SANU Memorandum

SANU Memorandum
Original title Memorandum
Created May 1985–September 1986
Presented 1986 (leaked)
Location Belgrade, Serbia
Commissioned by Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Author(s) 16-member commission
Media type Typewritten document
Purpose memorandum

The Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, known simply as the SANU Memorandum[1] (Serbian Cyrillic: Меморандум САНУ), was a draft document produced by a 16-member committee of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) from 1985 to 1986. Excerpts of the draft were leaked, published by daily Večernje novosti in September 1986.

The memo immediately captured the public's attention in Yugoslavia as it gave voice to controversial views on the state of the nation and argued for a fundamental reorganization of the state.[2] The main theme was decentralisation leading to the disintegration of Yugoslavia and that the Serbs were discriminated against by Yugoslavia's constitutional structure.[3] It claimed that Serbia's development was eroded by support to other parts of Yugoslavia. It was officially denounced in 1986 by the government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the government of the Socialist Republic of Serbia for inciting nationalism.[4] Some consider its publication to be a key moment in the breakup of Yugoslavia[5] and a contributor to the Yugoslav wars.[3]


In May 1985, after Stambolić urged the government to discuss Kosovo for the first time since 1981,[6] SANU selected a committee of sixteen distinguished academics to draft a memorandum addressing causes for the economic- and political crisis and how to tackle the problems.[7] It was planned to be endorsed by the academy prior to being presented to the Communist Party and state organs.[7] The last draft, however, was leaked to a regime tabloid,[7] the Serbian newspaper Večernje novosti in September 1986.[2] The newspaper attacked it, describing it as reactionary and nationalist, but did not publish it.[7] An official campaign by the Serbian state and party officials began against it.[7]

The memo is divided into two parts: one on the "Crisis in the Yugoslav Economy and Society", the other on the "Status of Serbia and the Serb Nation".[8] The first section focuses on the economic and political fragmentation of Yugoslavia that followed the promulgation of the 1974 constitution. The second section focuses on what the authors saw as Serbia's inferior status in Yugoslavia, while describing status of Serbs in the province of Kosovo and in Croatia in such a way to make its point.

The memo claimed that at the end of World War II, Josip Broz Tito deliberately weakened Serbia by dividing up the majority of Serbian territory, namely present day Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Croatia with Serb majority populations.

The memo argued that Tito further weakened the Socialist Republic of Serbia by dividing its territory and creating the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, which was not reciprocated in the other Yugoslav republics.

Kosta Mihailović made contributions on the economy, Mihailo Marković on self-management, and Vasilije Krestić on the status of the Serbs of Croatia.


The memo was denounced by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, including Slobodan Milošević, the future president of Serbia, who publicly called the memo "nothing else but the darkest nationalism", and Radovan Karadžić, the future leader of Serbs in Bosnia, who stated "Bolshevism is bad, but nationalism is even worse".[9] Despite these declarations, Milošević, Karadžić, and other Serb politicians publicly agreed with most of the memo and would form close political connections with the writers of the memo such as Mihailo Marković, who became the vice-president of the Socialist Party of Serbia and Dobrica Ćosić who was appointed president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992.[4]

Memorandum points


The commission consisted of 16 Serb intellectuals:[10]

See also



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