Timeline: The Former Yugoslavia

From World War I to the splintering of the country

by Borgna Brunner and David Johnson

1918 1945 1980 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2006

    As an outcome of World War I, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes is formed. Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina had been part of the fallen Austro-Hungarian empire; Serbia and Montenegro existed as an independent state (Macedonia was then part of Serbia).
    The monarchy's name is changed to Yugoslavia.
    After World War II, the monarchy becomes a communist republic under Prime Minister Tito, now called the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. It was composed of six republics: Serbia, roatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Montenegro, as well as two provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina.
    Tito's tight rein on Yugoslavia keeps ethnic tensions in check until his death in 1980. Without his pan-Slavic influence, ethnic and nationalist differences begin to flare.
1991 June
    Slovenia and Croatia each declare independence. With 90% of its population ethnic Slovenians, Slovenia is able to break away with only a brief period of fighting. Because 12% of Croatia's population is Serbian, however, rump Yugoslavia fights hard against its secession for the next four years. As Croatia moves towards independence, it evicts most of its Serbian population.
1992 January
    Macedonia declares independence.
    Bosnia and Herzegovina declares independence. The most ethnically diverse of the Yugoslav republics, Bosnia is 43% Muslim, 31% Serbian, and 17% Croatian (according to the 1991 Yugoslavian census). Ethnic tensions strain to the breaking point, and Bosnia erupts into war. Thousands die and more than a million are displaced. By the time a tenuous peace is achieved in 1995, the country has been partitioned into three areas, with each region governed by one of the three ethnic groups. Each enclave is now made up of roughly 90% of its own ethnic group.
    Serbia and Montenegro form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with Slobodan Milosevic as its leader. This new government, however, is not recognized by the United States as the successor state to the former Yugoslavia.
1995 November
    Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia sign the Dayton Peace Accord to end the war in Bosnia.
    In the southern Yugoslavian province of Kosovo, the militant Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) begins attacking Serbian policeman.
1998 March
    Milosevic sends troops to Kosovo to quash unrest in the province. A guerrilla war breaks out.
1999 March
    After peace talks fail, NATO carries through on its threat to launch airstrikes on Serbian targets.
2000 January
    In the face of trade sanctions from the U.S. and other nations, the Serbian economy continues to deteriorate and dissent spreads. Montenegro discusses separating from Serbia.
    Opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica wins elections held Sept. 24. Milosevic refuses to release the complete results, demanding a runoff election.
    A popular uprising begins. A general strike is called and one million people flood Belgrade. Mobs attack Parliament building, security forces join them or retreat. Milosevic support crumbles, he steps down. Kostunica takes office. U.S., European Union begin to lift economic sanctions, offer aid.
2001 April
    Milosevic is arrested by Yugoslavian authorities and charged with corruption and abuse of power.
    Milosevic is turned over to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
    The UN Security Council lifts its arms embargo against Yugoslavia, abolishing the last remaining sanction by the international community.
2002 February
    Slobodan Milosevic begin his trial at the UN International Criminal Tribunal on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, as well as for committing genocide in Bosnia. He is the first head of state to face an international war-crimes court.
2003 February
    The nation agrees to form a new state, replacing Yugoslavia with a loose federation called Serbia and Montenegro. The new arrangement was made to placate Montenegro's restive stirrings for independence, and allows for a referendum on independence to occur in three years' time.
2003 March 12
    The prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, a reformer who helped bring about the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, is assassinated. A period of deep national mourning follows. Extreme nationalists, organized crime, and Serbia's own police and security services were implicated.
2003 December 28
    Parliamentary elections saw a resurgence of ultra-nationalists. Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist party received 7% of the vote, and the Radical party, whose leader, like Milosevic, is an indicted war criminal jailed in the Hague, received 27% of the vote.
2004 March 17
    Mitrovica, in Kosovo, experiences the worst ethnic violence in the regions since the 1999 war. At least 22 people are killed, and another 500 are injured. NATO sends in an extra 1,000 troops to restore order. The violence began after Serbs claimed a Serb teenager was the victim of a drive-by shooting and ethnic Albanians blamed Serbs for the drowning of several Albanian children.
2006 May
    In May, Montenegro held a referendum on independence, which narrowly passed. On June 4 the federal president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, announced the dissolution of his office, and the following day Serbia acknowledged the end of the union. The EU and the United States recognized Montenegro on June 12, and it became the 192nd member of the UN on June 26.


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