Briefed: The Fall of Yugoslavia

Updated: Jul 22, 2020


  • 1882: the Kingdom of Serbia is established after centuries of Ottoman rule.

  • 1909: Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia & Herzegovina.

  • 1910: the Kingdom of Montenegro established, parts of the country had resisted Venetian and Ottoman occupation for centuries.

  • 1912-1913: First & Second Balkan Wars.

  • 1914: WW1 Gavrilo Princip, a Yugoslav nationalist and ethnic Serb assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian heir, in Sarajevo in resistance to imperialism.

  • 1918: End of WW1, the Slavic provinces of Austria-Hungary form the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, which joins Serbia to form the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (land of southern Slavs)

  • 1941: Yugoslavia is conquered by Axis forces, the first Independent State of Croatia is established as a Nazi puppet.

  • The Croatian Ustasha regime and Catholic clergy lead a genocide against Serbs, Jews, Roma, and non-fascists to make an ethnically pure Croatia.

  • 1945:the Yugoslav Partisans emerge victorious and establish the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia with their leader Josip Broz Tito as Prime Minister.

  • 1945: 50% of Kosovo's population is Serbian, Tito allows mass migrations from Albania into the province.

  • 1948: Yugoslavia cuts relations with Stalin, creating socialism with self-management and a market economy.

  • 1961: the Non-Aligned Movement is established in Belgrade to protect developing countries from the cold war and imperialism, Yugoslavia becomes a buffer zone between the east and west.

  • 1980: Tito dies, he repressed nationalist sentiments in the country in favor of “brotherhood and unity”, his death is seen as the beginning of the end.

Josep Broz Tito

Post Tito

  • 1981: large scale riots by the Albanian population in Kosovo demanding the province be made into a republic and even unified with Albania, resulting in Albanian politicians being expelled from the communist party.

  • The Reagan administration passes National Security Decision Directive 133 in 1984 which sought to bring a free market economy to Yugoslavia.

  • The National Endowment for Democracy begins financing opposition groups in Yugoslav politics and pro-IMF economists.

  • Yugoslavia takes more loans from the IMF and in turn, has to adopt its austerity programs which include cutting back on social spending, cutting wages, and the abolishment of worker management enterprises.

  • 1987: Slobodan Milosevic travels to Kosovo where Serbs claimed they were being oppressed by the Albanian majority, he calls for a reduction in Kosovo’s autonomy and unity among all citizens.

  • 1989: Prime Minister Markovic visits Washington D.C. to meet with President Bush to explain the austerity will cause ethnic tensions and asked for aid.

  • June 28th, 1989: Milosevic returns to Kosovo as President of Serbia on the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, leads to a rise in Serbian nationalism.

  • 1989: the autonomy of the Serbian province of Kosovo is abolished, Albanian miners in Kosovo go on a hunger strike.

  • 1990: radical members of the Albanian diaspora create the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) which primarily targets Serbian police, then later Serbian civilians and “disloyal” Albanians. Their financing mostly came from the drug market and a fund in Switzerland called “Homeland Calling”.

  • Serbian police in Kosovo begin taking repressive measures against Albanian civilians in response to KLA attacks.

  • 1990: President Bush pressures congress to pass the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act that blocked all financial assistance and credit to Yugoslavia republics unless they broke away and declared their independence, and then the aid could only go to groups that were deemed “democratic”.

  • From 1989 to 1990 more than 1100 industrial firms bankrupted, allowing them to be purchased by foreign investors.

  • By October 1990: the standard of living falls 18% and unemployment rises to 20%

Slobodan Milosevic gives a speech in Kosovo

  • 1990: Franjo Tudjman becomes President of Croatia

  • 1991: The Soviet Union collapses and the Cold War ends. Yugoslavia is no longer needed as an intermediary.

  • 1991: inflation reaches 200% and cooperation between the republics and the federal government ceases.

  • The new democratic parties begin outing the communist governments in the republics, replacing them with right-wing nationalist politicians

  • The Carrington–Cutileiro plan was proposed to divide the Bosnian Republic into Bosniak (Muslim), Croat, and Serb territories, all three sides sign the agreement.

  • After meeting with the U.S. ambassador the Bosniak representative Alija Izbegovic withdraws his signature two weeks later opposing the division of Bosnia, he also begins expressing a desire to establish an Islamic state.

  • 1991: Croatia and Slovenia declare independence.

  • 10-day war between Slovenia and Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia withdraws.

  • Yugoslavia votes to invade Slovenia again, but the Serbian Republic votes no because the country was comprised of mainly Slovenians.

  • German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher pressures Germany's allies to recognize the independent states.

  • The Croatian government impedes the right of Serbs to self-government, violating the Constitution of Croatia.

  • In response Serbs begin making roadblocks and demanding that Serb majority areas be reunified with Yugoslavia, this is when violence breaks out.

  • The JNA (Yugoslav army) supports the Croatian Serbs and attempt to take over the country to reunify with Yugoslavia, Vukovar becomes the first European town to be completely destroyed since WWII.

  • The Hague attempts to make peace plans with the six republics, Tudjman claims Croatia has the right to succeed from Yugoslavia, while Milosevic claims the Serbs have the right to join Serbia.

  • 1992: international U.S. led sanctions against Yugoslavia and unemployment rises to 70%.

  • Yugoslavia experiences hyperinflation lasting until 1994 that peaked at 116.5 billion percent.

  • The Macedonian Republic votes for independence and leaves Yugoslavia.

  • 1992: the Vance Plan is signed calling for a ceasefire in Croatia and allows both sides to claim victory.

  • 1992: Bosnia and Herzegovina hold a referendum for independence and the large Serbian population boycotts the vote.

  • The day after the referendum a Serb civilian is killed by a Bosniak, the Serbs retaliate by setting roadblocks in the capital of Sarajevo and declare the Republic of Srpska.

  • Croats begin taking control of Croat majority areas and declare the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia.

  • The Bosnian Serbs begin the four-year-long siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege of a capital in modern warfare.

  • The bombing of the Sarajevo marketplace is used to justify NATO intervention, later it was leaked Western intelligence knew and David Owen admitted that the bomb had been planted by Bosniak civilians.

  • 27th of April 1992: the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is replaced by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia comprised of Serbia and Montenegro.

  • April of 1993: the town of Srebrenica is declared a U.N. safe zone for Bosniaks, however, it is not demilitarized and the Bosniaks continue attacking surrounding Serb villages.

Iconic picture from the siege of Sarajevo

  • Croatia stops military activity in Bosnia to avoid sanctions from America.

  • July 1995: Bosnian Serb forces take Srebrenica in response to attacks originating from the safe zone. 25,000-30,000 women, children, and elderly are bussed out prior and the Bosniak militias withdraw from the town. 8,000 Bosniak men are estimated to have been killed there.

  • August 1995: Croatia launches Operation Storm to retake the Serb held lands, 200,000 Serbs are forced to leave the country and many of their villages are burned to ensure they don’t return. This is the last offensive of the war in Croatia.

  • November 14th, 1995: the Dayton Agreement is signed ending the war in Bosnia, and dividing the country into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska

  • 1999: the Rambouillet Agreement is proposed, which included a clause that called for 30,000 NATO troops in Kosovo, their freedom of passage through Yugoslavia, and their immunity from Yugoslav law.

  • Milosevic rejects this agreement and NATO uses that as justification to begin bombing Yugoslavia, despite not having U.N. approval

  • NATO bombs Yugoslavia, Kosovo is heavily bombed using weapons containing depleted uranium, despite NATO claiming the operation is to help Kosovo Albanians.

  • May 7th, 1999: NATO bombs the People's Republic of China embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese journalists.

  • June 9th, 1999: the Kumanovo agreement is signed and NATO ends its bombing campaign.

May 2006: Montenegro becomes independent.

Venitian fortifications in Kotor, Montenegro


  • 2004: pogroms against Serbs in Kosovo, mass exodus, and destruction of churches, monasteries, and other historical sights.

  • Yugoslavia's debt was around $18 billion in 1980, today the former republics have a debt of over $180 billion.

  • Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008 but is still not recognized by the international community. Current Kosovo Presiden and former KLA leader Hashim Thaçi has been accused of being involved in the organ trade. Croatia and Slovenia are members of the EU and all the Balkan states are attempting to join.

  • The Serbian agricultural industry has been destroyed due to the EU subsidizing European food to make it cheaper than its Serbian competition.

  • Around 20% of Croatia’s GDP comes from tourism, all the best hotels are currently owned by foreigners.

  • Montenegro joins NATO 18 years after being bombed by the alliance.

  • Kosovo remains a hotspot for drug trafficking into Europe and organ harvesting.

  • Italy controls a significant portion of Croatian and Slovenian fishing waters, catching ten times the amount of fish Croatia catches and 100 times more than Slovenia.

  • A football match between Serbia and Albania in 2016 has to be canceled after a drone flies over the stadium showing a map of “Greater Albania” that includes parts of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia

  • Milo Đukanovic has been president or prime minister of Montenegro almost continuously for 20 years.

  • Aleksandar Vucic, the current president of Serbia, has ten times more airtime on national broadcasting that all other candidates combined. He is praised by Angela Merkel and English politicians for bringing stability to the Balkans.


The Weight of Chains

The Breakup of Yugoslavia The U.S. War on Yugoslavia - Michael Parenti

U.S. Policy Toward Yugoslavia

H.R.5114 - Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1991

Rambouillet talks 'designed to fail'

Adriatic zone creates headache for fishermen and EU

Yugoslavia: Peace, War, and Dissolution - Noam Chomsky

Written by AfterThought Writer Jovan Maksimovic. Contact him at

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