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Lazar Koliševski ( ; ; born: Лазар Панев Колишев, Lazar Panev Kolišev) (12 February 1914 – 6 July 2000) was a Communist political leader in Socialist Republic of Macedonia and briefly the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker closely allied with Tito.

Early years

Lazar was born in Sveti Nikolemarker in 1914. His family were poor farmers. At a young age Lazar began to follow politics and learn the ways of Communism. He supported a Macedonia as a part of a Balkan Confederacy but not under the Serbianmarker kingdom.

Career

World War II

As Nazi forces entered Belgrademarker in April 1941, Bulgariamarker, the German ally in the war, took control of a part of Vardar Macedonia, with the western towns of Tetovomarker, Gostivarmarker and Debarmarker going to Italian zone in Albaniamarker. Lazar, now 27, joined up with the Yugoslav Partisans in the struggle against Bulgaria and its local adherents. After the Bulgarians had taken control of the eastern part of the former Vardar Banovina, the leader of the local faction of Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Metodi Shatorov had defected to the Bulgarian Communist Party and seriously weakened the Partisans. Vardar Macedonia soon became a field of competition between different small Yugoslav Partisan detachments. Later in fall of 1941 Koliševski became the Secretary of the local Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party. In late 1941 he was arrested and sentenced to death by a Bulgarian military court. He wrote an appeal for clemency and had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

In late 1944, Koliševski was freed by the new Bulgarian government, and soon became the Chairman of the Communist Party of Macedonia (an local division of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia). Near the end of the war Koliševski became the Prime Minister of the Federal State of Macedonia, a federal unit of the Democratic Federal Yugoslaviamarker (DFY). It was essentially the highest office in the Federal State of Macedonia.

For his efforts in the war, Koliševski was one of the many Macedonians who were awarded with the People's Hero of Yugoslavia medal.

Macedonia & Yugoslavia

After World War II, Koliševski became the most powerful person in PR Macedonia and among the most powerful people in all of Yugoslavia. He began massive economic and social reforms. Koliševski finally brought the industrial revolution to Macedonia. By 1955, the capital city of Skopje had become one of the fastest growing cities in the region and became the third-largest city in Yugoslavia. Thanks to Koliševski's reforms, the small Republic that in 1945 was the poorest area of Yugoslavia now had the fastest growing economy. After the second Five Year Economic Plan, PR Macedonia's economy advanced rapidly.

On 19 December 1953, Koliševski retired as the Prime Minister of PR Macedonia and assumed the office of President of the People's Assembly. He became the PR Macedonian head of state, but wielded less direct political power. However, he remained the Chairman of the League of Communists of Macedonia, the Macedonian division of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, which were the new names of the communist parties in Yugoslavia. He was still the most powerful person in the Republic because of his influence in the Yugoslav Communist Party. With his slow removal from politics in Macedonia he began traveling to other nations as a Yugoslav Diplomat. He made many major trips in the late 1950s and early 1960s to nations like Egypt, India, Indonesia and other nations that would later help form the Non-Aligned Nations. These diplomatic travels showed that Koliševski was very trusted by the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. Even after Tito had fall outs with some of his most trusted allies, Koliševski still remained.

After the Yugoslav Constitution of 1974 was passed, Koliševski grew much more influential in the Yugoslav political world. The new constitution called for a rotating Yugoslav Vice-Presidency. Koliševski was picked from the Macedonian leadership to be the Macedonian representative to the Presidency. On 15 May 1979 Koliševski was voted by the other Presidency members to become President of the Presidency and Vice President of Yugoslavia. On New Years Day 1980 President Tito fell ill, leaving Koliševski in the role of acting leader in his absence. Tito died five months later, on 4 May 1980. Koliševski held the office of acting head of the presidency of Yugoslavia for another ten days, before the office passed on to Cvijetin Mijatović.

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