Our wiiw Senior Research Associate, dear colleague, mentor and friend, Vladimir Gligorov, passed away on Thursday 27 October 2022. His 77th birthday was just about a month ago. Not that he attached any importance to such events. He had no time for or interest in such secular issues as birthdays, holidays, or weekends. He was a true scientist. He worked every day, reading and writing on economics, politics, philosophy, history, or literature. Being a cinephile and loving his family was the closest he came to the everyday life of an average person. In a typical post-Yugoslav intellectual tradition, he liked to compare key scenes of movies with crucial issues in the sciences mentioned above. His oeuvre as a researcher is huge and the sheer number of book chapters, working papers, articles, comments, and blog contributions, let alone interviews in newspapers and online-portals in various fields, is probably uncountable. He also translated many books. It is no exaggeration to claim that it would be easier to enumerate things he hasn’t done than the opposite.
Vladimir was not only a scientist, but also a man of action – at least in his early years. He was involved in the “student revolt” of 1968 in Yugoslavia. In 1989 he was among the thirteen initial members of the Founding Committee who initiated the re-establishment of the Democratic Party of Serbia. Among them was also the later assassinated Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. He was also supportive of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party, he wrote parts of the manifesto of the social liberals in Croatia, and he campaigned for the Montenegrin Democratic Party. He believed that democratisation would have helped Yugoslavia to survive as a federal state and he saw it as his civic duty to support the democratic movements in the country.
Vladimir came from a politically active family. He recollected childhood visits at the Yugoslav President, Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s personal State Summer Residence on the Brioni islands. His father, Kiro Gligorov, was inter alia a member of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and the first President of the Republic of Macedonia in 1991. However, Vladimir was careful to forge his own identity and held views that were at times at odds with those of his father. Vladimir certainly was neither ideologically nor nationally very rigid. If anything, his nation was the world, and his ideology was rationality.
Between 1971 and 1972 he had a Fulbright Scholarship at Columbia University in New York. He completed his M.A. in economics at Belgrade University in 1973, while working as a Research Assistant for the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. From 1975 to 1979 he held the position of Assistant Professor at Belgrade University. Up until 1991 he was a freelancer as well as a Researcher at the Institute for Economic Sciences in Belgrade. However, nationalist euphoria in an autocratic regime made it necessary for him to emigrate. In 1991–1992 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University in Fairfax. Later on, in 1992–1994 he was a Visiting Scholar at the Department of East European Studies at Uppsala University. Finally, in 1994 he moved to Vienna. First as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) and then from 1995 onwards as an economist and, after his retirement, as a Senior Research Associate at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw).
At the wiiw, and beyond, he acted as a mentor for several generations of economists analysing Southeast Europe as well as global economic and political developments. Those, who had the privilege to work closely with him experienced the intellectual pleasure that talking to him for an hour or two could bring. He was able to connect the analysis of current political and economic developments with a profound knowledge of the history of economic and political thought and philosophical reflections, analogies from US and Soviet politics, popular culture, and all of it typically with a paradoxical twist, which is also quite in the tradition of intellectuals from Southeast Europe. A conclusive argument in an active debate was the aesthetic that he longed for. It is not at all a trivial platitude to say that he will live on in our thoughts, which he was so instrumental in shaping.
We join in the sorrow of his family, his wife, Ljubica, his children Nada and Vava, and his most beloved granddaughter Milica.
Mario Holzner is wiiw Executive Director.