War in the Balkans


            The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was born after the Second World War under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito. It stretches from Central Europe to the    Balkans and includes six regional republics – Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina (Herzegovina is its small south-western corner), Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and two autonomous provinces within Serbia – Kosovo, and Vojvodina. The region, which includes more than twenty ethnic groups, is the result of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I. Each republic and both autonomous provinces in Serbia have a seat on the federal presidency and are allowed a certain amount of autonomy at a local level. Following Tito’s death in 1980, Serbia aims at gaining more political and economic power at the expense of the other republics. As Slobodan Milosevic becomes President of Serbia in 1989, he fuels Serb nationalist aspirations.

          THE BREAK-UP

            In the early 1990s, the SFRY breaks up following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The rise of nationalist movements in a number of Yugoslav republics along with a growing fear of Serbian hegemony contributes to the events of this decade. The leaders involved in the dissolution of the SFRY and in the consequent wars in Yugoslavia utilize nationalism and ethnic issues to stay in power.

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