Post Cold-War Europe, Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia was a contentious area long before the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent Yugoslavian revolt.  From Turkish defeat of the Yugoslavian area in 1389 and its five hundred year domination thereof to the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914 that set off WWI by a Serbian nationalist, the area has long been contentious with violent undertones.[1]  In addition to the pressing problems already inherent in Yugoslavian politics, the rest of Europe and the United States were slow to react to both political and ethnic problems in the region, further destabilizing and already unstable area in the Balkans and making a potentially problematic area even worse.[2]

With the disarray of the politics in the Yugoslav Communist party already in disrepair, the secession of Slovenia further chipped the resistance to centralized control, and Slovenia was recognized as the first independent state from region in 1991.[3]  The next state to bid for independence was Croatia, which saw itself as more in line with Central Europe than their view that Serbia was more in line with Old Russian politics and ideals.[4]  Growing nationalism and racist ideology by Croatia’s leaders further widened the gap between Croatia and Serbia and fostered opposing nationalistic sentiments in Serbia as well.[5]  The resulting wars in the Balkans harbored many human tragedies including ethnic cleansing and human rights violations of both sides throughout the region.[6]  Apart from the unspeakable human tragedies that plagued the area in the Balkan wars, the destruction of beautiful and historical monuments was another blow for the Balkans throughout the wars, with countless buildings that had withstood centuries of strife destroyed within moments through bombardment.[7]  Ultimately a truce was brokered between Serbia and Croatia, which finalized Croatian independence and required peacekeeping troops to be deployed to ensure the settlement’s survival.[8]

Peace was not to survive in the region, however, with more human atrocities carried out in the name of ethnic cleansing against the non-Serbian residents of a newly declared independent Bosnian-Serb state, the Republika Srpska.[9] The beleaguered city of Sarajevo held out, however despite no help arriving from either the US or Western Europe, who declared that the Balkans was ripe with ethnic strife and that the conflict would blow over once both sides decided to stop killing each other.[10]  The West, however, ultimately had to intervene to stop the population of Sarajevo from starving to death and the potential of further ethnic cleansing in other cities throughout the region but its intervention did not manage to stop the worst war crime since WWII which occurred in Srebrenica despite the presence of Dutch peacekeepers.[11]

Ultimately the United States had to step in with military force to stop the conflict in the area resulting in the Dayton Accord.[12]  Unfortunately the Accord was not to last, and almost immediately the violence began again.  The Region remains contentious, with ethnic and religious minorities still facing sporadic persecution, and the Balkan region still does not know lasting, genuine peace.

[1] Felix Gilbert & David Clay Large, The End of the European Era 6TH edition (New York: W.W. Norton & Company , 2009) 578-589.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

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