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FOLLOWING IN TITO'S FOOTSTEPS?



Joska Broz fiercely defends his grandfather's legacy and hopes a younger generation will take up the mantle.

Josip-Joska Broz warmly remembers his grandfather, former communist dictator Josip Broz Tito, and proudly tells stories of his achievements, the time they spent together in Dedinje and the advice Tito gave him.

With those memories at the front of his mind, Broz has taken up politics, and has united four leftist parties to form the Communist Party. He relies upon Yugonostalgia and Tito's resurgent popularity to draw support.

Broz sat down with SETimes correspondent Sasa Ilic to discuss his party's mission and his famous -- some say infamous -- grandfather.

SETimes: Tolstoy's grandson once said, "If you're already a Tolstoy, there's no need for you to become a writer." What is a Broz doing in politics?


                              

                                Joska Broz fiercely defends his grandfather's legacy and
                                 hopes a younger generation will take up the mantle.

Josip-Joska Broz: Someone has to continue spreading his ideas and discard all the lies that were told through all these years about communists. This is one of our obligations.

There have been previous attempts to unite all the communist parties from all over Serbia. Two years ago, they organised a congress, eight parties signed the agreement, but nothing came out of that. After a few proposals from the new members of our party, I have decided to do this. I'm doing this for the young people, not for myself. My goal is to bring the young into it and then slowly retire in 4 to 5 years.

SETimes: How do you remember your grandfather?

Broz: I remember him for all the positive things. If I tell you that my sister Zlatica, my Uncle Misa and I grew up in his house and that he never hit anyone, not even a flick, it speaks volumes on what kind of man he was. He resolved everything in a peaceful way. He rarely got angry, not only privately, but in politics as well. Now they are skewing the truth, but he believed that normal communication with people was enough.

SETimes: Do you remember any of his advice?

Broz: The ultimate advice was to live by your work and honesty. We were all raised in that manner and this is how we live even today. We all have jobs, we don't have any security, bodyguards or drivers.

SETimes: How did you live while he was alive?

Broz: Exactly the same, normal, as any other kids. We went to school and downtown by public transport. We never hung out with other high officials' children, we had our own friends we went to school with.

SETimes: Back then, did your family want to, or need to, stay out of the public eye?

Broz: Actually, no. At that time, the public did not know or care who the children or wives of the high state officials were. They never mentioned names of the kids or family members.

SETimes: The Milosevic family did everything they could to destroy Tito's cult of personality. How did you survive that period?

Broz: Let me just clarify one thing, Milosevic did not work on destroying Tito's cult of personality, he just had a silent agreement with the opposition to keep quiet while he slowly desecrated Tito's figure and everything he achieved. Milosevic hoped that, over 30 years, a lie spoken a thousand times would become truth.

However, their plans did not come to fruition. The only thing that Milosevic succeeded in was to disband the League of Communists of Yugoslavia.

SETimes: Today, your grandfather is more popular than ten years ago. How do you explain this?

Broz: Yes, he's gaining more and more popularity. I think that the people, not only here but in other former Yugoslav republics as well, have finally realized they used to live much better back in Tito's time. They had everything and could provide everything to their children. We had free education, healthcare, one of the safest countries in the world -- everything a common man could possibly wish for.

Now they are trying to distort the truth, they say no one was working back then, that people were living off this and that. However, one thing is for sure: at that time, Yugoslavia used to produce around 100 aeroplanes, 500 train cars, 100 tanks per year.

In those days, there were no robots to replace ten workers. People were really working and doing something. After all, who built this country and all the bridges and factories?

The politicians today have done nothing. They are opening one section of highway after another and act as if they've paid for it from their own pockets, as if the people did not participate in any way.

They are doing exclusively to score political points. The people are not buying it any more. Let's not forget that in the last two years ten times fewer people were employed than made redundant.

SETimes: Tell us something more about your political party.

Broz: The current politicians are more "leftish" than the communists were in those days. They are doing all the things that they've criticised the communists for. For example, they say that [in the old days] no one could become a director of a company unless he was the member of the Communist Party. Today, you cannot even become a cleaning lady if you're not a member of the leading political party.

If 70% of a country's young people state they would like to live and work abroad, the leadership of that country should seriously ask themselves why.

The young are our future. We are trying to create conditions where membership in a political party will no longer be relevant to get employment and that the only criteria should be one's educational degree and knowledge.

Since all the major political parties are in the hands of tycoons or security agencies, we believe it's about time for one truly independent power to show up on the political scene. That's why we refused a few very tempting sponsorship deals and I sold my house in Dedinje to support the party.

SETimes: Will your grandfather's popularity be enough to gain entrance to the parliaments of all the former Yugoslav republics? Aren't you afraid that some people will expect much more from you because of Tito's great popularity?

Broz: I'm not afraid. Depending on the support we get, we will do our best to fulfil what we've talked about. In our public appearances, we are not criticising individuals, but the anomalies in the society. We should let our people know who's behind all that. Once we enter the parliament, our plan and programme is to protect the economy.

By Sasa Ilic  Belgrade -- 20/09/10
Photos by Nikola Barbutov
SETimes.com.



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