Yugoslav Leader Urges ‘New Type of Socialism’
Premier-designate Ante Markovic on Saturday called for radical market-oriented reforms and a “completely new type of socialism” to overcome the country’s deep economic and social crisis.
“I consider the open-market economy to be an ultimate achievement of mankind for which no alternative has yet been found,” Markovic said, advocating closer links with “the most developed European countries.”
He also revealed that this Communist country, with inflation running more than 250% and stagnating economic growth, is again unable to repay foreign debts.
“The solution to our problems does not lie in cosmetic changes to the existing system,” Markovic said in his speech on state television.
“We should develop a completely new type of socialism in this country . . . with maximum democracy, freedom and political pluralism,” Markovic said in his first public address since he was designated premier on Jan. 19 by the state presidency.
Markovic said he accepted the premiership on the condition that he have a free hand in choosing his Cabinet. He said it will take at least five years to consolidate his reforms.
Markovic will succeed Branko Mikulic on March 1. Mikulic resigned with his entire Cabinet on Dec. 30. It was the first federal government to step down since the Communists took power after World War II.
Mikulic resigned following his failure to solve the country’s numerous social and economic problems, including a dramatic escalation of labor and ethnic unrest.
“All 23 million citizens of Yugoslavia should have a right to decide about (the future of) this country, " Markovic said in a clear reference to the Yugoslav Communist Party members who occupy all leading economic and political posts.
In May, 1987, Yugoslavia was unable to repay an installment of about $400 million of a short-term foreign loan. Without giving details, Markovic said Yugoslavia is now faced with a similar problem.
“Unless Yugoslavia is able to increase its foreign currency earnings to between $25 billion and $28 billion a year within the next five years . . . it will not be able to set aside 25% of that figure to repay its foreign debt” and simultaneously ensure that its economy continues to function normally, he disclosed.
At present, the country’s foreign currency earnings are about $11 billion annually. It has to devote about $7 billion annually to service and repay its $21-billion foreign debt.
Markovic said that joint ventures with foreign partners must have “absolute priority.”
He also called for an “urgent introduction of shares and bonds, private initiative and entrepreneurship in the Yugoslav economy.”