POLITICAL CHANGES IN EASTERN EUROPE 1989-2001
- With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the political landscape of the Eastern Bloc, and indeed the world, changed. In the German reunification, the Federal Republic of Germany peacefully absorbed the German Democratic Republic in 1990.
- In 1991, COMECON, the Warsaw Pact, and the Soviet Union were dissolved. Many European nations which had been part of the Soviet Union regained their independence (Belarus,Moldova, Ukraine, as well as the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia).
- Czechoslovakia peacefully separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
- Many countries of this region joined the European Union, namely Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
(1) Dissolution of Czechoslovakia:
- It took effect on 1 January 1993. It was an event that saw the self-determined split of the federal state of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, entities which had arisen respectively as the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic in 1969 within the framework of Czechoslovak federalisation.
- It is sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce, a reference to the bloodless Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the end of the rule of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the formation of a democratic government.
- (The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia. The period of upheaval and transition took place from November 16 to December 29, 1989. Popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia combined students and older dissidents. The final result was the end of 41 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, and the subsequent conversion to a parliamentary republic).
- Slovakia became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004 and of the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro as its national currency.
- The Czech Republic joined NATO on 12 March 1999 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 21 December 2007 the Czech Republic joined the Schengen Area.
Reasons For Separation:
- A number of reasons are given with the main debates focusing on the inevitability of the situation in conjunction, or even in contrast to, the events that occurred between the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the end of the joined state in 1992.
Important Reasons for the Country’s Disintegration
Mutual historical grievances:
- The Slovaks did not embrace the concept of Czechoslovakism, which was advocated by Czech leaders after 1918. Although many appreciated economic and educational assistance that the Czech lands offered during the first republic (and before), they were critical of the patronizing attitudes of many Czech leaders and the unwillingness of Czech political elites to grant Slovakia more autonomy.
- The Czechs, on the other hand, never forgot what they saw as a betrayal on part of Slovakia in 1939, when Slovakia formed a state of its own under Nazi protection. Later, the fact that after WWII the Slovaks did not show enough gratitude for not ending up on the list the defeated nations—because Slovakia was included in Czechoslovakia again—was also occasionally criticized.
- During the era of communism, many Czechs believed that the Czech lands were paying—through huge transfers—for the economic development of Slovakia. Many also did not see the creation of the Czechoslovak federation in 1968 favorably.
- Common wisdom had it that the Slovaks were punished much less after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and that, in fact, Slovakia benefited from the invasion. The era of normalization was closely associated with Gustav Husak, a Slovak. A political asymmetry was created in the form of the Slovak Communist Party that had no counterpart in the Czech Republic.
The asymmetrical nature of a two-state federation
- A federation consisting of two states of unequal size would be a difficult concept even for highly developed democracies. The Federal Assembly, as created by the constitutional amendment of 1968, was set up in a way that was bound to produce serious problems once the country has regained democracy.
- The deficiencies of a two-state federation were suppressed by the centralized communist rule between 1968 and 1989. However, once the federal institutions were able to work in a politically free environment, they began producing problems.
- First, there was initially a serious lack of clarity with regard to the division of powers between institutions on the republican level and federal institutions. Second, the upper house of the Federal Assembly—the House of Nations—could in effect block meaningful reforms.
- The growing inability of the Federal Assembly to pass necessary federal laws was perhaps the most visible symbol of a growing decision-making paralysis. At the same time, power was gradually shifting from the federal government to the republican governments. The authority of the country’s president was also gradually shrinking.
Incompatible political spectrums after the 1992 elections
- Soon after the fall of communism—certainly after the June 1990 elections—it became obvious that the two republics were developing different political spectrums. Slovakia’s spectrum was shifted more to the left, and Slovak political parties accentuated more openly national demands or even an outright nationalist agenda. While in the Czech Republic the Communist Party did not reform itself, and the Social Democratic Party was newly recreated from below, the Slovak democratic left was represented by the reformed Communist Party.
- In the 1992 elections, political parties that described themselves as center-right prevailed in the Czech Republic, while leftist and nationalist parties were the winners in Slovakia. It became virtually impossible to create a functioning federal government.
Czech and Slovak nationalism
- Although much has been said and written about Slovak nationalism, there was also a version of Czech nationalism. The Czechs seemed to identify much more than the Slovaks with the idea of Czechoslovakia, but it can be argued that Czechoslovakia was more acceptable for them, among other reasons, because the Czechs had a privileged position in the two-state federation, in which the other nation was half the size of the Czech nation.
- While Slovak nationalism was active—an expression of nation-building in a country that had not had the kind of historical experience with its own statehood that the Czechs had, Czech nationalism was defensive. In other words, while no significant Czech political parties actively strove for independence or greater autonomy, many Czech politicians were intellectually invested in the idea of Czechoslovakia in which the Czechs—by definition—are the more senior nation.
- Some Czech politicians also believed that Slovakia is an economic burden for the Czechs. This version of Czech nationalism was based on the belief that the Czechs are superior—more advanced, more urbanized, and therefore, better equipped to cope with market reforms.
- Both Czech politicians and the public did not abandon the traditional Czech paternalism in attitudes toward Slovakia after 1989. Some Slovak demands—for example, modifications in the name of the country—were ridiculed by the Czech media and understood as petty by Czech politicians, who did not appreciate the symbolism of such steps for the Slovaks.
A lack of democratic experience in both countries
- Perhaps the growing Czech-Slovak rift could have been solved by giving the Slovaks more autonomy, or by transforming the federation into a confederation. The Belgian or the Canadian models of coexistence of two nations within one state could have been used, but problems in the Czech-Slovak relations took place at a time when there were many other pressing tasks to solve.
- Also, Czech and Slovak politicians were only learning the basics of democracy. Hence, there was a natural proclivity on both sides to accelerate the process. Democratic solutions were not explored to the utmost.
- There were other more subtle differences, such as religion; most Czechs are atheist or otherwise irreligious, whereas most Slovaks are Roman Catholics.
- The people who argue events between 1989 and 1992 point to international factors such as the breakaway of the Soviet satellite nations, the lack of unified media between the Czech and Slovak republic.
The Process of Dissolution
- In the end, the dissolution of Czechoslovakia was a success in terms of the mechanisms and procedures used. It was a peaceful, negotiated process that did not produce any of the upheavals and bloody conflicts we witnessed in the former Yugoslavia or some parts of the Soviet Union.
- The main point of contention was the question of whether Czechoslovakia was to hold a referendum. It is possible today to argue that the decision not to hold a referendum was fortunate. First, in a country consisting of two nations of unequal size, one referendum, on a federal level only, would not work.
- Holding two referendums, one in each republic, was also problematic, as no one seemed to know what would happen if one republic voted in favor of the country’s split and another would be against it.
- There were also very different ideas about what kind of a common state Czechoslovakia should be if it survived. Public opinion and politicians were divided: some people supported the idea of a federation, some campaigned for a confederation, and others even advocated the renewal of a unitary state. There were also proposals to turn Czechoslovakia into a three-state federation, consisting of Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia, and Slovakia.
- It is something of a historical achievement that the Federal Assembly in the end approved the dissolution of the federation, and that the two sides agreed on a civilized division of federal assets and eventually also the split of the monetary union.
- The split of Czechoslovakia initially had a negative impact on regional cooperation. The Visegrad grouping was downgraded, especially as the Czechs, under the leadership of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, began to propound the ideology of Czech exceptionalism and superiority toward other Visegrad countries. (The Visegrad Group, also called the Visegrad Four is an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of furthering their European integration as well as advancing their military, economic and energy cooperation with one another)
- Slovakia’s slide into a semi-authoritarian regime under Prime Minister Meciar also had a negative impact on regional cooperation, eventually forcing the three other Visegrad countries to leave Slovakia behind in their efforts to join NATO and other organizations.
- It is sometimes argued that Meciar would not have succeeded in stifling democracy in Slovakia, had Slovakia stayed part of Czechoslovakia. However, that thesis cannot be really verified.
- There was also a certain asymmetry in terms of international stature for the Czechs and the Slovaks after the split. While the Slovaks became more visible–a new international player (even though their reputation during the Meciar era was not good)–, the Czech Republic was viewed as a truncated Czechoslovakia, and the international stature of the country diminished.
- In relations with Germany and Austria, in both of which demands were repeatedly raised by some organizations and politicians to re-evaluate the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after WWII, the Czech Republic was in a much weaker position than Czechoslovakia.
- The Czech Republic was also in a weaker position vis-a-vis Austria than Czechoslovakia had ever been with regard to the Temelin nuclear power plant. The international stature of the Czech Republic began to improve visibly only after the country’s admission to NATO in 1999.
- Another significant downside of the split for the Czechs was the fact that the Czech Republic became almost ethnically homogenous, as the only significant minority left was the Roma. Although some 300,000 Slovaks stayed in the Czech Republic after the split, most of them were quite assimilated and never came to play the role of an ethnic minority. It can be argued that the ethnic homogenization of the Czech Republic further strengthened the traditional Czech provincialism.
- Slovakia, on the other hand, became the most multicultural and multiethnic country in Central Europe. Ethnic Hungarians accounted for about 10 percent of its population, and the numbers of Roma are estimated at 300,000 to 500,000. Under the nationalist government of Meciar, Slovakia had problems with its minorities, but it seems that the need of various ethnic groups to coexist in the end contributed to improvements in Slovakia’s political culture.
- The split of Czechoslovakia worked better for Slovakia, it seems, than for the Czechs. Many Czechs accepted the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as something of a defeat, a partial loss of their national identity.
- The role of the EU has been tremendously important and positive. It is almost certain that without EU integration, the story of the split could have, overall, turned out to be a failure, rather than a success, for both nations.
- The Bulgarian dictator, Todor Zhivkov, held the post of the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party continuously from 1954.
- The reforms towards liberalization, both social, political and economic in the Eastern Block started with Gorbachev’s reform program in the Soviet Union which was felt in Bulgaria in the late 1980s. In fact, the release of tightening started with the end of the Stalinist era and continued slowly leading tot the gradual breaking of the Iron Curtain. This, together with the policies of Gorbachev, led to more freedom and expectations for democracy among people.
- In November 1989 demonstrations on ecological issues staged in Sofia, and these soon broadened into a general campaign for political reform. That Communists generally didn’t break the demonstrations was a sign of a possible change that would come.
- In February 1990 the Communist Party, forced by street protests gave up its claim on power and in June 1990 the first free elections since 1931 were held, won by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (the new name of the Communist Party). In July 1991 a new Constitution was adopted, which regulates a representative elected President and a Prime Minister and Cabinet.
- The new system initially failed to improve living standards or create economic growth—the average quality of life and economic performance remained lower than under Communism .
- A 1997 reform package restored economic growth, but living standards continued to suffer. After 2001 economic, political and geopolitical conditions improved greatly, and Bulgaria achieved high Human Development status.
- It became a member of NATO in 2004 and participated in the War in Afghanistan. After several years of reforms it joined the European Union in 2007 despite continued concerns about government corruption.
- By 1989, the Communist systems were going through a process of collapse. With the economic and political crises at hand, Hungary went through an oddly calm process of democratization.
- Hungarian history since the fall of communism has been marked by turbulent shifts in the political landscape. In 1989, reformers within the Communist Party agreed to “round table” talks with notable opposition leaders, laying the groundwork for multi-party democracy and a free market economy. In the first free elections in 1990, the centre-right Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) led by Jozsef Antall won an overwhelming majority in the Parliament with a clear mandate.
- The MDF advocated a gradual transition towards open markets, but the economic changes of the early 1990s resulted in declining living standards for most people in Hungary. In 1991 most state subsidies were removed, leading to a severe recession exacerbated by the fiscal austerity necessary to reduce inflation and stimulate investment.
- The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), consisting in large part of former communists won the 1994 elections and formed a coalition government with the Free Democrats. The tide turned yet again four years later with the center-right Fidesz winning its first mandate under Viktor Orban’s leadership. During this period, all four main political parties advocated economic liberalization and closer ties with the West.
- Hungary joined NATO in 1999, followed almost immediately thereafter by its involvement in the Yugoslav Wars. In 1998, the European Union began negotiations with Hungary on full membership. In a 2003 national referendum, 85% voted in favor of Hungary acceding to the European Union, which followed on 1 May 2004.
- The government’s inability to forestall Poland’s economic decline led to waves of strikes across the country in April, May and August 1988. In an attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de facto recognition to the Solidarity union, and Interior Minister began talks with its leader Lech Wałesa on August 31. A series of negotiations, the “round-table” talks, began in February 1989.
- On 4 April 1989 the historic Round Table Agreement was signed legalising Solidarity and setting up partly free parliamentary elections to be held on 4 June 1989.
- The victory of Solidarity surpassed all predictions. Solidarity candidates captured all the seats they were allowed to compete for in the Sejm, while in the Senate they captured 99 out of the 100 available seats (with the one remaining seat taken by an independent candidate). At the same time, many prominent Communist candidates failed to gain even the minimum number of votes required to capture the seats that were reserved for them.
- The last Communist Prime Minister of Poland, General Czeslaw Kiszczak, said he would resign to allow a non-Communist to form an administration. As Solidarity was the only other political grouping that could possibly form a government, it was virtually assured that a Solidarity member would become prime minister. On 19 August 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, an anti-Communist editor, Solidarity supporter was nominated as Prime Minister of Poland – and the Soviet Union voiced no protest, despite calls from hard-line Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu for the Warsaw Pact to intervene militarily to ‘save socialism’ as it had in Prague in 1968. Five days later, on 24 August 1989, Poland’s Parliament ended more than 40 years of one-party rule by making Mazowiecki the country’s first non-Communist Prime Minister since the early postwar years.
- On 29 December 1989 the Sejm amended the constitution to change the official name of the country from the People’s Republic of Poland to the Republic of Poland. The communist Polish United Workers’ Party dissolved itself on 29 January 1990 and transformed itself into the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland.
- In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Wałesa became the first popularly elected President of Poland.
- A shock therapy programme was initiated in the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its socialist-style planned economy into a market economy. As with all other post-communist countries, Poland suffered temporary slumps in social and economic standards, but it became the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989 GDP levels, which it achieved by 1995 .
- There were numerous improvements in human rights, such as the freedom of speech, internet freedom, civil liberties and political rights.
- In 1991, Poland became a member of the Visegrad Group and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the Czech Republic and Hungary.
- Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June 2003, with Poland becoming a full member on 1 May 2004. Poland joined the Schengen Area in 2007, as a result of which, the country’s borders with other member states of the European Union have been dismantled, allowing for full freedom of movement within most of the EU.
- After the revolution, the National Salvation Front (NSF), led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures.
- In April 1990 a sit-in protest contesting the results of the elections and accusing the NSF, including Iliescu, of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate, rapidly grew to become what was called the Golaniad. The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, prompting the intervention of coal miners summoned by Iliescu. This episode is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad (suppression of an anti-National Salvation Front (FSN) sit-in protests in Bucharest,)
- The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Social Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party. The former governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been several democratic changes of government.
- After the Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe and the United States, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting the 2008 summit in Bucharest.The country joined EU in 2007.
- During the 2000s, Romania enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in Europe and has been referred at times as “the Tiger of Eastern Europe”.
- In December 1991, a new constitution was adopted, followed in 1992 by the laws on denationalisation and privatization.The members of the European Union recognised Slovenia as an independent state on 15 January 1992, and the United Nations accepted it as a member on 22 May 1992.
- Slovenia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.
- In 2004 Slovenia also joined NATO.
(7) Baltic Nations:
- In 1989, during the “Singing Revolution“, in a landmark demonstration for more independence, more than two million people formed a human chain stretching through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, called the Baltic Way. All three nations had similar experiences of occupation and similar aspirations for regaining independence. The Estonian Sovereignty Declaration was issued on 16 November 1988.
- On 20 August 1991, Estonia declared formal independence during the Soviet military coup attempt in Moscow, reconstituting the pre-1940 state. The Soviet Union recognised the independence of Estonia on 6 September 1991.
- Estonia joined NATO on 29 March 2004.
- The 2004 enlargement of the European Union was the largest single expansion of the European Union, both in terms of territory and population, however not in terms of gross domestic product (wealth). Estonia was among a group of ten countries admitted to the EU on 1 May 2004.
- In the summer of 1987, the first large demonstrations were held in Riga at the Freedom Monument—a symbol of independence. In the summer of 1988, a national movement, coalescing in the Popular Front of Latvia, was opposed by the Interfront.
- The Latvian SSR, along with the other Baltic Republics was allowed greater autonomy, and in 1988, the old pre-war Flag of Latvia flew again, replacing the Soviet Latvian flag as the official flag in 1990.
- In 1989, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a resolution on the Occupation of the Baltic states, in which it declared the occupation “not in accordance with law,” and not the “will of the Soviet people.” Pro-independence Popular Front of Latvia candidates gained a two-thirds majority in the Supreme Council in the March 1990 democratic elections. On 4 May 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR adopted the Declaration On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, and the Latvian SSR was renamed Republic of Latvia.
- In January 1991, Soviet political and military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Republic of Latvia authorities.During the transitional period, Moscow maintained many central Soviet state authorities in Latvia.
- The Popular Front of Latvia advocated that all permanent residents be eligible for Latvian citizenship. However, universal citizenship for all permanent residents was not adopted. The majority of ethnic non-Latvians did not receive Latvian citizenship.Still, today there are 290,660 non-citizens in Latvia, which represent 14.1% of population. They have no citizenship of any country. The Republic of Latvia declared the end of the transitional period and restored full independence on 21 August 1991, in the aftermath of the failed Soviet coup attempt.
- Russia ended its military presence by completing its troop withdrawal in 1994 and shutting down the Skrunda-1 radar station in 1998. The major goals of Latvia in the 1990s, to join NATO and the European Union, were achieved in 2004.
- The advent of perestroika and glasnost in the late 1980s allowed the establishment of Sąjudis, an anti-Communist independence movement. After a landslide victory in elections to the Supreme Soviet, members of Sąjudis proclaimed Lithuania’s independence on 11 March 1990, becoming the first Soviet republic to do so. The Soviet Union attempted to suppress the secession by imposing an economic blockade.
- On 4 February 1991, Iceland became the first country to recognise Lithuanian independence. After the Soviet August Coup, independent Lithuania received wide official recognition and joined the United Nations on 17 September 1991. The last Soviet troops left Lithuania on 31 August 1993 – even earlier than they departed from East Germany.
- Lithuania, seeking closer ties with the West, applied for NATO membership in 1994. After a transition from a planned economy to a free market one, Lithuania became a full member of NATO and the European Union in 2004 and a member of the Schengen Agreement on 21 December 2007.
- On 16 July 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. This established the principles of the self-determination, democracy, independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR. This started a period of confrontation with the central Soviet authorities.
- In August 1991, a conservative faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party’s power. After it failed, on 24 August 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence.
- A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on 1 December 1991. More than 90% of the electorate expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament,
- Leonid Kravchuk as the first President of Ukraine. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on 8 December, followed by the Alma Ata meeting on 21 December, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
- Ukraine was initially viewed as having favorable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union. However, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, Ukraine lost 60% of its GDP from 1991 to 1999, and suffered five-digit inflation rates. Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as the amounts of crime and corruption in Ukraine, Ukrainians protested and organized strikes.
- The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. After 2000, the country enjoyed steady real economic growth. A new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted under second President Leonid Kuchma in 1996, which turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticised by opponents for corruption, electoral fraud, discouraging free speech and concentrating too much power in his office.
- Ukraine also pursued full nuclear disarmament, giving up the third largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world and dismantling or removing all strategic bombers on its territory.
- Belarus declared itself sovereign on 27 July 1990. With the support of the Communist Party, the country’s name was changed to the Republic of Belarus on 25 August1991.
- Stanislav Shushkevich, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, met with Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine on 8 December 1991 inBelavezhskaya Pushcha to formally declare the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States
- A national constitution was adopted in March 1994 in which the functions of prime minister were given to the President of Belarus.
- Two-round elections for the presidency on (24 June 1994 and 10 July 1994) catapulted the Alexander Lukashenkointo national prominence.Lukashenko was re-elected in 2001, in 2006 and again in 2010. He is criticised for authoritarian style of government.
- In June 1991, Boris Yeltsin became the first directly elected President in Russian history when he was elected President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, which became the independent Russian Federation in December of that year.
- During and after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, wide-ranging reforms including privatization and market and trade liberalization were undertaken, including radical changes along the lines of “shock therapy” (shock therapy refers to the sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and immediate trade liberalization within a country, usually also including large-scale privatization of previously public-owned assets) as recommended by the United States and the International Monetary Fund.
- All this resulted in a major economic crisis, characterized by a 50% decline of both GDP and industrial output between 1990–95.
- The privatization largely shifted control of enterprises from state agencies to individuals with inside connections in the government. Many of the newly rich moved billions in cash and assets outside of the country in an enormous capital flight. The depression of the economy led to the collapse of social services; the birth rate plummeted while the death rate skyrocketed. Millions plunged into poverty, from 1.5% level of poverty in the late Soviet era, to 39–49% by mid-1993.
- The 1990s saw extreme corruption and lawlessness, the rise of criminal gangs and violent crime
- The 1990s were plagued by armed conflicts in the North Caucasus, both local ethnic skirmishes and separatist Islamist insurrections. From the time Chechen separatists declared independence in the early 1990s, an intermittent guerrilla war (First Chechen War, also known as the War in Chechnya, was a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, )has been fought between the rebel groups and the Russian military.
- First Chechen War: Predominantly Muslim Chechens for centuries had gloried in defying the Russians. Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Republic of Chechnya’s nationalist president, was driven to take his republic out of the Russian Federation, and had declared Chechnya’s independence in 1991. Russia was quickly submerged in a quagmire like that of the U.S. in the Vietnam War.Russians attacked the Chechen capital of Grozny during the first weeks of January 1995, Humiliating losses on Russia’s demoralized and ill-equipped troops. Russian troops had not secured the Chechen capital of Grozny by year’s end.
- The Russians finally managed to gain control of Grozny in February 1995 after heavy fighting. In August 1996 Yeltsin agreed to a ceasefire with Chechen leaders, and a peace treaty was formally signed in May 1997. However, the conflict resumed in 1999, (Second Chechen War) thus rendering the 1997 peace accord meaningless. This time the rebellion was brutally crushed by Vladimir Putin.
- Terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by separatists, most notably the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school siege, caused hundreds of deaths and drew worldwide attention.
- Russia took up the responsibility for settling the USSR’s external debts, even though its population made up just half of the population of the USSR at the time of its dissolution.
- High budget deficits caused the 1998 Russian financial crisis(also called “Ruble crisis” hit Russia on 17 August 1998. It resulted in the Russian government and the Russian Central Bank devaluing the ruble and defaulting on its debt.) and resulted in a further GDP decline.
- On 31 December 1999, President Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned, handing the post to the recently appointed Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who then won the 2000 presidential election. Putin suppressed the Chechen insurgency. High oil prices and the initially weak currency followed by increasing domestic demand, consumption, and investments has helped the economy grow for nine straight years, improving the standard of living and increasing Russia’s influence on the world stage.
(1) Breakup of Yugoslovakia:
Timeline of Breakup:
- 25 June 1991, when Croatia and Slovenia declared independence
- 8 September 1991, following a referendum the Republic of Macedonia declared independence
- 8 October 1991, when the 9 July moratorium on Slovenian and Croatian secession ended and Croatia restated its independence in the Croatian Parliament (that day is celebrated as Independence Day in Croatia)
- 15 January 1992, when Slovenia and Croatia were internationally recognised by most European countries
- 6 April 1992, full recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina‘s independence by the U.S. and most European countries
- 28 April 1992, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is formed ( the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, which remained relatively untouched by the Yugoslav war, formed a rump state known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia )
- 14 December 1995, the Dayton Agreement is signed by the leaders of FR Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia
- The Breakup of Yugoslavia occurred as a result of a series of political upheavals and conflicts during the early 1990 and ethnic conflics. After a period of political crisis in 1980s, constituent republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia split apart, but the unsolved issues caused bitter inter-ethnic Yugoslav wars. The wars primarily affected Bosnia and Croatia.
- After the communist victory in World War II, Yugoslavia was set up as a federation of six republics, with borders drawn along ethnic and historical lines: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. In addition, two autonomous provinces were established within Serbia: Vojvodina and Kosovo. Each of the republics had its own branch of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia party and a ruling elite, and any tensions were solved on the federal level.
- The Yugoslav model of state organization, as well as a “middle way” between planned and liberal economy, had been a relative success, and the country experienced a period of strong economic growth and relative political stability up to the 1980s, under the firm rule of president-for-life Josip Broz Tito. After his death in 1980, the weakened system of federal government was left unable to cope with rising economic and political challenges.
- In the 1980s, Kosovo Albanians started to demand that their autonomous province be granted the status of a constituent republic, starting with the 1981 protests. Ethnic tensions between Albanians and Kosovo Serbs remained high over the whole decade, which resulted in homogenization of Serbs across Yugoslavia, who increasingly saw the high autonomy of provinces, and ineffective system of consensus at the federal level as an obstacle for Serbian interests.
- In 1987, Slobodan Milošević came to power in Serbia, and through a series of populist moves acquired de facto control over Kosovo, Vojvodina and Montenegro, garnering a high level of support among Serbs for his centralist policies.
- Milošević was met with opposition by party leaders of western republics of Slovenia and Croatia, who advocated greater democratization of the country in lieu of weakening of Communism in Eastern Europe. The League of Communists of Yugoslavia dissolved in 1990 along federal lines.
- During 1990, the communists lost power to separatist parties in the first multi-party elections held across the country, except in Serbia and Montenegro, where they were won by Milošević and his allies. Nationalist rhetoric on all sides became increasingly heated. In 1991, one by one republics proclaimed independence (only Serbia and Montenegro remained federated), but the status of Serb minorities outside Serbia was left unsolved.
- After a string of inter-ethnic incidents, the Yugoslav Wars ensued, first in Croatia and then, most severely, in multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina; the wars left long-term economic and political damage in the region.
- The Yugoslav Wars were ethnic conflicts fought from 1991 to 1999 on the territory of former Yugoslavia. The wars mostly resulted in peace accords, involving full international recognition of new states, but with massive economic damage in the region. The wars accompanied the breakup of the country, where its constituent republics declared independence, but the issues of ethnic minorities in the new countries (chiefly Serbs in central parts and Albanians in the southeast) were left unresolved after those republics were recognized internationally. The wars are generally considered to be a series of largely separate but related military conflicts occurring in and affecting most of the former Yugoslav republics:
- War in Slovenia (1991)
- Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995)
- Bosnian War (1992–1995):
- 1992: Bosnia and Herzegovina declare independence.osnian Serbs begin their siege on Sarajevo
- 1993: Bosnian deputy Prime Minister killed by Serbian forces.Bosnian Mulsims and Croats begin fighting ovver the parts of Bosnia not already taken by Serbs. This amounts to about 30% of the original territory.The UN declares six safe zones for muslims.
- 1994: NATO shoots down four Serbian aircraft over Bosnia, intervening for the first time since the war began (in fact, the first use of military power by NATO since it’s creation in 1949).Bosnian Muslims and Croats sign peace accords drawn up by the United States.
- 1995:Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter brokers peace agreement between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims. Truce holds well for about four months.erb forces refuse to remove heavy weapons from Sarajevo and as a result NATO launches an aircraft attack on Serb ammunition depot. In retaliation, Serbs begin attacking the Muslim safe zones designated by the UN.Serbs sieze Srebrenica , an estimated 8,000 Srebrenican men and boys are killed in one day.NATO airstrike begins against Serbs in and around Sarajevo.Peace talks begin in Dayton, Ohio.Leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia agree to a settlement.resident Clinton gives the official order to deploy American troops to Bosnia.The Dayton Accords are signed by the Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs. 60,000 NATO troops are now allowed into the territories for peacekeeping purposes only.ATO takes over peace-keeping duties from UN
- Kosovo War (1998–1999):
- It was fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, (by this time, consisting of the Republics of Montenegro and Serbia) which controlled Kosovo before the war, and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) with air support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), (from 24th March 1999), and ground support from the Albanian army
- Kosovo is the disputed borderland between Serbia and Albania. About 90 per cent of its two million inhabitants are Kosovo Albanians (Kosovars). and rest serbs. Albanians opposed ethnic Serbs and the government of Yugoslavia .On April 24th, 1987 the Serbian Communist leader Slobodan Milosevic visited Kosovo -and tried to revive serb nationalism.In 1989 Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo, initiated a policy of nonviolent protest against the abrogation of the province’s constitutional autonomy laid down in the 1974 constitution by Slobodan Milošević, then president of the Serbian republic.In 1990 July – Ethnic Albanian leaders declare independence from Serbia. Belgrade dissolves the Kosovo government.In 1990 September – Sacking of more than 100,000 ethnic Albanian workers, including government employees and media workers, prompts general strike. In 1991 – Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia break away from Yugoslavia and declare their independence.In 1992 July – An academic, Ibrahim Rugova, is elected president of the self-proclaimed republic. In 1998 March-September – Open conflict between Serb police and separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Serb forces launch a brutal crackdown. Civilians are driven from their homes. 1998 September – Nato gives an ultimatum to President Milosevic to halt the crackdown on Kosovo Albanians.1999 March – Internationally-brokered peace talks fail.Nato launches air strikes against Yugoslavia lasting 78 days before Belgrade yields.In 1999 June – President Milosevic agrees to withdraw troops from Kosovo. Nato calls off air strikes. The UN sets up a Kosovo Peace Implementation Force (Kfor) and Nato forces arrive in the province. The KLA agrees to disarm. Serb civilians flee revenge attacks.
- As the Yugoslav Wars raged through Croatia and Bosnia, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, which remained relatively untouched by the war, formed a rump state known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in 1992. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia aspired to be a sole legal successor to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but those claims were opposed by the other former republics. The United Nations also denied its request to automatically continue the membership of the former state.Eventually, after the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević from power as president of the federation in 2000, the country dropped those aspirations, accepted the opinion of the Badinter Arbitration Committee about shared succession, and reapplied for and gained UN membership on 2 November 2000.
- In April 2001, the five successor states extant at the time drafted an Agreement on Succession Issues, signing the agreement in June 2001.Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was officially renamed Serbia and Montenegro in 2003.
- In June 2006, Montenegro became an independent nation after the results of a May 2006 referendum, therefore rendering Serbia and Montenegro no longer existent. After Montenegro’s independence, Serbia became the legal successor of Serbia and Montenegro, while Montenegro re-applied for membership in international organisations.
- In February 2008, the Republic of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, leading to an ongoing dispute on whether Kosovo is a legally recognised state. However, numerous countries, including the United States and various members of the European Union, have recognised Kosovo as an independent nation.