Kiro Gligorov was the first President of the Republic of Macedonia, serving from January 27, 1991 to November 19, 1999.
Born on May 3, 1917 in Štip, Macedonia, then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, he attended the University of Belgrade's Law School, but after the fall of royalist Yugoslavia in 1941, he returned to Macedonia, then annexed by Bulgaria, where he worked as a lawyer until 1943. In 1942, he was accused, and consequently arrested by the Bulgarian police for being a pro-Serbian communist. Afterwards he participated in the National Liberation War of Macedonia and served as Finance Minister of Yugoslavia from 1962 to 1967.
He held various high positions in the political establishment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including as Secretary of State for Finance in the Federal Executive Council, a member of the Yugoslav Presidency, as well as President of the Assembly of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from May 15, 1974 to May 15, 1978.
At the onset of the crises of Yugoslavia (1989 – 1990), he entered the political life of Macedonia, and led the Republic through a peaceful and legitimate break up from Yugoslavia by way of a general referendum on September 8, 1991. He is credited for keeping the Republic of Macedonia out of the war in the former Yugoslavia.
Gligorov became the first democratically elected president of the Republic of Macedonia and served for two terms. During his presidency, he promoted multi-party elections and market economy and was instrumental in helping Macedonia fulfill its century’s old ideal for attaining an equal place in the international family of nations. On April 13, 1993, the Republic of Macedonia became a member of the Organization of the United Nations.
Source: The Macedonian Arts Council, June 2020