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Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001: Part II

Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001: Part II

Breakup of Yugoslavia

Background

  • Yugoslavia—the land of South (i.e. Yugo) Slavs—was created at the end of World War I when Croat, Slovenian, and Bosnian territories that had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire united with the Serbian Kingdom.
  • After the World War II, Josip Broz Tito (who had liberated it from Nazis) organised it in a federal union.
  • While ostensibly a communist state, Yugoslavia broke away from the Soviet sphere of influence in 1948, became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, and adopted a more de-centralized and less repressive form of government as compared with other East European communist states during the Cold War.
  • Yugoslavia was federal union having 6 republics and 2 provinces:
    • Six republics:
      • Serbia
      • Croatia
      • Slovenia
      • Macedonia
      • Bosnia & Herzegovina
      • Montenegro
    • Two provinces:
      • Kosovo
      • Vojvodina

Factors responsible for the breakup of Yugoslavia

  • Cultural and religious divisions between the ethnic groups
  • memories of WWII atrocities committed by all sides,
  • centrifugal nationalist forces
  • death of Tito in 1980 as he was able to sustain the union marked by several internal contradictions
  • 1974 constitution:
    • provided for the devolution of all real power away from the federal government to the republics and autonomous provinces
    • establishing a collective presidency of the eight provincial representatives and a federal government with little control over economic, cultural, and political policy.
  • External factors:
    • The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, the unification of Germany one year later, and the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union all served to erode Yugoslavia’s political stability.
    • As Eastern European states moved away from communist government and toward free elections and market economies, the West’s attention focused away from Yugoslavia and undermined the extensive economic and financial support necessary to preserve a Yugoslav economy already close to collapse.
    • The absence of a Soviet threat to the integrity and unity of Yugoslavia removed a powerful incentive for unity and cooperation.
  • Role of Slobodan Milosevic:
    • Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia’s president from 1989, took advantage of the vacuum created by weakening central state and brutally deployed the use of Serbian ultra-nationalism to fan the flames of conflict in the other republics and gain legitimacy at home.
    • He stripped the two autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina of their constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy within Serbia.
  • Democratization in Eastern Europe:
    • The ongoing effects of democratization in Eastern Europe were felt throughout Yugoslavia.
    • Elections in Slovenia and Croatia in 1990 gave non-communist parties control of the state legislatures and governments.

Breakup of Yugoslavia

  • Slovenia was the first to declare independence in 1991.
    • Yugoslav Army (JNA) briefly intervened in Slovenia, but it withdrew, effectively confirming Slovenia’s separation.
  • Croatia followed in 1991.
    • Serb minority in Croatia declared its own independence from the republic and its desire to join Serbia, sparking violence between armed militias.
    • JNA intervened in the conflict ostensibly to separate the combatants, but it became quickly apparent that it favored the Croatian-Serbs.
    • Ceasefire by UNO.
  • Macedonia declared independence following a September 1991 referendum, and a U.S. peacekeeping and monitoring force was dispatched to the border with Serbia to monitor violence.
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence in 1992.:
    • It had Muslim Bosniaks (44%), Orthodox Serbs (32.5%) and Catholic Croats (17%)
    • Complex war situation emerged known as Bosnian War between Bosnian Serbs (helped by Serbia) and Bosnian Muslims allied with Bosnian Croats.
    • Ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Serb areas.
    • Srebrenica massacre of more than 8000 Bosnian Muslims by Serbian troops in the presence of Dutch UN peacekeeping force.
    • In February 1994, in NATO’s first-ever use of force, NATO fighters shot down four Serb aircraft that were violating the no-fly zone. Later, in May 1995, NATO conducted air strikes on the Serb stronghold.
    • Around 100,000 people were killed during the war and over 2.2 million people were displaced.
    • USA sponsored Dayton Accords was signed in 1995 ending the war in Bosnia and outlining Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • In 1992, Serbia (+Vojvodina and Kosovo) and Montenegro formed a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a successor state to old Yugoslavia.
  • In 2006, Montenegro and Serbia separated.
  • Kosovo separated:
    • In 1998–1999, violence erupted in Kosovo, with the province’s majority Albanian population calling for independence from Serbia.
    • A NATO bombing campaign and economic sanctions forced the Milosevic regime to accept a NATO-led international peace keeping force.
    • The province was placed under U.N. administrative mandate.
    • In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia.
  • In 2003, state union of Serbia (subsumed Vojvodina) and Montenegro created.

Hence, finally the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been broken down into seven new states after the bloody civil war: Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro.

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