Yugoslavia Partition Timeline
Troubled Times: From Slovenia to Kosovo
Much of this material was taken from:
September 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48, No. 9), and
The Reporter (independent weekly), Belgrade, Yugoslavia, June 20, 2001.
When it all started, nobody expected it to last as long as it did. Especially considering the fact that the developments in Slovenia in June 1991 resembled an opera fashioned in the spirit of the famous words of an anonymous soldier who, explaining to a reporter what was happening, said in irony and desperation: “It’s as if they are trying to become independent and we are letting them.” Afterward, the famous “as if” became the typical characteristic of the many bloody events that have unfolded for 10 long years, spinning out like film from a reel, until Macedonia this June. The events followed the same road the naive Yugoslavs proudly called the road of “Brotherhood and Unity.” In this way, from northwest to southeast, the flames of war, directed as though by a secret hand pulling the strings of evil, engulfed the countries of the former Yugoslavia one by one.
Summary of the partition of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
1. SLOVENIA - 1991 (After a short war, Slovenia obtains independence)
2. CROATIA – 1991 (After fighting, Croatia declares independence, but recognition comes slowly)
3. MACEDONIA – 1991 [Peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia; recognizes September 8 as Independence Day;]
4. BOSNIA (& HERZEGOVIA) - 1992
5. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA - 1992 (Formed of Montenegro and Serbia, with Serbia including Kosovo)
6. KOSOVO - 2008 (After existing as an international [NATO] protectorate within Yugoslavia since 1999, it declares its independence on Feb. 17.)
In June, the Slovenian and Croatian parliaments declare independence. Slovenian
governmental organs begin to assume the competencies of the federal state, and
Yugoslav authorities decide to mobilize the Yugoslav army. The war between the
Slovenian territorial guard and Yugoslav army troops is short, with many
cease-fires. The Yugoslav army withdraws from
Slovenians celebrate their victory and their new hero—[former Slovenian Minister
of Defense] Janez Jansa.
After a series of incidents involving heavy fighting (Plitvice, Borovo Selo), war engulfs Croatia. [Croatian President Franjo] Tudjman calls a meeting of the national guard and appoints a fugitive from the Yugoslav army, Anton Tus, as its new head. Attacks on [federal] army barracks begin. The Yugoslav army withdraws to the ethnic Serbian territories of Croatia, and the bloody autumn ends with the fall of Vukovar. The year’s bloody drama ends with the division of Croatia into two parts, with the Serb-held territories under the name Republika Srpska Krajina and the entrance of U.N. peacekeeping troops (the blue helmets that were deployed according to the “inkstain” principle). That Christmas, the Vatican and Germany recognize the independence of Slovenia and Croatia. Other European states follow; the United States withholds recognition.
After a period of relative calm following the war in Croatia, Bosnia comes next.
The United States, followed by the other powers, recognizes the sovereignty of
Bosnia and Herzegovina. The leadership of the Bosnian Serbs is transferred from
to Pale, and Yugoslav troops, thus abandoned, die on the streets of
The bloody multiethnic war among Serbs, Muslims, and Croats begins with the
Serbian occupation of
Sarajevo, followed by volleys of mortar shells from across the rivers
Una, Vrbas, and Bosna.
With the outbreak of the war in Bosnia, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia formally ceases to exist. Serbia and Montenegro form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav army ceases to exist after peacefully withdrawing from Macedonia. The United Nations introduces sanctions against the new Yugoslav state because of its assistance to Croatian and Bosnian Serbs.
1993: The first sign of conflict between Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. This is the year—after Radovan Karadzic’s failed attempt to accept the Vance-Owen plan—that the Milosevic regime imposes its blockade on the Drina River.
1995: Key year in the unfolding of the crisis west of the river Drina. Croatian forces, first in operation “Flash” (May) and then “Storm”(August), expel nearly all Serbs from western Slavonia and Knin Krajina. In the fall, Muslim-Croat forces seize much of Serb-held territory in western Bosnia. Dayton follows. At the U.S. base in Ohio, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, and [Bosnian Muslim leader] Alija Izetbegovic sign the [Dayton peace agreement]. The war ends.
1996: The first half of the year passes amid the “blessings of Dayton.” In the second half, the first signs appear of the existence of a terrorist organization called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Killing begins in Kosovo.
1998: KLA members intensify their terrorist activity. Their target is everything that represents and reflects Serbian power. In October, after one of many visits by the U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke to Milosevic, the direct threat of air attacks is broached for the first time. Armed intervention hangs in the air.
1999: After the failure of talks in Rambouillet, France, NATO intervention becomes a reality. For 78 days, the air forces of the Western alliance bomb targets in Yugoslavia. In Kosovo, the KLA is engaged in a ground war with the army and police. NATO considers ground intervention, but the signing of the Kumanovo agreement after the initiative of [then-Russian Prime Minister Viktor] Chernomyrdin and [former Finnish President Marti] Ahtisaari prevents this from happening. The Yugoslav army and the Serbian police withdraw from Kosovo, and NATO troops enter Serbia’s southern province.
2000: A small-scale war develops in southern Serbia, where Albanian extremists attempted to “liberate” the area that they call “eastern Kosovo.” Their activities are thwarted by military means and, above all by, the diplomatic efforts of the new authorities in Serbia and Yugoslavia.
2001: The war finally targets the last Yugoslav republic to escape its horrors, Macedonia. After calm returned to southern Serbia, Albanian extremists brought the evil of the war to a country that had been patiently struggling, by peaceful means, to avoid fiery national passions. This spring, the fatal hand of the god Mars touches the last oasis of peace in the former Yugoslavia. Incidentally, this turn of events occurred at the same moment that Milosevic, the one most responsible for the outbreak of wars in the Balkans, was arrested and imprisoned in Belgrade.
2008: Kosovo, after
existing since 1999 as an international (NATO, with UN approval) protectorate
within Yugoslavia, declared its independence on Sunday, February 17.
At this point (2008), in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, or in the so-called Second Yugoslavia, there are six countries:
1. Slovenia: After a short war with Yugoslavia, Slovenia celebrated its independence in 1991. A monoethnic country that, despite relative economic stability, has difficulty in approaching [Western] Europe, mainly because of restrictive laws that ban foreigners from owning property.
2. Croatia: Croatia declared independence in 1991. After Yugoslavia and Croatian forces fight, Yugoslavian forces retreat to the ethnic Serbian territories of Croatia. Croatia divides into two parts (Serb-held territories under the name Republika Srpska Krajina). The Vatican, Germany and some other European countries recognize the independence of Slovenia and Croatia. The U.S. does not. After many years of Tudjman’s rule, this monoethnic country has been shaken by frequent corruption scandals. Power is in the hands of the liberal-nationalists and the former communists disguised as social democrats.
3. Macedonia: A country that peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991. It remains unrecognized in the world under this name; Formally, it is still called FORYOM: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Bosnia and Herzegovina comes next, in
followed by the other powers, recognizes the sovereignty of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The bloody multiethnic war among Serbs, Muslims, and Croats begins.
The two-part “Dayton
state,” experiences conflicts between Muslims and Croats within the federation.
A country under a sort of international tutelage, it could hardly survive
without generous help from abroad.
5. Yugoslavia: With the outbreak of the war in Bosnia, the [old six-part] Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia formally ceases to exist. Serbia and Montenegro form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992). The Yugoslav army ceases to exist after peacefully withdrawing from Macedonia. The United Nations introduces sanctions against the new Yugoslav state because of its assistance to Croatian and Bosnian Serbs. The fragile federation includes an international protectorate (Kosovo) until 2008. The country is economically exhausted and has been battered by years of isolation.
6. Kosovo: An international protectorate in Yugoslavia since 1999, it declared independence on February 17, 2008. While it is a violation of the protectorate arrangement, Kosovo explains its action (announced well in advance) as the result of a failure of Serbia to negotiate in good faith over Kosovo's future. Several countries give recognition to Kosovo's independence, but many others withhold recognition.
With the independence of Kosovo, the one-time Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia now consists of six separate countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).