Elected president of Serbia in December 1997, Milan Milutinovic, like his mentor Slobodan Milosevic, hailed from the Serbian Socialist Party. A member of the former Yugoslavia’s Supreme Defence Council during the 1999 conflict with Kosovo, Milutinovic was accused of taking part in crimes carried out by Serb forces.
As Serbian president, Milutinovic had broad powers, but was often considered a figurehead and straw man of the then president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic.
A law graduate and former ambassador, Milutinovic was Yugoslavia’s foreign minister and a leading figure during Bosnian peace talks at Dayton in 1995. By 1999, he was at the table again, participating in the Rambouillet negotiations – a vain attempt to get Belgrade to grant Kosovo more autonomy.
Fighting between Serb forces and Kosovo independence fighters threatened to engulf the whole Balkan region. Despite that, with no peace deal forthcoming, some 800,000 Kosovo-Albanians and other non-Serbs were forced to flee the conflict zone. The images were reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing witnessed in Bosnia and Croatia.
In May 1999, as the conflict raged on, Milutinovic would be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Despite that, he served out his presidential term until the end of 2002. By January 2003, however, Milutinovic had turned himself in to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Milan Milutinovic: Profile