Mr. Boris Vukobrat Biography

Mr. Boris Vukobrat was born on March 5th 1940 in Zagreb.

He graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Foreign Trade. Mr. Vukobrat used to work as a journalist in the journal called Ekonomska politika (Economic Policy), but was dismissed as politically incorrect. At the end of 1965 he left to Paris with his wife. There he lived very modestly. While he was working as a Renault employee at the same time he was studying French language and culture at the Sorbonne, as well as economics at the High Polytechnics School of Foreign Trade in Paris. When he finished his education, Mr. Vukobrat started working in the Copechim Company where, as time passed by, he became the Head of the Company which turned out to be one of the leading world companies in the field of international petrochemical products trade.

In his business moves he gave special attention to trade relations among the former USSR republics and other East European states with France and the other West European states. For his merits in advancing economic relations between Russia and France he was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur medal in 1983, thus becoming the youngest foreigner – prizewinner of the highest French award for peace-time credits. He was declared as the benefactor of the French Academy (l’Academie française) which is an honor granted to only few people, no matter of the donation amount. Together with Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Mr. Giovanni Agnelli and the French Academy he became one of co-founders of the Francophone University – Université Senghor – in Alexandria, in 1990. In 1993, for the second time, he received the high recognition Officier de la Légion d’honneur from President Mitterrand’s personal fund, for his peace-making efforts through the Foundations’ activities.

As his personal capacities grew, Mr. Vukobrat invested in his homeland and established Copechim Regional Offices in all capitals of former Yugoslavia Republics. He raised the flower farm in Konavli, which worked by the highest world standards, thus proving that, if you apply modern economy and production principles, it was possible to have business and production on the highest world level in Yugoslavia as well. The farm was completely destroyed in the fights around Dubrovnik in 1991.

When the war started in former Yugoslavia, Mr. Vukobrat decided to do everything he could to stop it. He made a concept for the new former Yugoslav Republics Community, based on regionalization and integration principles. He sent this project to hundreds of experts – political scientists, economists, sociologists, lawyers, writers and journalists – asking them to strengthen it with their own ideas. Based on these suggestions and conclusions from a round table held in Belgrade, where around 40 experts of various profiles attended, he made and published Proposals of a New Community of Former Yugoslavia Republics in September 1992. These proposals were created within the Peace and Crises Management Foundation, which was in a meanwhile founded in Swiss town Zug in order to examine the situation in the East European countries and suggest solutions to problems occurred in transition period from totalitarianism to democracy and from collectivism to market economy. The project drew great international community attention. The former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, asked Mr. Boris Vukobrat to prepare a solution proposal for the crisis in the former USSR based on those principles. The Peace and Crises Management Foundation did it by engaging a group of most prominent Russian experts of various political affinities. These Proposals were consolidated in the book called Proposals for Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States.

Upon the request of the Conference about Former Yugoslavia in Geneva organizer, the Foundation made a solution proposal to the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in October 1992. All the project principles were contained in the draft of the so-called Ahtisaari’s plan, which was the proposal for Bosnia and Herzegovina establishment within the frame of the Vance-Owen plan. The idea of regionalization in the Vance-Owen plan, however, was considerably different from Mr. Vukobrat’s idea because it was based on ethnic division, so that plan failed. Mr. Boris Vukobrat worked hard to present his project to world’s statesmen and convince them to give up ethnic division principles and maintain Bosnia and Herzegovina unity, which was necessary for permanent and rightful peace in former Yugoslavia. He regularly met international mediators and highest officials in the Moscow Kremlin, the Elysee Palace, the White House, the Palace of Nations, the EU seat in Brussels.

On the initiative of former Western leaders, Presidents Ford and d′Estaing, as well as Prime Ministers Callahan and Schmidt, Mr. Vukobrat made the peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 where, among other things, he advocated for strict control of all Bosnia and Herzegovina borders, in order to prevent Belgrade and Zagreb arming the parties in this conflict, for expending mandate of the UN forces so they could efficiently protect the civilian population, for abandoning ideas of Bosnia and Herzegovina ethnical division, and for immediate and unconditional mutual recognition of all former Yugoslav republics with the possibility of changing borders only on the ground of mutual agreement.

Considering the international community to some extent responsible for the war prolongation in Bosnia, since the middle of 1993, Mr. Vukobrat had been persistently pointing out the necessity of leading world powers to stop the war continuation by unique standpoint and jointly agreed action. He suggested that Moscow and Paris should influence on Serbs, Washington on Muslims, Bonn and Vatican on Croats, and London on all the conflict parties to accept a certain peace solution. Since the beginning of 1994, he sent over 70 Letters of the President warning them that great responsibility for the war prolongation in Bosnia lies in their hesitation to act together, appealing to start an action which could lead to the war end. The ideas presented in these letters were soon officially greeted by the Elysee Palace, the Moscow Kremlin and the White House, while establishing the Contact Group was a result of Mr. Boris Vukobrat one year efforts. The ideas promoted by Mr. Vukobrat and his Foundation were shortly accepted with the approval in the former Yugoslav areas. There were 7 round tables (two in Belgrade and one in Ohrid, Cetinje, Subotica, Banja Luka and Paris) where about 300 most prominent experts discussed about different aspects of this project.

Aware of informational embargo influence over the war continuation and hostility generation, in June 1993 the Foundation started broadcasting radio show called The Age of Reason on independent radio stations in our region, as well as on foreign radio stations which broadcasted program in Serbian language. Selected parts from this radio show were consolidated in the book with the same title which according to the critique was, until then, the best testimony of war absurdity.

Out of many, so far, conducted actions, there was an outstanding humanitarian and peace-making project. Mr. Vukobrat’s Foundation, namely, organized a handball game between the French national team and the group of players from all the former Yugoslav countries playing in France, in November 1993 in Paris. All the income from that game, as well as from the live radio transmission, was used for humanitarian purposes. As time passed by, Mr. Vukobrat through many interviews succeeded to explain the public his vision and it’s sustainability, so any manipulation attempt was less and less possible, especially for the leading world media, such as CNN, the Le Monde, the Le Figaro, the International Herald Tribune, which paid duly attention to Mr. Boris Vukobrat’s actions and ideas, and it was confirmed by hundreds of pages in press.

Mr. Boris Vukobrat is a co-founder and an Honorable President of the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in Southeast Europe – CIVIS. It was founded on June 4th 2007 by the representatives of non-governmental organizations from Serbian and Southeast Europe. Due to the fact that there was no common body or an organization which could represent interests and position of non-governmental organizations from Southeast Europe, the Association CIVIS shortly got the member status within the Council of Europe’s Conference of International NGOs. CIVIS is active in the field of inter-religious dialogue, promoting human rights and civil society values, as well as in the West Balkan European integration speedup process.