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Ante Markovic, ethnic Croat statesman who tried to prevent the bloody break-up of the Yugoslav federation, has died at the age of 87.
Markovic died suddenly in his apartment in Zagreb on early Monday, media reports said. His business partner, Dzevad Haznadar, said he had died after catching a “minor cold”.
Markovic was born in 1924 in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was eductated in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, Croatia.
He joined the Communist Party in his youth and took part in the Communist-led fight that Josip Broz Tito's Partisan army waged against the German occupying forces in World War 2.
His political career took off in 1982 when he became head of the Executive Council of the Croatian Assembly and he was twice elected to head the Presidency of the then Socialist Republic of Croatia.
In 1986 he became a member of the Central Committee of the ruling League of Communists of Yugoslavia, SKJ, and in 1989 he was appointed President of the Federal Government, SIV, that, is, Prime Minister of Yugoslavia.
His popularity peaked after he introduced economic reforms that stabilised rampant inflation and included privatisation of state-owned companies.
As the national currency, the dinar, regained stability the standard of living in the country also rose. To many, the name of Ante Markovic brings back memories of the last good days of the former Yugoslavia.
However, his reform programme clashed with the rising power of the Serb nationalist government of Slobodan Milosevic, which used its control of the TV and media in Serbia to attack him relentlessly. It was weakened also by growing separatist movements in Slovenia and Croatia.
After unsuccessful attempts to find a compromise between the two sides, Markovic was forced to step down in late 1991.
Donors spent hundreds of thousands of euro building a new museum in Gjirokastra - but the results were questionable and it ultimately closed over an ideological dispute.