Former country in the Balkans, in southeast Europe, consisting of a federation of constituent republics: Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia. In the period 1991–92 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia all declared independence and seceded from the federation, leaving Serbia and Montenegro to form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 2003 the Federal Republic was renamed Serbia and Montenegro, and the name Yugoslavia became obsolete.
History Originally inhabited by nomadic peoples from the central Asian plateau, and later by Slavs, the country came under the rule of the Greek and then Roman empires. During the early medieval period the future republics of Yugoslavia existed as substantially independent bodies, the most important being the kingdom of Serbia. During the 14th and 15th centuries much of the country was conquered by the Turks and incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, except for mountainous Montenegro, which survived as a sovereign principality, and Croatia and Slovenia in the northwest, which formed part of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg empire.
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes Anti-Ottoman uprisings secured Serbia a measure of autonomy from the early 19th century and full independence from 1878, and the new kingdom proceeded to enlarge its territory, at Turkey's and Bulgaria's expense, during the Balkan Wars 1912–13. However, not until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of World War I were Croatia and Slovenia liberated from foreign control. A new ‘Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes’ was formed in December 1918, with the Serbian Peter Karageorgević (Peter I) at its helm, to which Montenegro acceded following its people's deposition of its own ruler, King Nicholas.
Peter I died in 1921 and was succeeded by his son Aleksander, who renamed the country Yugoslavia (‘nation of the South Slavs’) and who, faced with opposition from Croatians at home and from Italians abroad, established a military dictatorship in 1929. He was assassinated in October 1934. Aleksander's young son Peter II succeeded, and a regency under the latter's uncle Paul (1893–1976) was set up that came under increasing influence from Germany and Italy. The regency was briefly overthrown by pro-Allied groups in March 1941, precipitating an invasion by German troops. Peter II fled, while two guerrilla groups – proroyalist, Serbian-based Chetniks, led by Gen Draza Mihailovič, and communist partisans, led by Josip Broz (Marshal Tito) – engaged in resistance activities.
Yugoslav Republic under Tito Tito established a provisional government at liberated Jajce in Bosnia-Herzegovina in November 1943 and proclaimed the Yugoslav Federal Republic in November 1945 after the expulsion, with Soviet help, of the remaining German forces. Elections were held, a communist constitution on the Soviet model was introduced, and remaining royalist opposition crushed. Tito broke with Stalin in 1948 and, with the constitutional law of 1953, adopted a more liberal and decentralized form of communism centred around workers self-management and the support of private farming. Tito became the dominating force in Yugoslavia and held the newly created post of president from 1953 until his death in May 1980.
Regional discontent In foreign affairs, the country sought to maintain a balance between East and West and played a leading role in the creation of the non-aligned movement of 1961. Domestically, the nation experienced continuing regional discontent, in particular in Croatia where a violent separatist movement gained ground in the 1970s. To deal with these problems, Tito encouraged further decentralization and devolution of power to the constituent republics. After Tito's death in 1980 a system of collective leadership and regular rotation of office posts was introduced to prevent the creation of regional cliques. However, the problems of regionalist unrest grew worse during the 1980s, notably in Kosovo and Bosnia, where Albanian and Islamic nationalism, respectively, were strong.
Economic austerity This regionalist discontent was fanned by a decline in living standards from 1980, caused by mounting foreign debt, the service of which absorbed more than 10% of gross national product (GNP), and a spiralling inflation rate, which reached 200% in 1988 and 700% in 1989. From 1987 to 1988 the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Branko Mikulić, a Bosnian, instituted a ‘market socialist’ programme of prices and wages control and the greater encouragement of the private sector and foreign ‘inward investment’. The short-term consequence of this restructuring programme was a period of increased economic austerity and a rise in the unemployment rate to 15%. Following a wave of strikes and mounting internal disorder, Mikulić was replaced as prime minister in January 1989 by Ante Marković, a reformist Croatian.
Multiparty elections The unity of the ruling Communist Party began to crumble in 1988–90 as both personal and ideologically based feuds developed between the leaders of its republican branches. Slobodan Milošević , the hard-line Serbian party chief and president from 1986, waged a populist campaign against Kosovo's and Vojvodina's autonomous status securing their reintegration within Serbia. This led to a violent ethnic Albanian backlash in Kosovo 1989–90 and to growing pressure in more liberal, pro-pluralist Croatia and Slovenia for their republics to break away from the federation. The schism within the Communist Party was confirmed in January 1990 when its congress had to be abandoned after a walkout by the Slovene delegation. In September Kosovo and Vojvodina were effectively stripped of their autonomy when a new multiparty constitution came into effect in Serbia.
In multiparty elections held in Serbia in December 1990, Milošević was elected president and his Serbian Socialist Party (the renamed communists) achieved an assembly majority. In Bosnia-Herzegovina the League of Communists was voted out and the three Muslim, Serb, and Croat nationalist parties formed a coalition. In Macedonia the multiparty election held in November 1990 resulted in a hung parliament. In Montenegro, the League of Communists held on to power. Concerned at the rising tide of ethnic conflict and political disintegration, Prime Minister Marković founded the Alliance of Reform Forces in July 1990 which aimed to preserve Yugoslav unity within a pluralist federation.
Slovenia's call for secession In July 1990 the Slovenian assembly proclaimed full sovereignty and in February 1991 called for secession from Yugoslavia.
Croatian assertion of autonomy In Croatia, ethnic tension between majority Croat and minority Serb populations increased following the election in April–May 1990 of a right-wing Croat nationalist government led by Franjo Tudjman.
Fearing a resurgence of ethnic persecution, Serbs held, in August, an unofficial referendum on the issue of cultural autonomy. In the same month there was an anti-Croat uprising in the Serb-dominated town of Knin in the west. In February 1991 the Croatian assembly called for secession from Yugoslavia on the same terms as Slovenia. Serb militants in Krajina in turn demanded secession from Croatia and held a referendum, a week ahead of a referendum on sovereignty throughout Croatia. In Krajina, 90% of electors voted ‘to remain part of Yugoslavia with Serbia and Montenegro and others who want to preserve Yugoslavia’. In Croatia, 93% voted for the republic to become a sovereign and independent country.
In March 1991, there were anticommunist demonstrations against the autocratic rule of Serbia's leaders who had taken control of the media and used the police to suppress anticommunist opposition. On 15 March 1991 the state president, Borisav Jović, a Serbian, dramatically resigned, after his plan to introduce martial law failed to gain support. There were fears that his departure might presage a military takeover in Yugoslavia. Croatia's representative on the state presidency, Stjepan Mesic, a non-communist committed to the abolition of the federal structure, was formally elected to the collective state presidency in June 1991 after three months of political uncertainty. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was increasing civil disorder from the spring of 1991.
Slovenia and Croatia declare independence In June 1991 both Slovenia and Croatia issued declarations of independence from Yugoslavia. The lack of recognition from other nations precipitated bloody military confrontations between the federal army and republican forces.
A European Community (EC) delegation of foreign ministers brokered a ceasefire at the end of June but it soon fell apart when the Slovenian parliament overruled the decision of the republic's president, Milan Kučan, to suspend independence for a three-month period. However, threatened with the suspension of EC monetary aid to Yugoslavia it was agreed that the Yugoslav national army would withdraw from Slovenia, which seemed set to secure its independence. But between July and September 1991 civil war intensified in ethnically mixed Croatia. It became uncertain who (politicians or the military) now controlled Yugoslavia at the federal level. Furthermore, the Yugoslav national army had become fractionalized, with many units refusing to heed President Mesic's call for a return to barracks.
Calls for ceasefire A new ceasefire was ordered by the federal presidency in August 1991, after the EC, which viewed Serbia as the real aggressor, threatened to apply economic sanctions against the republic. However, the ceasefire again failed to hold and by September around a third of Croatia was under Serb control. Oil-rich Croatia responded by imposing an oil supply blockade on Serbia and attacked federal army barracks within the republic. Another EC-brokered ceasefire in September 1991 collapsed. Both Serbia and Croatia called for international peacekeeping troops to be deployed. In October, Milošević renounced territorial claims on Croatia, pressured by threats of EC and United Nations (UN) sanctions, but fighting continued and sanctions were imposed in November.
Other republics call for independence In August 1991 Serbia revealed plans to annex the southeastern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, causing ethnic clashes within the republic. From September 1991 border areas began to fall to the Serbs, who established autonomous enclaves. In October 1991 the republic's sovereignty was declared but this was resisted by the ethnic Bosnian Serbs. In Macedonia a referendum on independence held in September 1991 received overwhelming support, despite being boycotted by the Albanian and Serbian minorities. In Kosovo, an unofficial referendum on sovereignty held in September 1991 came out overwhelmingly in favour.
Collapse of federal government Between September and October 1991 Croat and Slovene representatives resigned from federal bodies and Bosnian and Macedonian representatives withdrew from the federal presidency. In effect, Serbia was left dominating a ‘rump’ Yugoslavia. In December 1991, Stjepan Mesic resigned from the presidency, declaring that ‘Yugoslavia no longer exists’; the federal prime minister, Ante Marković, also resigned.
Ceasefire in Croatia In early January 1992 a UN peace plan was successfully brokered in Sarajevo which provided for an immediate ceasefire in Croatia. This accord was disregarded by the breakaway Serb leader in Krajina, Milan Babić, but recognized by the main Croatian and Serbian forces. Croatia's and Slovenia's independence was recognized by the EC and the USA on 15 January 1992.
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia declare independence In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Muslims and Croats held a referendum in February 1992 and voted overwhelmingly in favour of seeking EC recognition of independence, despite a boycott by the Serbs. Official recognition was granted by the EC and the USA in April 1992. Serb opposition to independence continued, with several hundred people killed in violent clashes. Macedonia declared its independence in January 1992 and immediate recognition was accorded by Bulgaria, but not by Serbia or neighbouring Greece. In an unofficial referendum held in the same month, Macedonia's Albanian community voted for autonomy.
Declaration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Concern for ethnic minorities in Serbia and Serbia's planned ‘carve-up’ of the newly independent Bosnian republic prompted the EC and the USA to deny recognition of a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, announced by Serbia and Montenegro in April 1992. In March, and again in June, thousands of Serbs marched through Belgrade, demanding the ousting of Milošević and an end to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The UN withdrew its ambassadors from Belgrade in May and international sanctions were imposed against Serbia and Montenegro. Dobrica Cosić became president in June and Milan Panić was made prime minister in July. The US demand for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was met in the same month. In September Yugoslavia's membership of the UN was suspended because of Serbia's alleged backing of atrocities carried out by Bosnian Serbs against Muslims and Croats, the policy of ‘ethnic cleansing’, and the suspected existence of Serbian-run concentration camps in Bosnia.
In December 1992, Milošević was re-elected Serbian president, defeating opposition leader Milan Panić, who was subsequently ousted on a vote of no confidence. Radoje Kontić was named prime minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in February 1993. In April Macedonia was awarded UN membership under the provisional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In June 1993 Cosić was removed from office by the Yugoslav parliament, reputedly at the instigation of Milošević, and replaced by Zoran Lilić.
International sanctions Yugoslavia's economy was badly affected by international sanctions. Industrial production contracted sharply and by October 1993 inflation had reached a monthly rate of 2,000%, with fuel in increasingly short supply. Despite this hardship, President Milośević's Socialist Party secured a slim majority in parliamentary elections in December 1993. In October 1994 international sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro were eased after Milošević, responding to UN pressure, ordered a blockade of the Bosnian Serbs. Appeals for military aid from the respective leaders of the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs were rejected in August 1995, and from September Serbia played a key role in negotiations leading up to the US-brokered Dayton peace accord for Bosnia-Herzegovina, finally agreeing to recognize the separate existence of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in November 1995. The following month the USA lifted its economic sanctions against Serbia. In August 1996 Serbia and Croatia agreed to restore diplomatic relations. In October the UN Security Council voted to end economic sanctions against Serbia. In October 1996 full diplomatic relations were opened with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Yugoslav elections In early November 1996, the ruling Socialisticka Partija Srbije (SPS; Serbian for Serbian Socialist Party)-dominated United List secured victory in elections to the 138-member Chamber of Citizens, the lower house of the two-chamber Federal Assembly. The List won 64 seats and the allied Democratic Party of Socialist of Montenegro (SDPCG), 20 seats. Concurrent elections to the Republican Assembly in Montenegro were won by the SDPCG, with 45 seats out of 71.
From late November 1996 there were mounting mass demonstrations, particularly in Belgrade, involving students, academics, and trade unionists, against the government of Milošević as a result of government-sanctioned malpractices in the November municipal elections to prevent the Zajedno (Together) opposition alliance winning in 14 of the republic's largest 18 cities, including Belgrade. Leaders of Zajedno aimed to transform Serbia into a free-market democracy, and declared that they would respect the Bosnian peace accord. The nationalist Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), led by Vuk Drašković and part of Zajedno, spearheaded the protests. Some 250,000 people marched in Belgrade in December 1996, but from late December riot police launched a crackdown. Marches were officially banned, but daily student-led protests continued throughout January 1997. In December a report by a delegation from the OSCE called on the government to accept Zajedno's victories in the municipal elections. Serbia was denied access to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Union (EU) continued to deny the country preferential trade terms. The Serbian parliament responded in February 1997, following 78 days of protests, by passing legislation to recognize the Zajedno municipal victories. This brought opposition demonstrations to an end.
Protracted presidential elections In July 1997 elections Milošević was elected to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia presidency (the only post open to him under constitutional rules) despite the protests of the pro-democratic movement. He shut down 55 independent television and radio stations. In September Zoran Djindjic, leader of the pro-democracy Democracy Party (formerly part of the now defunct Zajedno opposition alliance), was controversially ousted as mayor of Belgrade. In parliamentary elections held in Serbia in September, the Serbian Socialist Party, controlled by President Milošević, failed to secure an absolute majority and its candidate for the presidency of Serbia, Zoran Lilic, was forced into a run-off contest with Vojislav Seselj, the extreme-nationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party who opposed the Dayton peace accord for Bosnia and advocated carving up Bosnia to create a ‘Greater Serbia’. Seselj captured 49% of the votes in the run-off in October, but the result was invalidated since Albanians, pro-Democratic Party liberals, and monarchists all boycotted the elections and turnout was thus less than 50%, forcing a new contest; Dragan Tomic, a Milošević crony, was serving as acting Serbian president, since Milošević was debarred by the constitution from standing for a third term. In the new contest, in December 1997, the ruling Socialist Party put up a new candidate, Milan Milutinović, who finished ahead of Seselj in the first round, though OSCE observers called the poll ‘fundamentally flawed’.
Milošević loses an ally In the republic of Montenegro, the reformist anti-Milošević prime minister, 35-year-old Milo Djukanović, narrowly defeated the incumbent Momir Bulatović in the October 1997 presidential election run-off contest. They had stood as candidates for rival factions of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPSCG). This defeat deprived Milošević of a key ally and weakened his position, since Djukanović had promised to block a proposed change in the Yugoslav constitution designed to give real executive powers to the Yugoslav president.
In January 1998 there was street fighting in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, on the eve of the inauguration of Milo Djukanović as the constituent republic's president. It was alleged that supporters of President Milošević were behind the unrest, since they saw Djukanović, a proponent of economic and political reform and autonomy for Kosovo, to secure the lifting of Western economic sanctions, as a dangerous opponent. Momir Bulatović, the outgoing president and leader of a different faction of the ruling DPSCG, had rejected the result and fomented street opposition. Yugoslavia's prime minister, Radoje Kontić, brokered a deal in late January whereby early legislative elections would be held in May 1998; these were won by supporters of Djukanović.
In February Yugoslavia was rewarded for its backing of the new moderate government in Bosnia's Serb Republic with permission to open a consulate in New York and start running charter flights to the USA.
Unrest in Kosovo In November 1997, in the Albanian-inhabited province of Kosovo, the pro-independence Kosovo Liberation Army ambushed police near the capital, Priština, in its biggest-ever operation. From January 1998 there was escalating violence in the predominantly (90%) ethnically Albanian and Muslim southern province of Kosovo, where the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (a paramilitary force with 500 fighters at its core, which advocates independence from Serbia and unification with Albania) clashed with Serb armed police. In early March, Serbian police killed at least 80 Albanians in a crackdown in Kosovo after the KLA had allegedly killed two of their number. Albanian protesters were tear-gassed. Kosovo is considered to be the historic homeland of Serbs, but many Serbs fled from the province, fearing retribution. In response, further Western sanctions were imposed against Yugoslavia, including a UN arms embargo. Also in March, the Kosovo Albanians re-elected as president of their self-declared republic Ibrahim Rugova, a moderate who advocated peaceful struggle and negotiations with Serbia. Milošević's ruling SPS, which had lost its majority in elections the previous September, formed, in Serbia, a coalition government with the extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by Vojislav Seselj. With the economy in free fall, the dinar (Yugoslavian currency) was devalued by 45% in late March.
In March 1998, following civil unrest in Kosovo, sanctions were imposed on Yugoslavia by the Contact Group (the UK, USA, France, Italy, Russia, and Germany), who agreed to ban exports of equipment that could be used for internal repression. The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Yugoslavia at the end of March 1998.
In May 1998 President Milošević opened negotiations with Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo and the Western investment ban on Yugoslavia was lifted as a reward. In the same month Milošević sacked Radoje Kontić, a Montenegrin, as Yugoslavia's prime minister, as he was insufficiently hostile to Montenegro's reformist president, Milo Djukanović. He appointed Djukanović's arch rival, former Montenegro president Momir Bulatović, as prime minister, but Montenegro refused to recognize the appointment.
After the Kosovo negotiations collapsed, Yugoslavia launched a military offensive against the separatist KLA in July–August 1998. The offensive by the Serbian army and police recaptured areas recently held by KLA, including the town of Orahovac. The conflict cost hundreds of lives and resulted in a flood of 200,000 civilian refugees – equivalent to 10% of Kosovo's population. There were reports of ethnic killings. A local ceasefire between the Serb army and ethnic Albanian separatists was agreed in August 1998 in western Kosovo, to allow aid agencies help the 20,000 civilians and refugees trapped there, some of whom were dying of dysentery and dehydration.
In September 1998 the UN Security Council called for a permanent ceasefire in Kosovo, as NATO contemplated possible air strikes. However, in October 1998 Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy, pulled off a last-minute political deal with Milošević, that averted NATO military action. Yugoslavia agreed to let unarmed foreign monitors observe the withdrawal of tens of thousands of Serb forces from Kosovo, and to begin political talks to give the province greater autonomy. The situation nevertheless escalated again in late 1998, and after UN observers were refused access to Kosovo following alleged Serbian atrocities, NATO issued its strongest ultimatum yet on 28 January 1999, demanding a ceasefire and an immediate withdrawal of Serbian troops from the province, and warning that NATO was ready to act if these measures were not enforced and peace negotiations not undertaken. Following international effort, Serbia agreed to take part in Kosovo peace talks which started on 6 February 1999 in Rambouillet, near Paris, France. The Rambouillet peace plan was accepted by the separatists but rejected by Serbia. The Serbian policy of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kosovo began.
In March 1999, NATO aircraft began a bombing campaign in an attempt to force the Yugoslav government to end its persecution of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The bombing campaign stepped up April–May, while ethnic cleansing of Kosovars by the Serbs intensified. A refugee crisis in neighbouring countries worsened as hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo. In April, President Milošević dismissed his deputy, Vuk Draskovic, following his criticisms of the programme of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kosovo.
In May 1999 the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague announced that it planned to indict Milošević. In June Milošević accepted NATO's peace agreement. In one of the biggest military operations in Europe since World War II, NATO forces took control of Kosovo to keep the peace.
Economic relations At a meeting in July 1999 in Brussels, Belgium, the World Bank and finance ministers from leading western countries decided that Serbia, but not Montenegro, should be excluded from economic aid to the Balkans. Big divisions over the scale of the Balkan reconstruction effort split the world's richest governments, amid fears that the total package of aid to Kosovo could be restricted to less than $1 billion/£600 million. The European Investment Bank put the regional reconstruction costs at $25 billion over five years. In November 1999 the USA announced that it would support the EU in the lifting of oil sanctions against Serbia if ‘free and fair’ elections were held. Western commercial airlines did not resume flights over Yugoslavia, which were stopped during NATO's 1999 bombing campaign, until January 2000. The official European ban on commercial travel to and from Serbia was suspended in February 2000. However, the EU vowed that other sanctions against Serbia would remain in force while Milošević remained in power.
Opposition to Milošević Signs of unrest in Yugoslavia began to spread in June and July 1999, as thousands of opponents of Milošević protested against him in Cacak and other provincial towns. The demonstrators, echoing the Orthodox church, said Milošević should resign and call for elections. Leaders of the Alliance for Change, the umbrella group coordinating the protests, announced that protests would take place daily in different towns across the country. Pressure continued to build in July, as demonstrations continued in several Serbian cities. Switzerland froze the financial assets of Milošević and four other Serbs facing criminal charges at the request of the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Pressure continued to mount throughout 1999 on President Milošević, as protests demanding his resignation continued to be held daily across Serbia. In October Vuk Draskovic, the ex-deputy president and now a leader of Serbia's opposition, survived a car crash in which four colleagues died; he accused the government of trying to kill him. The government of Montenegro, Serbia's junior partner in the Yugoslav federation, threatened to secede unless Milošević resigned. The reformist government of Montenegrin president Milo Djukanović proposed the creation of a looser federation. If Serbia failed to compromise, a referendum on independence would be held within the following few months. In December 1999, in a show of force, Serbian forces took over the main airport in Montenegro.
Protests against the rule of President Milošević continued through the remainder of 1999, and, in January 2000, 16 Serbian opposition parties were joining to attempt to topple Milošević from power. The opposition leaders called for an election by April 2000, in which opinion polls indicated that a united opposition would win. However, it was not clear whether the ruling parties would accept an electoral defeat. Yugoslavia's defence minister, and a key ally of President Milošević in Montenegro, Pavle Bulatovic, was shot dead in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in February 2000. Making his first public appearance since autumn 1999, Milošević attended a memorial service and his government promised to stamp out the terrorism which had recently afflicted the republic, ostensibly protesting against the present government. In January, Zelijko Raznatovic, known as Arkan, one of Serbia's most brutal ultra-nationalist paramilitary leaders and another key ally of Milošević, had been assassinated. In February 2000 Milošević appointed a new defence minister, General Dragoljub Ojdanic, chief of staff of the Yugoslav army. Both Milošević and Ojdanic were indicted by a UN court in 1999 for war crimes in Kosovo.
In April 2000 just before an anti-Milosovic rally, a bomb exploded at an office belonging to Milošević's ruling socialist party in Belgrade. The opposition was blamed for the explosion, and it was declared to be terrorism. In May around 10,000 people gathered in Belgrade to protest against Milošević's crackdown on independent media. The protest became violent as police in riot gear closed in around the protesters. Later in the same month, students took to the streets to protest against a government crackdown on universities.
NATO accused of war crimes against Yugoslavia In June 2000 the human rights group Amnesty International issued a report which accused NATO of committing serious violations of the conventions of war during its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. The report accused NATO of mass killings of civilians as a result of air raids. Only five days previously, the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague had said that there was no basis for opening an investigation into war crimes committed by NATO during the 1999 bombing campaign, as there had been no deliberate targeting of civilians.
Presidential elections in 2000 and the fall of Milošević Yugoslavia's government approved constitutional changes in July, including the creation of a directly elected presidency, as opposed to the current system of election by the federal assembly. The proposals were designed to strengthen President Milošević's grip on power and reduce the influence of the Montenegro parliament upon the Yugoslav federation. They enabled Milošević to renew his presidency, which was impossible under the previous constitution. Montenegro opposed the changes, leading to an increase in tension with Serbia, which was compounded by a further proposal to directly elect parliamentary deputies. This would discriminate against Montenegro as a result of the significantly smaller population in the republic.
President Milošević was beaten in presidential elections held on 24 September 2000 by Vojislav Koštunica, leader of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), although the election commission, under the influence of Milošević, said Koštunica had fallen short of the majority needed for outright victory. Supporters filled the streets of the capital, Belgrade, to celebrate Koštunica's victory and demand Milošević's departure from office. On 2 October, the opposition began a campaign of civil disobedience, aimed at forcing Milošević to relinquish power by bringing Serbia to a standstill with strikes and demonstrations, and the reduction of electricity output by half. The Russian government, which acknowledged for the first time that Milošević had lost the election, offered to mediate, and Serbia's constitutional court on 4 October ruled that Milošević should serve out his mandate, presumably until 2001.
Thousands of protesters in Belgrade on 5 October stormed the Yugoslav parliament, state television headquarters, and other sites of Milošević's power. Milošević, publicly conceding defeat the following day, was forced out of Yugoslavia's presidency after 13 years in power. The SPS and its allies nevertheless won a majority in both chambers of the legislature in concurrent elections A power struggle for control of the police force and other authorities between the SPS and Koštunica's DOS caused the new president to admit on 12 October that he was still not in full control of the country. Decisions by the USA and the EU to relax sanctions, and friendly moves by the IMF, were a boost to Koštunica's power and popularity. Koštunica declared that he would not be extraditing Milošević to face the UN War Crimes Tribunal, which had indicted him for atrocities committed in Kosovo. He did, however, admit that Serb soldiers had carried out large-scale killings in Kosovo the previous year. In October, the UN voted to restore Yugoslavia's seat, ending an eight-year exclusion.
Koštunica appointed Zoran Zizic, a long-standing supporter of Milošević, federal prime minister, and persuaded members of the SPS to back a power-sharing government until elections in December. At a summit meeting between the EU and Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Yugoslavia, the EU pledged US$4.5 billion in aid until 2006.
In December, Milošević was re-elected leader of the SPS, but his party received only 14% of the vote in the general election, compared to DOS's 64%. Zoran Djindjic became Serbia's first non-communist prime minister for 55 years. Following the victory, Yugoslavia's top defence body dismissed three key army commanders in Montenegro, all allies of Milošević, in a concession to Montenegro's leadership. Five days later, Koštunica retired a further 14 generals loyal to Milošević, including Dragoljub Ojdanic, the former defence minister wanted by the Hague tribunal for war crimes in Kosovo.
Border troubles with Kosovo From late November the Serbian government began to increase the numbers of police and armed forces in the Presevo valley, on the border with Kosovo. Albanian rebels in the area, still officially part of Serbia, wanted it to be united with Kosovo. The build-up followed a warning from the Serbian government to NATO to prevent cross-border raids by the rebels, and fighting between Serb forces and the rebels caused thousands of ethnic Albanians to flee into Kosovo. The violence escalated in February 2001, and Kosovo Albanians also began protests within Kosovo, confronting the NATO-led peacekeeping force. Yugoslav authorities increased pressure on NATO forces following further attacks by ethnic Albanian guerrillas against Serbs in Kosovo, and intensified fighting with Yugoslav armed forces in southern Serbia. In response to growing evidence that the guerrillas were using the buffer zone around Kosovo as a base, NATO agreed to begin dismantling it, and in mid-March Yugoslav forces moved in.
Milošević brought to trial President Koštunica met with Milošević in mid-January 2001. He later met Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the UN War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague, when he reaffirmed his declaration of November 2000 that he would not extradite Milošević. However, Serbia's prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, confirmed in early February that his government was gathering evidence against Milošević. The former head of Serbia's secret police, Rade Markovic, who had been accused of arranging the assassination of people opposed to Milošević, was arrested in late February. In March, Yugoslav citizenship was restored to members of the Yugoslav royal family, and Crown Prince Alexander returned to Yugoslavia. Milošević was arrested at his home in Belgrade on 1 April, after 36 hours of negotiations with special police. He was charged with abuse of power, corruption, and fraud. He was not, however, extradited to face the UN War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague.
Milošević extradited In June 2001, Yugoslavia's constitutional court passed a decree permitting Milošević to be extradited to face charges at the UN War Crimes Tribunal. The decree also applied to 15 other Yugoslav citizens – some of Milošević's closest allies – who were also wanted by the tribunal. Milošević arrived at the UN detention centre in Scheveningen, a suburb of the Hague, on 28 June. The Serbian government had been spurred into action by the threat of losing much-needed Western aid money. As a result of the extradition, at a donors' aid conference that opened in Brussels, Belgium, the following day, 44 nations donated a total of US$1.28 billion to help rebuild the country. However, there was some hostility to the extradition: the federal government resigned in protest, and thousands of pro-Milošević demonstrators took to the streets of the capital, Belgrade.
In July 2001, former finance minister Dragisa Pesic became prime minister, leading a largely unchanged cabinet. In November, the Paris Club of creditor countries agreed to write off two-thirds of Yugoslavia's US$4.5 billion of foreign debt. In the same month parliament voted to abolish the death penalty.
In March 2002, Serbia and Montenegro agreed to stay united, but in a looser federation, and in 2003 the Federal Republic was renamed Serbia and Montenegro.
Yugoslavia at the Crossroads, 1962
Early theatre A historic term nowadays, meaning the land of South Slavs, that existed between 1918 and 1991. From the period of Roman...
The history of intelligence operations in Yugoslavia is closely intertwined with the country's long experience of internal conflict among its...
A former country in SE Europe, on the Adriatic Sea. Yugoslavia was originally created in 1918 as a homeland for the South (Jugo) Slavic...