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Civil War in Former Yugoslavia - History

Civil War in Former Yugoslavia - History

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Civil war broke out in Yugoslavia. As the Communist regime fell, Yugoslavia was divided up into Serbia, Bosnia-Hergezovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia. Fighting soon broke out inside these areas, as Serbs attempted to gain control of the entire territory. The Serbs instituted a policy of "ethnic" cleansing, whose goal was to force non-Serbs out of all areas that the Serbs conquered.

The Wars of the Former Yugoslavia

In the early 1990s, the Balkan country of Yugoslavia fell apart in a series of wars which saw ethnic cleansing and genocide return to Europe. The driving force was not age-old ethnic tensions (as the Serb side liked to proclaim), but distinctly modern nationalism, fanned by the media and driven by politicians.

As Yugoslavia collapsed, majority ethnicities pushed for independence. These nationalist governments ignored their minorities or actively persecuted them, forcing them out of jobs. As propaganda made these minorities paranoid, they armed themselves and smaller actions degenerated into a bloody set of wars. While the situation was rarely as clear as Serb versus Croat versus Muslim, many small civil wars erupted over decades of rivalry and those key patterns existed.

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War and the Second Yugoslavia

This first Yugoslavia lasted until the Second World War when Axis forces invaded in 1941. The Regency had been moving closer to Hitler, but an anti-Nazi coup brought the government down and the wrath of Germany onto them. War ensued, but not one as simple as pro-Axis versus anti-Axis, as communist, nationalist, royalist, fascist and other factions all fought in what was effectively a civil war. The three key groups were the fascist Utsasha, the royalist Chetniks and the communist Partisans.

As the Second World War was concluded it was the Partisans lead by Tito – backed at the end by Red Army units - who emerged in control, and a second Yugoslavia was formed: this was a federation of six republics, each supposedly equal – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Montenegro - as well as two autonomous provinces within Serbia: Kosovo and Vojvodina. Once the war was won, mass executions and purges targeted collaborators and enemy fighters.

Tito’s state was initially highly centralized and allied to the USSR, and Tito and Stalin argued, but the former survived and forged his own path, devolving power and gaining assistance from western powers. He was, if not universally regarded, then at least for a time admired for the way Yugoslavia was progressing, but it was Western aid – designed to keep him away from Russia – that probably saved the country. The political history of the Second Yugoslavia is basically a struggle between the centralized government and the demands for devolved powers for the member units, a balancing act that produced three constitutions and multiple changes over the period. By the time of Tito’s death, Yugoslavia was essentially hollow, with deep economic problems and barely concealed nationalisms, all held together by the cult of Tito’s personality and the party. Yugoslavia may well have collapsed under him had he lived.

Civil War in Former Yugoslavia - History

Yugoslavia was first formed as a kingdom in 1918 and then recreated as a Socialist state in 1945 after the Axis powers were defeated in World War II.

The constitution established six constituent republics in the federation: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. Serbia also had two autonomous provinces: Kosovo and Vojvodina.

By 1992 the Yugoslav Federation was falling apart. Nationalism had once again replaced communism as the dominant force in the Balkans.

Slovenia and then Croatia were the first to break away, but only at the cost of renewed conflict with Serbia.

The war in Croatia led to hundreds of thousands of refugees and reawakened memories of the brutality of the 1940s.

By 1992 a further conflict had broken out in Bosnia, which had also declared independence. The Serbs who lived there were determined to remain within Yugoslavia and to help build a greater Serbia.

They received strong backing from extremist groups in Belgrade. Muslims were driven from their homes in carefully planned operations that become known as "ethnic cleansing".

By 1993 the Bosnian Muslim government was besieged in the capital Sarajevo, surrounded by Bosnian Serb forces who controlled around 70% of Bosnia.

In Central Bosnia, the mainly Muslim army was fighting a separate war against Bosnian Croats who wished to be part of a greater Croatia. The presence of UN peacekeepers to contain the situation proved ineffective.

American pressure to end the war eventually led to the Dayton agreement of November 1995 which created two self-governing entities within Bosnia - the Bosnian Serb Republic and the Muslim(Bosnjak)-Croat Federation.

The settlement's aims were to bring about the reintegration of Bosnia and to protect the human rights but the agreement has been criticised for not reversing the results of ethnic cleansing.

The Muslim-Croat and Serb entities have their own governments, parliaments and armies.

A Nato-led peacekeeping force is charged with implementing the military aspects of the peace agreement, primarily overseeing the separation of forces. But the force was also granted extensive additional powers, including the authority to arrest indicted war criminals when encountered in the normal course of its duties.

Croatia, meanwhile, took back most of the territory earlier captured by Serbs when it waged lightning military campaigns in 1995 which also resulted in the mass exodus of around 200,000 Serbs from Croatia.

In 1998, nine years after the abolition of Kosovo's autonomy, the Kosovo Liberation Army - supported by the majority ethnic Albanians - came out in open rebellion against Serbian rule.

The international community, while supporting greater autonomy, opposed the Kosovar Albanians' demand for independence. But international pressure grew on Serbian strongman, Slobodan Milosevic, to bring an end to the escalating violence in the province.

Threats of military action by the West over the crisis culminated in the launching of Nato air strikes against Yugoslavia in March 1999, the first attack on a sovereign European country in the alliance's history.

The strikes focused primarily on military targets in Kosovo and Serbia, but extended to a wide range of other facilities, including bridges, oil refineries, power supplies and communications.

Within days of the strikes starting, tens of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees were pouring out of the province with accounts of killings, atrocities and forced expulsions at the hands of Serb forces.

Returning them to their homes, along with those who had fled in the months of fighting before the strikes, became a top priority for the Nato countries.

Meanwhile, relations between Serbia and the only other remaining Yugoslav republic, Montenegro, hit rock bottom, with Montenegrin leaders seeking to distance themselves from Slobodan Milosevic's handling of Kosovo.

Yugoslavia has disappeared from the map of Europe, after 83 years of existence, to be replaced by a looser union called simply Serbia and Montenegro, after the two remaining republics.

The arrangement was reached under pressure from the European Union, which wanted to halt Montenegro's progress towards full independence. However, Montenegrin politicians say they will hold a referendum on independence in 2006.

The death of Yugoslavia is only one of many momentous changes that have occurred since the end of the Kosovo conflict.

Slobodan Milosevic lost a presidential election in 2000. He refused to accept the result but was forced out of office by strikes and massive street protests, which culminated in the storming of parliament.

He was handed over to a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, and put on trial for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Kosovo itself became a de facto UN protectorate, though some powers have begun to be handed back to elected local authorities. One of the main problems in the province is getting Serbs who fled as Yugoslav security forces withdrew in 1999, to return to their homes.

Conflict between Serbs and ethnic Albanians threatened to erupt in late 2000 in the Presevo valley, on the Serbian side of the Kosovo border, but dialogue between Albanian guerrillas and the new democratic authorities in Belgrade allowed tensions to evaporate.

There was, however, a major outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in 2001, again involving the Albanian minority. This was contained by Nato peacekeepers and ultimately resolved by political means.

Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his cell in The Hague on 11 March 2006.

His long-running trial had been hit by repeated delays - partly because of his poor health - and no verdict had been reached.

A Dutch investigation concluded that he had died of a heart attack, dismissing claims by his supporters that he had been poisoned.

He was buried in his Serbian home town, Pozarevac, but the Serbian government had refused to allow a state funeral.

Serbia meanwhile came under intense international pressure to find and hand over General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb commander topping the UN tribunal's list of wanted war crimes suspects, alongside his fugitive wartime political ally Radovan Karadzic.

Belgrade's failure to catch Gen Mladic set back its hopes for eventual EU membership, as the EU decided to suspend talks on forging closer ties.

In Kosovo reconciliation between the majority ethnic Albanians, most of them pro-independence, and the Serb minority remained elusive.

Several rounds of UN-mediated talks have been held, without any significant breakthrough. The UN wants to find a solution for Kosovo's disputed status by the end of 2006.

The state union of Serbia and Montenegro is all that remains of the federation of six republics that made up former Yugoslavia - but in a referendum on 21 May, Montenegro narrowly voted for independence from Serbia.

Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic led the campaign for independence, although the population was deeply divided as there are close cultural links between the two peoples.

Civil War in Former Yugoslavia - History

Twenty-Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History

Lecture 25: The Yugoslav Civil War*

[This text was written in 1995, and reflects information available at that time, especially news reports. Except for some interpolated notes, a concluding remark and a paragraph on the Markale explosion, it remains as originally written. Interested readers should seek later publications about the Bosnian conflict based on more extensive sources. The Preface comments on the problem of managing Web texts when "historical" information is superceded by later knowledge.]

Lecture 24 mentioned Yugoslavia only in passing, because its fate has been so complex and dramatic that it is best dealt with on its own. The same influences were at work there as in the rest of Eastern Europe in the period before, during and after 1989: that is, events were heavily influenced by the presence or absence of real alternatives to Communism, and the shape of those alternatives, after Communist control slipped away. It is too soon [in 1995] to attempt valid "history" for the recent events in Yugoslavia, but a first step toward understanding still can be a description of the forces and trends that led to the collapse of the country into separate states. A second step can be an analysis that separates the events of the recent civil war into seven stages, with some indication of why each took its own specific course.

Nationalist forces

Lecture 24 mentioned the revived nationalist feelings that came to the surface in Croatia in 1971. Far from being an isolated matter, such pre-Communist survivals proved to be at work all over the Yugoslav state, and emerged once Tito's hand was gone after his death in 1980.

In Yugoslavia, the result of 1989 was not the creation of progressive, Western-oriented reform regimes but instead the revival of regimes (often led by former Communists) that were old-fashioned in the sense that they pursued traditional nationalist agendas, often at the cost of suppressing democratic practices and human rights.

Tensions built up slowly before and during the year of revolution in 1989. Old issues such as federalism had no more been resolved in socialist Yugoslavia than in royal Yugoslavia there were North-South tensions based on cultural and economic factors, and the overall economy was stagnant. The death of President Tito in 1980 emphasized the departure from leadership of a generation that had been united by the Partisan effort in World War II, leaders who believed in the benefits of unified socialist endeavor, and preferred it to regional rivalry and ethnic competition. By the 1980s, Communist leadership was subject to question, opening the way for alternative political and economic forms.

Yugoslavia's awkward constitutional arrangements were one factor leading to trouble. As a concession to critics of the Serbian centralism of the 1930s, post-1945 Yugoslavia had six republics (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro) in a federal relationship, plus two autonomous regions within Serbia (each of them intended to safeguard minority rights, for Albanians in Kosovo and Hungarians in Vojvodina).

In the face of small-scale dissent and criticism in 1966, Yugoslavia reached a turning point: the regime had to decide to what extent it would suppress or tolerate its opponents. Tito opted for grudging toleration of dissent, but anti-regime critics failed to adopt that same toleration for themselves, as they played up inter-ethnic suspicion and jealousy. Efforts to accomodate federal and regional interests by changes in the constitution also backfired. Through a series of constitutional amendments in 1974, the six republics and two autonomous regions gained important powers to veto legislation. Prior to his death, President Tito also instituted a system by which the office of president was intended to rotate in turn among representatives of each of the regions. These steps had the effect of granting powerful political authority to regional political figures, and weakening the center of the federal political system.

Croatian dissent

In Croatia, the period after 1966 saw revived discussion of Croatian nationalism. This movement began among students, but by 1971 figures inside the Communist Party were circulating proposals for the secession of Croatia. At this point Tito stepped in: offending organizations were suppressed and several people went to jail. One of them was Franjo Tudjman, the future President of Croatia: aged 49 in 1971, he was a Partisan veteran, a Communist and a general, who had left the Party in the 1960s to become an academic and a Croatian nationalist. Among his publications were indictments of human rights violations by the party and the state, but his writings also included defenses of the wartime Ustashe fascist regime.

These political and intellectual currents combined with socio-economic dissatisfaction in the northern half of the country. Economic decentralization led Slovenes and Croatians to oppose centralized economic planning, especially expensive efforts to build factories in Yugoslavia's backward southern regions. The northern regions prefered to reinvest the profits of their superior industries closer to home. Croatians and Slovenes felt that they paid the country's bills, thanks to Adriatic tourism and industries producing goods for export, and opposed subsidizing unprofitable factories in Serbia and Macedonia. Under the decentralized constitutional system in place after 1974, the various regions in fact became economic rivals rather than partners.

Serbian dissent

Not only did Croatian separatism flourish, but Great Serb nationalism reemerged. Although the other nationalities believed that they were hobbled by too much Serb influence, Serbs often asserted that the Yugoslav system placed them at a disadvantage. Laws preserving the rights of ethnic minorities -- such as Albanians and Magyars -- tended to apply primarily to areas within Serbia, while Serbs who lived as minorities outside the Serbian republic proper enjoyed no special rights. Serbs also tended to believe that the losses sustained by Serbs in the Balkan Wars and two World Wars entitled them to assistance from their wealthier neighbors.

Tensions were particularly strong in Kosovo, an autonomous region with mythic importance for Serbs but a majority Albanian population. In 1981, protests about bad conditions at the Albanian University in Kosovo led to a brutal crackdown against ethnic Albanians by the Serbian-led police. [Tensions in Kosovo increased until they led to war in 1999.]

Situations of this kind fueled Serbian radicalism among intellectuals. In 1985, the Serbian Academy of Sciences wrote a memorandum that strongly criticized Tito and the Communist state for anti-Serb policies, noting that 30 years of Communism had left Serbia poorer than the north. The report also condemned "genocidal" anti-Serb policies in Kosovo, where the 10 percent Serb minority was said to be oppressed by the Albanian majority. The Academy offered the idea of a Serb state as a solution.

The idea of a Serb state soon was adopted by Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic was a product of the Yugoslav Communist system: a party official, trained in the law, head of a large state-owned gas company. In 1986, at age 45, he became head of the Serbian Communist Party at at time when it was under serious attack by a new democratic opposition. By making a patriotic, pro-Serbian speech in 1989 on the battle site of Kosovo, Milosevic deprived the opposition of nationalism as a tool, and made it his own. With massive popular support, he cracked down on the media and dissent outside the local Party, then purged the Party of reform-oriented rivals. By using mass rallies that verged on mob scenes, he coerced the Party apparatus in Montenegro and Vojvodina into installing his allies as leaders, then curtailed autonomy in Kosovo and Vojvodina.

When the period of "revolution" came later in 1989, Milosevic took advantage of it to rename the Serbian Communist Party and convert it into a nationalist organization. At the same time, his use of state power prevented real alternative forces from becoming viable options in Serbia. His centralist and pro-Serb agenda also persuaded reformers in Slovenia and Croatia that it would be dangerous to remain part of a Yugoslav state that might be dominated by Milosevic and a Serb majority. This was the position at the beginning of 1990, with new leadership in place across Yugoslavia, and the country beginning to slide into disunity and war.

Seven periods of the Yugoslav crisis

Much reporting of events in Yugoslavia and Bosnia falls into the "senseless violence" school of journalism. In fact, most of the events during the fighting represented logical (if violent and brutal) steps toward coherent goals. The war can be divided into seven periods, each of which followed its own characteristic pattern.

Period One (January to July, 1990) : In this period, all the ethnic elements in the country began to explore new possibilities, often contradictory.

After the revolutions of 1989 swept Eastern Europe, a sense of new possibility entered Yugoslav political life. All elements felt confident that they could throw off unwanted features of Communism, but the definition of what was to be lost varied from place to place.

In January 1990 the League of Communists (the Yugoslav Communist Party) split along ethnic lines, and ceased to be a unifying national force. In that same month, violent riots in Kosovo reached new levels, with several dozen people killed. The JNA (the Yugoslav National Army, in which the officer corps was heavily Serbian) intervened to restore order. Because this episode led to fears that the JNA would become a tool of Serbian interests, the effect was to move the other nationalities farther toward secession.

In the spring of 1990, Slovenes and Croats took concrete steps toward setting up new forms of political power. In April, there were free elections in the two northern provinces. In Slovenia, a Center-Right coalition won and began work on a new constitution that claimed the right to secede from the federal state. In Croatia, Franjo Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Union, a conservative nationalist party, took the largest share of seats in the April election. In Serbia, on the other hand, the results of a June 1990 referendum favored keeping a single-party state and curbing ethnic autonomy in Kosovo and Vojvodina, the very policies that were fueling Slovene and Croat efforts to distance themselves from Serbia.

In the first period, the ability of the nationalities to pursue their own goals in the aftermath of the 1989 revolution led to a growing distance between the factions.

Period Two (August 1990 to May 1991) : In this period the contradictions between competing goals moved the situation from tension to violence.

In August 1990, minority Serbs in the Serb-majority Krajina district of Croatia (adjacent to the border with Bosnia) began to agitate for autonomy. They argued that if Croatia could leave Yugoslavia, they in turn could leave Croatia. To prevent Croatian interference in a planned referendum, local Serb militias made up of trained army reservists set up roadblocks to isolate the Krajina region. In Serbia, Milosevic announced that if Yugoslavia broke apart, there would have to be border changes that would unite all ethnic Serbs in a single political entity. Serbia also cracked down on Albanian agitation.

Such steps alarmed Slovenes and Croats, and propelled them toward independence. The two republics organized local militia and armed their police, despite warnings from the JNA and anxiety among Croatia's Serbs, who recalled the use of local police by the Ustashe to round up Serbs in 1941. In March 1991, Serbs in Croatia proclaimed an autonomous Krajina, which was recognized by Milosevic. In clashes over control of local police stations, the first people were killed in that area.

In the second period, the incompatibility between Serb and Slovene-Croatian wishes became clear, and led to violence outside of Kosovo for the first time.

Period Three (May 1991 to February 1992) : This was the period when true open warfare began, as the Serbs resisted the Slovene and Croatian independence movements.

In May 1991, a Croatian was due to become the new Yugoslav president under the scheme of rotation, but Serbia refused to accept the change. This action set aside the last chance for a solution through constitutional means. In June, both Slovenia and Croatia proclaimed their independence. Debates over the "legality" of such moves played out against a background in which all sides chose to ignore inconvenient parts of the old constitution.

To frustrate Slovene independence, the JNA seized the customs posts on the borders of Slovenia. After fighting between Slovene militia and the JNA, there was a stalemate. JNA units were blockaded in their barracks, too powerful for the Slovene forces to attack, but without access to the gasoline they needed to move. Perhaps because there were so few Serbs in Slovenia, Serbia conducted a policy toward that state that was very different from the policy adopted toward Croatia. Under a negotiated settlement, the JNA units withdrew and allowed the Slovenes to secede.

In Croatia the war escalated instead. Fighting began with guerilla warfare in Krajina between the new Croatian armed forces, local Serb militia, and elements of the JNA stationed there. In August 1991, Serbian regular army units began campaigns to control two strategic areas: Vukovar and Dubrovnik. At Vukovar in Eastern Slavonia, artillery fire drove Croatians out of the city, which was of strategic importance as a gateway leading from Serbia to areas of Serbian population in the western parts of Bosnia and in Krajina, and as a region that was a source of oil. Two recurring patterns in Serbian strategy can be seen here for the first time: the use of terror to drive away local populations ("ethnic cleansing"), and a Serbian reliance on heavy weapons to attack urban areas, because of a shortage of infantry. The second Serbian offensive took place on the Dalmatian coast, where Serb forces failed to take the coastal city of Dubrovnik from Croatia. Dubrovnik is important as a major source of tourist revenue, and is also the place where roads from the interior reach the Adriatic Sea.

During this same period, member states of the European Economic Community (led by Germany) recognized Slovene and Croat independence. The world international community became involved for the first time as well, with UN authorization for 14,000 peacekeepers and an economic embargo against the rump of Yugoslavia: Serbia and Montenegro.

By the end of the third period, most of the principal organized forces in the civil war were present, including the UN, the Croats and the Serbs, while the Muslim government of Bosnia was about to make its appearance.

Period Four (March 1992 to December 1992) : In this period the arena of open war shifted from Croatia to Bosnia, where the province split along ethnic lines.

In early March 1992, a majority of Bosnians voted for independence in a plebiscite, but the voters split along ethnic lines with many Serbs opposing such a step. Immediately after the voting, Serbian local militia set up roadblocks that isolated Bosnia's major cities from surrounding, Serbian-dominated rural areas. Many Serbs left cities like Sarajevo, and a separate Bosnian Serb parliament was set up.

In April 1992, Bosnian Serb forces began a methodical effort to seize control of as much territory as possible, especially in the eastern part of Bosnia (which is adjacent to Serbia), as a step toward a possible union with Serbia. Backed by JNA units, self-proclaimed "Chetnik" gangs that included criminal elements used terror tactics to drive Muslim villagers out of their villages. Many of those Muslims arrived as refugees in larger cities like Zepa, Srebrenica, Tuzla and Sarajevo. Serb units seized roads and began a siege of Sarajevo, shelling the city and using snipers to kill civilians.

This was the period in which "ethnic cleansing" became general, including the extensive use of rape and the creation of concentration camps to hold Muslim men, where many were murdered. While incidents of terror by all ethnicities have been reported in Bosnia, by all reliable accounts Serbs were the chief offenders. The persistence of these reports led to escalating commitment by the UN, culminating in pledges to use force and the enlistment of NATO forces as an instrument.

Meanwhile, Serbian goals became clear on the ground. By the end of the summer of 1992, two-thirds of Bosnia was in Serb hands: the eastern zone near Serbia proper, a thin corridor running east-to-west toward Croatia, and land on both sides of the Bosnian-Croatian border around the Krajina region of Croatia. At this time, Croatian forces also attacked and seized Muslim districts in Bosnia, leaving very little territory except some larger cities in the hands of the Bosnian Muslim government.

While the Serbian Milosevic regime supported much of Bosnian Serb policy, it did not control it. The Bosnian Serbs had a parliament of their own, and new leaders like Premier Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. In 1992 Milosevic had to defeat domestic challenges from the left and right. Some of his potential rivals -- extremist Chetnik politicians -- were mysteriously murdered. In the presidential election, Milosevic defeated Milan Panic, a US citizen, who campaigned on a peace platform and served as Serbian prime minister for a time before his defeat in the election. Thereafter, Milosevic was firmly in control of Serbian politics in the rump state of Yugoslavia, but increasingly hampered by an international economic blockade and ensuing inflation.

By the end of the fourth period, the Serbs of Bosnia had made notable gains in territory, and the issue became whether they would keep them, in the face of Croatian, Muslim and UN opposition.

Period Five (January 1993 to January 1994) : During this year, all sides in Bosnia pursued a dual strategy, balancing fighting with negotiations on the world stage to seek maximum advantage.

Peace talks began in Geneva, Switzerland, based on the Anglo-American Vance-Owen plan to partition Bosnia, separate the ethnic factions, and so end the fighting. Because it pragmatically accepted the results of Serbian aggression, the Vance-Owen plan was widely criticized and was unacceptable to the Bosnian Muslim government. After assuming office in January 1993, new U.S. President Bill Clinton distanced his administration from the plan.

By this time, the Serbs (who made up less than 40 percent of the population) controlled some 70 percent of the land area of Bosnia. With some difficulty, Karadzic was able to persuade the Bosnian Serb Parliament to accept several partition plans that gave Serbs between 50 and 52 percent of the country. Pressure from rump Yugoslavia played a role: Milosevic wanted to end the crisis, to end sanctions and curb an annual inflation rate which soon reached 2 million percent.

The Bosnian Muslim government, on the other hand, resisted a settlement while it pursued international favor in the media, with some success, as Western reporters uniformly condemned Serbian excesses. The Bosnians also gained increased UN aid. The UN agreed to send provide food to refugees in six cities and designated them as "safe" zones not to be attacked by Serbs. Those cities were Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bihac, Zepa, Srebrenica and Gorazde. The Bosnian Muslims lobbied against an arms embargo imposed on all sides that prevented them from buying heavy weapons that could offset Serb access to JNA arsenals, although some weapons were smuggled into the country. (The remnant JNA had become increasingly Serbian in composition.)

This fifth period of stalemate was the calm before the storm: the next two periods were unexpectedly volatile, given the apparent lack of progress at this time.

Period Six (February 1994 to June 1995) : Beginning early in 1994, the stalemate began to destabilize.

In March 1994, the Croatian and Muslim Bosnian governments agreed on guidelines for a federated Bosnia. This freed both groups to face the Serbs: the Muslims in Bosnia, the Croatians in Bosnia and in Krajina, which remained in revolt against the Zagreb government. Later in the year, allied Muslim and Croat forces began small but significant joint operations against Bosnian Serb areas.

In February 1994, one of the most prominent attacks on civilians during the war enraged Western observers, when an explosion killed 68 people in Sarajevo's Markale market place. Early reports blamed a Serbian mortar attack, and the US, the European Union and NATO demanded that the Serbs remove artillery from around Sarajevo or face retaliatory air strikes. Serbian and Russian observers, however, described the explosion as a Bosnian provocation. Official UN investigators were unable to prove either allegation. The Serbs largely complied with Western demands around Sarajevo, but shelling of other "safe areas" continued and was not punished. At the same time, the episode illustrated the extent to which the Bosnian Serbs had lost the contest for world opinion.

France and the US quarreled: the US wanted to put more pressure on the Serbs, but France was unwilling to place at risk its peacekeepers who were on the ground. Civilian representatives of the UN vetoed some air attacks ordered by their own commanders. When some air strikes did take place in May 1994, the Serbs responded by taking UN peacekeepers hostage. In the fact of such threats, the UN then caved in completely.

Generally, this sixth period discredited the UN, and the result was new initiatives both by the Serbs and by their enemies in Croatia and at NATO. Out of public view, both sides prepared to take much more active measures.

Period Seven (July to November 1995) : The summer of 1995 saw the climax of the civil war in Bosnia, as both sides explored their options now that the UN had lost any authority to control events.

In July 1995, Serbian forces defied the UN and suddenly overran two of the "safe areas" in eastern Bosnia: Srebrenica and Zepa. Some of the worst "ethnic cleansing" of the war took place at this time: up to 8,000 Muslims were massacred under the direct supervision of Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commanding general.

It is likely that the ineffective record of UN and Western action during 1994 led the Bosnian Serbs to expect no Western response, but instead the opposite happened. Karadzic and Mladic were indicted as war criminals by a UN tribunal and Britain, France and the US began plans for a military reaction to future attacks on "safe areas." Peacekeepers in exposed areas were withdrawn, additional forces arrived, and the UN's civilian representatives lost the right to veto the use of force.

It also appears that the Western states gave Croatia the green light to take back control of Krajina. When Serb forces from Bosnia and Krajina attacked the Bihac "safe area" in extreme western Bosnia, they were counterattacked in a joint offensive by Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces and those of the Croatian government. Within a few days, the Serbs lost all of Krajina and much of western Bosnia: 130,000 Serb refugees were driven off of lands upon which their families had lived for hundreds of years. When angry Serbs shelled Sarajevo again, killing 37 people in one incident, NATO reacted with an unprecedented wave of air strikes against the Bosnian Serb infrastructure. The Muslims and Croats appear to have stopped their advance only because the West told them to do so: by then, the Croat-Muslim federation was in control of just over half of Bosnia. When Milosevic failed to intervene on their behalf, the Bosnian Serbs found themselves alone and vulnerable.

For the first time, all sides now simultaneously believed that no further advantage lay in store for them through more fighting, and for that reason all sides were willing to negotiate. After a hiatus of 18 months, peace talks resumed and led to a treaty signed in November 1995, which was to be enforced by 60,000 NATO troops. If this does mark the end of the war, it will have ended with some 250,000 people killed out of a prewar Bosnia population of 4.4 million, over half of whom have become refugees.

[In the period since late 1995 when this lecture was written, there has been no resumption of fighting in Bosnia. While relationships between the various ethnicities in Bosnia remain troubled, the period of open warfare, atrocities against civilians and deep international crisis has ended. However, similar tensions led to clashes between the Serbian state and the Albanian population of Kosovo in 1999, and eventually to intervention by NATO and the United States. That episode falls outside the scope of this Web site. The U.S. State Department provides a detailed chronology at For other resources, consult your local library.]

[*Some readers have questioned my use of the term "civil war" on the grounds that the fighting was between independent entities within a dissolving federation. It is not my intent either to imply or to deny claims to independence by any of the former federal units. Recent discussions of Iraq have led to public debate on the same issue: in "A Matter of Definition: What Makes a Civil War, and Who Declares It So?" (The New York Times, November 26, 2006, page 14), Edward Wong says, "The common scholarly definition has two main criteria. The first says that the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy. The second says that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side."]

This lecture is a portion of a larger Web site, Twenty-Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History (The Balkans in the Age of Nationalism) click here to return to the Table of Contents page. This page created on 27 November 1996 last modified 29 September 2016.


Yugoslavia was a country that existed in southeastern Europe from 1929 to 2003. It was created when several former kingdoms and territories joined together. They became the six republics, or states, of the country of Yugoslavia. Each republic had its own mixture of ethnic groups and religions. Tensions sometimes flared up between the different groups.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the republics broke apart to become independent countries. These countries are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.

Geography and People

Yugoslavia lay along the Adriatic Sea on the Balkan Peninsula of Europe. It shared borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania. Its capital was Belgrade, which is now the capital of Serbia.

Most of Yugoslavia’s people were Slavs who spoke Slavic languages. The Slavs included several different ethnic groups. They were the Serbs, Montenegrins, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians, and Bosnian Muslims (now called Bosniacs). These groups were related, but each group had its own separate history. Different groups also followed different religions. Many peoples who were not Slavs—including Albanians, Hungarians, and Turks—lived in Yugoslavia, too.


By the late 1800s the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary ruled much of the Balkan region. Those two empires were defeated in World War I (1914–18). After the war several Balkan lands formed a new country. It was called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The kingdom changed its name to Yugoslavia in 1929.

Germany, Italy, and their allies invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, during World War II. A few years later, Josip Broz Tito led troops that freed Yugoslavia from the invaders. Tito became the country’s leader. He set up a communist government in Yugoslavia.

Tito was a strong leader. He helped hold the different ethnic groups together in one unified country. But big changes happened in the 1980s. First, Tito died. Then, like other countries in eastern Europe, Yugoslavia got rid of its communist government.

Yugoslavia’s different ethnic groups began to have conflicts. In 1991 and 1992 Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia (now called North Macedonia), and Bosnia and Herzegovina declared themselves independent. Serbia fought to keep those republics part of Yugoslavia. A bloody civil war raged until 1995.

After the war Serbia and Montenegro were the only republics that remained part of Yugoslavia. In 2003 they formed a different country, named Serbia and Montenegro. In 2006 Montenegro and Serbia split peacefully into two separate countries. Two years later Serbia lost some of its territory when the province of Kosovo declared independence.

The 1991-2001 Yugoslav civil war (map game)

Fancey an all out war in the former Yugoslavia?

    (1991) (1991–1995) (1992–1995) (1998–1999), including the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. In addition, the insurgency in the Preševo Valley (1999–2001) and the insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia (2001) are also often discussed in the same context.

The name is to be called The 1991-2001 Yugoslav civil war (map game). One turn every day, each turn is 3 months. The key sides are Bosnia-i-Herzegovina, Serbs/Serpska, Croatia/Bosng Hertzog, AlbaniaKosovo, Hungarian Vojodinjans, Slovenia, Monti Negro and Macedonia.

Do you have what it takes to make your nation win before IFOR and the UN peacekeepers put an end to the war. Will you save Vukovar or crush Sarajevo?


  • Albanians-
  • Serbs-
  • Croats-Epic
  • Slovenia-
  • Monte Negro 
  • The united Vojvodia Hungarian, Romania, Slovak and Gypsy libationist factions-'
  • Macedonia-Trish pt7 (talk) 22:16, April 22, 2016 (UTC)
  • UN peace keepers (UNPROFOR)
  • The NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) and The Kosovo Force (KFOR)
  • Russian covert SPETNAZ Detachments


  • Usual weapons- Mostly assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, sniper rifles, R.P.G.s, bazookas, jeeps, bulldozers, trucks, radar, radar jammers, grenade launchers, hand grenades. Also occasionally a few troop carrying helicopers, Infantry fighting vehicles, armored cars, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and anti-tank mines and anti-personnel mines.
  • Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia could also call upon some self-propelled artillery, light tanks, medium tanks, advanced jet trainer aircraft, Fighters, light ground-attack aircraft, utility helicopters, light attack helicopters, and cargo helicopters
  • Serbia and Croatia had a few light bombers and helicopter gunships.
  • Monte Negro, Croatia, Slovenia and Albania have a small navy.
  • Krajina and Serpska each had 1 armored train.
  • UN peace keepers- The UN can use any of the above listed stuff except for ground attack aircraft, war ships, bombers, helicopter gunships, armored trains, anti-tank mines and anti-personnel mines.
  • NATO and SPETNAZ can use any of the above listed stuff, except for armored trains and war ships, with out restriction beyond the obvious restriction on the overall amount of it due to the constants of shipping it all to the region and avoiding detection by the enemy or the UN.
  • Croatia, Serbia Albania and Bosnia have some coal mines and stone quarries, Albania has a modest manganese, iron, bauxite and chromite mine, Serbia has a small oil field, Croatia has a small gas field, Macedonia has a modest copper mine and Kosovo has 2 copper mines, several stone quarries, a magnesium carbonate mine and a small lead mine. Geological reports held in the 1980s indicated that the Balkans had notable lignite reserves focusing on Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia southern Serbia and central Bulgaria

There had been a major servery that had proven Kosovo was a major location for lignite reserves. Kosovo possesses around 14,700 billion tons of lignite in reserves, which aligns Kosovo as the country with the fifth largest lignite reserves in the world, but it was little used back then. It also has reserves of other minerals at an approximated value of 1 trillion dollars, reserves such as: aluminium, gold, lead, zinc, copper, bauxite, tin, magnesium carbonate etc of which only the magnesium carbonate, lead and copper were mined. Kosovo also possesses rich reserves of asbestos, chromium, limestone, marble and quartz, of which only the stone was quarried at the time.

February 1940

-February 13 th , 1940: Albanian forces manage to take Skopje, the capital of the Vardar Banovina.

-February 14 th , 1940: Prime Minister Milan Nedić of the Kingdom of Serbia in response to the loss of Serbian Krajina and Skopje calls for the ethnic cleansing of all Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo.

-February 17 th , 1940: Illyrian forces manage to retake Serbian Krajina and its eastern territory.

-February 28 th , 1940: Greek forces finally manage to push through the Rhodopes Mountains separating southern Bulgaria from Greece and take the cities of Smolyan and Kardzhali.

Civil War in Former Yugoslavia - History

I study civil wars. While I don’t believe a civil war is yet likely in the United States, I do see some unnerving parallels between the current American political environment and those in the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The combination of constitutional crises, nationalist demagoguery, and weak institutions proved fatal to national unity in those cases, spawning wars that tore countries apart and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The civil wars in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia did not come on suddenly. In fact, the initial conflicts between groups were confined to political institutions. Immature legislatures in newly independent states struggled to deal with issues of language, citizenship, and the relative powers of central and local governments. Nationalist demagogues on all sides fatally undermined the search for compromise, subverting public confidence in political institutions and allowing conflict to spill out into the streets. External states then threw gasoline on the smoldering civil conflict in pursuit of their own geopolitical objectives.

What does this have to do with the United States? How can decades-old wars in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union teach us anything instructive about the American political environment today? After all, American political institutions are manifestly stronger and more resilient than their counterparts in the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Political rhetoric in the U.S. has generally been more responsible and less overtly nationalist than was the case in the post-Soviet and post-Yugoslav countries. Finally, Russia directly abetted several separatist movements in the former Soviet Union and Serbia did the same in the Balkans, but no foreign power is directly fomenting civil war in the U.S.

But the parallels between those countries then and America now are greater than they seem. Strong institutions and norms against nationalist and racist political rhetoric take generations to build and constant effort to maintain, but can be eroded in a fraction of that time. And foreign interference no longer need take the form of provision of weapons and equipment to separatists.

Rhetoric from President Donald Trump alleging that our elections are rigged, that the intelligence community is working to undermine him, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is full of “angry Democrats” working to bring him down is not normal political speech in the United States. It is unprecedented for a President of the United States to engage in a sustained attack on the institutions of his own executive branch. Unfortunately, the opposition to President Trump has taken his bait and mounted attacks on executive branch agencies whose actions it doesn’t like. The call from prominent Democrats to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is an example of this.

These attacks come at a cost to the integrity and legitimacy of our institutions. A July 2018 poll found that Americans are increasingly divided in how they view the agencies at the center of the controversies surrounding the Trump administration. Support for the FBI among Republicans has fallen from 65% to 49% since Trump took office, while 76% of Democrats have a favorable view of the agency. Views of ICE are even more polarized, with 72% of Republicans holding a favorable view of the agency and 72% of Democrats holding a negative view.

Despite the attacks from President Trump on the agencies he believes to be populated with his opponents, the truth is that officers in these agencies routinely check their political views at the door when they show up for work. In a 30-year career in the U.S. Army, I worked with dozens of officers from the CIA, FBI, and State Department—all agencies Trump has alleged are part of a “Deep State” conspiracy to undermine his will and subvert American democracy. Although we disagreed at times, those disagreements were over policy, not politics.

For instance, agencies might differ over whether the U.S. should sell a certain piece of military equipment to a certain country, but those differences reflect different institutional viewpoints, not partisan political ones. In this case, the Department of Defense may support the sale because the country is a priority partner and a key contributor to the effort to stabilize Afghanistan. The State Department may resist the sale because it would be provocative to a neighboring state, and the intelligence community may be concerned about the technology falling into the wrong hands.

These are normal disagreements based on policy differences, not partisan politics. In a normal environment, the relevant agencies would work out these differences and agree on a policy. But in a supercharged partisan environment where agencies are believed to have political agendas rather than policy preferences and where large majorities of the American public trust certain agencies and distrust others based on those perceived political agendas, normal functioning of government can break down.

With public perceptions of Congress already at historic lows and the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings exploding the notion of a non-partisan Supreme Court, all three branches of the U.S. government are suffering crises of legitimacy. This makes it less likely that they will be able to resolve or even contain the political conflicts that will arise from an increasingly divided American public. Those conflicts are likely to increase with control of the House of Representatives passing to Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. If history is any guide, President Trump will respond to increasing oversight of his administration from the House by ratcheting up his divisive rhetoric.

Aside from eroding trust in political institutions, this rhetoric stokes partisan, racial, and religious tensions. It causes fear in some groups and causes other groups to assume they have tacit approval to act on their most extreme impulses. The bombs mailed to President Trump’s perceived opponents, the mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and the murder of two African-Americans in a Kentucky supermarket are only the most recent examples of rising political, racial, and religious violence in America.

To be fair, the rise in identity-motivated violence preceded President Trump’s election, and the hollowing of the political center is not a uniquely American phenomenon. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of governments outside of the political mainstream in Hungary, Poland, Italy, and Brazil—to name only a few—indicate that growing skepticism about politics as usual is widespread. But previous presidents have generally sought to heal social divisions and temper fiery political rhetoric, and even the most conservative consistently and unequivocally condemned racism and religious hatred. Although President Trump reliably reads prepared statements condemning such violence, other comments—often made off-the-cuff and therefore seen as more indicative of his true beliefs—often imply support for nationalism and nativism. Indeed, he has called himself a nationalist and threatened to tone up rather than tone down his rhetoric.

Watch the video: Pakistan role in Bosnia. Bosnian War. Bosnia Genocide (August 2022).