Country in SE Europe, with a SW coastline on the Adriatic Sea, bounded W by Bosnia-Herzegovina, NW by Croatia, N by Hungary, E by Romania and Bulgaria, and S by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania.
Under the 1992 constitution there is a directly elected, 120-member federal assembly (the Chamber of Citizens), representing both Serbia and Montenegro. The federal president is also directly elected, and the two constituent republics of Serbia and Montenegro have their own presidents and assemblies.
Originally inhabited by nomadic peoples from the central Asian plateau, and later by Slavs, the country came under the rule of the Greek and then Roman empires. During the early medieval period the future republics of Yugoslavia existed as substantially independent bodies, the most important being the kingdom of Serbia. During the 14th and 15th centuries much of the country was conquered by the Turks and incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, except for mountainous Montenegro, which survived as a sovereign principality, and Croatia and Slovenia in the NW, which formed part of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg empire.
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes Anti-Ottoman uprisings secured Serbia a measure of autonomy from the early 19th century and full independence from 1878, and the new kingdom proceeded to enlarge its territory, at Turkey and Bulgaria’s expense, during the Balkan Wars 1912–13. However, not until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of World War I were Croatia and Slovenia liberated from foreign control. A new “Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes” was formed Dec 1918, with the Serbian Peter Karageorgevic at its helm, to which Montenegro acceded following its people’s deposition of its own ruler, King Nicholas.
Peter I died 1921 and was succeeded by his son Alexander, who renamed the country Yugoslavia (“nation of the South Slavs”) and who, faced with opposition from Croatians at home and from Italians abroad, established a military dictatorship 1929. He was assassinated Oct 1934. Alexander’s young son Peter II succeeded, and a regency under the latter’s uncle Paul (1893–1976) was set up that came under increasing influence from Germany and Italy. The regency was briefly overthrown by pro-Allied groups March 1941, precipitating an invasion by German troops. Peter II fled, while two guerrilla groups—proroyalist, Serbian-based Chetniks, led by General Draza Mihailovic, and communist partisans, led by Josip Broz (Marshal Tito)—engaged in resistance activities.
Yugoslav Republic under Tito
Tito established a provisional government at liberated Jajce in Bosnia-Herzegovina Nov 1943 and proclaimed the Yugoslav Federal Republic Nov 1945 after the expulsion, with Soviet help, of the remaining German forces. Elections were held, a communist constitution on the Soviet model was introduced, and remaining royalist opposition crushed. Tito broke with Stalin 1948 and, with the constitutional law of 1953, adopted a more liberal and decentralized form of communism centered around workers self-management and the support of private farming. Tito became the dominating force in Yugoslavia and held the newly created post of president from 1953 until his death May 1980.
In foreign affairs, the country sought to maintain a balance between East and West and played a leading role in the creation of the nonaligned movement 1961. Domestically, the nation experienced continuing regional discontent, in particular in Croatia where a violent separatist movement gained ground in the 1970s. To deal with these problems, Tito encouraged further decentralization and devolution of power to the constituent republics. A system of collective leadership and regular rotation of office posts was introduced to prevent the creation of regional cliques. However, the problems of regionalist unrest grew worse during the 1980s, notably in Kosovo (see Serbia) and Bosnia), where Albanian and Islamic nationalism respectively were strong.
This regionalist discontent was fanned by a decline in living standards from 1980, caused by mounting foreign debt, the service of which absorbed more than 10% of GNP, and a spiraling inflation rate, which reached 200% in 1988 and 700% in 1989. From 1987 to 1988 the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Branko Mikulic, a Bosnian, instituted a “market socialist” program of prices and wages decontrol and the greater encouragement of the private sector and foreign “inward investment”. The short-term consequence of this restructuring program was a period of increased economic austerity and a rise in the unemployment rate to 15%. Following a wave of strikes and mounting internal disorder, Mikulic was replaced as prime minister Jan 1989 by Ante Markovic, a reformist Croatian.
multiparty elections The unity of the ruling Communist Party began to crumble 1988–90 as both personal and ideologically based feuds developed between the leaders of its republican branches. Slobodan Miloševic, the hard-line Serbian party chief, waged a populist campaign against Kosovo’s and Vojvodina’s autonomous status securing their reintegration within Serbia. This led to a violent ethnic Albanian backlash in Kosovo 1989–90 and to growing pressure in more liberal, propluralist Croatia and Slovenia for their republics to break away from the federation. The schism within the Communist Party was confirmed Jan 1990 when its congress had to be abandoned after a walkout by the Slovene delegation. In Sept Kosovo and Vojvodina were effectively stripped of their autonomy when a new multiparty constitution came into effect in Serbia.
In multiparty elections held in Serbia Dec 1990, Slobodan Miloševic was elected president and his Serbian Socialist Party (the renamed communists) achieved an assembly majority. In Bosnia-Herzegovina the League of Communists was voted out and the three Muslim, Serb, and Croat nationalist parties formed a coalition. In Macedonia the multiparty election held Nov 1990 resulted in a hung parliament. In Montenegro, the League of Communists held on to power. Concerned at the rising tide of ethnic conflict and political disintegration, Prime Minister Markovic founded the Alliance of Reform Forces July 1990 which aimed to preserve Yugoslav unity within a pluralist federation.
Slovenia’s call for secession
In July 1990 the Slovenian assembly proclaimed full sovereignty and in Feb 1991 called for secession from Yugoslavia.
Croatian assertion of autonomy
In Croatia, ethnic tension between majority Croat and minority Serb populations increased following the election April–May 1990 of a right-wing Croat nationalist government led by Franjo Tudjman. Fearing a resurgence of ethnic persecution, Serbs held, in Aug, an unofficial referendum on the issue of cultural autonomy. In the same month there was an anti-Croat uprising in the Serb-dominated town of Knin in the west. In Feb 1991 the Croatian assembly called for secession from Yugoslavia on the same terms as Slovenia. Serb militants in Krajina in turn demanded secession from Croatia and held a referendum, a week ahead of a referendum on sovereignty throughout Croatia. In Krajina, 90% of electors voted “to remain part of Yugoslavia with Serbia and Montenegro and others who want to preserve Yugoslavia”. In Croatia, 93% voted for the republic to become a sovereign and independent country.
In March 1991 there were anticommunist demonstrations against the autocratic rule of Serbia's leaders who had taken control of the media and used the police to suppress anticommunist opposition. On 15 March 1991 the state president, Borisav Jovic, a Serbian, dramatically resigned, after his plan to introduce martial law failed to gain support. There were fears that his departure might presage a military takeover in Yugoslavia. Croatia's representative on the state presidency, Stipe Mesic, a noncommunist committed to the abolition of the federal structure, was formally elected to the collective state presidency June 1991 after three months of political uncertainty. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was increasing civil disorder from the spring of 1991.
Slovenia and Croatia declare independence
On 25 June 1991 both Slovenia and Croatia issued declarations of independence from Yugoslavia. The lack of recognition from other nations precipitated, from June 1991, bloody military confrontations between the federal army and republican forces.
A European Community (EC) delegation of foreign ministers brokered a cease-fire at the end of June but it soon fell apart when the Slovenian parliament overruled the decision of the republic's president, Milan Kucan, to suspend independence for a three-month period. However, threatened with the suspension of EC monetary aid to Yugoslavia it was agreed that the Yugoslav national army would withdraw from Slovenia, which seemed set to secure its independence. But between July and Sept 1991 civil war intensified in ethnically mixed Croatia.
It became uncertain who (politicians or the military) now controlled Yugoslavia at the federal level. Furthermore, the Yugoslav national army had become factionalized, with many units refusing to heed President Mesic's call for a return to barracks.
calls for cease-fire
A new cease-fire was ordered by the federal presidency 7 Aug 1991, after the EC, which viewed Serbia as the real aggressor, threatened to apply economic sanctions against the republic. However, the cease-fire again failed to hold and by Sept around a third of Croatia was under Serb control. Oil-rich Croatia responded by imposing an oil supply blockade on Serbia and attacked federal army barracks within the republic. Another EC-brokered cease-fire 2 Sept 1991 collapsed. Both Serbia and Croatia called for international peacekeeping troops to be deployed and further efforts (including an economic embargo) were made by the EC to achieve a settlement Nov 1991.
other republics call for independence
In Aug 1991 Serbia revealed plans to annex the SE part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, causing ethnic clashes within the republic. From Sept 1991 border areas began to fall to the Serbs, who established autonomous enclaves. In Oct 1991 the republic's sovereignty was declared but this was resisted by the ethnic Bosnian Serbs. In Macedonia a referendum on independence held Sept 1991 received overwhelming support, despite being boycotted by the Albanian and Serbian minorities. In Kosovo, an unofficial referendum on sovereignty held Sept 1991 came out overwhelmingly in favor.
collapse of federal government
Between Sept and Oct 1991 Croat and Slovene representatives resigned from federal bodies and Bosnian and Macedonian representatives withdrew from the federal presidency. In effect, Serbia was left dominating a “rump” Yugoslavia. On 5 Dec 1991 Stipe Mesic resigned from the presidency, declaring that “Yugoslavia no longer exists”. On 20 Dec the federal prime minister, Ante Markovic, also resigned.
cease-fire in Croatia
In early Jan 1992 a United Nations (UN) peace plan was successfully brokered in Sarajevo which provided for an immediate cease-fire in Croatia. This accord was disregarded by the breakaway Serb leader in Krajina, Milan Babic, but recognized by the main Croatian and Serbian forces.
Croatia's and Slovenia's independence was recognized by the EC and the US on 15 Jan 1992.
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Muslims and Croats held a referendum Feb 1992 and voted overwhelmingly in favor of seeking EC recognition of independence, despite a boycott by the Serbs. Official recognition was granted by the EC and the US April 1992. Serb opposition to independence continued, with several hundred people killed in violent clashes. Macedonia declared its independence Jan 1992 and immediate recognition was accorded by Bulgaria, but not by Serbia or neighboring Greece. In an unofficial referendum held in the same month, Macedonia's Albanian community voted for autonomy.
Serbian “carve-up” of Bosnia
Concern for ethnic minorities in Serbia and Serbia’s planned “carve-up” of the newly independent Bosnian republic prompted the EC and the US to deny recognition of a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, announced by Serbia and Montenegro April 1992. The UN withdrew its ambassadors from Belgrade in May and international sanctions were imposed against Serbia and Montenegro. Dobrica Cosic became president in June and Milan Panic was made prime minister in July. The US demand for Yugoslavia’s expulsion from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was met in the same month. In Sept Yugoslavia’s membership in the UN was suspended because of Serbia’s alleged backing of atrocities carried out by Bosnian Serbs against Muslims and Croats, the policy of “ethnic cleansing”, and the suspected existence of Serbian-run concentration camps in Bosnia.
In Dec 1992 Slobodan Milosevic was reelected Serbian president, defeating opposition leader Milan Panic, who was subsequently ousted on a vote of no confidence. Radoje Kontic was named prime minister by President Cosic Feb 1993. In April Macedonia was awarded UN membership under the provisional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In June 1993 Cosic was removed from office by the Yugoslav parliament, reputedly at the instigation of Milosevic, and replaced by Zoran Lilic.
Yugoslavia's economy was badly affected by international sanctions. Industrial production contracted sharply and by Oct 1993 inflation reached a monthly rate of 2,000%, with fuel in increasingly short supply. Despite this hardship, President Milosevic's Socialist Party secured a slim majority in parliamentary elections Dec 1993. In Oct 1994 international sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro were eased after Milosevic, in response to UN pressure, ordered a blockade of the Bosnian Serbs.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
A Balkan socialist republic; Also called: Jugoslavia.
Ranija država na Balkanu, sačinjavale su je Slovenija, Hrvatska, Bosna i Hercegovina, Srbija, Makedonija i Crna Gora.