Yugoslavia Table of Contents
The writers' associations of several republics developed large followings in the 1980s. The Serbian and Slovenian associations exchanged polemics from opposite sides of the Kosovo issue, echoing the positions of their respective republics. The national Writers' Association of Yugoslavia held only two congresses between 1965 and 1985 because of regional squabbles within the umbrella organization. However, in the late 1980s the Slovenian and Serbian associations expressed similar positions on issues such as diversification of political parties, the danger of dictatorship, and human rights. In 1982 the Serbian Writers' Association, which was especially well organized and influential, formed the Committee for the Protection of Artistic Freedom in response to the political trial of poet Gojko Djogo. In 1986 the Committee for the Protection of Humanity and the Environment was formed under the auspices of the Serbian association, and it was given legal status by the government. The writers' groups used forums such as press conferences and open letters to express harsh criticism of Yugoslav political life. The 1984 trial of the Belgrade Six caused Dobrica Cosic to form the Committee for the Defense of Freedom of Thought and Expression. This group of highly respected intellectuals issued petitions for drastic political change, and, despite being officially illegal, it was able to meet openly because of the stature of its members.
Generally speaking, Serbia produced the most vigorous and varied intellectual dissent of the 1970s and 1980s. Most Serbian intellectuals supported the 1989 amendments to the Serbian constitution, but at the same time many backed Cosic's demands for democratization of the Serbian system once the two provinces were "reunited" with Serbia. In 1989 the Serbian Writers' Association issued a public appeal that included the following points: abolition of the single-party system and of the LCY's power monopoly; full respect for human rights; equal rights for all citizens before the law; equal rights to vote and be elected to office, irrespective of political affiliation; an independent judiciary; and freedom of the press. In the same year, the Serbian group began criticizing the nationalist position of Slobodan Milosevic, and some factions discussed transforming the association into a political party.
Data as of December 1990