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The Yugoslav Wars were a series of violent conflicts fought in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker between 1991 and 2001. The wars were characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians on the other; but also between Bosniaks and Croats in Bosniamarker and Macedonians and Albanians in Macedoniamarker. The wars ended with massive economic disruption to Yugoslaviamarker.

Often described as Europe's deadliest conflicts since World War II, they have become infamous for the war crimes they involved, including mass ethnic cleansing. They 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 Yugoslaviamarker (ICTY) was established by the United Nations to prosecute these crimes.

Although tensions in Yugoslavia had been mounting since the early 1980s, it was 1990 that proved the decisive year in which war became more likely. In the midst of economic hardship, the country was facing rising nationalism amongst its various ethnic groups. At the last 14th Communist Party conference in January 1990, the Serbian-dominated congress voted down Slovenianmarker proposals for an end to the one-party system and for economic reform. This prompted the Slovenian and Croatian delegations to walk out and thus the break-up of the party, a symbolic event representing the end of "brotherhood and unity".

The Yugoslav wars may be considered to comprise of two sets of successive wars affecting all of the six former Yugoslav republics, including Kosovo:
:1. War in Slovenia (1991)
:2. Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995)
:3. Bosnian War (1992-1995)
::* NATO bombing in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995)
:1. Kosovo War (1998-1999)
::* NATO bombing of FR Yugoslavia (1999)
:2. Southern Serbia conflict (1999-2001)
:3. Macedonia conflict (2001)


Terminology

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 (eg. most of Sloveniamarker, the Croatian land of Slavoniamarker) are within Central Europe (not in the Balkans).
  • "War in (the former) Yugoslavia"
  • "Wars of Yugoslav Secession/Succession"
  • "Third Balkan War": a short-lived term coined by British journalist Misha Glenny, alluding to the two previous Balkan Wars fought 1912–1913
  • "Ten Years War": a term coined by the Italian scholar Alessandro Marzo Magno to encompass the whole 1991-2001 period.


Background

Before World War II, major tensions arose from the first, monarchist Yugoslaviamarker's multi-ethnic makeup and relative political and demographic domination of the Serbs. Fundamental to the tensions were the different concepts of the new state; the Croats envisaged a federal model where they would enjoy greater autonomy than they had as a separate crown land under Austria-Hungary. Under Austria-Hungary, Croats enjoyed autonomy with free hands only in education, law, religion and 45% of taxes. The Serbs tended to view the territories as a just reward for their support of the allies in World War I and the new state as an extension of the Serbian Kingdom. The Serbs sacrificed their own state (which was in that time a little bit larger than today's Serbia, including much of Kosovo and Macedonia) in order to realize the ideal of a "South Slav state". Tensions between the two ethnic groups often erupted into open conflict, with the Serb dominated security structure exercising oppression during elections and the assassination in federal parliament of Croat political leaders, including Stjepan Radić, who opposed the Serbian monarch's absolutism. The assassination and human rights abuses were subject of concern for the Human Rights League and precipitated voices of protest from intellectuals, including Albert Einstein. It was in this environment of oppression that the radical insurgent group (later fascist dictatorship), the Ustaše were formed.

The country's tensions were exploited by the occupying Axis forces in World War II, which established a puppet-state spanning much of present day Croatiamarker and Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. The Axis powers installed the Ustasha in charge of this "Independent State of Croatiamarker", which having resolved that the Serbian minority were a fifth column of Serbian expansionism, pursued a genocidal policy against them. One third were to be killed, one third expelled, and one third converted to Catholicism and assimilated as Croats. The same policy was applied in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both Croats and Muslims were recruited as soldiers by the SSmarker (primarily in the 13th Waffen Mountain Division). At the same time, former Royalist General Milan Nedić was installed by the Axis as head of the Serb puppet state. Both quislings were confronted and eventually defeated by the communist-led anti-fascist Partisan movement composed of members of all ethnic groups in the area, leading to the formation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker. The official Yugoslav post-war estimate of victims in Yugoslavia during World War II is 1,704,000. Subsequent data gathering in the 1980s by historians Vladimir Žerjavić and Bogoljub Kočović showed that the actual number of dead was about 1 million. Of that number, the Ustaše killed 330,000–390,000 ethnic Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia.

Despite the federal structure of the new Yugoslavia, there was still tension between the federalists, primarily Croats and Slovenes who argued for greater autonomy, and unitarists, primarily Serbs. The to and fro of the struggle would occur in cycles of protests for greater individual and national rights (such as the Croatian Spring) and subsequent repression. The 1974 constitution was an attempt to short-circuit this pattern by entrenching the federal model and formalizing national rights.

SFR Yugoslav dissolution wars (1991-1995)

In the years leading up to the Yugoslav wars, relations among the republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been deteriorating. Slovenia and Croatia desired greater autonomy within a 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. By that time there was no effective authority at the federal level. Federal Presidency consisted of the representatives of all 6 republics and 2 provinces and JNA (Yugoslav People's Army). Communist leadership was divided along national lines. The final breakdown occurred at the 14th Congress of the Communist Party when Croat and Slovenian delegates left in protest because the pro-integration majority in the Congress rejected their proposed amendments.

Ten-Day War

The first of these conflicts, known as the Ten-Day War, was initiated by the secession of Slovenia from the federation on 25 June 1991. The federal government ordered the federal Yugoslav People's Army to secure border crossings in Slovenia. Slovenian police and Slovenian Territorial Defence blockaded barracks and roads, leading to standoffs and limited skirmishes around the republic. After several dozen deaths, the limited conflict was stopped through negotiation at Brionimarker on 9 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

A destroyed house in Croatia, with Serb nationalist symbols and messages written on the walls.
The second in this series of conflicts, the Croatian War of Independence, began when Serbs in Croatia who were opposed to Croatian independence announced their secession from Croatiamarker. Fighting in this region had actually begun weeks prior to the Ten-Day War in Slovenia. The move was in part triggered by a provision in the new Croatian Constitution that replaced the explicit reference to Serbs in Croatia as a "constituent nation" with a generic reference to all other nations, and was interpreted by Serbs as being reclassified as a "national minority". This was coupled with a history of distrust between the two ethnic groups dating back to at least both World Wars and the inter-war periodmarker. The federally-controlled Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) was ideologically Unitarian, and predominantly staffed by Serbs in its officer corp, thus it also opposed Croatian independence and sided with the Croatian Serb rebels. Since the JNA had disarmed the Territorial Units of the two northernmost republics, the fledgling Croatianmarker state had to form its military from scratch and was further hindered by an arms embargo imposed by the U.N. on the whole of Yugoslavia. The Croatian Serb rebels were unaffected by said embargo as they had the support of and access to supplies of the JNA. The border regions faced direct attacks from forces within Serbia and Montenegro, and saw the destruction of Vukovarmarker and the shelling of UNESCOmarker world heritage site Dubrovnikmarker. One western author criticised Croatia's move to independence as an "irresponsible and unnecessary secession of Croatia and Slovenia from Yugoslavia, which broke up a magnificent country, set off a vicious war in Croatia, and revived many of the Ustase-Cetnik horrors of World War II".

Bosnian War

In March 1991, the Karađorđevo agreement took place between Franjo Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevic. The two presidents tried to reach an agreement on the disintegration process of Yugoslavia, but their main concern was Bosnia, or more precisely its partition.

Meanwhile, control over central Croatia was seized by Croatian Serb forces in conjunction with the JNA Corpus from Bosnia & Herzegovina, under the leadership of Ratko Mladic . These attacks were marked by the killings of captured soldiers and heavy civilian casualties (Ovcaramarker; Škabrnja), and were the subject of war crimes indictments by the ICTYmarker for elements of the Serb political & military leadership. In January 1992, the Vance-Owen peace plan proclaimed UN controlled (UNPA) zones for Serbs in territory claimed by the rebel Serbs 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.
In 1992, the conflict engulfed Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. It was predominantly a territorial conflict between local Bosniaks and Croats backed by Zagrebmarker on one side, and Serbs backed by the Yugoslav People's Army and Serbia on the other. The Yugoslav armed forces which had disintegrated into a largely Serb-dominated military force opposed the Bosniak-majority led government's agenda for independence and along with other armed nationalist Serb militant forces, attempted to prevent Bosnian citizens from voting in the 1992 referendum on independence to prevent Bosnia from legally being able to secede. 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. In June 19, 1992 Croat-Bosniak war broke out. The Bosnia conflict, typified by the siege of Sarajevomarker & Srebrenica, was by far the bloodiest and most widely covered of the Yugoslav wars. Bosnia's Serb faction led by ultra-nationalist Radovan Karadzic 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 Bosniaks through genocide and forced removal of Bosniak populations. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United Statesmarker 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.
100
The fighting in Croatia ended sometime in the summer of 1995, after the Croatian Army launched two rapid military operations, codenamed Operation Flash and Operation Storm, in which it managed to reclaim all of its territory except the UNPA Sector East bordering Serbiamarker. Most of the Serbian population in these areas became refugees, and has been the subject of war crimes indictments by the ICTYmarker for elements of the Croat military leadership. The remaining Sector East came under UN administration (UNTAES), and was reintegrated to Croatia in 1998.

In 1994 the U.S.marker brokered peace between Croatianmarker forces and the Bosniak Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the successful Flash and Storm operations, the Croatian Army and the combined Bosniak & Croat forces of Bosnian & Herzegovina, worked together in 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 finally 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.

Conflicts in Albanian-populated areas (1996-2002)

In Kosovomarker, Macedoniamarker, and southern Central Serbia, the conflicts were typified by ethnic and political tension between the Serbian and Macedonian governments and Albanian national minorities which sought autonomy, as was the case in the Republic of Macedonia, or independence, as was the case in Kosovo.

Kosovo War

The conflict in Kosovo (1996-1999) became a full-scale war in 1999, while the Macedonia conflict (2001-2002) and Southern Serbia conflict (2001) were characterized by armed clashes between state security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

The war in Kosovo ended with NATO intervention against Serbian forces in 1999, with a mainly bombing but partly ground-based campaign under the command of Gen. Wesley Clark. The NATO intervention is often counted as yet another separate war.

The military conflicts in southern Serbia and in Republic of Macedonia ended with internationally-overseen peace agreements between the insurgents and the government. Kosovo was placed under the governmental control of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the military protection of KFOR.

Rioting and unrest in Kosovo broke out in 2004, with minor unrest in 2008 upon Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.

War Crimes

War rape

Evidence of the magnitude of rape in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker prompted the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslaviamarker (ICTY) to deal openly with these abuses. Reports of sexual violence during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and Kosovo War (1996-1999) perpetrated by the Serbian regular and irregular forces have been described as "especially alarming". Since the entry of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, rapes of Albanian, Roma and Serbian women by Serbs and sometimes members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, have been documented.

It has been estimated that during the Bosnian War between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped. A Commission of Experts appointed in October of 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. Sexual violence occurred in a multiple ways, including rape with objects, such as broken glass bottles, guns and truncheons. War rape occurred as a matter of official orders as part of ethnic cleansing, to displace the targeted ethnic group out of the region.

During the Bosnian War the existence of deliberately created "rape camps" was reported. The reported aim of these camps was to impregnate the Bosniak and Croatian women held captive. It has been reported that often women were kept in confinement until the late stage of their pregnancy. This occurred in the context of a patrilineal society, in which children inherit their father's ethnicity, hence the "rape camps" aimed at the birth of a new generation of Serb children. According to the Women's Group Tresnjevka more than 35,000 women and children were held in such Serb-run "rape camps". Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovač, and Zoran Vuković were convicted for rape, torture, and enslavement committed during the Foča massacres.

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.

A brief timeline of the Yugoslav Wars

1968
Students in Kosovo demand greater rights for the Albanian minority during the worldwide May 1968 protests.


1971
Demonstrations in Croatia, known as the Croatian spring, are condemned by the communist government. Many participants were later convicted as nationalists, including Stipe Mesić and Franjo Tuđman. Government crisis follows.


1974
A new SFRYmarker constitution is proclaimed, granting more power to federal units, and more power to autonomous provinces Kosovo and Vojvodinamarker of Serbia, giving them all a single vote in all relevant decisions in the federal government, which is now headed by the joint Presidency with a rotating President. Muslims were recognized as a constituent nation of Yugoslavia, becoming the primary ethnic group of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.


1980
Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito dies.


1981
Economic crisis in Yugoslavia has begun. Albanian students demonstrate in Kosovo, demanding federal unit status.


1986-1989
The controversial Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts claims Serbiamarker has a weak position in Yugoslavia.
Slobodan Milošević rises to power in Serbia, promising to defend and promote the interests of Serbs across Yugoslavia and challenge politicians who were deemed to be repressing the interests of Serbs. Antibureaucratic revolution demonstrations overthrow Communist party leadership and bring pro-Milošević governments to power in Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro. The other republics' leaderships oppose Milošević's coups


1989
Kosovar Albanians continued to demonstrate throughout 1989 after Milosevic adopted amendments to the Serbian Constitution that took away Kosovo’s control over the police force, civil defense, economic, civil and criminal courts, social and education policy. The amendments also effectively prohibited the use of Albanian as an official language in Kosovo and forbade the sale of property to Albanians. This was followed by the closure of the Albanian language newspaper, and the Kosovo Academy of Sciences. Some 80,000 Kosovo Albanians were fired from state employment.


1990
The League of Communists of Yugoslavia dissolves on republican and ethnic lines at its 14th Congress with Slovene and Croatian delegations leaving amid claims that Milošević is usurping power.
The first democratic elections are held in socialist Yugoslavia. Nationalist parties win the majority in almost all republics.
Student protests in Belgrade against Milošević end with police crackdown: one student is killed.
Croatian Serbs start a rebellion against the newly elected Croatian government led by Franjo Tuđman, severing land ties between Dalmatia and remainder of Croatia.
Albanian miners go on strike in Kosovo, which Milošević ends with a police and army crackdown.
Constitutional changes in Serbia revoke some of the powers granted to Kosovo and Vojvodina, effectively giving Serbia 3 out of 8 votes in the federal council. Along with allied Montenegro, this gives extreme power to the Serbian elite. With these votes, Serbian representatives attempt to institute martial law to stop democratic changes - their attempt fails as Bosnia's representative (an ethnic Serb) votes against in the crucial last vote.


1991
Slovenia and Croatia declare independence in June, Macedonia in September. War in Slovenia lasts ten days.
The Yugoslav army leaves Slovenia, but supports rebel Serb forces in Croatia. The Croatian War of Independence begins in Croatia. Serb areas in Croatia declare independence, but are recognized only by Belgrade.
Cities of Vukovarmarker, Dubrovnikmarker and Osijekmarker are devastated by bombardments and shelling. A flood of refugees from the war zones and ethnic cleansing overwhelm entire Croatia. Countries of Europe are slow in accepting refugees.
Macedonia declares independence in September.


1992
Vance peace plan signed, creating four UNPA zones for Serbs and ending large scale fighting in Croatia.
Bosniamarker declares independence. Bosnian war begins.
Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker proclaimed, consisting of Serbiamarker and Montenegromarker, the only two remaining republics.
United Nations impose sanctions against FR Yugoslavia and accepts Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia as members. FR Yugoslavia claims being sole legal heir to SFRY, which is disputed by other republics. UN envoys agree that Yugoslavia had 'dissolved into constituent republics'.
Approx. 600,000 non-Serbian refugees.
Bosniak-Croat conflict begins in Bosnia.


1993
Fighting begins in the Bihaćmarker region between Bosnian Government forces loyal to Alija Izetbegović, and Bosniaks loyal to Fikret Abdić who is supported by Serbs.
Sanctions and in F.R. Yugoslavia, now isolated, create hyperinflation of 3,6 million percent a year of the Yugoslav dinar; this had never been known previously. The inflation exceeds that experienced in the Great Depression of 1929.
The Stari Most (The Old Bridge) in Mostar, built in 1566, was destroyed by Bosnian Croat forces. It was rebuilt in 2003.
The Republic of Macedonia is accepted by the UN, but under the provisional name "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".


1994
Peace treaty between Bosniaks and Croats arbitrated by the United Statesmarker, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina formed.
F.R. Yugoslavia stabilizes economy structure with Economic Implementation Framework.


1995
Srebrenica massacre reported, 8,000 Bosniaks killed.
Croatia launches Operation Flash and Operation Storm, reclaiming all UNPA zones except Eastern Slavonia, and resulting in exodus of 250,000 Serbs from the zones. War in Croatia ends.
NATO launches a series of air strikes on Bosnian Serb artillery and other military targets.
Dayton Agreement signed in Parismarker. War in Bosnia and Herzegovina ends. Aftermath of war is over 100,000 killed and missing and 2,5 million people internally displaced among the former republics. Serb defeat in Croatia and West Bosnia allows Croatian and Bosniak refugees to return to their homes, but many refugees of all nationalities are still displaced today.
After signing the Dayton Agreement, Yugoslavia is granted with looser sanctions, still affecting much of its economy (trade, tourism, industrial production and exports of final products), but allowing for its citizens to exit Yugoslavia, for a limited time.


1996
FR Yugoslavia recognizes Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Fighting breaks out between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanians in Kosovomarker.
Following a fraud in local elections, hundreds of thousands of Serbs demonstrate in Belgrade against the Milošević regime for three months.


1998
Eastern Slavonia peacefully reintegrated into Croatia, following a gradual three-year handover of power.


1999
NATO starts a military campaign in Kosovo and bombards FR Yugoslavia in Operation Allied Force.
Following Milošević signing of an agreement, control of Kosovo is handed to the United Nations, but still remains a part of Yugoslavia's federation. Fresh fighting erupts between Albanians and Yugoslav security forces in Albanian populated areas outside of Kosovo, with the intent of joining three municipalities to Kosovo.
Franjo Tuđman dies. Shortly after that, his party loses the elections.


2000
Slobodan Milošević is voted out of office, and Vojislav Koštunica becomes the new president of Yugoslavia.
With Milošević ousted and a new democratic government in place, FR Yugoslavia comes out of isolation. The political and economic sanctions are suspended in total, and FRY is reinstated in many political and economic organizations, as well as becoming a candidate for other collaborative efforts.


2001
The Conflict in Southern Serbia ends with the Albanians surrendering their bid to attach the regions to Kosovo, and making this the only conflict into which Milošević initially led his nation where they would emerge victorious (Milošević himself having been internally ousted by the end). Relatively few casualties were reported in this war. However, as the battles in southern Serbia were being phased out, they were only to be replaced by more sinister fighting south of the border in the Republic of Macedoniamarker where ethnic Albanians and Macedonian security forces would wage war on each other between January and November. The fighting ended following internationally sponsored peace talks which set the framework for amendments to the Macedonian constitution which would benefit its significant Albanian population.
In June, Milošević was handed over by Yugoslav authorities to UN personnel, and subsequently transferred to the Hague to stand trial.


2002
Milošević is put on trial in The Haguemarker on charges of war crimes in Kosovo.


2003
FR Yugoslavia is reorganized into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
Alija Izetbegović dies.


2004
Slovenia joins the European Union and NATO.
Clashes take place in Kosovo between Albanians and Serbs.


2006
Death of Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo Albanian leader in Pristinamarker
Montenegromarker holds referendum on independence and dissolves the union with Serbia.
Death of Slobodan Milošević in The Hague prison.


2007
The International Court of Justice (ICJmarker) finds Serbiamarker not guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, but finds that it failed to prevent the genocide in Srebrenicamarker and orders it to hand over war criminals who are suspected to hide inside its borders.


2008
Kosovomarker declares independence on 17 February 2008. The UN is still divided over the recognition of the state.
Radovan Karadžić captured in Belgrade, 21 July 2008.
Majority of the UN states backed a Serbian judicial initiative on Kosovo aimed at determining whether the secession was legal.


2009
In April, Croatia joins NATOmarker.


See also



References

External links




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