Before its dramatic fall, Yugoslavia had a very complicated political system. There was no president but a collective presidential institution formed by eight persons, one from each federal republic or autonomous region. Every May 5th, one of them took a turn to be the head of that presidential institution, and represent the Federation before foreign powers.
When the Berlin Wall went down, Croatia and Slovenia wanted to join the current of freedom and organized in their republics free elections while other republics like Serbia, where they were under the power of Slobodan Milosevic, couldn’t make the same.
After the elections both in Croatia and Slovenia, the Communists almost disappeared. So the republics sent to the presidential institution of Yugoslavia representatives who, for the first time in the history of the Federation, were not communists.
In 1990 May 5th, it was the turn of Croatia to took the rotative presidency. So the person who would represent Yugoslavia in front of the world would not be a communist.
A month before, I went to Croatia to interview him. His name was Stjepan Mesić. He shows me some classified documents and explained to me that the circle of Milosevic was trying to block his access to the presidency and alter the regular rotation that had worked since the dictator Tito had died.
He told me that if he managed to block his nomination, it will mean the war and predicted exactly how all would start. And if the rotation happened peacefully, then it would be a chance of freedom in all de Republics of Yugoslavia without a tragedy like it was the Balkans War.
I returned to Spain with all this information and told my editor that it was powerful stuff, and the interview had to be published before May 5th. He didn’t believe me and postposed the publication. The war began to the surprise of the world, and my editor simply told me: you were right—my mistake. The interview saw the light later when everything that was predicted had happened. It was one of my worst professional frustrations.
It was also the beginning of painful years having my family there suffering the nightmare of a war. I returned several times to report about it. I lost several of my family members. That’s now in the past. Now my country, Croatia, is free. We have other problems to worry about. Life continues.
In the picture, me in Mostar (Bosnia) as a reporter during the war.