Franjo Tudjman


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(b. 14 May 1922, d. 10 Dec 1999).

Croatian President 1990–99 Born at Veliko Trgovisce, he became a conscript soldier in the army of the Fascist Independent State of Croatia in 1941. He escaped and joined Tito's partisan army in the fight against the Ustase movement. After World War II he became active in the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff, and in the 1950s became the country's youngest general. He studied history at Zagreb in 1961, and in 1963 was appointed professor there in order to work on the history of the Croatian labour movement. He became involved in the underground Croatian nationalist movement, for which he was expelled from party and office in 1967. He spent several years in prison for ‘counter‐revolutionary activities’ (1971, 1981–4).

 In 1989 Tudjman was a founding member of the Croatian Democratic Alliance. Its organization spread rapidly throughout Croatia, enabling the CDA to gain an absolute majority in the 1990 elections. He pushed for Croatia's rapid independence, through the passing of a new Constitution on 21 December 1990, and his country's exit from Yugoslavia on 26 June 1991. Tudjman united his country through ethnic nationalism which did not stop short of human rights violations against the Serb minorities in Croatia. At the same time, his control of the media and his harassment of the opposition stifled internal political debate, while the economy was stifled through the country's international isolation and the corruption inherent in the domestic economy. He died in office.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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