The Breakup of Yugoslavia

GIF Hoshie/Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of just three years, torn by the rise of ethno-nationalism, a series of political conflicts and Greater Serbian expansions, , the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia disintegrated into five successor states: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (later known as Serbia and Montenegro). 

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, founded in 1943 during World War II, was a federation made up of six socialist republics. From 1960 to 1980, the country was something of a regional power and an economic success story. Following Tito’s death in 1980, leaders such as Slobodan Milosevic rose to power and took advantage of the weakening state by utilising Serbian ultra-nationalism to fan the flames of conflict throughout the various neighbouring countries.  As the rise of nationalism grew, Slovenia followed by Croatia voted for independence and broke away from Yugoslavia by 1991.

On 29th February, and 1st March 1992 a referendum on independence was held in Bosnia. 99.7% of the those who voted declared “yes” and thus Independence was declared on 3rd March 1992. As Bosnian Serb political leadership boycotted the independence, the Serbian forces attacked Bosnia leading to four years of brutal ethnic cleansing, genocide, and crimes against humanity all up until 1995 when the Dayton Agreement was signed.