YUGOSLAVISM AND THE YUGOSLAV KINGDOM – PART FIVE (LAST PART)
YUGOSLAVISM AND THE YUGOSLAV KINGDOM
- Current Crisis
The current Balkan crisis began with the declarations of independence of Slovenia and Croatia in June 1991. These actions precipitated conflict with the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). In Slovenia, where there is no significant Serb minority, the conflict lasted only one week before the JNA withdrew. In Croatia, where Serbs comprise approximately 12% of the population, the Serb minority introduced a referendum (in a heavily Serb-populated area) that established an autonomous Serb region within Croatia in March 1991 and in August 1992 created the Republic of the Serb Krajina (RSK). The United Nations formed an International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in late 1991. This organization broke red a ceasefire agreement between Croatia and its Serb minority in January 1992, known as the Vance Plan. According to this plan, the UN deployed a military peacekeeping force known as the United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) to monitor the ceasefire.
In April 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H) and FYROM declared independence. The ethnic diversity in Bosnia-Herzegovina ensured that conflict would be ignited almost immediately among Serb, Muslim, and Croat factions. UNPROFOR expanded operations in summer 1992 to provide security for humanitarian aid to refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina to be delivered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and non-governmental organizations (NGO's).
Bosnia's Serbs--supported by neighbouring Serbia--responded to the declaration of independence with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to 'greater Serbia'. In March 1994, Bosnia's Muslims and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement in Washington, DC, creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A group of rebel Muslims, however, continued to battle government forces in the northwest enclave of Bihac. A Contact Group of countries, the US, UK, France, Germany, and Russia, continued to seek a resolution between the Federation and the Bosnian Serbs. In July of 1994 the Contact Group presented a plan to the warring parties that roughly equally divided the country between the two, while maintaining Bosnia in its current internationally recognized borders. The Federation agreed to the plan almost immediately, while the Bosnian Serbs rejected it.
In August of this year, the US stepped up its diplomatic efforts by sending Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke to the region to broker for peace. In November of this year, the Croats, Serbs, and Muslims met at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio and initialled an agreement after three weeks of negotiations (see Dayton Agreement, Chapter 12).
In FYROM, where there is an ethnically diverse population, a tense peace has been preserved thus far, in part because of preventative deployment of UNPROFOR peacekeepers in advance (but mostly the stability is preserved by the neighbor country, Greece), of possible conflict. Spread of the conflict to former Yugoslavia's southern-most republic is considered particularly destabilizing because of the history of conflict there and the strong possibility of involvement by neighboring countries (Albania - Bulgaria) which could ignite a major regional war.