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Yugoslavia Historic Collections Exhibition.
Yugoslavia (Croatian, Serbian, Slovene: Jugoslavija; Macedonian, Serbian Cyrillic: Југославија) is a term that describes three political entities that existed successively on the western part of Balkan Peninsula in Europe, during most of the 20th century.
The first country to be known by this name was the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which before 3 October 1929 was known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. It was established on 1 December 1918 by the union of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and the Kingdom of Serbia (to which the Kingdom of Montenegro was annexed on 13 November 1918, and the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris gave international recognition to the union on 13 July 1922). The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers in 1941, and because of the events that followed, was officially abolished in 1943 and 1945.
The second country with this name was the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, proclaimed in 1943 by the Yugoslav Partisans resistance movement in World War II. It was renamed to the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, when a communist government was established. In 1963, it was renamed again to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). This was the largest Yugoslav state, as Istria and Rijeka were added to the new Yugoslavia after the end of World War II.
The constituent six Socialist Republics and two Socialist Autonomous Provinces that made up the country, were: SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Croatia, SR Macedonia, SR Montenegro, SR Slovenia and SR Serbia (including the autonomous provinces of SAP Vojvodina and SAP Kosovo who after 1974 were largely equal to the other members of the federation.)
Starting in 1991, the SFRY disintegrated in the Yugoslav Wars which followed the secession of most of the country’s constituent entities. The next Yugoslavia, known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, existed until 2003, when it was renamed “Serbia and Montenegro”.
Yugoslavia was the idea for a single state for all South Slavic intelligentsia and emerged in the late 17th and gained prominence in the 19th century Illyrian Movement, that culminated in the realization of the ideal with the 1918 collapse of Habsburg Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. However, the kingdom was better known, colloquially as well as even on maps, as Yugoslavia (or Jugo-Slavia in the rest of Europe), coined from Slavic words “jug” (south) and “slaveni” (Slavs). in 1929 it was formally renamed to “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia and its banovinas in 1929
King Alexander’s period
King Alexander I banned national political parties in 1929, assumed executive power and renamed the country Yugoslavia. He hoped to curb separatist tendencies and mitigate nationalist passions. However, Alexander’s policies later encountered opposition from other European powers stemming from developments in Italy and Germany, where Fascists and Nazis rose to power, and the Soviet Union, where Stalin became absolute ruler. None of these three regimes favored the policy pursued by Alexander I. In fact, Italy and Germany wanted to revise the international treaties signed after World War I, and the Soviets were determined to regain their positions in Europe and pursue a more active international policy.
Alexander attempted to create a centralized Yugoslavia. He decided to abolish Yugoslavia’s historic regions, and new internal boundaries were drawn for provinces or banovinas. The banovinas were named after rivers. Many politicians were jailed or kept under police surveillance. The effect of Alexander’s dictatorship was to further alienate the non-Serbs from the idea of unity. During his reign the flags of Yugoslav nations were banned, Communist ideas were banned also.
The king was assassinated in Marseille during an official visit to France in 1934 by an experienced marksman from Ivan Mihailov’s Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization in the cooperation of the Ustaše, a Croatian fascist revolutionary organization. Alexander was succeeded by his eleven year old son Peter II and a regency council headed by his cousin Prince Paul.
The international political scene in the late 1930s was marked by growing intolerance between the principal figures, by the aggressive attitude of the totalitarian regimes and by the certainty that the order set up after World War I was losing its strongholds and its sponsors were losing their strength. Supported and pressured by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Croatian leader Vladko Maček and his party managed the creation of the Banovina of Croatia (Autonomous Region with significant internal self-government) in 1939. The agreement specified that Croatia was to remain part of Yugoslavia, but it was hurriedly building an independent political identity in international relations. The entire kingdom was to be federalized but World War II stopped the fulfillment of those plans.
Prince Paul submitted to the fascist pressure and signed the Tripartite Treaty in Vienna on March 25, 1941, hoping to still keep Yugoslavia out of the war. But this was at the expense of popular support for Paul’s regency. Senior military officers were also opposed to the treaty and launched a coup d’état when the king returned on March 27. Army General Dušan Simović seized power, arrested the Vienna delegation, exiled Paul, and ended the regency, giving 17-year-old King Peter full powers. Hitler then decided to attack Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, followed immediately by an invasion of Greece where Mussolini had previously been repelled.
Yugoslavia during World War II
Invasion of Yugoslavia
At 5:12 a.m. on April 6, 1941, German, Italian and Hungarian forces attacked Yugoslavia. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) bombed Belgrade and other major Yugoslav cities. On April 17, representatives of Yugoslavia’s various regions signed an armistice with Germany in Belgrade, ending 11 days of resistance against the invading German Army (Wehrmacht Heer). More than 300,000 Yugoslav officers and soldiers were taken prisoner.
The Axis Powers occupied Yugoslavia and split it up. The Independent State of Croatia was established as a Nazi satellite state, ruled by the fascist militia known as the Ustaše that came into existence in 1929, but was relatively limited in its activities until 1941. German troops occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as part of Serbia and Slovenia, while other parts of the country were occupied by Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy. From 1941-45, the Croatian Ustaše regime murdered around 500,000 people, 250,000 were expelled, and another 200,000 were forced to convert to Catholicism, the victims were predominantly Serbs, but include 37,000 Jews.
Yugoslav People’s Liberation War
From the start, the Yugoslav resistance forces consisted of two factions: the communist-led Yugoslav Partisans, and the royalist Chetniks. With the former receiving Allied recognition only to the Tehran conference (1943). The heavily pro-Serbian Chetniks were led by Draža Mihajlović, while the pan-Yugoslav oriented Partisans were led by Josip Broz Tito.
The Partisans initiated a guerrilla campaign which was developed into the largest resistance army in occupied Western and Central Europe. The Chetniks were initially supported by the exiled royal government as well as the Allies, but soon focused increasingly on combating the Partisans, rather than the occupying axis forces. By the end of the war, the Chetnik movement transformed into a collaborationist Serb nationalist militia, completely dependent on Axis supplies. The highly mobile Partisans, however, carried on their guerrilla warfare with great success. Most notable of the victories against the occupying forces were the battles of Neretva and Sutjeska.
On November 25, 1942, the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (Antifašističko vijeće narodnog oslobođenja Jugoslavije) was convened in Bihać, modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina. The council reconvened on November 29, 1943, in Jajce, also in Bosnia and Herzegovina and established the basis for post-war organization of the country, establishing a federation (this date was celebrated as Republic Day after the war).
The Yugoslav Partisans were able to expel the Axis from Serbia in 1944 and the rest of Yugoslavia in 1945. The Red Army provided limited assistance with the liberation of Belgrade and withdrew after the war was over. In May 1945, the Partisans met with allied forces outside former Yugoslav borders, after taking over also Trieste and parts of Austrian southern provinces Styria and Carinthia. However, the Partisans withdrew from Trieste in June of the same year.
Western attempts to reunite the Partisans, who denied supremacy of the old government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the emigration loyal to the king, led to the Tito-Šubašić Agreement in June 1944, however Marshal Josip Broz Tito was seen as a national hero by the citizens, and was elected by referendum to lead the new independent communist state, starting as a prime minister. 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.
Marshal Josip Broz Tito.
On November 29, 1945, while still in exile, King Peter II was deposed by Yugoslavia’s Constituent Assembly. However, he refused to abdicate.
On January 31, 1946, the new constitution of Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, modeled after the Soviet Union, established six People’s Republics, an Autonomous Province, and an Autonomous District that were part of SR Serbia. The federal capital was Belgrade. Republics and provinces were (in alphabetical order):
* now Podgorica.
In 1947, negotiations between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria were led and finalized with the Bled agreement. The aim of the negotiations was to include Bulgaria in Yugoslavia or to form a new union of two independent countries. After the intervention of Stalin this agreement was never realized.
Yugoslavia solved the national issue of nations and nationalities (national minorities) in a way that all nations and nationalities had the same rights. The flags of the republics used versions of the red flag and/or Slavic tricolor, with a red star in the centre or in the canton.
In 1974, the two provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo-Metohija (for the latter had by then been upgraded to the status of a province), as well as the republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, were granted greater autonomy to the point that Albanian and Hungarian became nationally recognised minority languages and the Serbo-Croat of Bosnia and Montenegro altered to a form based on the speech of the local people and not on the standards of Zagreb and Belgrade. In Slovenia the recognized minorities were Hungarians and Italians.
Vojvodina and Kosovo-Metohija formed a part of the Republic of Serbia but those provinces also formed part of the federation, which led to the unique situation that Central Serbia did not have its own assembly but a joint assembly with its provinces represented in it. The country distanced itself from the Soviets in 1948 (cf. Cominform and Informbiro) and started to build its own way to socialism under the strong political leadership of Josip Broz Tito. The country criticized both Eastern bloc and NATO nations and, together with other countries, started the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, which remained the official affiliation of the country until it dissolved.
Yugoslavia had always been a home to a very diverse population, not only in terms of national affiliation, but also religious affiliation. Of the many religions, Islam, Catholicism, Judaism and Protestantism as well as various Orthodox faiths composed the religions of Yugoslavia, comprising over 40 in all. The religious demographics of Yugoslavia have changed dramatically since World War II. A census taken in 1921 and later in 1948 show that 99% of the population appeared to be deeply involved with their religion and practices. With postwar government programs of modernization and urbanization, the percentage of religious believers took a dramatic plunge. Connections between religious belief and nationality posed a serious threat to the post-war Communist government’s policies on national unity and state structure.
After the rise of communism, a survey taken in 1964 showed that just over 70% of the total population of Yugoslavia considered themselves to be religious believers. The places of highest religious concentration were that of Kosovo with 91% and Bosnia and Herzegovina with 83.8%. The places of lowest religious concentration were Slovenia 65.4%, Serbia with 63.7% and Croatia with 63.6%. Religious differences between Orthodox Christian Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Muslim Bosniaks and the rise of nationalism contributed to the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.
On 7 April 1963, the nation changed its official name to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Tito was named President for Life. In the SFRY, each republic and province had its own constitution, supreme court, parliament, president and prime minister. At the top of the Yugoslav government were the President (Tito), the federal Prime Minister, and the federal Parliament (a collective Presidency was formed after Tito’s death in 1980). Also important were the Communist Party general secretaries for each republic and province, and the general secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party.
Josip Broz Tito was the most powerful person in the country, followed by republican and provincial premiers and presidents, and Communist Party presidents. Slobodan Penezić Krcun, Tito’s chief of secret police in Serbia, fell victim to a dubious traffic incident after he started to complain about Tito’s politics. The Interior Minister Aleksandar Ranković lost all of his titles and rights after a major disagreement with Tito regarding state politics. Sometimes ministers in government, such as Edvard Kardelj or Stane Dolanc, were more important than the Prime Minister.
The suppression of national identities escalated with the so-called Croatian Spring of 1970–1971, when students in Zagreb organized demonstrations for greater civil liberties and greater Croatian autonomy. The regime stifled the public protest and incarcerated the leaders, but many key Croatian representatives in the Party silently supported this cause, so a new Constitution was ratified in 1974 that gave more rights to the individual republics in Yugoslavia and provinces in Serbia.
Ethnic tensions and the economic crisis
The post-World War II Yugoslavia was in many respects a model of how to build a multinational state. The Federation was constructed against a double background: an inter-war Yugoslavia which had been dominated by the Serbian ruling class; and a war-time division of the country, as Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany split the country apart and endorsed an extreme Croatian nationalist faction called the Ustaše which committed genocide against Serbs. A small faction of Bosniak nationalists joined the Axis forces and attacked Serbs while extreme Serb nationalists engaged in attacks on Bosniaks and Croats.
The ethnic violence was only ended when the multiethnic Yugoslav Partisans took over the country at the end of the war and banned nationalism from being publicly promoted. Overall relative peace was retained under Tito’s rule, though nationalist protests did occur, but these were usually repressed and nationalist leaders were arrested and some were executed by Yugoslav officials. However one protest in Croatia in the 1970s, called the “Croatian Spring” was backed by large numbers of Croats who claimed that Yugoslavia remained a Serb hegemony and demanded that Serbia’s powers be reduced.
Tito, whose home republic was Croatia, was concerned over the stability of the country and responded in a manner to appease both Croats and Serbs, he ordered the arrest of the Croat protestors, while at the same time conceding to some of their demands. In 1974, Serbia’s influence in the country was significantly reduced as autonomous provinces were created in ethnic Albanian-majority populated Kosovo and the mixed-populated Vojvodina.
These autonomous provinces held the same voting power as the republics but unlike the republics, they could not legally separate from Yugoslavia. This concession satisfied Croatia and Slovenia, but in Serbia and in the new autonomous province of Kosovo, reaction was different. Serbs saw the new constitution as conceding to Croat and ethnic Albanian nationalists. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo saw the creation of an autonomous province as not being enough, and demanded that Kosovo become a constituent republic with the right to separate from Yugoslavia. This created tensions within the Communist leadership, particularly amongst Communist Serb officials who resented the 1974 constitution as weakening Serbia’s influence and jeopardizing the unity of the country by allowing the republics the right to separate.
An economic crisis erupted in the 1970s which was the product of disastrous errors by Yugoslav governments, such as borrowing vast amounts of Western capital in order to fund growth through exports. Western economies then entered recession, blocked Yugoslav exports and created a huge debt problem. The Yugoslav government then accepted the IMF loan.
In 1989, according to official sources, 248 firms were declared bankrupt or were liquidated and 89,400 workers were laid off. During the first nine months of 1990 directly following the adoption of the IMF programme, another 889 enterprises with a combined work-force of 525,000 workers suffered the same fate. In other words, in less than two years “the trigger mechanism” (under the Financial Operations Act) had led to the lay off of more than 600,000 workers out of a total industrial workforce of the order of 2.7 million. An additional 20% of the work force, or half a million people, were not paid wages during the early months of 1990 as enterprises sought to avoid bankruptcy. The largest concentrations of bankrupt firms and lay-offs were in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo. Real earnings were in a free fall and social programmes had collapsed; creating within the population an atmosphere of social despair and hopelessness. This was a critical turning point in the events to follow.
Approaching the breakup
Though the 1974 Constitution dampened the institutional and material powers of the federal government, Tito’s authority substituted for this weakness until his death in 1980.
Serbian President Slobodan Milošević‘s unequivocal desire to uphold the unity of Serbs, a status threatened by each republic breaking away from the federation, in addition to his opposition to the Albanian authorities in Kosovo, further inflamed ethnic tensions.
Croatian President Franjo Tuđman refused to partition Croatia on ethnic lines, which angered the Serb population of Croatia who had wished to remain in union with Serbia-proper. This resulted in the outbreak of violence and war between Croats and Serbs ahead of Croatia’s independence.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović pushed for independence of Bosnia, claiming that he would not allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to become part of what he called “Greater Serbia” which he accused the Serbian government of sponsoring. As head of Bosnia’s government, Izetbegović would wage war on three fronts: against Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats and also against a rebel faction of Bosniaks in northern Bosnia led by Fikret Abdić. The Bosnian state he initially wished to build was both against the Serbs’ desire for their territory to remain in Yugoslavia, and one which would disenfranchise non-Bosniaks.
After Tito’s death on 4 May 1980, ethnic tensions grew in Yugoslavia. The legacy of the Constitution of 1974 was used to throw the system of decision-making into a state of paralysis, made all the more hopeless as the conflict of interests had become irreconcilable. The constitutional crisis that inevitably followed resulted in a rise of nationalism in all republics: Slovenia and Croatia made demands for looser ties within the Federation, the Albanian majority in Kosovo demanded the status of a republic, Serbia sought absolute, not only relative dominion over Yugoslavia. Added to this, the Croat quest for independence led to large Serb communities within Croatia rebelling and trying to secede from the Croat republic.
In 1986, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts drafted a memorandum addressing some burning issues concerning position of Serbs as the most numerous people in Yugoslavia. The largest Yugoslav republic in territory and population, Serbia’s influence over the regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina was reduced by the 1974 Constitution. Because its two autonomous provinces had de facto prerogatives of full-fledged republics, Serbia found that its hands were tied, for the republican government was restricted in making and carrying out decisions that would apply to the provinces. Since the provinces had a vote in the Federal Presidency Council (an eight-member council composed of representatives from six republics and two autonomous provinces), they sometimes even entered into coalition with other republics, thus outvoting Serbia. Serbia’s political impotence made it possible for others to exert pressure on the 2 million Serbs (20% of total Serbian population) living outside Serbia.
Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milošević sought to restore pre-1974 Serbian sovereignty. Other republics, especially Slovenia and Croatia, denounced this move as a revival of great Serbian hegemonism. Milošević succeeded in reducing the autonomy of Vojvodina and of Kosovo and Metohija, but both entities retained a vote in the Yugoslav Presidency Council. The very instrument that reduced Serbian influence before was now used to increase it: in the eight member Council, Serbia could now count on four votes minimum — Serbia proper, then-loyal Montenegro, and Vojvodina and Kosovo.
As a result of these events, the ethnic Albanian miners in Kosovo organized strikes, which dovetailed into ethnic conflict between the Albanians and the non-Albanians in the province. At around 80% of the population of Kosovo in the 1980s, ethnic-Albanians were the majority. The number of Slavs in Kosovo (mainly Serbs) was quickly declining for several reasons, among them the ever increasing ethnic tensions and subsequent emigration from the area. By 1999 the Slavs formed as little as 10% of the total population in Kosovo.
Meanwhile Slovenia, under the presidency of Milan Kučan, and Croatia supported Albanian miners and their struggle for formal recognition. Initial strikes turned into widespread demonstrations demanding a Kosovan republic. This angered Serbia’s leadership which proceeded to use police force, and later even the Federal Army was sent to the province by the order of the Serbia-held majority in the Yugoslav Presidency Council.
In January 1990, the extraordinary 14th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was convened. For most of the time, the Slovenian and Serbian delegations were arguing over the future of the League of Communists and Yugoslavia. The Serbian delegation, led by Milošević, insisted on a policy of “one person, one vote“, which would empower the plurality population, the Serbs. In turn, the Slovenes, supported by Croats, sought to reform Yugoslavia by devolving even more power to republics, but were voted down. As a result, the Slovenian, and eventually Croatian delegation left the Congress, and the all-Yugoslav Communist party was dissolved.
Following the fall of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe, each of the republics held multi-party elections in 1990. Slovenia and Croatia held the elections in April since their communist parties chose to cede power peacefully. Other Yugoslav republics — especially Serbia — were more or less dissatisfied with the democratization in two of the republics and proposed different sanctions (e.g. Serbian “customs tax” for Slovenian products) against the two of the union but as the year passed other republics communist parties saw the inevitability of the democratization process and in December as the last member of the federation — Serbia held parliamentary elections which confirmed (former) communists rule in this republic.
The unresolved issues however remained. In particular, Slovenia and Croatia elected governments oriented towards greater autonomy of the republics (under Milan Kučan and Franjo Tuđman, respectively), since it became clear that Serbian domination attempts and increasingly different levels of democratic standards were becoming increasingly incompatible. Serbia and Montenegro elected candidates who favoured Yugoslav unity. Serbs in Croatia wouldn’t accept a status of a national minority in a sovereign Croatia, since they would be demoted from a constituent nation of Croatia and this would consequently diminish their rights.
The war broke out when the new regimes tried to replace Yugoslav civilian and military forces with secessionist forces. When in August 1990 Croatia attempted to replace police in the Serb populated Croat Krajina by force, the population first looked for refuge in the JNA caserns, while the army remained passive. The civilians then organised armed resistance. These armed conflicts between the Croatian armed forces (“police”) and civilians mark the beginning of the Yugoslav war that inflamed the region. Similarly, the attempt to replace Yugoslav frontier police by the Slovenian police provoked regional armed conflicts which finished with a minimal number of victims.
A similar attempt in Bosnia and Herzegovina led to a war that lasted more than three years (see below). The results of all these conflicts are almost complete emigration of the Serbs from all three regions, massive displacement of the populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and establishment of the three new independent states. The separation of Macedonia was peaceful, although the Yugoslav Army occupied the peak of the Straža mountain on the Macedonian soil.
Serbian uprisings in Croatia began in August 1990 by blocking roads leading from the Dalmatian coast towards the inland almost a year before Croatian leadership made any move towards independence. These uprisings were more or less discretely backed up by the Serbian dominated federal army (JNA). The Serbs proclaimed the emergence of Serbian Autonomous Areas (known later as Republic of Serb Krajina) in Croatia. Federal army tried to disarm the Territorial defence forces of Slovenia (republics had their local defence forces similar to Home guard ) in 1990 but wasn’t completely successful. Still, Slovenia began to covertly import arms to replenish its armed forces.
Croatia also embarked upon the illegal import of arms, (following the disaramament of the republics armed forces by the federal JNA) mainly from Hungary, and were under constant surveillance which produced a video of a secret meeting between the Croatian Defence minister Martin Špegelj and the two men, filmed by the Yugoslav Counter Intelligence (KOS, Kontra-obavještajna Služba). Špegelj announced that they were at war with the army and gave instructions about arms smuggling as well as methods of dealing with the Yugoslav Army’s officers stationed in Croatian cities. Serbia and JNA used this discovery of Croatian rearmament for propaganda purposes. The film was spiced by distorting sounds and fabricated voice of the Croatian minister.
Also, guns were fired from army bases through Croatia. Elsewhere, tensions were running high.
In the same month, the Yugoslav People’s Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija, JNA) met with the Presidency of Yugoslavia in an attempt to get them to declare a state of emergency which would allow for the army to take control of the country. The army was seen as a Serbian service by that time so the consequence feared by the other republics was to be total Serbian domination of the union. The representatives of Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Vojvodina voted for the decision, while all other republics, Croatia (Stipe Mesić), Slovenia (Janez Drnovšek), Macedonia (Vasil Tupurkovski) and Bosnia and Hercegovina (Bogić Bogićević), voted against. The tie delayed an escalation of conflicts, but not for long. Slobodan Milošević installed his proponents in Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro during Yogurt Revolutions.
Following the first multi-party election results, in the autumn of 1990, the republics of Slovenia and Croatia proposed transforming Yugoslavia into a loose confederation of six republics. By this proposal republics would have right to self-determination. However Milošević rejected all such proposals, arguing that like Slovenes and Croats, the Serbs (having in mind Croatian Serbs) should also have a right to self-determination.
On March 9, 1991, demonstrations were held against Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade, but the police and the military were deployed in the streets to restore order, killing two people. In late March 1991, the Plitvice Lakes incident was one of the first sparks of open war in Croatia. The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), whose superior officers were mainly of Serbian ethnicity, maintained an impression of being neutral, but as time went on, they got more and more involved in the state politics.
On June 25, 1991, Slovenia and Croatia became the first republics to declare independence from Yugoslavia. The federal customs officers in Slovenia on the border crossings with Italy, Austria and Hungary mainly just changed uniforms since most of them were local Slovenes. The border police were mostly already Slovenian before Slovenia’s declaration of independence. The following day (June 26), the Federal Executive Council specifically ordered the army to take control of the “internationally recognized borders”. See Ten-Day War.
The Yugoslav People’s Army forces, based in barracks in Slovenia and Croatia, attempted to carry out the task within the next 48 hours. However, because of the misinformation given to the Yugoslav Army conscripts that the Federation was under attack by foreign forces, and the fact that the majority of them did not wish to engage in a war on the ground where they served their conscription, the Slovene territorial defence forces retook most of the posts within several days with only minimal loss of life on both sides.
There was a suspected incident of a war crime, as the Austrian ORF TV station showed footage of three Yugoslav Army soldiers surrendering to the Territorial defense, before gunfire was heard and the troops were seen falling down. However, none were killed in the incident. There were however numerous cases of destruction of civilian property and civilian life by the Yugoslav Peoples Army — houses, a church, civilian airport was bombarded and civilian hangar and airliners inside it, truck drivers on the road Ljubljana — Zagreb and Austrian journalists on Ljubljana Airport were killed. Ceasefire was agreed upon. According to the Brioni Agreement, recognized by representatives of all republics, the international community pressured Slovenia and Croatia to place a three-month moratorium on their independence.
During these three months, the Yugoslav Army completed its pull-out from Slovenia, but in Croatia, a bloody war broke out in the autumn of 1991. Ethnic Serbs, who had created their own state Republic of Serbian Krajina in heavily Serb-populated regions resisted the police forces of the Republic of Croatia who were trying to bring that breakaway region back under Croatian jurisdiction. In some strategic places, the Yugoslav Army acted as a buffer zone, in most others it was protecting or aiding Serbs with resources and even manpower in their confrontation with the new Croatian army and their police force.
In September 1991, the Republic of Macedonia also declared independence, becoming the only former republic to gain sovereignty without resistance from the Belgrade-based Yugoslav authorities. 500 U.S. soldiers were then deployed under the U.N. banner to monitor Macedonia’s northern borders with the Republic of Serbia, Yugoslavia. Macedonia’s first president, Kiro Gligorov, maintained good relations with Belgrade and the other breakaway republics and there have to date been no problems between Macedonian and Serbian border police even though small pockets of Kosovo and the Preševo valley complete the northern reaches of the historical region known as Macedonia (Prohor Pčinjski part), which would otherwise create a border dispute if ever Macedonian romantic nationalism should resurface (see VMRO). This was despite the fact that the Yugoslav Army refused to abandon its military infrastructure on the top of the Straža Mountain up to the year 2000.
As a result of the conflict, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted UN Security Council Resolution 721 on November 27, 1991, which paved the way to the establishment of peacekeeping operations in Yugoslavia.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 1991, the Bosnian Serbs held a referendum which resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of forming Serbian republic in borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and staying in a common state with Serbia and Montenegro. On January 9, 1992, the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb assembly proclaimed a separate “Republic of the Serb people of Bosnia and Herzegovina”. The referendum and creation of SARs were proclaimed unconstitutional by the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and declared illegal and invalid. However, in February-March 1992 the government held a national referendum on Bosnian independence from Yugoslavia. That referendum was in turn declared contrary to the BiH and Federal constitution by the federal Constitution court in Belgrade and the newly established Bosnian Serb government.
The referendum was largely boycotted by the Bosnian Serbs. The Federal court in Belgrade did not decide on the matter of the referendum of the Bosnian Serbs. The turnout was somewhere between 64–67% and 98% of the voters voted for independence. It was not clear what the two-thirds majority requirement actually meant and whether it was satisfied. The republic’s government declared its independence on 5 April, and the Serbs immediately declared the independence of Republika Srpska. The war in Bosnia followed shortly thereafter.
The end of the Second Yugoslavia
Various dates are considered as the end of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia:
- June 25, 1991, when Croatia and Slovenia declared independence
- September 8, 1991, following a referendum the Republic of Macedonia declared independence
- October 8, 1991, when the July 9 moratorium on Slovenian and Croatian secession was ended and Croatia restated its independence in Croatian Parliament (that day is celebrated as Independence Day in Croatia)
- January 15, 1992, when Slovenia and Croatia were internationally recognized by most European countries
- April 6, 1992, full recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence by the U.S. and most European countries
- April 28, 1992, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is formed
- November 1995, Dayton Agreement is signed by leaders of FR Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia
Countries created from the former Yugoslavia:
|Name||Capital||Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Sarajevo|
The first former Yugoslav republic to join the European Union was Slovenia, which applied in 1996 and became a member in 2004. Croatia applied for membership in 2004. Macedonia applied in 2004, and will probably join by 2010–2015.. Montenegro presented its official application to the European Union, with the hopes of gaining EU candidate status by 2009, although it has yet to be accepted. The remaining three republics have yet to apply so their acceptance generally is not expected before 2015. These states are signatories of various partnership agreements with the European Union. Since 1 January 2007, they have been encircled by member-states of EU (and Albania, which is encircled with them). The Assembly of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Its independence is recognised by 71 UN member states and the Republic of China (Taiwan). On 8 October 2008, upon request of Serbia, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the issue of Kosovo’s declaration of independence. On 22 July 2010, the court ruled that Kosovo’s independence was not illegal.
Remaining cultural and ethnic ties
The similarity of the languages and the long history of common life have left many ties among the peoples of the new states, even though the individual state policies of the new states favour differentiation, particularly in language. The Serbo-Croatian language is linguistically a unique language, with several literary and spoken variants and also was the imposed means of communication used where other languages dominated (Slovenia, Macedonia). Now, separate sociolinguistic standards exist for the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages. Although the SFRY had no official language, technically there had been three official languages, along with minority languages official where minorities lived, but in all federal organs only Serbo-Croatian or Croato-Serbian was used and others were expected to use it as well.
Remembrance of the time of the joint state and its perceived positive attributes is referred to as Yugo-nostalgia (Jugonostalgija). Many aspects of Yugonostalgia refer to the socialist system and the sense of social security it provided. There are still people from the former-Yugoslavia who self-identify as Yugoslavs, and commonly seen in demographics relating to ethnicity in today’s independent states.
the end@copyright Dr Iwan suwandy 2010