Croatian War of Independence was a war fought in Croatia from 1991 to
1995. It was fought between the Croatian
government, having declared independence from the Socialist
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and both the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and
Serb forces, who established the
self-proclaimed Republic of
Serbian Krajina (RSK) within Croatia.
Initially, the war was waged between Croatian police forces and
Serbs living in the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia
As the JNA
came under increasing Serbian influence in Belgrade, its units
began assisting the Serbs fighting in Croatia.
side aimed to establish a sovereign country outside Yugoslavia, and
the Serbs, supported from Serbia, opposed the secession and wanted
to remain a part of Yugoslavia, effectively seeking new boundaries
in Croatia with a Serb majority or significant minority or by
conquering as much of Croatia as possible. NIN, Dec 23, 1991
(referred in) Ivan StriÅ¾iÄ: Bitka za Slunj - obrana i
oslobaÄanje grada Slunja i opÄina Rakovice, Cetingrada, Saborsko i
PlitviÄka Jezera od velikosrbske agresije
, Naklada Hrvoje,
Zagreb, 2007, p. 124, ISBN 978-953-95750-0-5 The goal was primarily
to remain in the same state with the rest of the Serbian nation,
which was interpreted as an attempt to form a "Greater Serbia
" by Croats (and Bosniaks
). At the beginning of the war, the JNA
tried to forcefully keep Croatia in Yugoslavia by occupying the
whole of Croatia.
In Croatia, the war is referred to as the Homeland
). In the Serbian language, the phrase
War in Croatia
: Rat u Hrvatskoj
) is the
most common name.
The war in Croatia resulted from the rise of nationalism in the
1980s which slowly led to the dissolution of Yugoslavia
. A crisis emerged in Yugoslavia with
the weakening of the Communist states in Eastern Europe towards the
end of the Cold War
, as symbolised by the
fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In Yugoslavia, the national
communist party, officially called Alliance or the League of Communists
lost its ideological potency.
In the 1980s, Albanian secessionist movements in the Autonomous
Province of Kosovo, Republic of Serbia, led to the repression of
the Albanian majority in Serbia's southern province. The more prosperous
republics of Slovenia and Croatia wanted to
move towards decentralisation and democracy.
by Slobodan MiloÅ¡eviÄ
adhered to centralism and one party rule through the Yugoslav
Communist Party. MiloÅ¡eviÄ effectively ended the autonomy of the
Kosovo and Vojvodina autonomous regions.
As Slovenia and Croatia began to seek greater autonomy within the
Federation, including confederate
status and even full independence, the nationalist ideas started to
grow within the ranks of the still-ruling League of Communists
was apparent that Yugoslavia would soon be replaced by numerous
successor states. As Slobodan MiloÅ¡eviÄ
power in Serbia, his speeches favoured the continuation of a single
Yugoslav state, but one in which all power would be centralized and
devolved to Belgrade.
1989: Crisis begins
In March 1989, the crisis in Yugoslavia deepened after the adoption
of amendments to the Serbian constitution. This allowed the
Serbian republic's government to re-assert effective power over the
autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina.
Before this point, a number
of political decisions were legislated from within these provinces.
They also had a vote on the Yugoslav federal presidency level (six
members from the republics and two members from the autonomous
provinces). Serbia, under president Slobodan MiloÅ¡eviÄ, gained
control over three out of eight votes in the Yugoslav presidency and this was used in 1991 when the
Serbian parliament changed Riza
Sapunxhiu and Nenad BuÄin,
representatives of Kosovo and Vojvodina, with Jugoslav KostiÄ and Sejdo BajramoviÄ.
vote was given by Montenegro whose government survived a first putsch in October
1988 but not second in January 1989.
Serbia was thus with 4
out of 8 presidency votes able to heavily influence the decisions
of the federal government. This situation led to objections in other
republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia and calls for reform of the Yugoslav
1990: Electoral and constitutional moves
The weakening of the communist regime allowed nationalism to spread
its political presence, even within the League of Communists of
(CY). In January 1990, the League of Communists
broke up on the lines of the individual republics. At the 14th
Extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia,
on January 20, 1990, the delegations of the republics could not
agree on the main issues in the Yugoslav federation. The Croatian
delegation demanded a looser federation, while the Serbian
delegation, headed by MiloÅ¡eviÄ, opposed this. As a result, the
Slovenian and Croatian delegates left the Congress. This is
considered by some to be the beginning of the end of Yugoslavia
The first free elections
scheduled a few months later in Croatia and Slovenia. The elections in Croatia
were held in April/May, the first round on 22 April, and the second
round on 6 May.
In 1989 a number of political parties had been founded, among them
the Croatian Democratic
(HDZ - Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica), led by Croatian
nationalist Franjo TuÄman
HDZ based its campaign on an aspiration for greater sovereignty of
Croatia and on a general anti-Yugounitarist ideology, fueling the
sentiment of Croats that "only the HDZ could protect Croatia from
the aspirations of Serbian elements led by Slobodan MiloÅ¡eviÄ
towards a Greater Serbia
". It topped
the poll in the elections (followed by Ivica RaÄan
's reformed communists, Social Democratic Party of
) and formed a new Croatian Government
An important factor in Croatia's preservation of its pre-war
borders was the Yugoslav Constitution change in 1974 which allowed
all republics inside Yugoslavia to become independent through
elections. These borders were agreed on all sides during AVNOJ
in 1945. Many future HDZ politicians, including
TuÄman, made international visits during the late 1980s and early
1990s in order to garner support from the Croatian diaspora for the
Croatian national cause. In Serbia, the Serbian Radical Party
visited the US and
was awarded the honorary title of âVojvodaâ (duke
) by MomÄilo ÄujiÄ
, a WWII Chetnik
leader. This caused an outrage across Yugoslavia. Years later,
Milan BabiÄ (Croatian Serb leader) testified that MomÄilo ÄujiÄ
financially supported the Serbs in Croatia
in the 1990s.
On 13 May
1990, a football
game was held in Zagreb between Zagreb's Dinamo team and Belgrade's Crvena Zvezda team.
The game erupted
into violence, between groups of supporters and the police.
On 30 May
1990, the new Croatian
Parliament held its first session, and President TuÄman
announced his manifesto for a new Constitution (ratified at
year-end - see below) and a multitude of political, economic and
social changes, notably to what extent minority rights (mainly for
Serbs), would be guaranteed.
Local Serb politicians opposed
the new constitution, on the grounds that the local Serb population
would be threatened. Their prime concern was that a new
constitution would not any more designate Croatia a "national state
of the Croatian people, a state of the Serbian people and any other
people living in it" but a "national state of the Croatian people
and any people living in it". This indeed happened once the
Constitution was passed by the year's end, which made the Serbs,
who comprised 12% of the total population, a national minority.
They felt that as a people explicitly mentioned in the constitution
they had a separate right to veto the decisions of the common
parliament and of the common referendum and thus deny Croatia
separation from Yugoslavia, or in the case of an independence move,
to separate themselves from the new Croatian state and unilaterally
set the new borders.
1990, an unrecognized referendum was held in regions with a
substantial Serb population (which would later become known as the
Republic of Serbian
Krajina (RSK)) (bordering western Bosnia and
Herzegovina) on the question of Serb "sovereignty and autonomy"
This was to counter the changes in the
constitution. The Croatian government tried to block the referendum
by sending police forces to police stations in Serb-populated areas
to seize their weapons. Among other incidents, local Serbs from the
southern hinterlands of Croatia, mostly around the city of Knin, blocked the
roads to the tourist destinations in Dalmatia.
This incident is known as the
". Years later, during
Milan MartiÄ's trial, Milan BabiÄ would claim that he was tricked
by MartiÄ into agreeing to the Log Revolution, and that it and the
entire war in Croatia was MartiÄ's responsibility, orchestrated by
The Croatian government responded to the
blockade of roads by sending special police teams in helicopters to
the scene, but they were intercepted by Yugoslav
fighter jets and forced to turn back to Zagreb.
The Serbs within Croatia did not initially seek independence before
1990. On 30 September 1990, the Serbian National Council declared
"the autonomy of the Serbian people in ethnic and historic
territories on which they live and which are within the current
boundaries of the Republic of Croatia as a federal unit of the
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".
Following TuÄman's election and the perception of a threat from the
new constitution, Serb nationalists in the Kninska Krajina
region began taking armed
action against Croatian government officials. Many were forcibly
expelled or excluded from the RSK. Croatian government property
throughout the region was increasingly controlled by local Serb
municipalities or the newly established "Serbian National Council".
This would later become the government of the breakaway Republic of
Serbian Krajina. It was led by Milan
, who later would be convicted for war crimes and would
openly show remorse for his role (and testify against other Serb
December 1990, the Parliament of Croatia ratified the new constitution, changing the status
of Serbs in Croatia to a 'national minority' from a 'constituent
The percentage of those declaring themselves as
Serbs, according to the 1991 census, was 12% (78% of the population
declared itself to be Croat). This was read as taking away some of
the rights from the Serbs granted by the previous Socialist
constitution, thereby fueling extremism
among the Serbs of Croatia.
Consequently, many Serbs began to lose their government jobs in
Croatia, particularly after the ratification of the new
constitution. This further escalated tensions. Furthermore, Slovenia was also well into its own process towards
On 23 December 1990 â one day after the new
Croatian Constitution was passed â Slovenia held a referendum on
independence. This passed with 94% of the vote.
Immediately after the Slovenian referendum and the new Croat
constitution, the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA
announced that a new defense doctrine would apply across the
country. The Tito-era doctrine of "General People's Defense", in
which each republic maintained a Territorial defense
or TO), would henceforth be replaced by a centrally-directed system
of defense. The republics would lose their role in defense matters
and their TOs would be disarmed and subordinated to JNA
headquarters in Belgrade.
1991: Military forces
The Yugoslav People's Army
(JNA) was initially formed during World War
to carry out guerrilla
against Axis occupation. The success of the Partisan movement
led to the JNA
basing much of its operational strategy on guerrilla warfare.
the unique political stance of Yugoslavia in Europe, the strategic
planners of the Army expected to face an attack by either NATO or Warsaw Pact forces.
Expecting to be badly
outmatched, the JNA decided to pursue a guerrilla strategy, which
would prove disastrous in the upcoming war, since the JNA found
itself in a position of an attacker without local civilian support
- the very role they intended for invaders of Yugoslavia.
Still, on paper, the JNA looked like a powerful force with 2,000
tanks and 300 jet aircraft (all either Soviet or locally produced).
However, by 1991, majority of this equipment was over 30 years old:
the main T-54/55
tank and the MiG-21
aircraft made up 60% and 40% of the tank force
and air-force respectively. By contrast, more modern cheap
anti-tank (like AT-5
anti-aircraft (like SA-14
) missiles were
abundant, which were designed to destroy much more advanced
weaponry. Furthermore, the JNA was a multinational force: the
political infighting meant that desertion of men (especially
educated cadre from Yugoslavia's more developed northern areas)
would ruin the Army's effectiveness. With the retreat of the JNA
forces in 1992, JNA units were reorganized as the Army of Serb Krajina
, which was a
direct heir to JNA organization with little improvement. During
1991, an important role in the Yugo/Serb military assault forces
was filled by paramilitary units like Beli Orlovi
, Srpski ÄetniÄki Pokret
etc. that committed numerous massacres against Croat and other
By contrast to this force, the Croatian
was in much worse state. At the early stages of the war,
lack of military units meant that the Croatian police
force would take much of the brunt of fighting
- eventually the police would form the core of the new military
force - initially named "Zbor Narodne Garde" (ZNG
), later "Hrvatska Vojska" (HV
) - that was formed in 1990, but not
really developed until 1993. Weaponry was always lacking and many
units were formed either unarmed or with WW2-era rifles. The
Croatian Army had just a handful of tanks (even older WW2 veterans
like the T-34
) and its air-force was even
worse: a few old Antonov An-2
crop-dusters were converted to drop makeshift bombs. However, since
the soldiers were defending their homeland the army was
exceptionally motivated, and was formed into local fighting units -
so people from a village would defend their own village - which
meant they were fairly effective in their home grounds. In August
1991, the Croat Army had fewer than 20 brigades
, which would grow to 60 by the end of the
year through general mobilization which was initiated in October.
Seizing of JNA's barracks in the Battle of the barracks
alleviate the problem of equipment shortage. Local volunteers and
organizations like HOS
formed early on to ease the problem of lack of units, but were
later integrated into the regular army.
By 1995, the Croatian Army would develop into an effective fighting
force centered on the elite "Guard Brigades" (eight) and less
effective "Home Defence Regiments" and regular brigades (most of
which were reorganized into Regiments in 1992). This organization
meant that in later campaigns, the Croatian army would pursue a
variant of blitzkrieg
tactics, with Guard
brigades taking the role of punching holes in the enemy lines,
while other units simply held the front at other points and
completed the encirclement of enemy units.
1991: Preparations, followed by war
grew and various
incidents fueled the propaganda
on both sides, thereby causing even more hatred. The conflict soon
escalated into armed incidents in the majority-Serb populated
areas. Serbs began a series of attacks on Croatian police units,
killing more than 20 by the end of April. The Plitvice
Lakes incident in late March 1991 stands out, with Josip JoviÄ
from ArÅ¾ano being the
first police officer killed by Serb forces.
1991, the Serbs within the Republic of Croatia began to
make serious moves to secede from that territory, that in turn
seceded from the Socialist
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
It is a matter of debate to what extent
this move was locally motivated and to what degree the
MiloÅ¡eviÄ-led Serb government gave the push to self-declare. In any
event, the Republic of
was declared consisting of Croatian territory
with a substantial Serb population â which the Croatian government
saw as a rebellion. This is often seen as the beginning of the
Croatian War of Independence.
The Croatian Ministry of the Interior consequently started arming
an increasing amount of special
forces, and this led to the building of a real army. On
9 April 1991, Croatian President Franjo TuÄman
ordered the special police
forces to be renamed Zbor Narodne Garde
Guard"), marking the creation of a separate military of Croatia
Meanwhile, the federal army, the Yugoslav People's Army
(JNA) and the
local Territorial Defense
(Mainly Montenegrin) remained led by the nominally
Federal government under MiloÅ¡eviÄ. On occasion, the JNA sided with
the local Croat Serb forces.
In May, Stipe MesiÄ, a Croat, was scheduled to be the chairman of
the rotating presidency in Yugoslavia, but Serbia upped the ante by
blocking the installation of him, so this maneuver technically left
Yugoslavia without a leader.
On 19 May 1991, the Croatian authorities held a referendum on
with the option of remaining in Yugoslavia as a
looser union. Serb local authorities issued calls for a boycott
, which were largely followed by Croatian
Serbs, so the referendum was passed with 94.17% in favor.
declared independence and "razdruÅ¾enje" (departnerising) from
Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991, but the European Commission urged them to place a three-month moratorium on the
Croatia thereby agreed to freeze its independence
declaration for three months, helping to calm tensions a
One month after the declaration of independence, Greater Serb
forces held about a quarter of the country, mostly parts with a
predominantly ethnic Serb population. They had obvious superiority
in weaponry and equipment. The military strategy of the Greater
Serbian forces partly consisted of extensive shell
, at times irrespective of
civilians. As the war progressed, the cities of
Dubrovnik, GospiÄ, Å ibenik, Zadar, Karlovac, Sisak, Slavonski
Brod, Osijek, Vinkovci and Vukovar all came under attack by the Yugoslav
The UN imposed a weapons embargo
, which didn't affect JNA-backed Serb forces,
but caused serious trouble for the newly-formed Croatian army. This
led the Croatian government to start smuggling weapons over its
In June/July 1991, the short armed conflict
came to a speedy and fairly peaceful conclusion,
partly because of the ethnic homogeneity of the Slovene population.
During the war in Slovenia, a great number of Croatian and
Slovenian soldiers refused to fight and deserted from the JNA. In
July, in an attempt to salvage what remained of Yugoslavia, the JNA
forces found themselves involved in operations against
predominantly Croat areas - such as the Dalmatian coastal areas in
the Battle of Dalmatia
Full-scale war erupted in August. As in Slovenia, where Croatian
soldiers had refused to take part in the fight, with the start of
military operations in Croatia, Croats
started to desert the JNA
in mass (especially
since some kind of ceasefire was agreed at the end of War in
Slovenia, and the alert level was lowered). Albanians
started to search for
a way to legally leave the JNA
. Bosnian Muslims
still romantically believed
in Yugoslavia. After this, an estimated 90% of JNA soldiers were
Serbs and the Yugoslav army was seen to be a de
1991, the border city of Vukovar came under siege and the Battle of Vukovar began.
troops eventually completely surrounded the city. The Croat
population of Vukovar, Croatian troops including the 204th Vukovar
Brigade, entrenched themselves within Vukovar and held their ground
against JNA elite Armoured and Mechanized brigades, as well as Serb
paramilitary units. A certain number of ethnic Croatian civilians
had taken shelter inside the city. Other elements of the civilian
population fled the areas of armed conflict en masse
generally speaking, Croats moved away from the Bosnian and Serbian
border, while the Serbs moved towards it.
There is evidence of extreme hardship imposed on the population at
the time. Some estimates include 220,000 Croats and 300,000 Serbs
the duration of the war in Croatia. However, at the peak of
fighting in late 1991, around 550,000 people temporarily became
refugees on the Croatian side. The 1991 census data and the 1993
data for the
territory of Krajina differ by some 102,000 Serbs and 135,000
Croats. In many places, large numbers of civilians were forced out
by the military. This was labelled ethnic cleansing
, a term whose meaning at
the time ranged from eviction to murder. It was at this time that
the term "ethnic cleansing" first entered the English
President TuÄman made a speech on 5 October 1991 in which he called
upon the whole population to mobilize
and defend against Greater-Serbian
imperialism pursued by the Serb-led JNA, Serbian paramilitary
formations and rebel Serb forces. On 7 October, an
explosion occurred within the main government building in Zagreb while
TuÄman, MesiÄ and MarkoviÄ were present.
explosion destroyed several rooms of Banski dvori, but failed to kill any of the leaders.
government claimed that it was caused by a JNA air raid.
Apparently, the Croatian army received
information from BihaÄ (Bosnia and
Herzegovina) JNA airfield the day before, about a top secret
air mission being prepared for the next day, but these were not
taken seriously due to lack of details.
The JNA denied the
responsibility and in turn claimed that the explosion was set up by
the Croatian government itself. It is claimed by some that the few
embassies and consulates in Zagreb at the time had withdrawn some
of their staff for that day â suggesting that there was prior
information about a pending air attack or bomb. The next day, the
Croatian Parliament cut off all remaining ties with Yugoslavia.
8 October is now Croatia's
The bombing of the government and the
Siege of Dubrovnik
in October were contributing factors to EU sanctions against
The situation for Croats in Vukovar over October and early November
became ever more desperate. Towards the end of the battle, an
increasing number of Croat civilians in hospitals and shelters
marked with a red cross were hit by Serb forces. As of 2006, three
former Yugoslav army officers are on trial for a massacre at the
International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
ICTY in The Hague. Veselin Å ljivanÄanin
, and Miroslav
RadiÄ deny the charges of murder, torture, and persecution.
Prosecutors say that after the capture of Vukovar, the Yugoslav
Army (JNA) handed over several hundred Croats to rebel
] Serbian forces. Of these, at
least 264 (including injured soldiers, women, children and the
elderly) were murdered and buried in mass graves in the
neighbourhood of Ovcara on the outskirts of Vukovar. The city's
mayor Slavko DokmanoviÄ
also brought to trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia, but committed suicide in 1998 in captivity
before proceedings began.
November 1991, Vukovar fell to the Serbs after a three-month siege and the
massacre took place, while the survivors were transported to
prison camps, the majority ending up in Sremska Mitrovica prison
The town of Vukovar was almost completely
destroyed. The sustained focus on a siege facilitated the
attraction of heavy international media attention. Many
international journalists were present at the time in or near
Vukovar, as was the UN peace mediator, Cyrus Vance (former US
President Carter's Secretary of State). Ironically the siege,
despite its brutality, contributed to the beginning of a resolution
to the war towards year-end (see below). Allegedly, said the Croat
authorities at the time, the Vukovar surrender was an attempt to
prevent further devastation of Dubrovnik and other cities.
19 December, during the heaviest
fighting of the war, the Serbian Autonomous Regions in
Krajina and western Slavonia officially declared themselves the Republic of Serbian
In early November 1991 the Croatian army began
a successful counter-attack in Western Slavonia, marking a turning
point of the war. Operation
Otkos 10, lasting from 31 October until 4 November,
resulted in Croatia recapturing 300 kmÂ² in area from Bilogora Mountain to Mount Papuk.
Further advances were made in the second half of December -
Operation Orkan 91
- but at that
point a lasting cease-fire was about to be signed (in January
1992). In six months, 10,000 people had died, hundreds of thousands
had fled, and tens of thousands of homes had been destroyed.
In late 1991, all the Croatian democratic parties gathered together
to form a government of national unity and to confront the Yugoslav
Army and Serbian paramilitaries. Ceasefires were frequently signed,
mediated by foreign diplomats, but also frequently broken. This was
part of the tactics on both sides. The Croatians lost much
territory, but profited by being able to expand the Croatian Army -
from the seven brigades it had at the time of the first cease-fire
to the 64 brigades it had at the time the last one was
1992: Ceasefire holds
The final UN-sponsored ceasefire, the twentieth one, was reached in
January 1992.From December 1991, after a series of unsuccessful
cease-fires, the United Nations deployed a protection force in
Serbian-held Croatia. The United Nations
was deployed to supervise and maintain the
agreement. On 7 January 1992, JNA pilot Emir Å iÅ¡iÄ
shot down a European
Community helicopter in Croatia, killing five truce observers.
Croatia was officially recognised by European community on 15
January 1992. The JNA began to withdraw from Croatiaâeven
Krajinaâalthough Serb paramilitary groups clearly retained the
upper hand in the newly occupied territories. The warring parties
mostly moved to entrenched positions as The Yugoslav People's Army
soon retreated from Croatia into Bosnia and Herzegovina where a new conflict was on the rise.
Croatia became a member of the United Nations on 22 May 1992, which
was conditional upon Croatia amending its constitution to protect
the human rights of minority groups and dissidents.
"MLADEN MARKA âS PRE-TRIAL BRIEF PURSUANT TO RULE 65 ter (F)",
United Nations, Criminal Tribunal, April 2007, PDF file:
Armed conflict in Croatia continued intermittently at a smaller
scale. There were several smaller operations undertaken by Croatian
forces, in order to relieve the siege of Dubrovnik, and other
Croatian cities (Å ibenik, Zadar and GospiÄ) from sporadic Serb
shelling that wasn't prevented even by the presence of the UN
troops (for example, Osijek, the fourth biggest city in Croatia,
lived under a constant official bombing alert until mid-1993, while
Å ibenik, one of the larger coastal tourist centres, was exposed to
weekly shelling, especially during late spring and summer). A
partial list includes:
Brod and Å½upanja were often shelled from Serb-held parts of
the Miljevci plateau
(between Krka and DrniÅ¡), 21-22 June 1992
- in the Dubrovnik hinterland:
- Operation Tigar, 1-13 July 1992
- at Konavle, 20-24 September 1992
- at VlaÅ¡tica, 22-25 September 1992
followed was the withdrawal of JNA from Konavle and Prevlaka, 30 September - 20 October 1992
- at the KriÅ¾ hill near Bibinje and Zadar.
1993: Further Croatian military advances
Intermittent armed conflict in Croatia continued in 1993 at a
smaller scale than in 1991 and 1992. There were more successful
operations by Croatian forces, to recover territory and relieve
Croatian cities (e.g. Zadar and GospiÄ) from Serb shelling attacks,
but between the 1992 ceasefire and 1995 Croatian offensives,
fighting was limited and total effective military action in those
three and a half years was only about two weeks.
In early 1993, there were three notable operations:
While most of these above operations were a relative success for
the Croatian government, the successful Operation Medak pocket
in 1993 caused
sharp reactions of countries and organizations that had
anti-Croatian and pro-Serb attitude during the war. This led the
Croatian army to undertaking no offensive action during the
subsequent 12 months. The ICTY later indicted Croatian officers
, Rahim Ademi
and others for the alleged crimes committed during this
operation. Norac was later found guilty by the Croatian
There were many UN resolutions that required Croatia to retreat to
previous positions and that Croatia must restrain from military
operations. Some Croat elements felt aggrieved, as no such
resolutions had prevented the Serbian forces from attacking Croatia
in the earlier stages of the war (when the disturbances were
considered national, not international). In October 1993, the
United Nations Security
affirmed for the first time that the United Nations
Protected Areas were an integral part of the Republic of
During 1992 and 1993, an estimated 225,000 Croats, including
refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and others from Serbia settled
in Croatia. A notable number of Bosniaks also fled to Croatia
(which was the largest initial destination for Bosniak refugees).
Croatian volunteers and some conscripted soldiers participated in
the war in Bosnia and
. Some of President TuÄman's closest associates,
notably Gojko Å uÅ¡ak
, were from
, and aimed
to help the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, financially and
During the same period, Croatia also accepted 280,000 Bosniak
refugees from the Bosnian War. The large number of refugees was
significantly straining Croatian economy and infrastructure.
American Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, tried to put the amount of
Muslim refugees in Croatia into proper perspective in an interview
on 8 November 1993.
He said the situation would be the
equivalent of the USA taking in 30,000,000 refugees.
On 18 February 1993 Croatian authorities signed the Daruvar Agreement
with local Serb
leaders in Western Slavonia. The Agreement was kept secret and was
working towards normalizing life for the locals on the battlefield
line. However, the Knin authorities learned of the deal and
arrested the Serbian leaders responsible for it. It was widely
believed that the Serb leaders there were also willing to accept
peaceful reintegration into Croatia.
In 1993, the Croats and Bosniaks
turned against each other, just as each was fighting with the
Bosnian Serbs. Franjo TuÄman participated in the peace talks
between the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosniaks,
which resulted in the Washington
of 1994. This led to the dismantling of the statelet
and reduced the
number of warring parties in Bosnia to two.
1994: Erosion of support for Krajina
In March 1994, the Krajina authorities signed a cease-fire.
1994, the Croatian Army intervened several times in Bosnia: 1-3
November in the operation "Cincar" near Kupres, and 29 November - 24 December in the "Winter
94" operation near Dinara and
Livno. These operations were undertaken in order to
detract from the siege of the BihaÄ region and
to approach RSK capital Knin from the north, de facto encircling it
on three sides.
During this time, unsuccessful negotiations were under way between
Croatian and RSK governments mediated by the UN. The disputes included
opening the Serb-occupied part of the Zagreb-Slavonski Brod highway near OkuÄani to through traffic, as well as the putative status
of majority Serbian areas within Croatia.
on these two issues would serve as triggers for the two Croatian
offensives in 1995.
1995: End of the war
In early May 1995, violence again erupted. RSK lost support from
the Serbian government in Belgrade, partly in response to
international pressure. At the same time, the Croatian army
reclaimed all of what was previously occupied territory in western
Slavonia during Operation
As a retaliation, Serb forces attacked Zagreb
with rockets, killing 7
and wounding over 175 civilians.In August 1995, Croatia started
and quickly overran
most of the RSK, except for a small strip near the Serbian border.
In four days, approximately 150-200,000 Serbs left Croatia.
RSK sources (KovaÄeviÄ, SekuliÄ, Vrcelj, documents of HQ of
Civilian Protection of RSK, Supreme Council of Defense) have
confirmed that evacuation of Serbs was organized and planned
beforehand. (citing: see section "Literature") Foreign reporters
such as from the BBC reported the once heavily Serb-populated city
of Knin to be almost completely abandoned and discovered that some
Croatian army forces were burning down abandoned Serb property and
remaining Serbs reported looting by Croatian forces. According to
the operation led to the ethnic
of over 200,000 Croatian Serbs. The BBC noted 200,000
Serb refugees at one point.
The nature of this exodus is still disputed among Serbs and Croats:
the former tend to claim the ethnic cleansing was planned by the
Croatian government, while the latter pinpoint TuÄman's promise not
to attack civilians and attribute the cases of killing of the Serb
civilians that remained to revenge by groups and individuals
outside of the Croatian Army's control. However the real number of
refugees is difficult to establish because according to many
sources the number of refugees exceeds the population that lived in
these parts of Croatia. In support of this, they point to interviews
conducted with American General Robert Brown
and the American writer Roy
These are said to have defended the Croat
government by clarifying the extent of ethnic cleansing, and
arguing that any war crimes or ethnic cleansing were committed
outside of control by Croatian officials at the time.
months later, the war ended with the negotiation of the Dayton Agreement (in Dayton, Ohio).
This was later signed in Paris in December
Timeline of major events
The 1991â1995 war in Croatia is variously called:
Croatian War of Independence
Type of war
- Homeland War â a direct translation of Croatian Domovinski
- Patriotic War â a stylistically different translation,
reminiscent of the fact that the 1991â95 conflict was as defining
for Croatia as 1812 and 1941-45 wars were for Russia and USSR
- War of Independence & War in Croatia â generic terms
- Civil war in Croatia â a direct translation of Serbian and
Croatian GraÄanski rat u Hrvatskoj.
: Two conflicting views exist as to
whether the war was a civil
or an international
war. Since neither Croatia or Yugoslavia declared war on each
other, a prevailing view in Serbia was that it was a civil war
between Croats and Serbs in Croatia. By contrast, the prevailing
view in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia is
that the war was a war of
from Serbia and Montenegro against Croatia,
supported by local Serbs. The ICTY (in its indictments)
characterized the war to have been civil war
October 1991, when Croatia declared independence, and
after that date, since another country,
Yugoslavia, held its troops (JNA) there.
- Amnesty International:
300,000 displaced from 1991â1995 of which 117,000 are officially
registered as having returned as of 2005.
- OSCE: 300,000 displaced of which 120,000
are officially registered as having returned as of 2006. However,
it is believed the number does not reflect the de facto number of
returnees because many return to Serbia, Montenegro, or Bosnia and
Herzegovina after officially registering in Croatia. According to
the UNHCR in 2008, 125,000 are registered as
having returned to Croatia, of whom 55,000 remain permanently.
In March 1995, 196,000 were displaced. According to the OSCE in 2006, 221,000 were displaced of which 218,000 had returned.
- JUDGEMENT IN THE CASE THE PROSECUTOR V. MILAN
- JUDGEMENT IN THE CASE THE PROSECUTOR V. Milan
- Veljko KadijeviÄ: Moje viÄenje raspada, Belgrade,
1993., p. 134-135
- Yugoslav crisis and the world
- YUGOSLAV POLICE FIGHT OFF A SIEGE IN PROVINCIAL
- Leaders of a Republic In Yugoslavia Resign
- ICTY indictment
- ICTY transcript, case NO. IT-94-1-T.
- ICTY transcript, MiloÅ¡eviÄ's trial.
- ICTY transcript, MiloÅ¡eviÄ's trial, p4.
- Fond za humanitarno pravo, SuÄenje MiloÅ¡eviÄu,
Transkripti, 4 December 2002, Svedok C-061.
- IWPR news report: Martic "Provoked" Croatian
- Blaskovich, Jerry (1997). Anatomy Of Deceit,
Realities Of War In Croatia, New York: Dunhill Publishing. ISBN
- Martin Å pegelj: "Memories of a Soldier" ("Uspomene Vojnika"),
Zagreb 2nd edition
- (Croatian) War in Croatia 1991-95, Part II.
- Jerry Blaskovich, Anatomy of Deceit: An American
Physician's First-hand Encounter With The Realities Of The War In
- BariÄ, Nikica: Srpska pobuna u Hrvatskoj 1990.-1995., Golden
marketing. TehniÄka knjiga, Zagreb, 2005
- Drago KovaÄeviÄ, "Kavez - Krajina u dogovorenom ratu", Beograd
2003., p. 93.-94
- Milisav SekuliÄ, "Knin je pao u Beogradu", Bad Vilbel 2001., p.
171.-246., p. 179 
- Marko Vrcelj, "Rat za Srpsku Krajinu 1991-95", Beograd 2002.,
- RSK Evacuation Practise one month before Operation
- YouTube - Knin after "Storm", August 1995
- Croatia: "Operation Storm" - still no justice ten
years on by AI.
- "Evicted Serbs remember Storm", Matt Prodger,
- "Croatia marks Storm anniversary", BBC News, 5 August
- Bilten. Veritas (December 1999). Accessed 5
- Croatia: Operation "Storm" - Still No Justice Ten
Years On. Amnesty International (4 August 2005). Accessed 5
- Croatia: Selected Developments in Transitional
Justice. International Center for Transitional Justice.
Accessed 5 September 2009.
- Croatia. Human Rights Watch. Accessed 5 September
- Civil and Political Rights in Croatia. Human
Rights Watch (October 1995). Accessed 5 September 2009.
- BariÄ, Nikica: Srpska pobuna u Hrvatskoj 1990-1995., Golden
marketing. TehniÄka knjiga, Zagreb, 2005. (from this book are
references under, until Vrcelj)
- RSK, Vrhovni savjet odbrane, Knin, 4. avgust 1995., 16.45
Äasova, Broj 2-3113-1/95. Faksimil ovog dokumenta objavljen je
u/The faximile of this document was published in: Rade Bulat "Srbi
nepoÅ¾eljni u Hrvatskoj", NaÅ¡ glas (Zagreb), br. 8.-9., septembar
1995., p. 90.-96. (faksimil je objavljen na stranici 93./the
faximile is on the page 93.).
- Vrhovni savjet odbrane RSK (The Supreme Council of Defense of
Republic of Serb Krajina) brought a decision 4 August 1995 in
16.45. This decision was signed by Milan MartiÄ and later verified
in Glavni Å¡tab SVK (Headquarters of Republic of Serb Krajina Army)
- RSK, RepubliÄki Å¡tab Civilne zaÅ¡tite, Broj: Pov. 01-82/95.,
Knin, 02.08.1995., HDA, Dokumentacija RSK, kut. 265
- RSK, RepubliÄki Å¡tab Civilne zaÅ¡tite, Broj: Pov. 01-83/95.,
Knin, 02.08.1995., Pripreme za evakuaciju materijalnih, kulturnih i
drugih dobara (The preparations for the evacuation of material,
cultural and other goods), HDA, Dokumentacija RSK, kut. 265
- Drago KovaÄeviÄ, "Kavez - Krajina u dogovorenom ratu", Beograd
2003., p. 93-94.
- (Note: Drago KovaÄeviÄ was during the existence of so-called
RSK the minister of informing and the mayor of Knin, the capitol of
- Milisav SekuliÄ, "Knin je pao u Beogradu", Bad Vilbel 2001.,
p. 171-246., p. 179.
- (Note: Milisav SekuliÄ was a high military officer of "Srpska
vojska Krajine" (Republic of Serb Krajina Army). Book review with excerpts
- Marko Vrcelj, "Rat za Srpsku Krajinu 1991-95", Beograd 2002.,
- Silber, Laura and Little, Allan (1997). Yugoslavia : Death
of a Nation. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-026263-6. Accompanies the BBC
series of the same title.
- Zimmermann, Warren, ed. (1999). War in the Balkans: A
Foreign Affairs Reader, Council on Foreign Relations Press
(June). ISBN 0-87609-260-1.
- Harrison's Flowers
(2000), directed by Elie Chouraqui.
When a Newsweek photojournalist
disappears in war-torn Vukovar, his wife travels to find him.
- The Death of
Yugoslavia (1995). A BBC series with
extensive interviews of prominent Croat and Serb protagonists.
- Truth (director unknown). A Serbian-produced
documentary with a brief history of the war from a Serb point of
view, while examining in detail atrocities committed against
- Hrvatska Ljubavi Moja Jakov Sedlar, movie by Jakov
Sedlar showing accounts by Jews and American officials about the
Oluja and the war as a whole.
- ER. The character of Dr.
Luka KovaÄ, played by Goran ViÅ¡njiÄ, who first appeared on
the series in 1999 and is still a main character as of 2007, lost
his wife and children in the war. They were killed when a grenade
shell hit their house.