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The Dismantling of Yugoslavia

Glossary & Timeline

Jump to Part: I, II, III | IV | Timeline


Badinter (or Arbitration) Commission: Appointed by the European Commission in September 1991 for the purpose of arbitrating legal disputes related to the crisis in the SFRY, with representatives from France (Robert Badinter), Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Spain. But the commission’s ten opinions were deeply biased, as they defined how foreign powers wanted the dismantlement of the SFRY to take place. Rather than observing SFRY law on the rights of self-determination and secession, Badinter advocated for a particular negation of SFRY law. Its opinions were the EC’s legalistic defense of the dismantlement of the unitary state.

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ): Nationalist Croat party founded in the Republic of Croatia by Franjo Tudjman in 1989. Won a majority of parliamentary seats in the April–May 1990 elections, and remained the ruling party throughout the ensuing wars.

Dayton Peace Accords (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina): Negotiated at the U.S. Air Force’s Wright-Patterson base in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, by Richard Holbrooke, Alija Izetbe-govic, Franjo Tudjman, and Slobodan Milosevic, who then represented the Bosnian Serbs because their leaders had been indicted by the ICTY. Dayton partitioned Bosnia-Herzegovina into three separate ethnic mini-states under a federal structure to be militarily enforced by NATO and managed politically by a High Representative appointed by the European Union, with the power to overrule the decisions of the peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dayton thus instituted a neocolonial regime that sits atop an ethnically partitioned suzerainty like that foreseen by the Lisbon accords (February 1992), but without the foreign domination.

European Union (EU) (previously the European Community [EC]): Formally came into existence in November 1993 under the terms of the Treaty of Maastricht (February 1992).

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY, a.k.a., Serbia and Montenegro, “rump Yugoslavia”): The successor state to the SFRY, after four of the original six republics declared their independence from the SFRY in 1991 and 1992. The FRY dissolved in June 2006, when Montenegro declared its independence.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY): Founded by UN Security Council Res. 827 (May 1993) for the “sole purpose” of “prosecuting persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia….” The ICTY has been a major instrument of foreign intervention in the former Yugoslavia. To the ICTY has fallen both the enforcement and the doctrinal tasks of “shap[ing] how current and future generations view the wars and in particular Serbia’s role in them” (Human Rights Watch).

Alija Izetbegovic (1925–2003): One of the founders of the Bosnian Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in 1989, and the first president of the independent state of Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992–95).

JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army): The federal army of the SFRY.

“Joint Criminal Enterprise” (JCE): One of the two most basic elements of the indictments of Slobodan Milosevic et al. for the wars in the SFRY; and within the ideological construct the ICTY enforces, it is regarded as a major causal explanation for the wars. The ICTY conceives the breakup of the SFRY and the civil wars that accompanied it as the product of a JCE among the ethnic Serbs around Milosevic in Belgrade as well as in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to create a “Greater Serbia” on territory cleansed of most, if not all, of the ethnic non-Serb peoples living there, and to use any means necessary to do it, including “genocide.”

Radovan Karadzic (1945–): Major Bosnian Serb political figure, and president of the Republic of Serbia (1992–95). Also one of the ICTY’s two most-wanted men.

Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA): From the start of its destabilization tactics in early 1996 through 1999, the primary armed guerrilla force of the separatists within Kosovo Albanian politics. Dubbed “Clinton’s Contras” during NATO’s 1999 war against the FRY; believed to have benefited immensely from covert U.S. government support.

Krajina (“borderland”): The geographic region along the borders of both Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina where the majority ethnic Serb populations were concentrated and from which they were later expelled during Operation Storm.

Radislav Krstic (1948–): General in the Bosnian Serb Army, convicted of “genocide” for his role in the deaths of the Srebrenica “safe area” population following July 11, 1995.

Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI): A U.S.-based, privately owned military contractor that traffics in arms and expertise, and that carries out operations that states themselves might prefer to keep off the books. MPRI was perhaps the major private contractor used by the U.S. government to train the armed forces of the newly independent states of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina prior to their major 1995 offensives against Serb forces in both territories.

Ratko Mladic (1942–): A general and the most important commanding officer in the Bosnian Serb Army; indicted for “genocide” for his role in the deaths of the Srebrenica “safe area” population following July 11, 1995. Also one of the ICTY’s two most-wanted men.

NATO: Founded in 1949 by twelve North American and Western European states to resist armed attack on any member and to enhance their collective capacity for self-defense. Today, NATO is comprised of twenty-six full members, and another twenty-three states with varying degrees of membership. NATO has become the largest, richest, and best equipped aggressive military alliance in history.

Geoffrey Nice: A U.S. citizen who served as the lead prosecutor at the ICTY during the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

Operation Storm: Operation Flash and Operation Storm were the Croatian military’s offensives of May and August 1995, respectively, to drive ethnic Serb populations first out of western Slavonia, and then out of the Krajina. Both operations benefited immensely from U.S. training and support.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE): With fifty-six full member states and eleven partners, the OSCE is the largest organization of states in the Northern Hemisphere.

Naser Oric (1967–): Bosnian Muslim fighter, and leading commander of the Srebrenica enclave from 1992 through the spring of 1995.

Party of Democratic Action (SDA): Nationalist Muslim party founded by Alija Izetbegovic and others in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1990. The most powerful Muslim party, it won a plurality of parliamentary seats in the November 1990 elections. From its base in Sarajevo, it was the ruling party of Bosnia-Herzegovina throughout the ensuing wars, and was recognized by the West as the legitimate government of the entire territory.

Carla Del Ponte (1947–): A Swiss national, the longest-serving chief prosecutor at the ICTY (1999-2007).

“Racak Massacre”: The January 15, 1999, killing in the Kosovo town of Racak of some 40–45 Kosovo Albanian males by the Yugoslav army, either in a fire fight with the KLA (which we believe) or a cold-blooded execution (as the standard narrative has it). (For a brief discussion and references, see n. 58.)

Rambouillet Conference: Held at Chateau Rambouillet near Paris from February 6 to 23, 1999, and later renewed in Paris from March 15 to 19. The participants included the Contact Group, the FRY, and Kosovo Albanians. Because the conference took place under the threat of a NATO bombing war against the FRY, Rambouillet has been dubbed a “unique attempt at enforced negotiations” (Marc Weller). We believe the conference in fact was a set-up to help legitimize the NATO bombing war that followed.

Republika Srpska (or the Republic of the Serbs): On April 7, 1992, the Bosnian Serbs declared an independent state, with its capital in Banja Luka.

“Safe areas”: Created by UN Security Council Res. 819 (April 16, 1993) to cover Srebrenica, then extended by Res. 824 (May 6, 1993) to Sarajevo, Bihac, Goradze, Tuzla, and Zepa, the six “safe areas” were to be Bosnian Muslim population centers free of armed attack. Separate agreements mediated by UNPROFOR between the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Serb military command called for the “safe areas” to be demilitarized, and their inhabitants to turn over their weapons to UNPROFOR.

Sarajevo: The capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Serb Democratic Party (SDS): Nationalist Serb party founded by Radovan Karadzic and others in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1990. Received a plurality in the November 1990 elections, and became the dominant Bosnian Serb political party during the wars and since.

Serbian Radical Party (SRS): Nationalist Serb party formed by Vojislav Seselj and others in the Republic of Serbia in 1991.

Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS): Renamed League of Communists of Serbia in the Republic of Serbia, formed in July 1990 and led by Slobodan Milosevic.

Vojislav Seselj (1954–): Nationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party in the Republic of Serbia. Currently in prison in The Hague, where he has been awaiting trial ever since surrendering to the

ICTY’s custody in February, 2003.

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY): The former Yugoslavia, which at the time of its dismantlement included the six republics of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, and two “autonomous” provinces inside the Republic of Serbia, Kosovo, and Vojvodina.

Srebrenica: The name of both a city and a municipality in far eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the original “safe area.” Following the evacuation and transfer of this “safe area” population in July 1995, several thousand Bosnian Muslim men went unaccounted for because they had been either killed in fighting, escaped to safe refuge, or were executed (i.e., the “Srebrenica Massacre” of the standard narrative). (See sec. 5.)

Franjo Tudjman (1922–99): Nationalist Croat leader of the Croatian Democratic Union, and president of Croatia from 1990 to 1999.

United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK): Created by UN Security Council Res. 1044 in June 1999, UNMIK affected the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, to be militarily enforced by NATO (i.e., KFOR) and managed politically by a Special Representative appointed by the UN Secretary-General with the power to overrule the decisions of the peoples of Kosovo and Serbia. Like the High Representative under Dayton, UNMIK sits atop a neocolonial regime, but within an ethnically cleansed territory that the occupying powers are pushing towards a form of independence from Serbia, if not from the occupying powers.

United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR): Created by UN Security Council Res. 783 in February 1992 to provide peacekeeping observers and troops to separate the ethnic Croat and Serb regions of Croatia. The largest peacekeeping contingent in UN history, UNPROFOR (under various name changes) was later extended to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia.

“Washington Consensus”: A set of policies agreed upon by the U.S. Treasury, the IMF, and World Bank that requires necessitous third-world borrowers to open their economies to foreign investment, curb inflation, cut back public expenditures, deregulate, and privatize. Imposed on third-world countries as in their alleged interest, they close out alternative development options like giving first priority to serving human needs at home and, by a remarkable coincidence, seem to lavish benefits on foreign transnational corporations in the United States and elsewhere.

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August 1945–91: Partisan government assumes power in Belgrade, the capital of the prewar Kingdom of Yugoslavia (December 1918–April 1941). What eventually became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is formed.

May 1980: Death of President-for-Life Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980).

1988–89: “Great reversal” in economic conditions, which began in 1979, accelerates. Hyperinflation exceeds 1,000 percent; unemployment reaches 15 percent (though with far more severe impact on the three southern republics and Kosovo); and per-capita income falls by some 25 percent from its late 1970s high. As many as 4 million Yugoslavs (18 percent) are reported to have participated in public protests during 1988 alone.

September 1989: Slovenia adopts new constitution asserting the primacy of its republican laws over federal laws.

November–December 1989: Berlin Wall toppled. Dissolution of the Soviet bloc and Warsaw Pact (formally on July 1, 1991).

January 1990: League of Communists of Yugoslavia cedes postwar role as sole legitimate party; accepts demands for multiparty elections among the six republics; and basically dissolves due to the withdrawal of republican members.

January 1990: IMF “shock therapy” adopted. Convertibility and large devaluations of Yugoslav dinar begin against hard currencies such as the deutschemark. Before the end of 1990, the privatization of social enterprises begins.

July 1990: First Slovenia and then Croatia declare the “sovereignty” of their republican laws over federal laws.

December 21, 1990: Croatia adopts a new constitution granting itself the right to secede from Yugoslavia.

December 23, 1990: Slovene independence referendum shows 95 percent support for independence.

January 1991 onward: Yugoslavia repeatedly instructed by United States and EC that the use of force by the federal army (JNA) internally for any purpose was unacceptable.

May 12, 1991: Krajina Serbs hold referendum on whether to “remain part of Yugoslavia with…others who want to preserve Yugoslavia.” Ninety percent vote to “remain part of Yugoslavia….”

June 25, 1991: The republics of Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Armed clashes begin in both republics.

June 27, 1991: Krajina Serbs declare the existence of an independent Republic of Serb Krajina.

August 27, 1991: While meeting in Brussels, the EC strongly denounced “Serb militants” and “elements of the federal army” for their alleged attempt “to solve problems by military means,” and placed the blame for the civil wars on Serb shoulders.

September 1991: EC Conference on Yugoslavia names an Arbitration Commission to examine legal claims related to the Yugoslav civil wars. It will be chaired by France’s Robert Badinter.

September 8, 1991: Macedonia holds referendum on independence. 95 percent of the ballots cast said Yes.

September 25, 1991: UN Security Council Res. 713 adopted, imposing an arms embargo on all six of Yugoslavia’s republics.

November 29, 1991 (though not published until December 9): EC Arbitration Commission Opinion No. 1 rules that Yugoslavia is not experiencing the secession of republics from the federation but rather is “in the process of dissolution.”

December 23, 1991: Germany formally recognizes both Slovenia and Croatia.

January 15, 1992: EC formally recognizes Slovenia and Croatia.

February 22–23, 1992: Lisbon Agreement(s) reached between EC mediators and Bosnian Muslim, Croat, and Serb representatives. Their principal features were the division of a newly independent but unified Bosnia-Herzegovina into three ethno-religious territorial units. The agreement quickly came undone when the Bosnian Muslim President withdrew his signature with U.S. encouragement and in anticipation of U.S. military support.

February 28–March 1, 1992: Bosnia-Herzegovina holds a two-day referendum on independence. Although boycotted by ethnic Serbs, 99 percent of the ballots cast said Yes.

March 1992: Peacekeeping troops of UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) begin deployment to Croatia.

March 3, 1992: The Sarajevo Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic declares the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina from the SFRY.

April 6–7, 1992: The EC grants diplomatic recognition to Bosnia-Herzegovina; the United States grants it to Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. These same powers refuse to recognize a successor to the SFRY.

April 7, 1992: The Bosnian Serbs declared the independence of a Republic of Serbia from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

April 21, 1992: The siege of Sarajevo begins with Bosnian Serb artillery shelling of the city.

April 28, 1992: Security Council agrees to extend UNPROFOR from Croatia to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Later, the force is extended to Macedonia as well.

May 30, 1992: UN Security Council Res. 757 adopted, imposing a sweeping embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e., Serbia and Montenegro).

January 2, 1993: Vance-Owen Peace Plan unveiled in Geneva. Retains the major principles of the Lisbon Agreement of February 1992, but more nuanced, outlining ten ethno-religious cantons rather than three large territorial units. Although supported by Milosevic, Vance-Owen fails to win support of the three Bosnian nations.

May 25, 1993: UN Security Council Res. 827 establishes the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

March 31, 1995: After publicizing its intentions, Croatia rejects the renewal of UNPROFOR on its territory. The Security Council creates three new UN peacekeeping forces, one for Croatia (UNCRO), one for Bosnia-Herzegovina (UNPROFOR), and one for Macedonia (UNPREDEP ).

May 25–26, 1995: UN authorizes NATO airstrikes against Bosnia Serb artillery positions and depots near Sarajevo and Pale. Bosnian Serbs capture 200 or more UNPROFOR personnel in response.

July 11, 1995: The Srebrenica “safe area” surrendered to Bosnian Serb forces. In the ensuing flight, evacuation, and forced transfer of Muslim troops and civilians, several thousand Muslim males go missing. (See discussion in sec. 5.)

August 4, 1995: Croatia launches Operation Storm, in which some 250,000 ethnic Serbs are driven from the Krajina region.

August 30, 1995: NATO launches Operation Deliberate Force, a substantial bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb targets.

November 21, 1995: Dayton Peace Accords (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina) between representatives of Croatia, Sarajevo’s Muslim government, and Serbia are finalized at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Later signed at Versailles on December 14. NATO’s Implementation Force (IFOR) begins deployment. Later renamed the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and eventually joined in late 2004 by forces of the European Union (EUFOR).

January 1996: Office of the High Representative (OHR) for Bosnia-Herzegovina established in Sarajevo. Through the present day, the OHR runs Bosnia-Herzegovina as a suzerainty.

February 1996: A series of bombings occur against Serb refugee camps in as many as six cities in Serbia’s province of Kosovo. For the first time, the attacks are attributed to the Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves), the sudden emergence of which no one then could explain. Armed attacks on Serbian police and military installations follow, as do kidnappings and assassinations of Kosovo Albanians deemed too friendly with Serb authorities.

May 7, 1996: ICTY’s first case, brought against the Bosnian Serb Dusko Tadic, begins at The Hague. Among the critical facts contested during trial was whether the wars that accompanied Yugoslavia’s breakup were civil wars (i.e., internal to the SFRY) or international conflicts (i.e., between the sovereign states of Serbia and Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina).

January 1998 on: Sharp escalation of KLA tactics in Kosovo.

March 10, 1998: Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY announces that her office exercises jurisdiction over “violations of international humanitarian law” committed in Kosovo, and is “currently gathering information and evidence” for possible prosecution.

March 31, 1998: UN Security Council Res. 1160 adopted, urging the ICTY “to begin gathering information related to the violence in Kosovo….”

October 13, 1998: NATO issues “activation orders…for both limited air strikes and a phased air campaign in Yugoslavia….”

October 13, 1998: Holbrooke-Milosevic accord reached in Belgrade. Terms include the deployment of a 2,000 member mission to verify compliance with the accord and monitor a ceasefire.

January 1999: Fighting resumes.

January 15, 1999: A massacre of as many as forty-five ethnic Albanians is reported in the Kosovo village of Racak. Within twenty-four hours, the U.S. chief of the observer mission William Walker visits the site and calls it “a massacre and very much a crime against humanity.’’ “Spring has come early to Kosovo,” U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is alleged to have said, the incident adding to the excuses NATO will use to launch its bombing war. (See n. 58.)

January 30, 1999: NATO issues second “activation order.” NATO “rules out no option” and “is ready to take whatever measures are necessary,” specifically “air strikes against targets on FRY territory.”

February–March 1999: Rambouillet Peace Conference held near Paris between representatives of the Contact Group (United States, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the Kosovo Albanians. In the context of NATO’s readiness to bomb the FRY, the logic behind the conference was that if the Contact Group’s five NATO members could gain the acceptance of terms by the Kosovo Albanians and their rejection by the FRY, NATO would have the ultimate excuse to launch its bombing war against the FRY.

March 24–June 10, 1999: Operation Allied Force, U.S.-led NATO-bloc war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

April 1999: NATO’s 50th Anniversary, Washington, D.C. Mission redefined to include non-self-defensive, “out of area” operations. Membership enlarged to nineteen states.

May 27, 1999: ICTY publishes first indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and four others “based exclusively on crimes committed since the beginning of 1999 in Kosovo” (Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour). Seven more indictments follow: A total of three for Kosovo, three for Croatia, and two for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

June 10, 1999: UN Security Council Res. 1244 adopted, giving NATO the right to occupy the FRY, creating the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to manage its affairs and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) under NATO’s auspices to enforce its will.

September 24–October 5, 2000: FRY holds presidential elections in which the two largest vote-getters were Vojislav Kostunica and Slobodan Milosevic. After the Federal Election Commission awarded a majority of the votes to Milosevic, Kostunica’s coalition challenged the outcome. The Constitutional Court annulled this round of voting, and called for a new ballot. On October 5, facing mounting protests, Milosevic resigned his office.

June 28, 2001: Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic signed a decree ordering Milosevic’s surrender to NATO forces and his transfer to ICTY custody at The Hague. According to news accounts, $1.28 billion in Western credits had been promised to Belgrade on condition that it surrender Milosevic.

February 12, 2002–March 14, 2006: The trial was held in the case of Prosecutor against Slobodan Milosevic. As Milosevic died in his prison cell of cardiac arrest in the early morning hours of March 11, his death terminated the proceedings without verdict.

March 2004: NATO enlarged to twenty-six member states. Slovenia admitted.

February–March 2007: Citing “extraordinary” circumstances, the UN Special Envoy for Kosovo advocates the independence of the province from Serbia.

2007, Volume 59, Issue 05 (October)
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