The former Yugoslavia was composed of different peoples: Croats, Slovenians, Serbs, Muslims, Albanians, Macedonians, among others. These peoples had different cultural characteristics, such as language, habits and religion, so specific that they came to conflict several times in the course of history.
THE FORMATION OF YUGOSLAVIA AND THE IMPORTANCE OF TITO
The Yugoslav Federation originated after the First World War , from territories that were part of the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish-Ottoman Empires. Despite ethnic and religious balkanization, Yugoslavia remained united after World War II (1939-1945). This union was due to the influence and political ability of a socialist and charismatic leader, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, who stood out in the fight against Nazi invaders during World War II.
Tito implanted a socialist regime in Yugoslavia, but he never accepted the interference of the Soviet Union . After Tito’s death in 1980, the political and economic situation began to worsen.
Yugoslavia was made up of a federation of republics ( Serbia , Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia , Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia) and autonomous regions (Vojvodina and Kosovo ). Among the republics that made up Yugoslavia, Serbia was the most powerful, as it controlled most of the country’s armed forces and economy.
The occurrence of Serbian minorities in Bosnia-Hezergovina, Croatia and Slovenia was intended to mix the peoples of the country, in order to hinder future separatist movements in these regions.
Conflicts and recent geopolitical changes:
1- Bosnia and Herzegovina (Civil War 1991-1995)
2- Kosovo (conflict in 1999, area under UN administration with the presence of NATO troops and Russia)
3- Macedonia (conflicts between Macedonians and Albanian minority in 2001)
4- Independence of Montenegro by referendum in 2006
SLOVENIA, CROATIA AND MACEDONIA
In the 1990s, with the widening of the economic crisis in Yugoslavia, old rivalries between ethnic groups were reinvigorated, leading to nationalist and separatist movements. From then on, Yugoslav political and territorial fragmentation began.
Slovenia was the first republic to declare itself independent, establishing Ljubljana as its capital. It is a small country, but with reasonable industrialization and high per-capita income by Eastern European standards.
Then Croatia declared its independence, with the capital in Zagreb. The Yugoslavian central government, controlled by the Serbs, sent troops to contain the separatists and the fighting compounded the crisis.
Macedonia, the poorest of the former Yugoslav republics, also became independent. Beginning in 2000, the country faced conflicts between Macedonians and the Albanian minority, which rebelled on the border with Kosovo.
The crisis in Yugoslavia would become more serious in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as its population was made up of different ethnic groups, 44% Muslims, 31% Serbs and 17% Croats, groups that had divergent goals:
- Croats and Muslims living in Bosnia wanted their political independence;
- the Serbs who lived in Bosnia wanted to continue to belong to Yugoslavia, with Serbia and Montenegro.
A plebiscite approved the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, recognized by several European countries and the United States. However, divergences between the three ethnic groups led to a bloody civil war, aimed at control over several territories. Bosnian Serbs were helped by Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro); Bosnian Croats were helped by neighboring Croatia.
The civil war left about 200,000 dead. Almost all basic human rights have been violated. There was a massacre of defenseless civilian populations, concentration camps, the allocation of corpses in mass graves, mass rape of women from opposing ethnic groups, among other atrocities. The war years led to the devastation of Bosnia’s economy and infrastructure.
Through international pressure led by the UN, the United States, Russia and the European Union, a peace agreement was reached in 1995, after the signing of the Dayton Treaty. Under this agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina was maintained as an independent country through a Confederation.
About 49% of its territory came under Serbian-Bosnian control, while 51% of it came under the control of Muslims and Bosnian Croats. This territorial division by ethnic groups also came into force in its capital, Sarajevo .