Gojko Dapcevic to Kiev, are all career diplomats who were appointed from jobs in the federal Foreign Ministry.
The Serbian appointees include only one professional diplomat, Dobrosav Veizovic while all the others are social, political, public, culture workers, all long time loyal aides to Serbian President Milosevic. They entered Serbia's political life through their association with him.
Danilo Z. Markovic is one of them. He was an anonymous sociology professor until just a year ago and is now Serbia's Education Minister. The same is true of Zivorad Igic who exchanged his journalist's career (Radio Pristina, Communist, Jedinstvo) for the more attractive one in politics which he crowned with the post of SPS Province Committee President for Kosmet and a federal deputy's seat in the Chamber of Citizens. His appointment to the embassy in Tirana was opposed last week by Pristina's Albanian language daily Bujku. Bujku said Igic was a ``direct exponent of Milosevic's policy in Kosovo'' and is not the most suitable person for the post. There could be problems waiting there.
The classified list of potential ambassadors filtered through important circles for months with many dropping off it (Milivoje Pavlovic, Zoran Bingulac). But NIN weekly Editor In Chief Djoko Stojcic fared better. Rumor had it that the poet, journalist will be the next Ambassador to Prague. The rumor was officially confirmed recently.
Kontic certainly faced problems from journalists when the list was announced. He tried hard to deny rumors that he was to go to Beijing saying at one point that he was ``not learning Chinese'' and ``didn't speak a word of Chinese.''
The strict rules of Yugoslavia's diplomacy do include proficency in at least two languages even for the candidates for the lower ranking posts.
Danilo Z. Markovic speaks only Russian while Igic speaks only Albanian
Besides Veizovic, who is a professional and speaks English, German and some other tongues, the only other new Ambassador who knows languages is Darko Tanaskovic, professor at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. He is known as an Islamic expert and has recently emerged as a cultural Ambassador at international gatherings. He is now set into pure diplomacy at one of the most sensitive posts in Ankara.
The federal PM was forced to defend Dobrosav Veizovic from insinuations that he is a Krajina appointee. He was appointed by Serbia where he was born, Kontic said. That is absolutely true. Veizovic came to the federal Foreign Ministry 30 years ago. He has four foreign mandates behind him (Cyprus, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden) and spent six months as minister for a set period in the Knin government two years ago.