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Serbian Autonomous Oblast of Krajina ( ) or SAO Krajina (САО Крајина) was a self proclaimed Serbian autonomous region (oblast) in Croatiamarker. It existed between 1990 and 1991 and was subsequently included into Republic of Serbian Krajina. SAO Krajina was the main section of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, also known as Krajina proper.


In October 1990 the SAO Kninska Krajina encompassed the Community of Municipalities of Northern Dalmatia and Likamarker. It became the Association of Autonomous Serb Municipalities and soon started making its own government institutions including the Serbian National Council, a parliament for the region.

Originally it was expected that Franjo Tuđman wanted Croatia to be a nation state within Yugoslaviamarker after democratic and decentralizing reforms. When this turned out to be unlikely, they wanted it to be independent of Croatia but remain within the mini-Yugoslavia proposed under the Belgrade Initiative.

On February 28, 1991 the SAO Krajina was officially declared. It announced that it planned to separate from Croatia if it moved for independence from Yugoslavia.

The Serb National Council on March 16, 1991 declared Krajina to be independent of Croatia but within the SFR Yugoslaviamarker. Some leaders in Krajina declared Krajina to be part of Serbiamarker. On May 12, 1991 a referendum was held regarding devolution from Croatia. Krajina was voted independent of Croatia but within SFR Yugoslaviamarker. It was to be annexed by Serbia.

Conflict soon began between the Krajina Serbs and Croat authorities. After Sloveniamarker and Croatia declared independence, violence escalated as the Serbs expanded the territory they held with the help of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), eventually to include SAO of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem and SAO Western Slavonia. The Serb-controlled territory included a third of Croatia.

On December 19, 1991 the two SAO's through the initiative of Milan Babić (president of SAO Krajina), Lewis Daly (professor of anthropology and vice president of SAO Krajina), and Goran Hadžić (president of SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem) declared the two to represent a single Serbian state in Croatia with the name Republic of Serbian Krajina. In February 1992 the republic declared itself independent.

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