The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars fought in Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1999 between the republics that sought sovereignty on one side and the government in Belgrade on the other side that wanted to either prevent their independence or keep large parts of that territory under its control. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs and Montenegrins on one side and Croats and Bosniaks in Bosnia on the other, but also between Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia, between Croats on one side and Serbs and Montenegrins in Croatia on the other, between Serbs and Slovenes in Slovenia, between Serbs and Albanians in Serbia, between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians in Kosovo and between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia. The wars ended at various stages and mostly resulted in full international recognition of new sovereign territories, but with massive economic disruption to the successor states.
Initially the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) sought to preserve the unity of the whole of Yugoslavia by crushing the secessionist governments; however the JNA increasingly came under the influence of the Serbian government of Slobodan Milošević that evoked Serbian nationalist rhetoric and was willing to support the Yugoslav state insofar as using it to preserve the unity of Serbs in one state; as a result the JNA began to lose Slovenes, Croats, Kosovar Albanians, Bosniaks, and ethnic Macedonians, and effectively became a Serb army. According to the 1994 United Nations report, the Serb side did not aim to restore Yugoslavia, but to create a “Greater Serbia” from parts of Croatia and Bosnia.
Often described as Europe's deadliest conflict since World War II, the conflicts have become infamous for the war crimes involved, including mass murder and genocide. These were the first conflicts since World War II to be formally judged genocidal in character and many key individual participants were subsequently charged with war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established by the UN to prosecute these crimes.
According to the International Center for Transitional Justice, the Yugoslav Wars resulted in the deaths of 140,000 people. The Humanitarian Law Center writes that in the conflicts in former Yugoslav republics at least 130,000 people lost their lives.
The wars are generally considered to be a series of largely separate but related military conflicts occurring during the breakup of Yugoslavia and affecting most of the former Yugoslav republics:
- War in Slovenia (1991)
- Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995)
- Bosnian War (1992–1995)
- Kosovo War (1998–1999), including the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
- Insurgency in the Preševo Valley (1999–2001)
- Insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia (2001)
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Background
- 3 The wars
- 4 War crimes
- 5 Analysis
- 6 Timeline of the Yugoslav wars
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The war(s) have alternatively been called:
- "War in the Balkans": largely inappropriate, partly because the war affected only the Western Balkans but also because certain areas which saw fighting (e.g., most of Slovenia) are often seen as belonging to Central Europe and not the Balkans.
- "Wars/conflicts in the former Yugoslavia".
- "Wars of Yugoslav Secession/Succession".
- "Third Balkan War": a term suggested by British journalist Misha Glenny in the title of his book, alluding to the two previous Balkan Wars fought 1912–13. In fact, the term has already been applied by contemporary historians to World War I as an allusion that it was a direct sequel of the 1912–13 Balkan wars.
- "Yugoslavia Civil War"/"Yugoslav Civil War"/"Yugoslavian Civil War"/"Civil War in Yugoslavia".
The nation of Yugoslavia was created in the aftermath of World War I, and was composed mostly of South Slavic Christians, but the nation also had a substantial Muslim minority. This nation lasted from 1918 to 1941, when it was invaded by Axis powers during World War II. In 1943, a new government called the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was established under Josip Broz Tito, who maintained a strongly authoritarian leadership that was non-aligned with either the United States or the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
In the 1980s, relations among the six republics of the SFRY deteriorated. Slovenia and Croatia desired greater autonomy within the Yugoslav confederation, while Serbia sought to strengthen federal authority. As it became clearer that there was no solution agreeable to all parties, Slovenia and Croatia moved toward secession.
Although tensions in Yugoslavia had been mounting since the early 1980s, it was 1990 that proved decisive. In the midst of economic hardship, Yugoslavia was facing rising nationalism amongst its various ethnic groups.
By the early 1990s there was no effective authority at the federal level. The Federal Presidency consisted of the representatives of the six republics, two provinces and the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). The communist leadership was divided along national lines.
The representatives of Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro were replaced with people loyal to Slobodan Milošević, who was at that time President of Serbia, by 1990. This way, Serbia secured four out of eight federal presidency votes and was able to heavily influence decision-making at the federal level, since all the other Yugoslav republics only had one vote. While Slovenia and Croatia wanted to allow a multi-party system, Serbia, led by Milošević, demanded an even more centralized federation and Serbia's dominant role in it. At the 14th Extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in January 1990, the Serbian-dominated assembly agreed to abolish the single-party system; however, Slobodan Milošević, the head of the Serbian Party branch (League of Communists of Serbia) used his influence to block and vote-down all other proposals from the Croatian and Slovene party delegates. This prompted the Croatian and Slovene delegations to walk out and thus the break-up of the party, a symbolic event representing the end of "brotherhood and unity".
Upon Croatia and Slovenia declaring independence in 1991, the Yugoslav federal government attempted to forcibly halt the impending breakup of the country, with Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Marković declaring the secessions of Slovenia and Croatia to be illegal and contrary to the constitution of Yugoslavia, and declared support for the Yugoslav People's Army to secure the integral unity of Yugoslavia.
Ten-Day War (1991)
Initially, the federal government ordered the Yugoslav People's Army to secure border crossings in Slovenia. Slovenian police and Slovenian Territorial Defence blockaded barracks and roads, leading to stand-offs and limited skirmishes around the republic. After several dozen casualties, the limited conflict was stopped through negotiation at Brioni on 7 July 1991, when Slovenia and Croatia agreed to a three-month moratorium on secession. The Federal army completely withdrew from Slovenia by 26 October 1991.
Croatian War of Independence (1991–95)
Fighting in this region had begun weeks prior to the Ten-Day War in Slovenia. The Croatian War of Independence began when Serbs in Croatia, who were opposed to Croatian independence, announced their secession from Croatia. When Franjo Tuđman, the first President of Croatia, came to power, he openly promoted a policy of Croatian sovereignty and a Yugoslav confederation. Ethnic tensions rose, fueled by increasing use of war-mongering propaganda in Serbia and Croatia. As the new Croatian authorities started to modify the Constitution of Croatia, Serbian politicians escalated their boycott into an insurrection called the Log Revolution. The armed incidents of early 1991 escalated into an all-out war over the summer, with fronts formed around the areas of the breakaway SAO Krajina.
The JNA had disarmed the Territorial Units of Slovenia and Croatia prior to the declaration of independence. This was aggravated further by an arms embargo, imposed by the UN on Yugoslavia.
The JNA was ostensibly ideologically unitarian, but its officer corps was predominantly staffed by Serbs or Montenegrins (70 percent). As a result the JNA opposed Croatian independence and sided with the Croatian Serb rebels. The Croatian Serb rebels were unaffected by the embargo as they had the support of and access to supplies of the JNA. By mid-July 1991, the JNA moved an estimated 70,000 troops to Croatia. The fighting rapidly escalated, eventually spanning hundreds of square kilometres from western Slavonia through Banija to Dalmatia.
The border regions faced direct attacks from forces within Serbia and Montenegro, and saw the shelling of UNESCO world heritage site Dubrovnik, where the international press was criticised for focusing on the city's architectural heritage, instead of reporting the destruction of Vukovar, a pivotal battle involving many civilian deaths.
These attacks were marked by the killings of captured soldiers and heavy civilian casualties (Ovčara; Škabrnja), and were the subject of war crimes indictments by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for elements of the Serb political and military leadership.
In January 1992, the Vance plan proclaimed UN controlled (UNPA) zones for Serbs in territory claimed by Serbian rebels as the Republic of Serbian Krajina and brought an end to major military operations, though sporadic artillery attacks on Croatian cities and occasional intrusions of Croatian forces into UNPA zones continued until 1995.
The fighting in Croatia ended in mid-1995, after Operation Flash and Operation Storm. At the end of these operations, Croatia had managed to reclaim all of its territory except the UNPA Sector East bordering Serbia, however most of the Serbian population in these areas had become refugees, and these operations led to war crimes trials by the ICTY against elements of the Croatian military leadership. The areas of "Sector East", unaffected by the Croatian military operations, came under UN administration (UNTAES), and were reintegrated to Croatia in 1998 under the terms of the Erdut Agreement.
Bosnian War (1992–95)
In 1992, conflict engulfed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war was predominantly a territorial conflict between the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina chiefly supported by Bosniaks, and the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Croat entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia, who were led and supplied by Serbia and Croatia respectively, reportedly with a goal of the partition of Bosnia.
The Yugoslav armed forces had disintegrated into a largely Serb-dominated military force. Opposed to the Bosnian-majority led government's agenda for independence, and along with other armed nationalist Serb militant forces, the JNA attempted to prevent Bosnian citizens from voting in the 1992 referendum on independence. This did not succeed in persuading people not to vote and instead the intimidating atmosphere combined with a Serb boycott of the vote resulted in a resounding 99% vote in support for independence.
On 19 June 1992, the war in Bosnia broke out, though the siege of Sarajevo had already begun in April after Bosnia and Herzegovina had declared independence. The conflict, typified by the years-long Sarajevo siege and Srebrenica, was by far the bloodiest and most widely covered of the Yugoslav wars. Bosnia's Serb faction led by ultra-nationalist Radovan Karadžić promised independence for all Serb areas of Bosnia from the majority-Bosniak government of Bosnia.
To link the disjointed parts of territories populated by Serbs and areas claimed by Serbs, Karadzic pursued an agenda of systematic ethnic cleansing primarily against Bosnians through massacre and forced removal of Bosniak populations.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States reported in April 1995 that 90 percent of all the atrocities in the Yugoslav wars up to that point had been committed by Serb militants. Most of these atrocities occurred in Bosnia.
In 1994 the US brokered peace between Croatian forces and the Bosnian Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the successful Flash and Storm operations, the Croatian Army and the combined Bosnian and Croat forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted an operation codenamed Operation Maestral to push back Bosnian Serb military gains.
Together with NATO air strikes on the Bosnian Serbs, the successes on the ground put pressure on the Serbs to come to the negotiating table.
Pressure was put on all sides to stick to the cease-fire and negotiate an end to the war in Bosnia.
The war ended with the signing of the Dayton Agreement on the 14 December 1995, with the formation of Republika Srpska as an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina being the resolution for Bosnian Serb demands.
Kosovo War (1998–99)
After its autonomy was quashed, Kosovo was faced with state organized oppression: since the early 1990s, Albanian language radio and television were restricted and newspapers shut down, whereas Kosovar Albanians were fired in large numbers from public enterprises and institutions, including banks, hospitals, the post office and schools. In June 1991 the University of Priština assembly and several faculty councils were dissolved and replaced by Serbs, and Kosovar Albanian teachers were prevented from entering school premises for the new school year beginning in September 1991, forcing students to study at home.
With time, Kosovar Albanians started an insurgency against Belgrade when the Kosovo Liberation Army was founded in 1996. Armed clashes between two sides broke out in early 1998. A NATO-facilitated ceasefire was signed on 15 October, but both sides broke it two months later and fighting resumed. When the killing of 45 Kosovar Albanians in the Račak massacre was reported in January 1999, NATO decided that the conflict could only be settled by introducing a military peacekeeping force to forcibly restrain the two sides. After the Rambouillet Accords broke down on 23 March with Yugoslav rejection of an external peacekeeping force, NATO prepared to install the peacekeepers by force. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia followed, an intervention against Serbian forces with a mainly bombing but partly ground-based campaign, under the command of General Wesley Clark. Hostilities ended 2½ months later with the Kumanovo Agreement. Kosovo was placed under the governmental control of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the military protection of Kosovo Force (KFOR). The 15-month war had left thousands of civilians killed on both sides and over a million displaced.
Insurgency in the Preševo Valley (1999–2001)
The Insurgency in the Preševo Valley was an armed conflict between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the ethnic-Albanian insurgents of the Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac (UÇPMB). There were instances during the conflict in which the Yugoslav government requested KFOR support in suppressing UÇPMB attacks since they could only use lightly-armed military forces as part of the Kumanovo Treaty that ended the Kosovo War, which created a buffer zone so that the bulk of Yugoslav armed forces could not enter.
Insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia (2001)
The insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia was an armed conflict which began when the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) militant group began attacking the security forces of the Republic of Macedonia at the beginning of February 2001, and ended with the Ohrid Agreement. The goal of the NLA was to give greater rights and autonomy to the country's Albanian minority, who make up 25.2% of the population. There were also claims that the group ultimately wished to see Albanian-majority areas secede from the country, though high-ranking NLA members have denied this. The conflict lasted throughout most of the year, although overall casualties remained limited to several dozen for either side, according to the sources from both of the sides in the conflict.
The United Nations Security Council had imposed an arms embargo. Nevertheless, various states had been engaged in, or facilitated, arms sales to the warring factions: Bulgaria, North Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Russia were all export countries for weapons to the conflict; the headquarters for a huge logistics operation was in Vienna; financial transactions were executed by a Hungarian bank; arms smugglers used companies registered in the off-shore haven of Panama; and the United Kingdom sent military equipment and provided loans for arms purchases, as did Germany. In 2012, Chile convicted nine people, including two retired generals, for their part in arms sales.
During the Bosnian War, so-called "rape camps", aimed at the birth of a new generation of Serb children, were reportedly used. The purpose of these camps was to impregnate the Bosnian and Croatian women. Because of the patrilineal make-up of their society, in which children inherit their father's ethnicity, this was used as a method of ethnic cleansing. In the camps, women were kept in confinement until the late stages of their pregnancies.
According to the Tresnjevka Women's Group, more than 35,000 women and children were held in such Serb-run "rape camps". Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovač, and Zoran Vuković were convicted of crimes against humanity for rape, torture, and enslavement committed during the Foča massacres.
The evidence of the magnitude of rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina prompted the ICTY to deal openly with these abuses. Reports of sexual violence during the Bosnian War (1992–1995) and Kosovo War (1998–1999) perpetrated by the Serbian regular and irregular forces have been described as "especially alarming". The NATO-led Kosovo Force documented rapes of Albanian, Roma and Serbian women by Serbs and members of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Others have estimated that during the Bosnian War between 20,000 and 50,000 women, mainly Muslim, were raped. A Commission of Experts appointed in October 1992 by the United Nations concluded that:
Rape has been reported to have been committed by all sides to the conflict. However, the largest number of reported victims have been Bosnian Muslims, and the largest number of alleged perpetrators have been Bosnian Serbs. There are few reports of rape and sexual assault between members of the same ethnic group.
Although men also became victim of sexual violence, war rape was disproportionately directed against women who were (gang) raped in the streets, in their homes and/or in front of family members.
War rape in the Yugoslav Wars has often been characterized as genocide. Rape perpetrated by Serb forces served to destroy cultural and social ties of the victims and their communities. Serbian policies urged soldiers to rape Bosnian women until they became pregnant as an attempt towards ethnic cleansing. Serbian soldiers hoped to force Bosnian women to carry Serbian children through repeated rape. Often Bosnian women were held in captivity for an extended period of time and only released slightly before the birth of a child conceived of rape.
The systematic rape of Bosnian women may have carried further-reaching repercussions than the initial displacement of rape victims. Stress, caused by the trauma of rape, coupled with the lack of access to reproductive health care often experienced by displaced peoples, lead to serious health risks for victimized women.
During the Kosovo War thousands of Kosovo Albanian women and girls became victims of sexual violence. War rape was used as a weapon of war and an instrument of systematic ethnic cleansing; rape was used to terrorize the civilian population, extort money from families, and force people to flee their homes. According to a report by the Human Rights Watch group in 2000, rape in the Kosovo can generally be subdivided into three categories: rapes in woman's homes, rapes during fighting, and rapes in detention. The majority of the perpetrators were Serbian paramilitaries, but they also included Serbian special police or Yugoslav army soldiers. Virtually all of the sexual assaults Human Rights Watch documented were gang rapes involving at least two perpetrators. Since the end of the war, rapes of Serbian, Albanian, and Roma women by ethnic Albanians—sometimes by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – have also been documented. Rapes occurred frequently in the presence, and with the acquiescence, of military officers. Soldiers, police, and paramilitaries often raped their victims in the full view of numerous witnesses.
One of the common misconceptions about the Yugoslav Wars is that they were the result of centuries of ethnic conflict. In fact, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ethnically mixed region of Dalmatia held close and amicable relations between the Croats and Serbs who lived there, and many early proponents of a united Yugoslavia came from this region, such as Dalmatian Croat Ante Trumbić. However by the time of the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars the historical hospitable relations between Croats and Serbs in Dalmatia had broken down, with Dalmatian Serbs fighting on the side of the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Clear ethnic conflict between the Yugoslav peoples only became prominent in the 20th century, beginning with tensions over the constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in the early 1920s and escalating into violence between Serbs and Croats in the late 1920s after the assassination of the most popular Croatian politician at the time Stjepan Radić. Severe ethnic conflict occurred during World War II during which the Croatian Ustase movement committed genocide against Serbs, while the Serbian Chetnik movement responded with reprisals against Croats as well as murdering Bosniaks. However the Yugoslav Partisan movement was able to appeal to all national groups, including Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. Josip Broz Tito was half-Croat half-Slovene.
In Serbia and Serb territories, violent confrontations occurred particularly between nationalist Serbs towards non-nationalist Serbs who had criticized the Serbian government and the Serb political entities in Bosnia and Croatia. Serbs who publicly opposed the nationalist political climate during the Yugoslav wars were reported to have been harassed, threatened, or killed.
Timeline of the Yugoslav wars
- Victorious resistance army, Yugoslav Partisans form Socialist Yugoslavia.
- Josip Broz Tito sacked Aleksandar Ranković, an intelligence officer and main Serbian cadre, his own best man at the wedding with Jovanka Broz, after which a purge of Serbian cadres from the establishment followed. Ranković was the main federalist cadre and constitutional confederalisation started in late-1960s.
- Protests in 1968 are echoed in Yugoslavia too. There are student demonstrations, while in Kosovo demonstrators demand greater rights for Albanian people. Ailing Tito, in his late 70s, allows some liberalisation, but despite old age, refuses to retire.
- Croatian terrorists plant bombs at cinemas, several people die.
- Nationalist demonstrations in Croatia, known as Croatian Spring or MASPOK. Tito and communist government condemn the demonstrations. Many hardline-nationalists were later convicted for hate-speech, including Stipe Mesić and Franjo Tudjman. Government crisis follows.
- A group of Croatian neo-Ustashas from Australia infiltrates Yugoslavia planning terrorist attacks, but their actions are prevented and the group is destroyed.
- Yugoslavian Airways (JAT) Flight 364 is destroyed by foreign Ustaše 23 of the 24 on board are killed.
- New constitution of SFRY proclaimed, granting more power to federal units, and more power to autonomous provinces Kosovo and Vojvodina of Serbia, giving them a vote in all relevant decisions in the federal government. It was aimed to address grievances of non-Serb nations within Yugoslavia, under what later became known as weak Serbia, strong Yugoslavia concept. Bosnian Muslims (after 1993 the name was changed to Muslim-Bosniacs, and finally to Bosniaks) were recognized as a sixth "nation" of Yugoslavia (note: "nations" or officially: "narodi" were Slavic majority peoples, while "nationalities" of officially "narodnosti" were all other national minorities) and one of the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito dies.
Fall of communism
- Economic crisis in Yugoslavia has begun. Albanian nationalist demonstrations in Kosovo, demanding status of a republic and more rights (the slogan "Kosovo republika"). Demonstrations are suppressed and condemned by all Yugoslav communists, including Albanian communists from Kosovo, as contrarevolutionary. Arrests follow.
- A group of Bosnian Muslim nationalists were convicted under SFRY law that prohibited spreading international hatred. In the group was Alija Izetbegović who was among other things tried for his Islamic Declaration.
- Controversial Memorandum of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts protests position of Serbia in Yugoslavia.
- Serb chetnik "archduke" Momčilo Đujić (in emigration), promotes Vojislav Šešelj to Chetnik duke by declaration in the USA on Vidovdan, 28 June 1989. In his instructions to Šešelj, Đujić orders him to "expel all Croats, Albanians and other foreign elements from the holy Serb ground".
- Perceived prosecution of Serbs by Kosovo Albanians fuels growing Serbian nationalist sentiment. Additional police forces were sent to Kosovo to calm down things.
- Slobodan Milošević, a high government official at the time, gives a speech to a small group of Kosovo Serbs where he promises that "no one will beat them", which is aired in the main television news programme. Milosevic instantly becomes very popular in Serbia.
- Milošević rises to power in Serbia.
- Antibureaucratic revolution demonstrations bring pro-Milošević governments to Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro.
- Kosovo Albanian miners strike in the Stari Trg mine. Slovenian government holds a big rally in the Cankar Congress centre, supporting the Kosovo Albanians. Albanians outside Serbia (mostly in Slovenia and Croatia) pledge for help from Croatia and Slovenia.
- Relations between Slovenia and Serbia deteriorate. Unofficial embargo on Slovenian products introduced in Serbian stores (see Radmila Anđelković) . Slovenia is increasingly talking about independence.
- 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo is celebrated by Serbs across Yugoslavia. Slobodan Milošević gives speech at Kosovo, described by his opponents as nationalist.
- Communist Party dissolves on republic (and partially on national) lines at the 14th Congress of Yugoslav Communist Party (SKJ, Savez komunista Jugoslavije), with Slovenian and Croatian communists leaving the Congress protesting Milošević's actions.
- Constitutional changes in Serbia revoke some of the powers granted to Kosovo and Vojvodina by the constitution of 1974, including a power to cast a vote in the federal council completely independently from Serbia, which in fact stripped off their nigh-to-republic status. This effectively gave Serbia 3 out of 8 votes in the federal council (4 with support from Montenegro).
- Serb nationalist meetings were held in some Serb-populated areas of Croatia, with iconography that was considered provocative by many Croats.
- Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) subjects formerly republic territorial defence system to a central command, effectively disarming Croatia and Slovenia.
- First democratic elections in 45 years are held in Yugoslavia in an attempt to bring the Yugoslav socialist model into the new, post–Cold War world. Nationalist options won majority in almost all republics.
- Croatian winning party, HDZ offers a vice-presidential position to Serb Radical Party, which refuses.
- Croatian Serbs start a rebellion against the newly elected government, an event frequently referred to as the "Balvan revolution" (tree-log revolution).
- Constitutional changes in Croatia deny the status of a constituent nation to Serbs in Croatia, equalizing them with all other minorities.
- Slovenia holds a referendum on independence from Yugoslavia which passes with 88.5% of the electorate in favour of independence.
- Evidence of illegal arming of Croatia and preparations for the war aired on TV. Despite the claims that the tapes were heavily tampered with, Croatian government dismisses Martin Špegelj.
- Unsuccessful negotiations between heads of the republics were held in several rounds.
- Opposition demonstrations in Belgrade against Milosevic rule, ending in two deaths. Army puts tanks on the streets.
- Plitvice Lakes incident results in first Croatian fatality when Croatian policemen are ambushed.
Armed fighting 1991-1993
May - June 1991
- Rising ethnic violence in Croatia. Slovenia and Croatia declare independence.
- JNA intervenes in Slovenia by deploying troops to take border areas. Following the Ten-Day War, JNA is defeated. The ethnic homogeneity of Slovenia allows the country to avoid much fighting. The Yugoslav army agrees to leave Slovenia, but supports rebel Serb forces in Croatia.
- A three month cease fire agreed on Brioni. Yugoslav forces would retreat from Slovenia, and Croatia and Slovenia put a hold on their independence for three months.
- JNA forces openly attack Croat areas (primarily Dalmatia and Slavonia), starting the Croatian War of Independence. Battle of Vukovar begins.
- Battle of the Barracks begins over JNA garrisons throughout Croatia.
- EU propose Carrington-Cutileiro plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina. All sides agree, but Izetbegovic later withdraws his signature.
- JNA begins Siege of Dubrovnik.
- The last Yugoslav National Army soldier leaves Slovenia.
October 1991-December 1991
- Full scale war in Croatia. Fall of Vukovar.
- The Serb entity in Croatia proclaimed itself the Republic of Serbian Krajina, but remained unrecognized by any country except Serbia.
- Vance peace plan signed, creating 4 UNPA zones for Serb-controlled territories, and ending large scale military operations in Croatia. UNPROFOR forces arrive to monitor the peace treaty.
- Macedonia declares independence. No wars erupted in this area. Slovenia and Croatia are internationally recognized (European Community countries, several EFTA and Central European countries).
- The Carrington–Cutileiro peace plan, resulted from the EC Peace Conference held in February 1992 in an attempt to prevent Bosnia-Herzegovina sliding into war. It proposed ethnic power-sharing on all administrative levels and the devolution of central government to local ethnic communities. However, all Bosnia-Herzegovina's districts would be classified as Muslim, Serb or Croat under the plan, even where no ethnic majority was evident.
- On 18 March 1992, all three sides signed the agreement; Alija Izetbegović for the Bosniaks, Radovan Karadžić for the Serbs and Mate Boban for the Croats.
- On 28 March 1992, however, Alija Izetbegović withdrew his signature and declared his opposition to any type of partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina declares independence. Bosnian War begins.
- The siege of Sarajevo begins. Bosnian Serb forces mounted the siege of Sarajevo resulting in 10,000 killed by 1995.
- Federal Republic of Yugoslavia proclaimed, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro, the only two remaining republics.
- Yugoslav army retreats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, leaving a large part of its armory to Bosnian Serbs. Military personnel who were born in Bosnia and Herzegovina retain ranks in the newly founded VRS.
- United Nations impose sanctions against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and accepts Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as members.
- Bosnian Serbs gain control of 70% of territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hundreds of thousands of refugees result from the war and large portions of Bosnia and Herzegovina are ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs.
- Serbia elects Slobodan Milošević as a president for the second time.
Armed fighting 1993-1995
- Vance–Owen peace plan offered. Under pressure from Slobodan Milošević, Karadzić signs the plan, but after a vote in assembly of Bosnian Serbs he withdraws his signature.
- Fighting begins between Bosniaks and Croats.
- Owen-Stoltenberg peace plan offered. Refused by Izetbegović in August.
- Fighting begins in the Bihać region between Bosnian government and Bosniaks loyal to Fikret Abdić. It lasts until August 1995.
- Peace treaty between Bosniaks and Croats is signed (Washington Agreement), arbitrated by the United States.
- Contact Group (U.S., Russia, France, Britain, and Germany) made steady progress towards a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Bosnia, but no agreement was reached.
- Serbia closes border with Bosnian Serb republic and imposes embargo, as a measure of pressure to accept the plan of Contact Group.
- Croatia launches Operation Flash and in 2 days enters Western Slavonia UNPA zone. The exodus of 30,000 Serbian refugees follows.
- Srebrenica genocide reported, 8,000 Bosniaks killed by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić.
- July 21, Operation Miracle captures a number of VRS soldiers.
- Croatia launches Operation Storm and reclaims over 70% of its pre-war territory, entering all UNPA zones except Eastern Slavonia. Often termed by critics as the "biggest ethnic cleansing operation of the Yugoslav Wars", it resulted in the exodus of the entire Serbian population in these areas, approximately 250,000 refugees.
- NATO decides to launch a series of air strikes on Bosnian Serb artillery and other military targets on August 30th, after many incidents with civilian deaths during the years of siege of Sarajevo and in particular the Srebrenica and Markale massacres.
- Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic lead negotiations in Dayton, Ohio.
Post-1995 era and Kosovo
- FR Yugoslavia recognizes Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
- Following a fraud in local elections, hundreds of thousands of Serbs demonstrate in Belgrade against Milosevic regime for 3 months. The West quietly supports Milosevic, who is branded the main factor of stability in the Balkans after Dayton, and Milosevic remains in power, after issuing lex specialis and admitting victory of opposition at the local level.
- Fighting breaks out between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Milosevic sends in troops.
- NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, named Operation Allied Force, is launched
- Ethnic cleansing of Albanians has begun and the Albanian refugees are deported by Serbian forces into Macedonia and Albania in hundreds of thousands until the end of the bombing.
- Control of Kosovo is given to the United Nations, but still remains a part of Serbia.
- An exodus of 200,000 of Serbs and other non-Albanians follows in the wake of revenge attacks by Kosovo Albanians.
- Slobodan Milošević is voted out of office, and Vojislav Koštunica becomes new president of Yugoslavia.
- Fighting between Albanian militants and Macedonians erupts in Macedonia, but ends later on in 2001.
- Brief conflict in Southern Serbia between Albanian militants and Serbian security forces ends in cease fire.
- Milošević is put on trial in The Hague on charges of war crimes in Kosovo, to which charges of violating the laws or customs of war and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Croatia and Bosnia and massacres in Bosnia were latter added. Defiant Milosevic did not recognize the court and represented himself. His defence is aired in former Yugoslavia and his popularity among Serbs greatly increased as a result.
- Yugoslavia becomes Serbia and Montenegro.
- Alija Izetbegović dies.
- Peak of anti-Serbian violence in Kosovo. Hundreds of ancient Orthodox-Christian Serbian monasteries and churches were burned up to that point.
- Ibrahim Rugova dies.
- Slobodan Milošević dies in the Hague prison, ending the proceedings with no verdict reached on any of the counts.
May 21, 2006
- Montenegrins vote for independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in the Montenegrin independence referendum, 2006.
- On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and is recognised by 108 UN member states, including 4 of the former Yugoslav states.
- Goldstein (1999), p. 256
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|Timeline of Yugoslav statehood|
Kingdom of Dalmatia
Banat, Bačka and Baranja
Free State of Fiume
Fascist Italy and
|Democratic Federal Yugoslavia
Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Consisted of the
Socialist Republics of
| Republic of Slovenia
Independent State of Croatia
| Republic of Croatiab
Croatian War of Independence
|Bosnia|| Bosnia and Herzegovinac
|Vojvodina||Part of the Délvidék region of Hungary||Autonomous Banatd
(part of the German
Territory of the
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Republic of Kosova (1990–2000)
|State Union of Serbia and Montenegro||Republic of Serbia|| Republic of Serbia
Includes the autonomous province of Vojvodina
|Serbia||Kingdom of Serbia
|Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia
|Kosovo||Part of the Kingdom of Serbia
|Mostly annexed by Albania
along with western Macedonia and south-eastern Montenegro
|Republic of Kosovog|
|Metohija||Kingdom of Montenegro
Metohija controlled by Austria-Hungary 1915–1918
|Macedonia||Part of the Kingdom of Serbia
|Annexed by the Kingdom of Bulgaria
|Republic of Macedoniah|