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The Former Yugoslavia

On the 15th of the September 1992 Sgt. James Davis’ armoured personel carrier struck a TMA-3 anti-tank mine, although his comrades had thought them dead, they both survived the ordeal with little or no injury. The next day a Combat Engineer by the name of Sgt. Mike Ralph was killed on the same road while clearing the road for mines by another anti-tank mine, laid by one of the opposing factions to destroy there enemy’s vehicle’s. Sgt. Mike Ralph left behind his wife, and two daughters.

This story has been told countless times in the former Yugoslavia, not only by Cannadians, but by the French, British, Nepalease, and dozens of other countries who committed thmselves to ending the bitter fighting in the former Yugoslavia. The fight for independence by various ethnic and religious factions has gone on in wha tis now known as the former Yugoslavia, since the early 19th century; fighting to gain control of the balkan state has gone on since the late 13th century. For over 700 years there have been large scale conflicts faught in the former Yugoslavia.

Communist state) There is now a large concerted effort to end the centuries of fighting by the International community. The root of the problem in the balkans is the longevity of the issue and centuries of ethinic and religious hatred that have been passed along from genreation, to generation. Is it really possible for the internaional community to quell this hatred? Sober second thoughts suggest that the type of peace imposed on the Balkans by the Dayton Accord continues to fuel these flames of discontent.

This political agremant was quickly crafted in the waning days of the Clinton Administrations first mandate and To understand the weaknesses of the current peace accord it is necessary to examine the past in more detail. As with manuy complex historical issues the problems that are in question, stem not from recent history, but lie in the seeds of the past. This is the case in the former Yugoslavia. One can date back fighting in the region back to 1371at the battle of Maritsa, and the battle of Kososvo in 1389. Both were critcal battles faught by the rising Ottoman-Turkish empire, which subdued the then serbian state.

In 1453 Constantinople (Istanbull), fell the Turks this marked the decisive estblishment of their foot hold in Europe. On two occasions, the new European power laid seige on Veienna. Although they drove that far north there success against the Austrians, and Hungarians was futile, in large part to a large military frontier, populated mainly by Serbs. Those Serbs were largley the same serbs who had fled from the Turks in the past two centuries. The Hungarians, espeacially had a keen liking to the serbs, who they gave refuge too.

The hungarians gave them land, freedom of religion, and the power to elect their own officials. All this came at price, the serbian willingness to fight the Turks. The favorable conditions produced by the Hungarians produced a large flux of migration from the serbian population and thousands left their homeland. At the same time most south slavs living under Turkish rule were forced to convert to the faith of Islam, most times under death. This is the point were one can begin to see the beginings of the large split in the baltic state.

In the early 19th century the subjugated Serbs statred two uprisings against the waning Ottoman-Turkish power, in 1805, and 1815. By 1850 there was once again a Serbian rule, and in 1878 Serbia recieved International recognition. The south slavs being politically concious, because of foreign rule, became aware of the new Serbian self rule. As a result many Slavs visited the new state. This visitors discovered that they spoke a cousin language, very similar to serbo-croation which was spoken in Serbia. Next they they discovered they were Christian, they themselves being mainly, Roman catholic, and many Islamic.

Among all the salvs there was a strong sense of subjugation which was a uniting power. These similarities were also seen by the two powers at the time (Austria-Hungary, Ottoman-Turkey). At this time the two powers sowed the seeds of distrust in to the southern slavs who the craving for independence that serbia had. This was directed mainly at Serbia whom both empires feared. At the same time the then young and fragile serbian state realized that large populations of serbs and other slavs were living not in the state of Serbia but mainly abroad. They also realized in order to strenghten themselves.

In 1844 the Serbs created a foreign polocy document known as the “outline” which was a call to unite al the neighbours of Serbia, into one united country. This plan never materialised formally, but was in the back of the minds of many serbs, and ambitious Southern slavs. By the end of the century Serbia thought they would come to realize they’re dream of total rule of all serbs. Towards the end of the 19th century the large group of southern slavs began to split into three major groups. The Croation , Muslim, and of coarse Serbain groups of people.

These three groups all had there own ideas of what a unified country should be. This made the job of unification three times more difficult. The goals of Serbia were courageous, and valiant, but they were to never succeed.. They were never meant to succeed, because Austria and Hungary, wanted the whole Balkan region to themselevs. Austria, and Hungary wanted control of the region, in order to accompolish this, they gave themselves the right to annex the region of Bosnia and Herzogoniva into a new province. The Alliance was so keen on this because it drove a wedge, between the strong Serb area of Montenegro, and Serbia.

In the long run the Alliance could easily take the whole region. Although there were subtule diffrences between the native enhabitants such as Language, religion, and ethnicity, the difrences were onlyminimal, and because of the seeds of distrust which were sowed earleir these diffrences began to grow into a small shrub. On the 28th of June 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was asaisinated by a Bosnian-Serb student. The Archduke was the aire to the throne of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. He was on a state visit, to the Austrian territory of Bosnia-Herzogvina.

Austria and Hungary immediatley sent an ultimatum to to Belgrade, that they must give Austria the power to investigate the assasination, and prosecute any Serb citizen. Serbia agreed, out of a feeling of remorse. Austria found thta there had been no plot to assasinate the Archduke, and the action was strictly a one person effort. Only weks before the Assasination Austria had asked for the support of Germany in a premempive strike on Serbia. The Austrian government argued to the German governemnt thta it was needed for Serbias own salvation. Germany agreed and would support any move made by Austria, and Hungary.

The Serbian Prime Minister Pasic, realized that Austria was going to invade eventually, and went the Russian Tsar pleading for protection. Russia agreed, and became Serbias new ally. On July 28th of July 1914 just one month after the assasination of the Archduke Ferdinad Austria declared war on Serbia. Austria however did not inform Belrin of their rash decision, Berlin did not wnat to proceed this way, but they then also declared war on Serbia. The rest of coarse is history, Britian of coarse feeling tied to Russia, supported them, and thus the First World war began, all over Austrias greed over Serbia.

When Austria invaded, the native population faught back, and ressited until 1915. In 1915 Germany committed troops to the region, and Serbia fell. After the war with the defeat of Germany, and Austria, the Slavs could once again try to form a united country. Great Britian mediated the talks between the different factions in the region, Serbian, Croatian, Slovevian, Montenegran, and Macedonain. The mediator found that the Serbs just wanted control of everyhting, espeacially other Serbs, and if the Croats, wanted to join voluntarilly that was just fine, because it meant a larger empire.

The Croats did not see things the same, because if they were under Serb rule they would once again be under foreign rule, not there own. With all this said and done it was still in the best interst of the Croats, and slovenes to sign on , it gave them the best chance of self rule. On October 29 1918 it was announced thata state would be created named the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. In February 1919 the state gained international recognition from the United States of America. It quickly became clear that the Kingdom was existed primarily for Serbs, and not for the Croats, and Slovevenes.

Every thing form foreign polocy, to the running of local constabularies was run by the Serbs. The Croats entering the state believing they would be granted home rule, had none. In 1928 chaos broke lose in the national parlimant, when two Croatian politicians were shot dead. King PeterI immediatley closed parliament, and took dicatorial power of the state. In 1929 the name of the state was changed to Yugoslavia(state of south slavs)this was one to give the people the idea of not being Serbian, Muslim, or slovenian, but being Yugoslavian.

A new ploiticla party was formed called the Yugoslav National party. The attempts to melt the deffernet groups failed, and afterthe cloud settled Serbs considered themselves Serbs, and Croats considerd themselves Croats. By the mid 1930’s attempsts were being made to setttle the rivalry between the Serbs, and the Croats. In August 1939 the State of Croatia was put on the map/. This move by the countries leader, infuruated the Serb population. Before anyhting else could be donethe Second World War began, and all hopes of settling the fuming rivalries died.

In April 1941, the massive German war machine rolled into the Balkans, and took the region in deciesive two weeks, overcoming any hasty resistance, with ease. This marked the beginings of one of the countries darkest hours. The Nazi party installed puppet governments into Croatia, and Serbia. The germans choose anybody who would follow their orders, this resulted in the rising of fanatics, who would do anyhting for power. In Croatia a fascist government was put into place named the Ustatsa. The Ustasa went on a spree of Killing. The Croatian government persecuted and killed over a quarter of a million Serbs.

As in any military occupation resistance groups, began to surface. There were two main guerilla groups one the Chetniks, made up of mainly Serbs whose goal was re-establish the Serbian royal family, of which all fled abroad, and a new serbian state. The other group were the Partisans, who were made up of mostly Serbs, and non-serbs. The partisnas were organised, by their leader , a communist by the name of Josep Broz Tito. Tito being a member of the comunist party, in Yugoslavia, nourished it, from a couple of dozen clubs, with low membership, to a party with over 10,000 members.

With this experiance in mind he raised an army of well over 150,000 resistance fighters, in fifteen months. As a surprise the Chetniks did not fully engage the German forces, this was in large part the German reprisal method all over its occupied teeritory, from France, to Norway. The order issued stated that for every german soldier killed by the locla population, one-hundred citizens would be killed. This order dettered the Chetniks from engaging the Germans. The Partisans had their own doctrine. They believed the killing of the locla population would only swell their ranks.

This doctrine also included a limited war agianst the Ustasa government, and the puppet government in Belgrade. Toward the end of the war Tito’s forces were mainly fighting a civil war, not a war of resietance. Tito’s injenuity set him up as the next leader of the region, and this was his goal from the time he joined the communist party. In October 1945 A joint Soviet, partisan force liberated the Belgrade. The Sopviets left it up to the partisans to mop up the remaining German forces. After the war came the most drastic political swing he region had ever exerianced.

In march 1945 tehallies compelled the royal family to appoint Tito as leader. This was done, and immeaditley Yugoslavia was a communist state with absolute dictatorial power given to Tito. Tito was an admirer of the then powerful Soviet Union. Tito realized as Stalin did that industrialism was needed in order to equalize the gap between the peasentry, and the aristocrat. Tito formulated a five year plan similar to that of the Soviet Union. This plan included industrializing the provinces of Bosnai and Herzgovina, macedonia, and montenegro.

This plan was done in large part to modernise Yugosl;avia, but also to equalise the Yugoslav economy. Joseph Stalin became increasingly irritated by Tio’s actions. He wantred Yugoslavia to become a grain farm for the Soviet Union. In 1948 Yugoslavia was expelled from the Soviet Union, and left to flounder. Tito, was a leader an had great ambitions for his kinsmen. After Yugoslavias expelltion from the union Tito went to the west for help. The west gave him loans, new trade allainces, and armaments. With the loans , and new trade Tito could build the country of his dreams. The state of Yugoslavia was dream.

The econmy was subsidised by massive international loans, the inflation rate was always rising, and unemployment, was rampent. Tito hoped that the new prosperity would calm the waters of the past. He invisioned that Serbs, Croats, macedonias would think themselevs not by their ethnicity, but as consumers. During the 1970’s Yugoslavias econmy baegan to falter. In Tito’s great equalised Yugoslavia, Croats, and Slovenes earned twice the wages of a Serb, and three times as much as a Macedonian, and Montenegran. The Slovenenians, and Croats became resentfull of the fact that they had to support the poorer south.

The Serbs, and other Slavs felt they desreved more from the rich Croats, and Slovenes. Tito’s idea, and ambition had failed like so many others in the region had before. Half way through the decade on calls of renewed nationilism by Serbs, Croats , slovenes, and montenegrans, Tito reorganized the state into six republoics. This move only widened the divisions in the region, every republic had resentment toward one another. After the death of Tito, in 1980 the situation in the region went from bad to worse. During the 1980’s Europe, experianced an economic resurgence, and their economies grew.

Yugoslavia on the other hand never felt this, and went farther into debt. To divert the blame most yugoslav politicians brgan to convince their respective peoples that the other groups were at fault. Serbians blamed Albanians, Croatians blamed Muslims etc. One such politicain was Slobodan Milosevic. He was president of Serbia, and he was in essence a fear mongar and propoganda maghine. He told the Serbian people that the Croatia was planning a war of genocide against them, and that Albania was gouing to invade the province of Kosovo. The divisions, in Yugoslavia went from the size of a creek, to the size of the Atlantic, overnight.

After the crumbel of the berlin wall in 1989, the pot of water which is yugoslavia boiled over. In 1990 the communist party disloved, and the politicaly the country split. Croatia, and Slovenia decided to move in their own direction. In 1991 Croatia, and slovevia held a referendums to decide wether they should each form independant states. Each republic did and broke away from Yugoslavia. Bsonia-herzcegovina followed suite in 1992. Serbia and Monetnegro stayed in Yugoslavia, and claimed that what Croatia, slovenai, and Bosnia had commited was illegal.

At the heart of the issue was that ten percent of Croatia population was Serbian. In June 1991 under the authority of Yugoslavia the yugoslav army was sent into Kraijina, and had control of it by January 1992. At that point, a cease fire was signed. In the aftermath thirty percent of Croatia was left to the Serbs. In 1992 when Bosnia- Herzcegovina seperated from the serbian republic seris was outraged. Bosnia as Croatia had a large Serb populatuion, and therfore must belong to Serbia. Croatia to made this argument. As a result both armies entered Bosnia, on the preminishen of gainig more territory.

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