Josip Vrhovec

Josip Vrhovec
3rd Member of the Presidency of Yugoslavia for SR Croatia
In office
15 May 1984  15 May 1989
Preceded by Mika Špiljak
Succeeded by Stipe Šuvar
Yugoslav Federal Secretary for Foreign Affairs
In office
17 May 1978  17 May 1982
Prime Minister Veselin Đuranović
Preceded by Miloš Minić
Succeeded by Lazar Mojsov
9th President of the League of Communists of Croatia
In office
1 July 1983  15 May 1984
Preceded by Jure Bilić
Succeeded by Mika Špiljak
Personal details
Born (1926-02-09)9 February 1926
Zagreb, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Died 14 February 2006(2006-02-14) (aged 80)
Zagreb, Croatia
Political party League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ)
Alma mater University of Zagreb
(Faculty of Economics)

Josip Vrhovec (9 February 1926 – 14 February 2006) was a Croatian / Yugoslav communist politician, best known for serving as Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1978 and 1982 and the Chairman of the League of Communists of Croatia (SKH, the Croatian branch of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia) from July 1982 to May 1984.


Born in Zagreb on 9 February 1926, Vrhovec first became politically engaged during World War II, during which he became a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Partisans (1941–1945).[1] After the war, Vrhovec enrolled at the University of Zagreb and graduated from the Faculty of Economics.

Upon graduation, Vrhovec started working at the Zagreb-based daily Vjesnik, where he soon became editor of the newspaper's Wednesday edition (Croatian: Vjesnik u srijedu), which was at the time the company's most popular edition (he had two stints in the position, 1956–1957 and 1959–1963). He also spent several years working as Vjesnik's correspondent from the United Kingdom (1957–1959) and the United States (1963–1967). Upon returning to Zagreb in 1968 he was appointed chief editor at Vjesnik, position he held until 1970 when he was replaced by Milovan Baletić.

In the late 1960s Vrhovec became more seriously involved in politics and quickly rose to high-ranking positions in the Party following the downfall of the Croatian Spring movement in the early 1970s, as a protégé of Vladimir Bakarić's faction within the League of Communists of Croatia (SKH).[2] Between 1972 and 1974 he was a member of the SKH Central Committee and from 1974 to 1978 served as member of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ).[2] As a member of the Central Committee he submitted a proposal to Milka Planinc to arrest and charge members of the Croatian Spring, including Franjo Tuđman, Marko Veselica, Dražen Budiša, Šime Đodan, Vlado Gotovac, and Hrvoje Šošić.[3]

His next office was the highest point of his political career as he served as Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs from May 1978 to May 1982 under Prime Minister Veselin Đuranović and during the last two years of Josip Broz Tito's reign before his death in 1980.[2] As minister of foreign affairs, Vrhovec spent the first two years of his term accompanying Tito during his travels abroad. Following Tito's death Vrhovec was in charge of shaping Yugoslavia's foreign policy, in which he promoted the idea of improving relations with the West and opening up the country to foreign investments. He reportedly talked with Ronald Reagan several times in the early 1980s about the possibility of introducing multi-party democracy and market economy reforms in Yugoslavia.[2] Despite this, the economic reform commission chaired by Vrhovec from 1985 to 1986 made little mention of democratization.[4]

After serving a full four-year term, Vrhovec was appointed to the post of chairman of the League of Communists of Croatia, and from May 1984 to May 1989 he represented SR Croatia in the 9-member Presidency of Yugoslavia, a collective body functioning as head of state. In the latter half of the 1980s Vrhovec was one of the first Yugoslav politicians who were openly opposed to Slobodan Milošević's nationalist policies, at the time when Milošević's rise to power began. He was also one of the key people involved in the organisation of the 1987 Summer Universiade, the biggest sporting event hosted by Zagreb.[2]

After his term ended, Vrhovec effectively retired from politics.[1] Vrhovec died at the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Zagreb on 15 February 2006 and was buried at Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb on 21 February 2006.


  1. 1 2 Krušelj, Željko (16 February 2006). "Umro Josip Vrhovec". Vjesnik (in Croatian). Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Buljan, Ivica (15 February 2006). "Umro Josip Vrhovec, posljednji Titov ministar vanjskih poslova". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). Europapress Holding. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  3. "Umrla Milka Planinc, bivša premijerka Jugoslavije". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 7 October 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  4. Crnobrnja, Mihailo (1996). "The Yugoslav Drama". McGill-Queen's Press. p. 87.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Miloš Minić
Yugoslav Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Lazar Mojsov
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jure Bilić
0President of the Presidency of the Central Committee of the
League of Communists of Croatia

Succeeded by
Mika Špiljak
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