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The yugoslavian conflict

The Yugoslavian Conflict

Yugoslavia is a country burdened by feuding sides in a war that cannot

soon be resolved. The United Nations are attempting to help the situation,

but until the people of Yugoslavia can come to an agreement continued warfare

and heartache is inevitable.

The problems in Yugoslavia began because the country is separated into

two distinct parts. The north and west parts of the country were once under

the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the south and the east were

controlled by the Ottoman Empire. This had extreme effects on the ethnic,

cultural and economic differences between the two sides. The three major

religions in Yugoslavia were Greek Orthodox, Christianity, Roman Catholicism,

and Islam. The population in the north and west parts of the country were

mostly Catholic and the further south and east you went the population

became more Orthodox.

Though these are all important factors contributing to the current

problems in Yugoslavia, perhaps the most relevant issue is the issue of

language. It wouldn't really be proper to say that Serbian, Croatian,

Slovenian, and Macedonian are the four major languages because some of the

languages are so similar they could be considered the same one. For example

Serbian and Croatian are so similar that government policy was to promote

through the educational system the idea of a single Serbo-Croatian language.

However both the Serbians and the Croatians challenged this idea and went

through great pains to identify vocabulary that would highlight the

differences rather than the similarities.

War finally broke out in Yugoslavia on June 25 1991, when Slovenia and

Croatia proclaimed their independence and sovereignty, suspending the

constitution of Yugoslavia and federal legislation on their territories.

The first thing that Slovenian state did was to take over control of their

borders, removing Yugoslavian border posts and replaced them with Slovenia

Republic posts. Federal authorities responded to this challenge by

proclaiming the Slovenian acts illegal and charging that in the Republic of

Slovenia some federal functions, notably customs services and air traffic

control, had been forcibly taken over. The taking over of the borders by

Slovenian militia was deemed sufficient grounds to call out the Yugoslavian

National Army. This order was given from the ministry of defense, who had

no authority to do so. Yugoslavia was without a president at the time and

control of the country was given to the supreme commander of the armed

forces. The whole affair was organized as military support to the federal

police and customs personnel. The Slovenians offered strong resistance with

their territorial defense units, politically organized the withdrawal of

their representatives from the presidency and the Executive Council of

Yugoslavia, and directed a massive propaganda campaign presenting themselves

as victims of brutal Yugoslavian National Army aggression.

Croatia also attempted to claim independence, but they had a problem

that the Slovenians didn't have to deal with. They had a large population

of Serbians in Croatia and with the new laws that the Croatian government

tried to impose the minority Serbians were given no rights as a minority and

were forced to go by the new found Croatian law. This caused conflicts

inside Croatia between the Serbian rebels and the Croatian National Guard

who tried to keep order. Many of these conflicts left many people dead and

wounded. The Yugoslavian National Army (JNA) openly sided with the Serbian

rebels, the Croatians used this opportunity to start an all out anti-JNA

campaign. The JNA responded by saying that it took orders from the

Presidency of Yugoslavia, not from Tudjman, the Croatian leader, and that it

was constitutionally obliged to protect the integrity of the country and to

preserve peace when it was endangered. Tudjman put all army units in

Croatia on highest alert and ordered to shoot back if shot at. The fighting

began in August 1991. After four and a half months of fighting the United

Nations negotiated a precarious cease-fire, after fourteen previous failing

attempts. Although Croatia was arming itself with illegal weapons such as

tanks and other heavy artillery, Tudjman knew that they wouldn't stand a

chance on the battlefield with the combined forces of the JNA, Serb

territorial defense units in Croatia, the local militia, and the irregular

volunteers coming from Serbia. Therefore the strategic aim was a political

and diplomatic victory rather than a military one. Croatia felt they still

had a chance to win even though the JNA was in Croatia. They had media

support from Germany if the JNA was drawn deeper into the conflict. Croatia

decided to provoke the JNA by blockading barracks and cutting off communal

supplies to them. It was a gamble, they were hoping to draw the JNA into

offensive action and gain political, material, and military support from the

outside. This plan worked and Croatia did win its independence.

The last and perhaps most famous war in Yugoslavia that needs to be

discussed is the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war in Bosnia and

Herzegovina like all the conflicts in Yugoslavia was a result of aggressive

and uncompromising political abuse of national feelings. "The main strategy

of the parliamentary formations of each of the three groups was mass

expulsion, popularly known as 'ethnic cleansing,' of the other two groups."

(Crnobrnja pg.179)

In October 1991 a meeting was held with the three leaders of the

warring states of Yugoslavia and Cyrus Vance of the United Nations. An

agreement was reached on an immediate cease-fire. Each of the Yugoslav

parties expressed a wish to see the speedy deployment of a UN peace-keeping

operation. Progress was made on some other issues, but the main one

regarding the cease fire broke down almost immediately. It was decided in

mid December 1991 that the UN would become involved in the Yugoslavia

situation and station UN troops on the Yugoslavia ground. On January 2 1992

Vance held a meeting between the military leaders of Croatia and the JNA at

which a new cease fire agreement was signed. This one did achieve a drastic

reduction in fighting. It also allowed the UN to send a group of military

liaison officers who had the task of providing food offices to secure the

cease fire and of preparing the ground for further implementation of the

Vance Plan. The UN decided to put the headquarters for the United Nations

Protection Force (UNPROFOR) operation in Sarajevo. It was hoped that the

presence of the blue helmets and white UN vehicles would act to calm the

situation. It didn't, and only a few months after the installation of its

headquarters, it was forced to withdraw. "As time passed and the

humanitarian problems to be addressed increased, so did the hardships and

temptations of the UN troops performing their mission on the ground within a

strictly limited mandate, poorly defined political objectives, and no muscle

to defend them and the poorly defined political objectives. In such a

situation it was inevitable that the troops would be subjected to some

humiliation and the authority of the UN would be undermined."

(Crnobrnja pg.212) The UN troops were treated as the enemy, they were

accused of taking sides and had their vehicles stolen. They have been shot

at, wounded, and even killed. On a few occasions the warring sides have

masqueraded as UN troops, driving around in their vehicles with UN flags and

opening fire on their opponents in order to draw fire against UN troops.

The situation in Yugoslavia is a grave one, and the United Nations is

doing all it can to attain peace. They are supplying medical help and

arranging mediations between leaders, but until the people of Yugoslavia

want peace there is nothing the UN can do.

Source: Essay UK -

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