History of Serbia since 1918

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After the military victory over Austria-Hungary in the First World War, the Kingdom of Serbia was restored and was joined with other South Slavic lands formerly administered by the Austria-Hungary into the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which was renamed to Yugoslavia in 1929). This new South Slavic kingdom was created on December 1, 1918 and de facto existed until the Axis invasion in 1941 (de jure until the proclamation of the republic in November 29, 1945).

From 1918 to 1941, Serbia did not exist as a political entity, since SCS Kingdom (Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was a centralist country divided into administrative provinces that were not created in accordance with ethnic or historical criteria. However, the country was ruled by Serb king and dominated by Serb political elite. This triggered the unsatisfactoriness among the Croats, whose politicians demanded federalization of the country. The Serb-Croat political compromise was achieved in 1939 when new province known as the Banovina of Croatia was created. Some Serb intellectuals also demanded that the rest of the Yugoslav provinces (excluding the Drava Banovina) are joined into the new Banovina of Serbia,[1] but this political project was never realized.

In 1941, after the Axis invasion and occupation of Yugoslavia, German occupational authorities created an occupied territory named Serbia[2][3] and installed Serbian puppet government there. Occupied Serbia included much of the territory of present-day Republic of Serbia, excluding some areas that were occupied and annexed by Independent State of Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italy. The Banat region, which was a part of occupied Serbia, had a special autonomous status and was governed by its ethnic German minority. Besides the armed forces of the Serbian pro-Axis puppet regime, two anti-Axis resistance movements operated in the territory of Serbia: the royalist Chetniks and the communist Partisans. Besides the anti-Axis orientation, the two resistance movements also turned one against another, which resulted in a general armed civil war in Serbia. Temporarily, in autumn of 1941, the communist resistance movement created a short lived Republic of Užice[4] in south-western Serbia, but this entity was soon destroyed by the joint efforts of Axis troops and pro-Axis Serbian armed forces.

In 1944, the Soviet Red Army and Yugoslav Partisans expelled Axis troops from Serbia and the area was included into the restored Yugoslavia. Unlike the pre-war Yugoslavia, which had a centralist system of government, the post-war Yugoslavia was established as a federation of six equal republics. One of the republics was Serbia, which had two autonomous provinces: Vojvodina and Kosovo. According to the 1974 Yugoslav constitution, the autonomous provinces of Serbia gained extensive political rights and were in some areas presented in federal government separately from Serbia, although, they were still de jure subordinated to Serbia.

New Serbian constitution from 1990 greatly reduced autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina and strengthened the central government in Serbia. After the break up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991-1992, the Serbia and Montenegro formed the new federation of the two republics naming it the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the clashes between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian and Yugoslav authorities, as well as the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Kosovo became an UN protectorate. In 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was transformed into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, and following the Montenegrin Independence Referendum from 2006, Serbia and Montenegro were transformed into two independent states. In 2008, local government of UN-administered Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and this was subsequently recognized by one number of other countries.

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