Cablegate: Serbia: Government Announces New Ambassadors Sans Agrement


DE RUEHBW #1268/01 3451435
R 101435Z DEC 08 ZDK



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) At its weekly session on November 20, the Serbian
government (GOS) endorsed the appointment of seven new ambassadors,
even though we later learned from MFA contacts that the government
had not yet requested agrement for the ambassadors-designate. This
lapse of diplomatic protocol may come back to bite the GOS. The
appointments generated significant press coverage due to the public
profile of two of the appointees, former Politika daily
editor-in-chief Ljiljana Smajlovic and former Serbian Ambassador to
Washington Milan St. Protic, and it would be embarrassing for the
government if agrement is not secured. End Summary.

Courtesy Bios

2. (U) As a courtesy, we would like to provide our colleagues in
Bern, Bucharest, Ottawa, Paris, and Warsaw with the following brief
biographies for the ambassadors-designate. Biographic information
for the additional two appointees, Ivo Viskovic to Berlin and
Stanislav Stakic to Rabat, is not yet available and will be
forwarded septel.


Ljiljana Smajlovic
Ambassador of Serbia to Canada

Ljiljana Smajlovic was born in 1956 in Sarajevo. After graduating
from the University of Sarajevo Faculty of Political Science,
Smajlovic received scholarships to study in Cleveland, Ohio and then
in Algeria. She visited the United States on the International
Visitors Program in the late 1980's.

In the early 1990s, Smajlovic worked for the Sarajevo daily
Oslobodjenje as a reporter from the Vukovar front before moving to
Belgrade in 1992.

From 1992-1994, Smajlovic worked for the weekly magazine Vreme. In
1994, she received a fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars and spent a year in the U.S. as a
journalist for the weekly newsmagazine Vreme.

From 1998-1999, Smajlovic worked for Evropljanin magazine. She left
Evropljanin following the murder of its editor-in-chief Slavko
Curuvija in April 1999 and started writing for the weekly
newsmagazine NIN, first as a Hague Tribunal commentator and later as
a weekly columnist.

During the early 2000s, Smajlovic worked as Media Advisor for the
USAID-funded International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX)
ProMedia Serbia media project.

From October 2005 until October 2008, Smajlovic served as the first
female editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Politika.

She was appointed Ambassador of Serbia to Canada on November 20,

Smajlovic is considered very close to former Prime Minister Vojislav
Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).

She speaks English and French and has one son.


Dusan Batakovic
Ambassador of Serbia to France

Dusan Batakovic was born in Belgrade in 1957. He graduated from the
Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Belgrade, gaining
bachelor's and master's degrees in history. Batakovic received his
PhD in history from the University of Paris - Sorbonne, Paris IV
(magna cum laude).

From April 2001 to 2005, Batakovic served as Ambassador of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (later Serbia and Montenegro) to the
Hellenic Republic.

In July 2005, he was appointed an advisor to Serbian President Boris
In November 2005, Batakovic represented Tadic's cabinet as a member
of the Serbian negotiation team for the future status of Kosovo in

From 2005-2007, he served as Director of the Institute for Balkan
Studies of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In July 2007, Batakovic was appointed Serbian Ambassador to Canada.

In November 2008, he was appointed Serbian Ambassador to France.

Batakovic is the author of historical monographs on Serbia,
Yugoslavia, and the Balkans and a number of studies and articles. He
was one of the leaders of the protests organized against the regime
of the former President Slobodan Milosevic in the late 1990s.

Batakovic has taught methodology of history and contemporary
European and American history at Belgrade University since 1998.


Radojko Bogojevic
Ambassador of Serbia to Poland
Radojko Bogojevic was born in 1948 in Belgrade. He graduated from
the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Political Science.
In 1973, Bogojevic joined the Federal Secretariat for Foreign
Affairs (FSFA). From 1976 - 1980, he served as Second Secretary at
the Yugoslav Embassy in Guyana and from 1980-1983 he worked for the
North American Department of the FSFA.
In 1983, he was appointed First Secretary in the Yugoslav Embassy in
Finland. He then served as First Counselor for the FSFA
International Organizations Department from 1987-1989.
From 1989-1992, Bogojevic headed the UK, Ireland and Nordic States
Group, West European Department at the FSFA.
From 1992-1998, Bogojevic served as Charge d'affairs in the Yugoslav
Embassy in London before receiving an appointment as Director of the
Department for the Americas from 1998-2000.
In 2000, he was appointed Director of the Department for Europe and
in January 2001, was appointed an assistant to the Foreign
In 2002, he was named Ambassador to Egypt where he served until 2005
when he became Serbian Ambassador to Sudan.
In 2006, Bogojevic became a State Secretary in the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs.
On November 20, 2008, he was appointed Ambassador to Poland.
He speaks English and French. He is married and has two children.

Zoran S. Popovic
Ambassador of Serbia to Romania
Zoran S. Popovic was born in 1949 in Vrsac, Serbia. He graduated
from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philology. As a student,
he spent some time in Moscow.
From 1970-1974, Popovic worked as a journalist at the Tanjug news
agency as an international affairs desk officer. He was promoted to
international correspondent in 1974 and worked in Cyprus until 1978.

From 1978- 1985, Popovic served as Editor-in-Chief at the "Titograd"
radio and TV station. (Titograd is the former name of Podgorica, the
capital city of Montenegro.)
From 1985-1987, Popovic worked as Director and Editor-in-Chief of
the Montenegrin daily newspaper Pobjeda.
From 1987-1991, he served as Ambassador to Jordan. In 1995, Popovic
was appointed Serbia's Ambassador to Syria, where he served until
Popovic held ambassadorial-level positions with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in Belgrade from 1991-1995 and from 1999-2000.
In 2000, Popovic worked for the Belgrade Media Center as a
coordinator for the transition of media.
He was appointed Ambassador to Turkey in 2001 where he served until
In November 2008, he was appointed Ambassador to Romania.
Popovic speaks Arabic, English, and Russian. He is married and has
two children.

Milan St. Protic
Ambassador of Serbia to Switzerland

Milan St. Protic (pronounced "suh-tuh pro-tich") was born in 1957 in
Belgrade. He graduated from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of
Law in 1980. He continued his studies at the University of
California, Santa Barbara, where he gained his Masters (1982) and
PhD (1987).

After returning to Yugoslavia, Protic worked as a Research Fellow at
the Institute for Balkan Studies. He also served as a visiting
professor at UC Santa Barbara.

In 1992, St. Protic became active in the movement against the regime
of Slobodan Milosevic. He became one of the leading figures of the
opposition and a member of its leadership.

In 2000, following the fall of the Milosevic regime, St. Protic was
elected Mayor of Belgrade.

In 2001, St. Protic was appointed Ambassador to the United States,
but he was recalled six months later after criticizing President
Vojislav Kostunica and Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and
allegedly failing to respect the rules of diplomatic conduct.

On November 20, 2008, St. Protic was appointed Serbian Ambassador to

St. Protic comes from a very prominent Serbian family. His
grandfather was a Serbian statesman and the first Prime Minister of
Yugoslavia (1918-1920), who also worked as a head of the Yugoslav
Central Bank (1931-1939).

He is married and has three daughters.


3. (SBU) The failure to seek agrement before announcing these
ambassadorial appointments unfortunately is symbolic of a broader
lack of professionalism in the MFA. In a recent interview, former
Serbian Ambassador to the Vatican and Turkey Darko Tanaskovic spoke
about the increasing number of diplomatic gaffes caused by Serbian
diplomats' inexperience and ignorance and advocated for a personnel
system that would value merit over party or political affiliation.
Introducing such a system would begin to address the endemic
deficiencies that afflict the Serbian diplomatic corps and perhaps
prevent debacles such as the role played by Serbian Consulate staff
in New York in helping fugitive Miladin Kovacevic flee to Serbia.
End Comment.


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