Lazar Koliševski

Lazar Koliševski
Лазар Колишевски
2nd President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia
In office
4 May 1980  15 May 1980
Prime Minister Veselin Đuranović
Preceded by Josip Broz Tito
Succeeded by Cvijetin Mijatović
6th President of the People's Assembly of PR Macedonia
In office
19 December 1953  26 June 1962
Prime Minister Ljupco Arsov
Aleksandar Grlickov
Preceded by Dimce Stojanov
Succeeded by Ljupco Arsov
1st President of the Executive Council of PR Macedonia
In office
16 April 1945  19 December 1953
President Metodija Andonov - Čento
Dimitar Vlahov
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Ljupčo Arsov
1st Chairman of the League of Communists of Macedonia
In office
1945  July 1963
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Krste Crvenkovski
Personal details
Born (1914-02-12)12 February 1914
Sveti Nikole, Kingdom of Serbia
Died 6 July 2000(2000-07-06) (aged 86)
Skopje, Macedonia
Nationality Macedonian
Political party League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ)
Awards Order of the National Hero of Yugoslavia
Military service
Allegiance Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Service/branch Ground Forces (KoV)
Years of service 1941–1980
Rank Major General
Commands Yugoslav Partisans
Yugoslav People's Army
Battles/wars World War II

Lazar Koliševski (Macedonian: Лазар Колишевски [ˈlazar kɔˈliʃɛfski];(12 February 1914 – 6 July 2000) was a communist political leader in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia and briefly the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He was closely allied with Tito.

Early years

Lazar was born in Sveti Nikole, Kingdom of Serbia in 1914. His family were poor farmers. Koliševski's mother was Aromanian and his father was Slav Macedonian. Both died during the First World War. Once left an orphan, he was taken by his maternal Aromanian aunts in Bitola and later was sent to a technical school in Kragujevac, Serbia. Here, Lazar began to follow politics and learn about communism. During the 1930s he became an prominent activist of the Yugoslav Communist Party.[1]


World War II

As Nazi forces entered Belgrade in April 1941, Bulgaria, the German ally in the war, took control of a part of Vardar Macedonia, with the western towns of Tetovo, Gostivar and Debar going to Italian zone in Albania. 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 to Bulgarian Tsar,[2] where he claimed to be "[...]a son of Bulgarian parents who [has always] felt and feels himself Bulgarian, and despite the dreadful slavery has preserved his Bulgarian lifestyle, language and mors "[3] and had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.[4]

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 Yugoslavia (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

Monument in Koliševski's hometown Sveti Nikole

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.

See also


  1. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 0810862956, p. 117.
  2. Contested Ethnic Identity: The Case of Macedonian Immigrants in Toronto, 1900-1996, Author Chris Kostov, Publisher Peter Lang, 2010, ISBN 3034301960, p. 13.
  3. Молба за милостъ от Лазаръ Паневъ Колишевъ, затворникъ при Скопския областен сѫдъ, осѫденъ на СМЪРТЪ отъ Битолския военно-полеви сѫдъ по наказ. дѣло 133/941. по закона за защита на държавата
  4. УТРИНСКИ ВЕСНИК, Број 1475 понеделник, 16 октомври 2006.
Political offices
Preceded by
Josip Broz Tito
as President of SFR Yugoslavia
President of the Presidency of SFR Yugoslavia
4 May 1980 - 15 May 1980
Succeeded by
Cvijetin Mijatović
Preceded by
Dimce Stojanov
President of the People's Assembly of PR Macedonia
4 May 1980 – 15 May 1980
Succeeded by
Ljupčo Arsov
Preceded by
New title
President of the Executive Council of PR Macedonia
16 April 1945 – 19 December 1953
Succeeded by
Ljupčo Arsov
Party political offices
Preceded by
New title
Chairman of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Macedonia
1945 - July 1963
Succeeded by
Krste Crvenkovski
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