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YUGOSLAVISM AND THE YUGOSLAV KINGDOM – PART FOUR

Updated on March 10, 2011

PART FOUR

YUGOSLAVISM AND THE YUGOSLAV KINGDOM

  • Nationalism And Decentralization

Nationalism remained one of the most serious threats to Yugoslav unity during Tito's years of leadership. Socialist Yugoslavia recognized the country's ethnic diversity and pursued two policies in an attempt to satisfy nationalist aspirations. Initially, ethnically oriented republics were formed, as were two autonomous multinational provinces. Next, the central government initiated a series of economic policies intended to facilitate industrialization, which then could enable all Yugoslav citizens to share in the country's economic development.

The economic disparities between Yugoslavia's industrialized north (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia proper, Vojvodina) and underdeveloped south (FYROM, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo) are the key factors in the ethnic turbulence that has emerged since the mid-1960s. In 1971, the regime enacted a series of amendments to the 1963 Constitution, transferring certain powers from the federal to the republican and provincial authorities. It was hoped that what the economic solution failed to accomplish, decentralization might. Tito thought that permitting the regional government’s greater control of socioeconomic matters might draw the nationalities closer together. Further, it was thought that if power were shared, there could not be a repetition of the country's domination by a particular nationality as occurred in royalist Yugoslavia.

What evolved in Yugoslavia after 1971 was the creation of eight semi-independent governments, each with the ability to hinder effective state development. Each regional government used the opportunity to reassert its own national identity at the expense of the Yugoslav federation. This resurgent nationalism surfaced first in Croatia in 1971 but was put down by Tito and the central government. After Tito's death in 1980, economic woes again assumed nationalist overtones as the developed north balked at the increased subsidies sent to the underdeveloped south. Nationalism has become particularly evident in Slovenia and Kosovo through different modes of expression. The Slovenes possess the most liberal system within Yugoslavia and use every opportunity to reemphasize their ties to the West. In Kosovo, increasing political agitation and militant nationalism among ethnic Albanians have caused a nationalistic reaction among Serbs who seek to defend their hereditary rights in the region.

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