Anna M. Cienciala (
History 557 Lecture Notes
Spring 2002 ;revised Feb. 2004,fall 2009;
Creative Commons License
hist557 by anna m.cienciala is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at
return to HIST 557 page
spring 2011.


20B. The Balkans since 1989.


The disintegration of Yugoslavia overshadows developments in other Balkan states because of the wars which accompanied it. Yugoslavia will, therefore, be discussed first in this section, and the other states after it.


A.The Clash of Serbian, Croat and Bosnian Nationalisms in Bosnia.

[from: Robert J. Donia and John V. Fine Jr., Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed].


Lord David Owen, co-author of two proposed solutions for Bosnia in 1993, wrote:

"Nothing is simple in the Balkans. History pervades everything and the complexities confound even the most careful study. Never in my over thirty years of public life have I had to operate in such a climate of dishonour, propaganda and dissembling." *

* [David Owen, Balkan Odyssey, Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1995, p.1]

A historian can make the following comments on this statement: (1) Nothing is simple anywhere; (2) History shapes the present in every country, even when people donít pay much attention to it, as is the case in the United States;  (3) The art of the successful, political lie was always admired in the Balkans.

This said,  Lord Owen, Cyrus Vance and Thorvald Stoltenberg ( the Owen-Stoltenberg plan), deserve admiration for their efforts find a solution for Bosnia, even though they ended in failure. (see below). The U.S. government rejected their plans but would not intervene militarily at this time, while the European states did not want to get involved in such intervention without the U.S.

Finally, after fighting had gone on in Bosnia for three years, Asst. Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke for the U.S., Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian President AIija Izetbegovich on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims, stitched together the Dayton [Ohio] Agreements signed on Nov. 21,1995 and ratified in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995. U.S. armed forces arrived in 1996, but with a stated deadline of staying only one year. The patchwork agreement failed to produce amicable cooperation between the three nationalities. Refugees were generally too afraid to return to areas where they would be minorities, the economy did not recovere, and NATO troops stayed. (For the contents of the Dayton agreement, see the end of this text).

The Bosnian problem seemed as intractable as other national/racial conflicts, e.g. the Palestinian Arabs versus the Israelis; the fighters for Basque independence versus Spain; the Hindus versus Muslims over Kashmir, and the Turks versus the Greeks on Cyprus (although things have quieted down there). In all these cases, the struggle is over control of territory, with the manipulation of national-religious ideologies and history to justify the claims of both sides in each of these conflicts. Only the Irish managed to end the fight between the IRA and the Irish Protestants of N. Ireland, and that after long negotiations in which British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Senator John Mitchell played key parts.

A review of the  history of the peoples of former Yugoslavia and their national programs  is needed to understand how intractable these conflicts have been in this part of the world.

1. Brief Review of the History of the South Slav Peoples and Lands, including Bosnia.*

*[For more details in Balkan history to 1980, see Lecture Notes 9, 10, 14, 16-18]

The Serbs and Croats migrated to their present lands in the 6th and 7th centuries a.d. (c.e) from the "cradle of the Slavs," which is generally thought to have been located between the Elbe river in the West and the Bug or Dnieper rivers in the East.

The Slovenes and Croats - the latter also in Bosnia - were converted from Rome in the 9-11th centuries a.d. (c.e) and so adopted the Latin alphabet. They belonged to the Roman Catholic Church (after the split into the eastern and western churches in 1054) . There was, it is true, a Bosnian church [Bogumils] for a while, but it did not differ much from the R.C. church, and was gradually absorbed into it.

Bosnia was a medieval kingdom. In 1391, it included the present territory as well as part of Dalmatia. In 1448, a part of Bosnia called Hum separated from the rest under Herzeg (from Herzog, German for Duke) Stefan, and was later known as Hercegovina, or Herzegovina. After the Ottoman conquest, about 44% of the Serb and Croat population in Bosnia converted to Islam in the 15-18th centuries. They became a privileged class of landlords and merchants, while the Christian Serbs and Croats worked the land as serfs. They they were allowed to practice their religions but hated the Moslem lords.

Croatia was a kingdom from 924 to 1105 when it was joined to Hungary. It covered most of the area it has today, including Dalmatia and part of Bosnia. After the conquest of most Hungary by the Ottoman Turks in 1526, the northern Croatian lands and Dalmatia were ruled by Venice, briefly by Napoleon, and then by Austria, that is, they became part of the Habsburg Empire which became Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918.

The Serbs who -- along with the Bulgarians, Romanians, Albanians and the Russians - were converted to Christianity from Constantinople and adopted the cyrillic alphabet. They belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church but had their own Slavic liturgy. Serbia was a medieval kingdom which attained its largest size under Stefan Dushan in the 14th century. (1308-55). His kingdom included Serbia as well as parts of today's Bulgaria and Macedonia.

In the course of the late 14th - 15th centuries, the Serbs of Serbia as well as the Serbs and Croats of Bosnia came under Ottoman rule. On June 28, 1389, the Ottoman Turks defeated the Serbs at Kosovo Polje.(Kosovo Field, just west of today's Kosovo capital, Pristina.) Heroic accounts of the Serb fight there became the core of Serbian mythology, passed down through generations in song and poetic recitation, and glorified in 19th - 20th century Serbian history textbooks. Indeed, Kosovo-Metohija has many medieval Serbian churches and is viewed by the Serbs as the cradle of their civilization. Therefore, Kosovo, though now populated mostly by Albanians (92% of the population), is sacred to most Serbs who refuse to recognize it as a separate, independent state.

In 1830, Serbia became an autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire, gaining independence in 1878. It was recognized as such by the Congress of Berlin held in July that year in the aftermath of the Russian victory over the Ottoman Turks. At this Congress, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was given the right to administer Bosnia, although theoretically it remained part of the Ottoman Empire until annexed by the A-H in 1908.  The Ottoman government supported the Muslims as a privileged class of landlords and merchants - which was greatly resented by the orthodox Serbs and catholic Croats, especially because they were still serfs tied to the land, even though serfdom had been abolished in the Habsburg Empire in 1848 .

On June 28, 1914, the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the A-H throne, and his wife Sophia in Sarajevo by a young Serb fanatic, Gavrilo Princip, led to the outbreak of World War I because the Austro-Hungarian and German governments agreed to use it as a pretext for an A-H attack on Serbia, and rejected negotiation or arbitration. This fact, together with the German attack on Belgium and France triggered World War I.. when Russia, France and Britain fought Germany and Austria-Hungary. (See Lecture Notes 10)

The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, came into being on Dec. 1. 1918, that is, before the opening of the Paris Peace Conference in Jan. 1919.

The land reform which took place between 1919 and 1931 transferred most of the land in Bosnia from the Muslims to the Serbs and Croats, so the Muslims became a mainly urban population.

The continuing dissatisfaction of the Croats with their status in the Serb-dominated Kingdom, and the murder of one of their leaders, Stjepan Radic, led King Alexander I (1888-1934) to establish a royal dictatorship in Jan. 1929. He abolished all the old administrative units, replacing them by new ones, called "banovinas," in an attempt to damp down Serb-Croat hostility. In fact, however, the largest ethnic group, the Serbs, continued to rule the country through the bureaucracy and the army. This created much resentment, especially by the Croats. Alexanderís dictatorship was repressive by contemporary western standards, particularly. toward Communists and Croat patriots; it was much more repressive than for e.g. Pilsudskiís Poland,but far less repressive than Hitlerís Nazi Germany or Stalinís Communist USSR.

After a coup in Belgrade, which overthrew the pro-German government and aligned Yugoslavia with Britain, Hitler attacked Yugoslavia, including a devastating bombing of Belgrade, in early April 1941. The country was occupied by German and Italian forces until 1945. During this time, an expanded Croatia was an "independent" state under German protection. It adopted the chequered red-white coat of arms of early medieval Croatia (used by independent Croatia today) and was headed by the fascist Ante Pavelic. This Croatia became infamous for the "Ustashe" (Croat militia) massacres of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies in both Croatia proper and in Bosnia.

Many of the Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) collaborated with the occupants, and there was even a Bosnian SS division - which never took the field. In the North- Eastern Banja Luka region, however, the Muslims supported Titoís partisans. Most of the 2 million Yugoslav lives lost World War II were lost in the fighting between Serbs and Croats.

Under Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980),Yugoslavia became a communist country, but after breaking with the USSR in 1948 it turned into an independent communist country, i.e. not part of the Soviet bloc. Tito managed to restrain national enmities, but in trying to balance the nationalities he kept on giving more power to the republics. This actually strengthened Serb, Croat, Slovene, and Bosniak (Muslim) nationalisms.

The Bosnian Muslims were recognized as a national group in 1968. Also, the largely muslim Albanians of Kosovo, who were always the majority, were given autonomy, that is, Kosovo became an autonomous region in Yugoslavia. The government of the autonomous region of Voevodina in the north-east of the country, which had a large Hungarian minority, was also given more power.

After Titoís death, Serbian attempts to control the "League of Yugoslav Communists," (LYC). and through it the whole country, plus the collapse of communism in East Central and S.E. Europe in 1989, led to the emergence of long repressed national hostilities. Serbian political and military leaders set out to unify their people living in Croatia and Bosnia with Serbia, and this led to protracted wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

2. Croat, Serb, and Bosniak Nationalisms.

(i). Croat nationalism.

The father of Croat nationalism was Ante Starcevic (1822-1896) He claimed for the Croats all the territory that would later become Yugoslavia. He considered the Serbs to be Croats gone wrong, and the Bosnian Muslims as Croats who should be converted gently to Catholicism. His concept of the minimal territorial shape of Croatia was more or less the same as early medieval Croatia, but his view that all the peoples of Serbia and Montenegro, also Bosnia, were really Croats, opened large vistas of Croat expansion.

We should recall that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Croats worked for Austrian recognition of "The Triune Kingdom" (Slavonia,Croatia and Dalmatia) as a  Crownland, that is, a third member of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which had been created by the Compromise of 1867. However, both the Hungarians and most Austrian statesmen, led by Emperor Francis Joseph (1830-1916, ruled 1848-1916), opposed this because they believed it would weaken the Empire. This view was shared by German statesmen led by Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), who unified Germany by war, creating the German Empire in 1871. He did not want Germanyís A-H ally to be weakened by being divided into three parts instead of two.

After the end of World War I, Croatian politicians  feared an attack by Italy, which demanded Dalmatia. Therefore, they agreed to a union with the Serbs in December 1918, assuming they would have self-government. They were bitterly disappointed when Yugoslavia turned out to be a centralized monarchy run by Serbs. Therefore, Croat-Serb tension undermined Yugoslav unity. In 1928, the Croat statesman, Stjepan Radic (1871-1928), was assassinated on the floor of the National Assembly. As noted above, this led King Alexander to implement a royal dictatorship in 1929 and to abandon old national lines by reorganizing the country into new administrative units (banovinas). Alexander was assassinated in Marseilles, 1934, while on a state visit to France; his host, French Foreign Minister Jean- Louis Barthou (1862-1934), who accompanied him in an open car, bled to death from his wound. The assassination was widely believed to have been organized by Croatian extremists financed by Italy.

In Aug. 1939, the Yugoslav government concluded an agreement with the Croatian politician Vladimir Macek (1879-1964), granting autonomy to an enlarged Croatia, which included part of Bosnia- Hercegovina with the town of Mostar. (In 1992 the Hercegovina Croats were to proclaim a "Herceg Bosnia"). But the advent of World War II precluded a test run of this agreement.

As mentioned earlier, the Croat "ustashe" massacred Serbs during WWII. They massacred them in the Krajina Region of Croatia (where a large number of Serbs had settled in 1690 to escape Ottoman rule, and where the Austrians established a military frontier against the Turks, manned by these Serbs), as well as in Bosnia. Tens of thousands died in Croatian concentration camps, especially Jasenovac,  called "the Balkan Auschwitz." The memory of these massacres was manipulated by Serbian leaders in the Serb-Croat War of 1991-95. We should, however, bear in mind that Titoís Partisans massacred many Croats in 1945-46, and Croatian images of that horror were manipulated by Croatian politicians in 1991-95. Tito refused to allow the establishment of a Croatian Krajina Republic.

(ii). Serbian nationalism.

The father of Serb nationalism was Ilya Garsanin ( 1812-74), who wrote the "Nacertanje" (pron. Nachertanye), or charter for Serb expansion, in 1848. This assumed that the future Serb state would have the boundaries of the Serbia of Stefan Dushan. Serb nationalists looked on the Muslims as "Turks," and hated them as landlords until the land reform of 1918-31. (See Lec. Notes no. 9).

The Serbs dominated interwar Yugoslavia, but in World War II tens of thousands died in Croat concentration camps, or were massacred in their villages in Krajina and Bosnia by the "Ustashe." Indeed, the most objective estimates of Serb deaths caused by the Croats puts them at 120,000 in Croatia, or 14.4% of their population there, and at 209,000 or 16.7% of their population in Bosnia.

After Titoís death in 1980, Serbian intellectuals proclaimed their belief that the Serbs were deprived of their patrimony by the strengthening of the non-Serb republics under Tito. They were particularly angered by the Albanian control, at Serb expense, of the administration and educational system in Kosovo - the sacred shrine of Serb nationalism (Battle of Kosovo Polje 1389). An example of this train thought is the 1985 Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences which spoke of the "expulsion" of the Serbian people from Kosovo [there was no formal expulsion, but many moved out when Tito gave Kosovo autonomous status], likening it to the defeat of 1389 (!). Indeed, the Memorandum spoke of the "physical, political, legal and cultural genocide of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija" as the worst defeat of the Serb. people since 1941. They also spoke of the threat to the Serbs in Croatia. *  It is true that this Memorandum was a draft and not an official documents; however, it reflected the views of Serbian intellectuals as well as Serbian public opinion at the time.

* [excerpts in: Problems of Post-Communism, vol.44, no.4., July-August 1997, p.4].

Slobodan Milosevic (1941- 2006 ),a former Serbian Communist bureaucrat, who became the leader of the Serb Communists in 1987, used these nationalist themes, especially Serb resentment of the Albanian control of Kosovo, to rise to power as President of Yugoslavia in 1990. He abolished the autonomy of Kosovo, put the the Albanians there under Serb rule again, and abolished the autonomous status of Voevodina, which had a large Hungarian minority. He supported the Croatian Serbs in fighting for their Krajina republic in Croatia, and the Bosnian Serbs for control of Bosnia (wars 1992-95 see below), with the overall aim of uniting all these territories in a greater Yugoslavia ruled by Serbs.

We should bear in mind that although the Serbs were the aggressors in these wars, they saw themselves as fighting to avoid the fate of their fathers or grandfathers in World War II. It is also clear that this self-image was manipulated by Milosevic and other Serb leaders to attain their goal of a united Serbian Yugoslavia. They used genocide against the Muslim Bosniaks - called "ethnic cleansing" - plus the rape of Muslim women, as deliberate policies to achieve the goal of expelling Muslims and joining all of Bosnia to Serbia. The Croats also killed Muslims, and the latter retaliated against both.

[from: Charles Simic, "Anatomy of a Murderer," The New York Review of Books, Jan. 20,2000, pp.26,28].

(iii). Bosniak, or Bosnian-Muslim nationalism.

It is not clear exactly when the Bosniaks (Muslims of Bosnia) - who spoke Serb or Croat languages - acquired a modern national identity, because for most of their 20th century history they kept a low profile. In any case, they lost their privileged position as landowners in Bosnia with the Yugoslav land reform, 1919-31. Still, they supported the interwar Yugoslav governments in return for bribes for their votes at election time, and held some ministerial posts. In fact, every interwar Yugoslav government. ruled with their support.

As mentioned earlier, in World War II, many Bosniaks collaborated with the occupants. Furthermore, in facing the" Ustashe," many declared themselves to be Croats. A few thousand Bosnian Serbs "converted" to Catholicism to save their lives.

Tito divided the country into six republics, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. He did not recognize the Bosniaks as a distinct Yugoslav nationality until 1968. Still, even after 1968, separatism and relations with outside states were not allowed. Thus, in 1981, some Bosniak nationalists were given long sentences, including the muslim leader Aliya Izetbegovic (1925- 2003), who got 14 yrs. In 1984, a Bosnian Serb leader Vojislav Seselj was condemned to prison for spreading hostile propaganda against the constitutional order of Yugoslavia. In 1994, he was one of the most prominent Serb leaders who were killing Muslims in Bosnia. Later, he challenged Milosevic for the Presidency of Yugoslavia.. He is said to have made a great deal of money during the Bosnian war. He sent his "White Lions" -- vicious mercenaries-- into Kosovo, where they massacred Albanian Kosovars.

from: Tim Judah, The Serbs, New Haven and London, 1997.

(iv). The Wars of 1990-95

In April-May 1990, free elections in Slovenia and Croatia, led to Communist defeat. The Fall 1990 elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia led to the same result.

Milosevic tried to preserve Serbian dominance over the lands of former Yugoslavia To this end, he played Serb nationalism to the hilt, beginning in Kosovo, 1987 - when he made his famous speech to the Serbs there, telling them they would no longer be "beaten" by the Albanian Kosovars. Later, when war broke out with Croatia and Slovenia, he even claimed that the Austrians, Hungarians, Croats and Slovenes were plotting to re-establish the Austro-Hungarian Empire (defunct in Nov. 1918). Also, he claimed the Croats were bent on exterminating the Krajina Serbs in Croatia.

a.The Serb-Croat War over Krajina.

In May 1991, the Serbs of Krajina, fearing discrimination by the Croats, proclaimed the Krajina Republic. The Serb-Croat war in Croatia broke out in July 1991, after Croatia and Slovenia had proclaimed their independence the previous month. It is true that the government of newly independent Croatia failed to recognize equality of rights for the Serbs of Krajina, but these Serbs had planned earlier to establish their republic by force and proclaimed it in March 1991, before the proclamation of Croatian independence in June of that year, at the same time as Slovenian independence.

Croat and Slovene independence was recognized by West Germany and other western states. The Yugoslav Peopleís Army (YPA) soon abandoned the attempt to conquer Slovenia with its very small Serb minority, but the Krajina Serbs were able to fight as long as they did because of the support of the Yugoslav People's Army  (YPA) organized by General Radko Mladic. The Krajina Serbs managed to seize one third of Croatia and their merciless shelling of the Croat town of Vukovar was followed by the killing of most of the survivors. (November 1991). At this time, the first news reports began to come in about Serb "ethnic cleansing" of Croats.

In January 1992, former U.S. Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, negotiated an agreement on behalf of the U.N. between Croatia and YPA for the deployment of a U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The Serbs held on to their gains - including Eastern Slavonia - until they were driven out of the Krajina region in Aug-Sept.1995 by a successful Croat offensive. This was tolerated by the U.S. as a lever to get the Serbs to sign a peace agreement (Dayton Accords).

[from: Scott Peterson, "Key Balkan Region Edges Toward Peace. Turnover of Eastern Slavonia, on Serb-Croat border, will be closely watched," Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 1996, p.7].

b.The Bosnian War

The Bosniaks - Bosnian Muslims - constituted the largest single group in Bosnia, about 44% of the total population, followed closely by the Serbs and then the Croats. In the 1991 census, Bosnian Muslims stood at 1.9 million out of a population of about 4.4 million. (After the war, the population was estimated at about 2,700.000, plus some 2,000,000 displaced as refugees).

In the Bosnian elections of November 1990, the three ethnically based parties won 86% of the 240 seats in the Bosnian Assembly: The Serb Democratic party led by Radovan Karadzic won 72 seats; the Croat Democratic Community won 44, and the Muslim Party for Democratic Action won 85. The three parties agreed to form a coalition government - but the Bosnian Serbs did so most unwillingly.

In March 1991,  a secret meeting  allegedly took place between the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Croat President. Franjo Tudjman. They are said to have agreed to partition Bosnia, but were unable to carry out this plan.

from: Tim Judah, The Serbs.

On April 26 1991, Serb-dominated municipal districts of Bosnia, close to Krajina, proclaimed a Bosnian Krajina. In late September. the Yugoslav People's Army established. the Serbian Autonomous Region of Hercegovina. On Dec. 21, 1991 - the Bosnian Sebs proclaimed their own republic in Pale.

The Feb.29.1992 a Referendum on independence -- held at the insistence of the European Community -- was boycotted by the Serbs, while the Muslims and Croats of Bosnia voted for independence. The Bosnian Republic was recognized. by Western states and admitted to the U.N. in May 1992.

In April - May 1992, Bosnian Serb military formations, supported by the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA), attacked Muslims and Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the Bosnian War began. Radovan Karadzic (a psychiatrist), co-founded the Serbian Democratic Party in Bosnia, and was the first president of the Serbian Reublic in Bosnia. He organized Bosnian Serb propaganda that pictured the Bosnian Muslims as bloodthirsty "Turks" bent on killing off the Serbs.

The Serb siege of Sarajevo lasted 2 years, 1992-94, then picked up again. While Western nations dithered, Serb artillery in the mountains around the city bombarded it mercilessly, while Serb sharpshooters in the hills and within the city, picked off people trying to get food and water.

from: Bogdan Bogdanovic, "Murder of a City," The New York Review of Books, May 27, 1997, p. 20.

Western governments shrank from sending in troops, fearing unpopularity due to returning body bags. This was esp. true of the United States, where memories of the Vietnam War were very strong. Finally, small numbers of troops belonging to NATO nations, also Russia, were sent in as an international force: the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to protect the civilian population, mostly Muslims, but they were few and often unable to help. The best example of their inability to protect Bosniaks against Serb ferocity was the infamous massacre of thousands of Muslims at Srebrenica in July 1993, for which General Radko Mladic is held responsible, along with Radovan Karadzic. A small force of Dutch troops stood by rather than risk being slaughtered by the Serbs. It should be noted, however, that while the Dutch suspected evil, all they actually saw was Bosniak men being led away, while women and children were put on buses and driven out of town. The massacre was discovered in 1995, and more mass graves were found in 2003.*

*[see Ivana Macek, Sarajevo under Siege, Philadelphia, 2009; review by Pamela Ballinger (PDF link)]

from: Tim Judah, The Serbs.

The Serbs captured 70% of Bosnian territory. They drove out the Muslims from the localities they conquered, then immediately brought in and settled their own people in the empty villages and towns. At the same time, they carried out a calculated policy of murdering their male prisoners and raping Muslim women - to shame the latter and thus prevent them from returning to their homes later. The Bosniaks retaliated by driving out Serbs from their (Bosniak) majority areas, while the Croats drove out the Bosniaks from theirs. By the end of the war, there were over two million refugees, mostly Bosniaks, but also Serbs and Croats.

from: Warren Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, New York, 1996.

Two major proposals were put forward in 1993 to resolve the nationalities problem in Bosnia-Hercegovina. (1) The (Cyrus) Vance - (David) Owen Plan of Jan.1993, proposed to divide the state into Muslim, Serbian, and Croat Cantons (Swiss model), with a joint area around Sarajevo. However, there was much opposition to this, including the U.S., since the plan gave the largest areas to the Serbs and Croats. (2) The Owen-Stoltenberg Plan (Aug.1993), proposed a partition of B-H, this time more clearly on national lines, again giving the largest area to the Serbs, a little less to the Croats, and the least land to the Muslims. This plan was also rejected on the grounds that it would reward Serb aggression.

from: Bosnia in the Wars of Yugoslav Succession

Meanwhile, the Serb shelling of Sarajevo continued, as did sniper fire against the population. The infamous "market" slaughter of February 5, 1994 (people gunned down while doing their shopping at a street bazar), shown on U.S. TV, did much to turn W.European and especially U.S. opinion against the Serbs. (The film "Welcome to Sarajevo," gives a good idea of life in the beleagured city, and includes this massacre). Also - as the U.S. presidential election campaign warmed up in 1995, Republican presidential candidate  Robert Doleís attacks on President Bill Clintonís lack of foreign policy pushed him to act. After an ultimatum to the Serbs in Feb. 1994, they withdrew their line some 20 km, but when the threat of a NATO strike receded, they began to shell the city once again. There were U.S. air strikes at Serb positions and President Clinton decided to push the warring sides toward peace. It was in U.S. interest to stop the war lest it draw in other Balkan states (Greece supported the Serbs while Turkey supported the Bosniaks) and perhaps Russia as well (Moscow supported the Serbs).

In November 1995, Asst. Secr. of State Richard Holbrooke, S .Milosevich and I. Izetbegovic negotiated the patchwork Dayton Ohio Agreements, ratified in Paris, Dec. 1995, which mandated the following:.

1. Bosnia was to be a single state divided in two parts: a Muslim-Croat Federation covering 51% of the area, and a Bosnian-Serb Republic with 49% of the area. (The Serbs then held about 70% of Bosnia).

2. Each entity was to have its own President and Legislature. The Central Govt. was to have a collective Presidency. The Central Parliament membership would be 2/3 Muslim and Croat and 1/3 Serb. There were to be democratic, internationally-monitored elections.

3. The Central Govt. in Sarajevo was to be responsible for foreign and economic policy, citizenship, immigration, and some other issues.

4. Radovan Karadzic, Radko Mladic, and others indicted for genocide, were to be barred from holding office.

5. Refugees would be allowed to return home with free movement guaranteed.

6. The peace accord would be implemented by a NATO force of 60,000 including 20,000 Americans. The latter were to stay only for 1 year, but a U.S. force did not withdraw until Nov. 2004.

["Containment Could be the Key to Peace," Washington Post National Weekly Review,  Dec. 1999, no. (?) p.7.

These peace accords did not work very well. Elections were, indeed, held in Sept.1996 and 1999 for a three man Presidency and for a National Assembly. However, the Croats refused to cooperate with the Bosniaks, while the Bosnian Serbs often made things as difficult as they could.*

*[Radovan Karadzic was caught in Belgrade, in May 2008. He had been working, heavily disguised, as a specialist in alternative medicine and psychology.. He was indicted of war crimes by theCriminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia, was transferred to the Hague. He opted to conduct his own defense, but when his trial opened at the International Justice Tribunal there in 2009, he kept on saying he was not ready to make his defense and the judge stated that if he did not defend himself, he would enter a plea for him.

Mladic is still at large. Milosevic himself and some minor war criminals were arrested and taken to the Hague to stand trial by the International Justice Tribunal. Milosevic died there in 2006 before his trial ended.]

The future of Bosnia-Hercegovina is uncrtain. The Bosnian Serbs are unlikely to give up their goal of uniting all of Bosnia under their rule. Perhaps several decades of peace and prosperity will heal the wounds of war and make national hatreds obsolete, but this seems a remote possibility.

    As for privatization in Bosnia, each ethnic group favors its own people and there has been a great deal of corruption. Thus, valuable property has been sold to members of each group at laughably low prices, to be resold by them at very high prices. Western economic experts and overseers have not been unduly worried by this process, seeing any kind of privatization as an improvement. However, the new "capitalists" have used their wealth to finance their own interests as well criminal activity.* As of May 2002, new U.S. financial aid to all countries was to be conditional on democracy and absence of corruption in government and the economy. Economic development has been impressive in the years that followed.

* [See:Timothy Donais, York University, "Privatization and Peace-Building in Post-Dayton Bosnia," ACE Analysis of Current Events, vol. 13, no. 4, Dec. 2001, pp.7-11. ACE is published  at Baylor University for the Association for the Study of Nationalities].


In this age of ethnic- national states, the Canton system or partition of Bosnia on national lines,  as proposed in the Owen -Vance and Owen-Stoltenberg plans of 1993, seems to be a more realistic solution than the present arrangement, but it is unlikely that either plan could be achieved peacefully.
Meanwhile, Mladic, responsible for the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, is still a free man in hiding, although indicted of war crimes. Milosevic, has died and Radovan Kardzic is on trial at the Hague.
President Vojislav Kostunica, former President, then Premier of Serbia, opposed independence for Kosovo and Montenegro. In Montenegro, the vote for independence was only some 2% against remaining part of Yugoslavia, but a referendum was abandoned under western pressure to avert another possible Balkan war.

c. Serb versus Albanian Kosovars. The NATO War against Yugoslavia and its Outcome, 1998-2000.

As mentioned earlier, Slobodan Milosevic used Serb resentment over Albanian domination in Kosovo to fire Serbian nationalism and rode it to power as President in 1990. In that year, he abolished the Kosovo self-government granted by Tito, which allowed the Albanian Kosovars to take over the administration, police and education of the province in which they formed an overwhelming majority - except for the northern part which is predominantly Serbian; it has coal mines and some industry.

Kosovo Population Figures, 1991.

[from: Miranda Vickers, Between and Serb and Albanian. A History of Kosovo, New York, 1998, p. 320].

The Kosovars greatly resented losing their self-government and having to suffer renewed discrimination in all areas of public life inflicted on them by the Serbs. The moderate Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), wanted to improve conditions by peaceful negotiation with Belgrade. However, Milosevic was not interested, nor was opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic , head of the "Serbian Renewal Movement," who viewed Kosovo as the Serb Jerusalem, nor  his rival, Zoran Djindjic, head of the "Democratic Party." The LDK held a referendum in 1991, which resulted in a majority vote for independence, although a U.N. protectorate was also acceptable and violence was to be avoided. Then, a shadow Kosovar government came into being, headed by Ibrahim Rugova, who tried to secure autonomy by peaceful means.

When peaceful methods brought no results, a Kosovar paramilitary organization came into existence in 1996: the Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA, Albanian acronym: UCK). The KLA bought arms in Albania and clashes began between them and the Serbian police in 1997. The KLA managed to secure control of 30-40% of Kosovo territory but Serbian forces defeated them in August 1998,although they survived as a political force. Serb police and civilians began to attack and harass the Kosovars and in the fall of 1998 about 300,000 Kosovars fled their homes. 50,000 of them hid in the forests and mountains near their villages. * The others fled into neighboring Macedonia and Albania, while some who lived near the border with Montenegro, fled there.**

*[See Aydin Babuna, "The Albanians of Kosovo and Macedonia: Ethnic Identity Superceding Religion," Nationalities Papers, vol. 28, no. 1., pp. 76-78;
**  Javier Solana, "NATOís Success in Kosovo," Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999, pp. 115-116. J.Solana, former Secretary-General for NATO, has been the European Unionís High Representative for Foreign Affairs since 1999].

OSCE (Org. for Security and Cooperation in Europe) observers were sent into Kosovo after U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke had obtained Milosevicís consent, and NATO prepared air operations against Yugoslavia if needed. However, the OSCE observers were harassed by Kosovo Serbs and withdrew.

Next, NATO and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arranged for negotiations between Serbian and KLA representatives at Rambouillet Castle, outside Paris, France, in February 1999. Milosevic was asked to pull the Serbian police (really armed paramilitary troops) from Kosovo and, after three years,accept an international conference to decide Kosovoís future by taking into account the will of the people. The KLA delegates, who wanted independence, went home for consultations, then came back and accepted the NATO proposal. (One journalistic account of the meetings at Rambouillet states that M. Albright, who came in unannounced  to a KLA delegatesí session, was shooed away by them - because they took her for a cleaning woman! This was likely due to  their view  that this was the only reason a woman could have come to their meeting). The Serb delegates refused to accept the 3 yr arrangement. Indeed, while the talks proceeded at Rambouillet, a Serb military buildup was in progress in and around Kosovo and the Kosovars continued to flee to surrounding countries. It became known later, that the Serbs began to terrorize and kill Kosovars before NATO operations began against Yugoslavia.

In view of the situation, NATO forces began "Operation Allied Force," that is on March 24, 1999 they began to bomb military objectives in Yugoslavia (Serbia) so as to pressure Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. This was the first time that NATO, a defensive organization, took offensive action against a sovereign state. The air campaign was chosen because something had to be done to stop the Serb terror in Kosovo, but NATO members, especially the U.S., did not want to risk casualties by sending in troops. Also, the air campaign was expected to last just a few days, when Milosevic would give in rather than see his country ruined.

As it turned out, the air campaign lasted 77 days and the Serbs launched a vicious ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo named "Operation Horseshoe" - which was so well organized that it was clearly prepared beforehand. It led to the killing of several thousand Kosovars and the flight of some 863,000 - or 46% of the Kosovar population - into the neighboring states of Albania and Macedonia. Western governments and NGOs (non-govt organizations) came in to to put up tents , supply food, clothing, and medical care. What was generally under- reported was that 100,000 Serbs and Montenegrins - 60% of the total population of this ethnic group - also fled from Kosovo. *

*[For the Kosovar and Serb-Montenegrin figures, see: David Binder, "Why the Balkans?" East European Studies Newsletter, n.d. but with: Calendar of Events: May - June 2000, p.6].

Milosevic finally accepted NATO conditions on June 7, 1999, and NATO troops began to enter Kosovo to restore order there and allow refugees to return. They found many mass graves of Kosovars murdered by the Serb forces. Meanwhile, much of Yugoslaviaís economic infrastructure such as bridges, dams, railways, etc. had been destroyed.

An American missile struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing several people and provoking strong Chinese protests. It was soon revealed that the CIA was using an outdated map of Belgrade and did not know the Chinese Embassy had moved to a new location, just next door to a building designated by the U.S.  as a military objective. Finally, the embassy was hit instead of the next door building by a mistake, due to lack of clarity in an air photo. The Chinese government refused to believe the bombing had been in error. They allowed mass demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassy in Beijing and demanded an apology. This was given, as well as financial compensation to victimsí families, and the uproar gradually died down.

It should be noted that Russia and China both objected strongly to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Indeed, Soviet Prime Minister Evgenii Primakov traveled several times to Belgrade to conduct talks with Milosevic. It seems fairly clear that Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin wanted to demonstrate Russiaís claim to an active role in the Balkans by helping the Serbs, who were traditional clients of Russia. Indeed, some Russian peace-keeping paratroops suddenly left Bosnia,  where they participated in the peace keeping action, and arrived at Pristina airport, which they placed under their control. Their aim seems to have been to establish a Russian force capable of occupying a part of Kosovo (they had not been allotted a sector). However, they were unable to secure the overflight of Russian supply planes through Bulgaria and Romania - which refused permission - so the Russian attempt to secure a bridgehead in Kosovo failed. Nonetheless, Yeltsin promoted and decorated the commander of the paratroops who seized the airport.

U.S. policy in the air war and over Kosovo was  criticized not only by Russia and China, but also in the U.S., notably by a prominent expert on Russia, Michael Mandelbaum, who claimed in late 1999 that Kosovo was not a national interest of the U.S., called the whole policy a failure, criticized its deleterious effects on US relations with Russia, and targeted Secretary of State Madeline Albright for special denigration. *

*[Michael Mandelbaum, "A Perfect Failure," Foreign Affairs, September-October 1999, pp. 2-8. Mandelbaum, a former opponent of the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and proponent of a U.S. policy friendly to Russia at the expense of East European countries, was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations for 1999-2000. See also the criticism by David Binder in the East European Studies Newsletter for May-June 2000, published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C].

Mandelbaum was ably answered by James B. Steinberg, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. He pointed out the U.S. has an important national interest in preventing instability in the Balkans, which might lead to a wider war. Steinberg also rejected Mandelbaumís view that Milosevicís intent to drive out the Kosovars from Kosovo was unproven because documentation to prove this was lacking. Steinberg rightly said that the Serbs had already carried out ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia so whether NATO attacked Yugoslavia or not, there was no need to doubt this was also Milosevicís plan for Kosovo. In fact, Serbs were killing Kosovars in Kosovo before the beginning of NATOís air campaign.*

*[James B. Steinberg, "A Perfect Polemic. Blind to Reality on Kosovo,"Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999, pp. 128-133].

NATO found the task of running Kosovo extremely difficult. Most of the refugees returned, but the former KLA leader Hashim Thaci, who became the head of the Party for the Democratic Prosperity of Kosova, at first had more influence on the Kosovars than the moderate Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Indeed, Thaci approved Kosovar revenge killings of Serbs, but in spring 2000 Rugovaís LDK was getting more support than Thaciís party. In the meanwhile, however, many more Serbs fled to northern Kosovo or to Serbia or Montenegro, while the town of Mitrovica is still divided by the river into Serb and Kosovar sections.

The NATO nations did not set out to grant independence to Kosovo, but to restore order and prepare conditions for a later decision on its status. However, Kosovo declared its independence as the Republic of Kosovo in Feb. 2008. Its independence was recognized by the U.S. and 50 other states, a step strongly protested by Russia and Serbia. Russia cited this as a precedent for its recognition of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia --autonomous regions in Georgia since 1991 -- as independent states, after its defeat of the Georgian army in August 2008. 

Bibliography on Kosovo 1998-2000.

. Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge, New York, 2000. This seems to be the best work so far. See Ivo Banacís review essay discussing this and other recent books on the war, in "Sorting out the Balkans," Foreign Affairs, May-June 2000, pp.152-157. (I. Banac, b. Croatia, 1947, has the Bradford Durfee chair of European History at Yale University and is a specialist on the nationality problems of former Yugoslavia.)

                                Select Bibliography on the Disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Lenard J. Cohen, Broken Bonds. The Disintegration of Yugoslavia, Boulder, CO., Westview Press,1993 (excellent, balanced survey of history from 1830 to 1992).

Robert J. Donia and John V.A. Fine, Jr., Bosnia & Hercegovina.A Tradition Betrayed, New York, Columbia Univ. Press, 1994. ( good survey with maps, sympathetic to Bosniaks)

Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia. The Third Balkan War, rev. ed. London, Penguin, 1993, and later editions (excellent, colorful, reporting by a British journalist who knows the region).

Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both, SREBRENICA. Record of a War Crime, Penguin Books, London, 1996, New York, 1997. (a study of the massacre of Bosniaks there).

Michael Ignatieff, Blood and Belonging. Journeys into the New Nationalism, New York, 1993, ch.1, Croatia and Serbia. (Ignatieff, a Canadian of Baltic-Russian descent, has written konwledgeably about nationalism in the Balkans and in the Baltic region).

Tim Judah, The Serbs. History, Myth & the Destruction of Yugoslavia, New Haven and London, 1997 (excellent historical-analytical survey by a highly educated, first rate journalist. Judah is a graduate of the London School of Economics and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He was the Balkan correspondent of the Times of London and the Economist, is now a freelance writer living in London. For his most recent book on Kosovo, see below).

Mujeeb R.Khan, "Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Crisis of the Post-Cold War International System,"East European Politics and Societies, (EEPS) vol. 9, no. 3, Fall 1995, pp. 459-498 (a passionate statement of the Bosniak cause).

Peter Mentzel, ed., Nationalities Papers, vol. 28, no. 1, March 2000, (excellent articles by specialists on the historical background of Balkan Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, then in Balkan national states to 1991, also on Muslim minorities in the Balkans since 1991. P. Mentzel, a specialist on the history of the Ottoman Empire, teaches in the Dept. of History, Utah State University, Logan, UT).

Aleksander Pavkovic, ed., "The Disintegration of Yugoslavia: Inevitable or Avoidable?" Nationalities Papers (Special Issue), vol. 25, no. 3, Sept. 1997. (Excellent articles on: The Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia; The Politics of Disintegration; International Reactions to Yugoslaviaís Disintegration. by specialists.. A. Pavkovic, a 1983 Ph.D. Belgrade University, was trained in Literature, Philosophy, and Political Science, and is now at the Center for Slavonic and East European Studies, Macquarie University, NSW, 2109, Australia).

Mark Pinson, ed., The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia, 2nd edition, Harvard Middle Eastern Monographs Cambridge, Mass., 1996 (balanced essays by exeperts on each period covered).

Svetozar Stojanovic, The Fall of Yugoslavia: Why Communism Failed, (New York, 1997). S. Stojanovic, b. 1931, is a distinguished philosopher; he was a leading dissident under Tito and one of the founders of the "Praxis Group" at the University of Belgrade, from which he was expelled in 1975.

Marcus Tanner, Croatia. A Nation Forged in War, New Haven and London, 1997 (historical and eye-witness account by the Balkan correspondent of the London Independent, 1988-84, later asst. foreign editor of this paper).

Unfinished Peace. Report of the International Commission on the Balkans, with a Foreword by Leon Tindemans, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington,D.C., 1996 ( an excellent, balanced survey of all Balkan countries but with special attention to former Yugoslavia, including of course, Bosnia).

Warren Zimmermann, Origins of a Catastrophe, New York, Times Books, Random House,1996 (By a U.S. diplomat who served in Yug. in the 1960s and was ambassador in 1989-92 - lively, insightful story with sketches of key Serbian and other politicians. The author still believes in the possibility of rebuilding a multi-ethnic Yugoslav state).


D. Politics and the Economy in Croatia and Slovenia since 1991.

(i) Croatia

The former Communist, then dissident, Franjo Tudjman, was head of the HDZ - The Croat Democratic Union - which won the elections in spring 1990 with 44.5% of the total vote and obtained just over half the seats in the national legislature. Tudjman used this victory to establish a quasi-dictatorship. He did this by exploiting Croat nationalism. Indeed, he restored the old, medieval red and white chequered Croatian coat of arms - also the flag of fascist Croatia in WW II - and hung portraits of Ante Pavelic, the fascits Ustashe leader, in police stations. Tudjmanís use of nationalistic symbols helped provoke the war with the Krajina Serbs, although they, as well as Milosovic, bear a larger share of responsibility for this tragedy.

The long Krajina war between the local Serbs and the Croats, which finally ended in fall 1995, meant that economic modernization and foreign investment were delayed. Meanwhile, Tudjman came to control the police, the judges, and the media, achieving near dictatorial power. He even wore a white uniform similar to Titoís (!) His party won the elections again in October 1995 with 43% of the vote - just as Croatian troops were driving the Serb paramilitaries out of Krajina. However, the HLS - The Croat Socio-Liberal Party - managed to win an overall 27% of the popular vote and even more in the capital, Zagreb. In June 1996, Tudjman was re-elected President with 61% of the vote. (His rival for the post, Vlado Gorovac, was beaten up on election day, apparently by some of Tudjmanís bodyguards). But Tudjman was sick with cancer for some time before dying in 1999. The next elections saw the complete defeat of his party.

Croatia became a Presidential/Parliamentary demcracy. The economy developed and the country has not suffered much from the worldwide recession of 2008-09. The country is now part of the European Union and NATO.

(ii). Slovenia.

In 1914, this country was the most prosperous part of the South Slav lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was also more prosperous than the other parts of interwar, as well as post World War II Yugoslavia. In 1990, just before independence, its exports amounted to 51% of its Gross National Product (GNP). It constituted 8% of the total Yugoslav population - but produced 25% of the countryís exports.

Slovenia was only briefly attacked in July 1991 by the Yugoslav People's Army [Serb], which met with strong resistance and moved out of the country. By 1993, 67% of Slovenian exports went to Western Europe and in 1995, its per capita income was $9,000 - the highest in Eastern Europe. Much foreign investment came in, particularly from Italy and Germany. By 2006, 60% of the economy was privatized.

The country is ethnically homogeneous for 87% of the population is Slovene. It has been ruled by coalition governments since 1992 (Liberal Democrats, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens, ex- Communists, and others) headed by a Liberal Democratic Prime Minister, Janez Drnovsek, who was confirmed in the post for a second time in January 1997. Slovenia is the only success story in former Yugoslavia, but after Tudjsmanís death, Croatia has been making up for lost time.* It is now part of the European Union and NATO.

*[Most of the information on Croatia and Slovenia has been taken from: Ben Fowkes, The Post-Commnist Era, cited earlier; see also articles in Nationalities Papers, Dec. 1999. See also CIA list of heads of government.]

                                  Bibliography on Croatia, Slovenia.

Leonard J. Cohen, "Embattled democracy: postcommunist Croatia;" Sabrina Petra Ramet, "Democratization in Slovenia - the second stage," both in: Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, eds., Democratization and Authoritarianism in Postcommunist Societies, 2, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 69-121, 189-225. (This book covers all the Balkan countries, with pride of place allotted to Yugoslavia. S.P. Ramet (b.1949) is a specialist on former Yugoslavia, also the Balkans in general, has published over 40 books. she taught at the University of Washington, Seattle, then in Norway. WA. Leonard J. Cohen has written books on communist Yugoslavia and its disintegration; he teaches Political Science at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada).

S.P. Ramet, Balkan Babel. The Disintegration of Yugoslavia from the Death of Tito to Ethnic War, Boulder, CO., 1996, ch. 11 (Slovenia and Macedonia).

Marcus Tanner, Croatia. A Nation Forged in War, New Haven and London, 1997 (ch. 14-19 takes the story from 1980 to the end of the Krajina war in 1995).


E. Macedonia

This ancient country became the heart of a far-flung Empire under Alexander the Great of Macedonia (353-323 b.c). It was later part of Greece, Rome, and the Ottoman Empire. It was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia in 1912; Bulgaria seized more than it had been allotted, and this led to the 2nd Balkan War, 1913, which Bulgaria lost, along with most of the land it had seized. The north-western part, with a Serb majority, became part of Yugoslavia in 1919, and again - after seizure by Bulgaria in WW II - in 1945. It then obtained the status of one of the six constituent republics of that state.

Macedonia became an independent state in 1991, and was recognized as such in 1993, although Greece objected to its name, which is the same as that of a part of Greece. The majority of the Macedonian population is Slavic and speaks Macedonian. Bulgarians claim this language is really Bulgarian, but Macedonians deny this. The  people mostly belong to the Greek Orthodox church, but there is a large Albanian, Muslim, minority in the northern part of the country.

Some U.S. military forces were stationed in Macedonia as a safeguard against the spread of Yugoslav wars to other Balkan countries. Macedonia accepted many refugees from Kosovo, though it did so with some reluctance in view of its already large Albanian minority.

[see: Risto Lazarov, This is the Republic of Macedonia, trans. Filip Korzenski, Skopje, Macedonia, 1993].

    In February 2001,  units of the Kosovo Liberation Army took control of part of northern Macedonia, claiming they did so in support of the rights of the Albanian population there, who claimed discrimination. The Albanian political leaders here demanded a change in the Macedonian constitution, giving their people the status of equal partnership with the majority, that is, the Macedonian Slavs. In April 2001, Macedonian armed forces regained control of  the area after some fighting. U.S. and other western leaders intervened; political negotiations took place, but tension continued.
Macedonia is still struggling for the right to keep its name, against Greek claims that the real Macedonia is Greek Macedonia. However, Greece has been investing quite heavily in the country, despite the strife over its name. Also, leaders of the Slavic majority in Macedonia protest Bulgarian claims that the Macedonian language is really an impure version of Bulgarian.


f. Montenegro.

The old kingdom of Montenegro, which existed before the Ottoman conquest and became independent in 1878, became part of Yugoslavia in 1919 and again in 1945. It is still officially part of what was called Yugoslavia and is renamed Serbia today, but is increasingly showing signs of a desire to distance itself from Belgrade . However, the elections of April 22, 2001, yielded only a 2% majority in favor of independence, and a referendum  was abandoned due to western pressure. The western powers did not want to risk another Balkan war, this time between the Serbs and Montenegrins. However, in June 2006, 55% of Montenegrins voted for independence and it was recognized that year as an independent state.

On Dec. 20, 2009, the European Union scrapped its visa requirement for Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. The last two are already candidates for membership in the EU and Serbia declared it would apply.

Concluding thoughts on ethnic nationalism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia

As mentioned earlier, there are two competing schools of thought on ethnic-nationalism. On the one hand, some western historians and political scientists condemn it out of hand. They blame President Woodrow Wilson for opening the door to it in Eastern Europe through his insistence on the principle of self-determination at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the peace treaties which ensued. According to these scholars, the violent ethnic nationalisms which caused the disintegration of Yugoslavia can be traced back to the American president and the peace settlements of 1919. *

*[see Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes. A History of the World, 1914-1991, New York, p.31, and his supporters in Thanasis D. Sfikas, Christopher Williams, eds., Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkans, Aldershot, England, 1999, pp.80-81. This view is also shared by Robert Bideleux and Ian Jeffries, A History of Eastern Europe. Crisis and Change, London, New York, 1998, see especially Part V on Interwar E.European nationalism.]

On the other hand, some historians and political scientists believe that ethnic nationalism, together with its goal of establishing national states, is the continuation of a natural development which took place in western, central and northern Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. Thus, instability and wars are bound to continue as long as this goal is not achieved. From this point of view, the ethnic nationalisms that tore apart Yugoslavia are the natural consequence of an unfinished process, so "The long-term interest of democracy and democracies should guide policy in these instances toward a higher regard for the cause of national self-determination."*

*[see: Philip G. Roeder, "Peoples and States after 1989: The Political Costs of Incomplete National Revolutions," Slavic Review, vol. 58, no. 4, Winter 1999, pp. 854-881, quote on p. 881. Roeder is a specialist on the USSR and successor states and has published several books, e.g. Where Nation States Come From (Princeton, 2007); he teaches Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. See also Nationalities Papers, vol. 24,no. 2, June 1996; this volume contains a prefatory note "The Guns of Ethnonationalism" by Harry H. Huttenbach - who seems nostalgic about the old multiethnic states - and valuable articles on Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, and western Finnish nationalism, also the German minority in Polish Upper Silesia, and on Germanyís Ukrainian policy in 1918-26]

In any case, it seems that the age of multinational states is finally over. Various ethnic groups could co-exist in the past under foreign rulers in multinational empires, that is, the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian Empires. However, national consciousness undermined this co-existence throughout the 19th century, especially after 1848, and developed into ethnic nationalism. In the 20th century, two or more former subject nationalities of the former empires sometimes laid claim to the same land, which was often inhabited by a mixed population and conflict ensued. It is not surprising that in such cases one nationality rejected the option of being ruled by another.

Population exchanges between Greece and Turkey after the Greek-Turkish War of the early 1920s and finally the huge population movements at the end of World War II, led to ethnically homogeneous states - although with some small minorities - in most of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia. After the wars of 1991-95 in former Yugoslavia and the war in/over Kosovo, it is unlikely that a multinational state or states are still a possibility in former Yugoslavia or anywhere else in Eastern Europe. The Russian Federation is a multi-national state but we may wonder how long the Russians, its largest national group, will be able to dominate the other peoples of the federation.



2. Bulgaria, Romania and Albania since 1989-90.

These three Balkan states have faced enormous economic problems and their development toward democracy has been uneven.

A. Bulgaria.

This country was psychologically closest to Russia; it also had a Turkish minority of some 9% of the population. The communist regime had been brutal in exterminating the prewar ruling class, also anyone who criticized the regime. In fact, concentration camps existed until the late 1950s, in which people considered to be dissidents were either worked or beaten to death.*

*[see: Tzvetan Todorov, Voices from the Gulag. Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria, trans. by Robert Zaretsky, Preface by Istvan Deak, University Park, PA., 1999. T. Todorov has published books on totalitarian regimes and concentration camps].

The first post-communist Premier, Petur Mladenov took power on November 10, 1989, immediately after his return from Moscow. He removed the old communist leader Todor Zhivkov who was jailed pending trial. [He was condemned to years in prison and died there]. Immediately after taking power, Mladenov was forced by public demonstrations to rescind the article in the constitution about the leading role of the communist party and to promise free elections. He did so. [This article was in all the communist constitutions.]

The coalition of democratic parties, SDS, pressed for political reform and forced the government into roundtable talks in early January 1990. The government granted all demands except the postponement of free elections, which it hoped to win if held early. The communist party now became the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and won the elections of June 1990. However, the opposition challenged the results and, with great pressure from the students - who camped in the summer in the center of the capital, Sofia - it ultimately prevailed. Zhelyu Zhelev, leader of the SDS, was elected president. Nevertheless, the government remained in the hands of the BSP - made up of ex-communists,  headed by Andrei Lukanov, until it finally resigned on November 30, 1990 after months of pressure from the anti-communist "Podkrepa" [support] federation, supported by the countryís Trade Unions. A transitional government emerged under a non-party leader, Dimitur Popov in December 1990 (He was succeeded by Filip Dimitrov in November 1991). On April 28, 2,000 President Stoyanov signed a law on the criminality of the Bulgarian communist regimes.

SDS rule, marked by extreme anti-communism, the trial of Zhivkov, and attempts at economic shock therapy, lasted until the elections of October 1992. The economic situation grew worse with the collapse of the USSR, Bulgaria's no. 1 trading partner, and the Comecon (Commuist Common Market), when inflation and unemployment reached new heights. Meanwhile, privatization measures restored property to those who owned it in 1946, which had the effect of largely excluding the Turkish minority. They did not own land in pre-communist Bulgaria, but had acquired private plots in collective and state farms, which they now lost. As a result, 70,000-160,000 Turkish Bulgarians voted with their feet by crossing into Turkey. Zhelyu Zhelev intervened in September 1992 and began a policy of economic gradualism and national conciliation which was continued by the next Premier, Lyuben Berov. This government was under BSP influence until it lost office in February 1997. * Meanwhile, when the BSP could not improve the economic situation, it published a "White Book" in March 1995, which placed all the blame for Bulgariaís economic woes in the period 1989-94 on the SDS.*

*[see: Stefan Krause, " The White Book: Pointing the Finger," Transition, vol. 1, no. 10, June 1995, pp. 32-40; Transition is published by the Open Media Research Institute, Prague]

It is worth noting that Russian President Boris Yeltsin offered to negotiate Bulgariaís union with Russia on March 29, 1996 - an offer T. Zhivkov had made several times to Khrushchev, but which the latter rejected. Nothing came of it this time either.

The Bulgarian governmentsí reluctance to undertake economic reform and then the Russian offer of union delayed IMF loans to the country until July 1996, when it was granted a credit of $852 million. BSP leader and Premier Zhan Videnov, changed course toward economic reform so that Bulgaria could obtain more foreign help. The anti-communist Petur Stoyanov, elected President on November 3, 1996, continued this policy. The elections of January 1997 brought the SDS back into power and the new government obtained western loans in April- May. *

*[see: Ben Fowkes, The Post-Communist Era, pp. 169-179; see also: Ben Crampton, A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge, England, 1997, ch. 9, Post-Communist Bulgaria, pp. 216-233; updated edition, 2005.]

Royal Return. 

Simeon (7 the son of  King  Boris of Bulgaria, born 1931), now known as Simeon Saxecoburggotski [after the House of Sax-Coburg] returned to his homeland and became Prime Minister in July 2001.  However, he lost much of his popularity when his government failed to improve the economic situation - though it is hard to see how it could do so without massive western investment. He visited with President Bush in May 2002. He traveled to Moscow in June and signed a series of economic agreements with Russia. Russia is now one of Bulgaria's largest trading partners.

The country has made great economic strides, especially after joining the European Union in 2007.Unemployment was reduced from 17% in 1995-98 to about 7% in 2007, but poverty still exists in the countryside. At the same time, there has been a "brain drain" of educated people leaving for better jobs abroad. Corruption is an ongoing problem, as it is in Romania; in both countries, it is a blight that dates to Ottoman rule over the country.

B. Romania.

A P.S. on former Romanian P resident Nikolai Ceausescu, shot with his wife on Dec. 25, 1989..

On 12 August 2002, the Scottish Sunday Herald reported after a Romanian paper, Ziua, that Ceausescu had enough Plutonium in May 1989 to build a Romanian "dirty bomb." This was apparently one of the reasons why Washington urged Russian President Gorbachev to intervene militarily in Romania after the revolt against Ceausescu began in December 1989, but Gorbachev refused. In July 2002, when President Iliescu visited Georgia, he thanked President Shevarnadze for rebutting the U.S. suggestion. *

*[[RFE/RFL, Aug. 12, 2002. In September 2003, East European Monographis, Boulder CO/Columbia Univ. New York, published a book titled Ceausescu. From the End to the Beginnings, by Pavel Campeanu. The author shared a cell with Ceausescu and had access to many hitherto unknown documents.]

In the first few years after the fall of Ceausescu, developments in this country were similar to those in Bulgaria. A group of former "reform communists" led by Ion Iliescu, head of the "National Salvation Front" formed in the revolution of Dec. 1989, took power at that time. He was elected President and held a tight grip on the government for six years. He followed a policy of very slow reform and therefore had the support of industrial and agricultural workers. Indeed, Iliescu had no compunction in bringing hordes of brawny coal miners into Bucharest to beat up the students who camped in the heart of the capital demonstrating for more democracy, especially freedom of the press.

Unlike Bulgaria, Romania had a very small foreign debt because Ceausescu had forced austerity on the people to pay off much of it, but there were many other problems. Iliescuís political alliance with nationalists meant repression of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and thus tense relations with Hungary. However, in a treaty signed in September 1996, Hungary gave up all claims to Transylvania and Romania agreed to implement a whole series of ethnic rights. Meanwhile, Iliescuís coalition began to break down when the extreme left Socialistsí Workersí Party left the government over its decision to privatize the banks in 1995.

Iliescuís Social Democratic Party of Romania (SDPR), which had delayed economic reforms for six years, was defeated in the elections of 1996 because of economic discontent over inflation and  the fall of buying power. This alienated the working class that had supported the SDPR and thus Iliescu. At the same time, the democratic opposition managed to come together and found a new, moderate leader in Victor Ciorbea, a former Trade Union leader, who now headed the Democratic Convention Alliance (Rom. abbr: CDR) - similar to the later AWS coalition which won the elections of September 1997 in Poland. Emil Constantinescu a former communist, former rektor (Chancellor) of the largest Romanian university and now a pro-western reformer, was elected President in November 1996. The CDR also won the elections to the legislature, held at the same time. V.Ciorbea became the Premier of the new government.

This government undertook a series of radical economic reforms; it cut government spending, and pushed forward privatization, beginning with the banks. However, workers' protests against higher food and fuel prices, as well as against privatization, forced the government to slow down Thus, Ciorbea made little headway and resigned in March 1998. His successor, Radu Vasile, tried to follow the same policies as his predecessor, that is, move gradually toward a capitalist economy, but did not make much headway either.*

*[see: Ben Fawkes, The Post-Communist Era, pp.179-182; for more detail, see: Kurt Treptow, ed., A History of Romania, pp.556-592, which bring the story through 1996].

A right-wing government was elected in 2004.

Romania obtained good marks with the U.N. and NATO when it refused Russian requests for the overflight of Russian supply planes to the Russian-held airport in Pristina (Kosovo) in summer 1999. Nevertheless, like Bulgaria, its economy suffered from the U.N. economic sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia. The country needs a great deal of foreign aid and investment. Illiescu, re-elected president in fall 2000, showed more willingness to move to free market and thus obtain western investment. From 2004 onward, the economy developed at a fast pace and the country joined the EU in 2007. Corruption is an ongoing problem, as it is in Bulgaria. Another continuing problem concerns large numbers of mentally ill and underdevoloped children and teenagers, held in bad living and sanitary conditions in government-run hospices. It should be noted, however, that such care is often inadequate even in wealthy western countries, let alone poor ones like Romania.

In late 2010, Romania, hit late by the world recession, was struggling with the government budget deficit. Some major social welfare entitlements were cut, including medical care and military pensions. A distraught Romanian father, Adrian Sobaru, unable to pay for the care of his autistic child, jumped in desperation from a balcony the parliamentary assembly. There is much discontent with with government which must reduce public spending. As of late 2010, it wasn't making much headway. [see Transitions Online: "Leap into the Dark," Jan. 21, 2011.]


   Most of Moldova is the former Bessarabia ( It was originally in old Romania, then passed under Ottoman rule; it belonged to Russia in 1812-1918, to Romania in 1918-40, the USSR in 1940-41, and again Romania in 1941-44). It became the Republic of Moldova when the USSR collapsed at the end of 1991.The population is about 65% Romanian-speaking, 13% Ukrainian and 13% Russian, with a few other small minorities. Russian troops are still staioned in Transnistria, or the region east of Dniester river.

On 17 December 2003,Victor Stepaniuc, the leader of the parliamentary group of Moldovan Communists, spoke against the Romanian "minority" monopolizing the spiritual life of the country. In fact, the Moldovan minority is a Romanian-speaking majority. The former Romanian Prime Minister, Iliescu, said the Moldovan communist party was resurrecting Stalinist theses on Moldova, and a Moldovan language.* Indeed, this reflected the Russian policy of holding on to Moldova through local Slavic communists. In 2005, however, the former communist leader, President Voronin, turned the country toward the West and began working for its entry into the European Union.

*[RFE/RFL Newsline, Dec. 18, 2003].

The July 29 2009 election marked the end of communist power in Moldova. The new government that took office on Sept. 2 seemed to em- power a new generation, which wants the poorest country in Europe -- numbering 4 mln people --to join the EU in order to get help and for its citizens to travel where they can find work on EU passports . It is also looking to the United States; Premier Filat visited Washington in late January 2010 and signed an agreement to receive $26 million in aid.

The new "Alliance" (for integration with Europe) government had a majority of seats in parliament, but the communists still held 48 of the 101 seats and the "Alliance" did not have enough votes to elect the President (elected by parliament).The parliamentary elections of Nov 28, 2010 gave the communists the largest percentage of votes (39%), followed by the Liberal Democrats with 29% and other parties with less. The country is now almost evenly divided between an urban intelligentsia that looks westward to Europe and the village people who look to Russia for support. Also, it still faces a Russian regime and troops in Transdniestria, east of the Dniester River.

*[The above information is based on TRANSITIONS ONLINE: "The Untended Patch in Europe's Garden," by David J. Kramer et al., Jan. 26, 2010, and the Kennan Inst. Meeting Report by William E. Pomerantz on lecture by Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga analyzing the Nov. 28 2010 elections, Dec. 6, 2010, ]

C. Albania.

The Communist President Ramiz Alia - who succeeded Enver Hoxha, (d. 1985) - began to implement some very timid reforms in 1990. Thus, the Party of Labor of Albania (PPSH) gave more freedom of decision to state enterprizes and allowed state and collective farm peasants to sell surplus food on the free market. In November 1990, after the first public demonstrations against the government since 1945, Alia promised that the PPSH would give up its monopoly of power. However, student demonstrations for democracy continued in the capital, Tirana, and other cities, and splits appeared in the ruling party. In February 1991, Alia gave in to public demand that opposition parties be free to function and a new, democratic constitution was issued in late December that year. At the end of March and early April 1992 second and third round elections were held in which the communists still won 56.2% of the vote as against 38.% by the Democratic Party established by Professor Gramoz Pashko and Dr. Sali Berisha.

However, the communist victory turned out to be a fraud, due mainly to the peasant vote. (Contemporary press reports said the peasants on the state and collective farms had been frightened by propaganda that they would starve if economic reforms were implemented). Dr. Sali Berisha became President of a non-communist government in April 1992. However, he used authoritarian methods to govern, e.g. he produced corruption and fraud charges against his rivals and enemies. The arrest of a former communist leader, Ramiz Alia, was understandable, but the jailing of Fatos Nano, the leader of the former communist party, now the Socialists, was not, nor was that of Vilson Ahmeti, Premier in 1991-92. Finally, the Law against Genocide and Crimes against Humanity of September 1995, excluded from public office or participating in elections all persons who had held positions of power before March 1991. Berisha secured control of the media but suffered defeat in a national referendum in November 1994, when 53.9% of the electorate voted against his new constitution.

The reasons for Berisha's downfall were economic. Despite the extensive help - mainly food - given the country by Albanian immigrants living abroad, particularly in the U.S , and some impressive economic growth, the country is mired in poverty. Tens of thousands of Albanians tried to escape it by sailing to Italy. The government, for its part, was involved in fraudulent financial deals, especially several "pyramid schemes." People invested their savings in these schemes on the promise of exorbitant profit, but they turned out to be frauds because the directors merely paid off investors with new investments. (The same was the case with the famous MM investment company, Moscow, advertised widely there in 1994 and, of course, Bernie Madoff in New York.) Nine pyramid schemes collapsed in January 1997 and more in February. Rebellions broke out all over the country and Berishaís government troops could not put them down. Berisha released political leaders, began to pay some of the investors, changed the Premier, and promised elections. All these measures, however, failed to pacify the country and he was defeated in the elections of June 29 and July 6 1997. * He became Prime Minister again in 2005, again in September 2009 and was still Prime Minister as of this writing..

*[see Ben Fawkes, The Post-Communist Era, pp.182-184; for more detail, see: Miranda Vickers,The Albanians: A Modern History,London, New York, 1995].

Most peopleís identity is still defined by their clan, and their lives are ruled by an ancient code of honor based on blood feud. Thus, if a male member of one family is killed by a member of another family, the victimís family must avenge his death by killing a member of the murdererís family, and this leads to more murder. As a New York Timesreporter put it in December 1999:

Communism never actually modernized Albania, but merely put the old ways, the village ways, in a kind of deep freeze - much as Tito did in Yugoslavia following World War II. The collapse of the state and the national economy has led many Albanians to once again openly embrace the traditional laws and loyalties of the village. These are spelled out in the kanun (pronounced ka-NOON), a book of rules and oaths. By the dictates of the kanun ...oneís primary allegiance is to clan and community, not to the state. In accordance with this allegiance, taking revenge in order to defend the honor of oneís family is not only permissible but also a sacred duty."* Of course, the word kanun has the same root as the word canon as in canon law, so that it means law - though a most primitive one. *

*[See: Scott Anderson, "The Curse of Blood Feud and Vengeance," New York Tim]

Now Albania hopes to get western aid to modernize the port of Durez (Durazzo), build new electricity and rail connections to Kosovo and Macedonia, also improve the existing roads. * Of course, Albania nees a great deal of financial, medical, educational help and, above all, significant amounts of investment capital, so that it can, with time, modernize and improve living conditions for its long-suffering people. Albania is the second poorest country in Europe, after Moldova, but has been making progress, especially since 2000. It is a candidate member of the European Union.


                                                ****************************** .