SANU Memorandum

The Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (often referred to as the SANU Memorandum) was a draft document produced by a 16-member committee of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts from 1985 to 1986. Excerpts of the draft were published by Večernje novosti in September 1986.[1]

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 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, such as Laura Silber and Allan Little, joint authors of Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, consider it a key moment in the breakup of Yugoslavia and a contributor to the Yugoslav wars.[3]



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".[5] 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, and used the status of Serbs in the province of Kosovo and in Croatia 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 what was perceived by Serb nationalists as Serb territory, namely present day Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Croatia with Serb majority populations.[6]

The memo argued that Tito had further reduced the status of the Republic of Serbia by including within its borders as autonomous provinces two territories which had never legally belonged to the modern Serbian state, Kosovo and Vojvodina,[7] something which was not done in any of 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 document as a whole is often wrongly ascribed to Dobrica Ćosić, who shared its inspiration and took part in discussions about it but was not on the committee that produced it.


The memo was denounced by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, including future president of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, who publicly called the memo "nothing else but the darkest nationalism", and future president of the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radovan Karadžić, who stated "Bolshevism is bad, but nationalism is even worse".[8] 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 the first President of the new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992.[9]

Memorandum points

See also



  • The Serbian Academy After A Century: An Institution at Risk?, edited by Sofija Skorić and George Vid Tomashevich (published by The Serbian Heritage Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) - explains how in 1986 the unfinished, unedited and unapproved draft of this incipient document was illegally removed from the Academy and published without authorization.

External links

  • An English translation of the memorandum - at a Kosovo Albanian site
  • SANU Memorandum - Answers to criticisms, Kosta Mihailovic, Vasilije Krestic, 1995 (English)
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