Serbia History: From The First World War to The 21st Century
Having found itself in a particularly delicate situation for the entire European equilibrium, Serbia was unable to avoid playing, right up to the last consequences, that part of the co-star of international politics that it had itself desired for so long: the attack in Sarajevo. against the Archduke Francesco Ferdinand of Austria (June 28, 1914) the Austrian ultimatum followed on July 23 to Serbia itself and with it the beginning of the First World War, which saw the strenuous resistance of the country’s forces, held in the Austro grip -Bulgarian-German. Occupied in autumn 1915, Serbia nevertheless gave life, after the victory of the Entente, with Slovenia and Croatia to the Yugoslav state. During the Second World War the region was subjected to occupation by the Nazis, fought and expelled by the liberation movement led by the Serbian nationalists and the communists of Tito, who despite the common enemy also fought each other in a bloody war which involved the whole Balkan region. In 1945 Serbia became part of Tito’s Socialist Yugoslav Republic, together with Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina. The two Serbian provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo had autonomous administration. The ethnic conflicts, which subsided until Tito’s death in 1980, gradually acquired strength especially from 1987, the year in which S. Milošević took control of the Serbian section of the League of Yugoslav Communists, relaunching nationalism with the request for a return to direct control over Kosovo by the Serbian Republic. As in all of Yugoslavia, in the climate of discontent aroused by the continuous deterioration of the economy, deep-rooted nationalistic sentiments had resumed in Serbia, in the name of which the Serbian leadership had opposed any modification of the federal institutional framework made by other republics (especially Slovenia and Croatia) in transition to a liberal political system. The initial manifestation of these sentiments was the limitation of the autonomy of Kosovo (with the 1989 Constitution which replaced the previous one of 1974), definitively abolished together with that of Vojvodina, in September 1990.
According to Usprivateschoolsfinder, the idea of the “Serbian rebirth” found the main supporter in Milošević who, in the project of a new redefinition of the balance between nationalities in favor of Serbia, it enjoyed the support of the armed forces and a large part of public opinion. The situation worsened in 1991, when, after withdrawing large funds from the Yugoslav Central Bank without authorization from the federal bodies, Serbia blocked the passage to the federal presidency of the Croatian Stipe Mesić. Following the declaration of independence of Slovenia and Croatia, the federal army, hegemonized by Serbia, then intervened in the two neighboring republics, while the Serb component residing in Croatia rebelled against the new authorities, starting a real civil war destined to create hundreds of thousands of refugees. In the’ Yugoslav Federation, the writer Dobrica Ćosić was appointed as president on June 15, 1992. Due to the responsibilities it had in extending the conflict to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, after certain sanctions, in June 1992 was subjected to the embargo decreed by the UN (which refused to recognize the new Federation of Serbia and Montenegro as the heir of the dissolved Yugoslavia), while inside it saw the strength of the opposition to the work of President Milošević grow. However, he was reconfirmed in his mandate by the elections of December 1992 and managed to impose a line of intransigent nationalism on the moderate wing, which had in the federal president Ćosić, dismissed in 1993, its highest institutional exponent. In 1994, after years of open support, the Serbian-Montenegrin Federation (at least officially) interrupted relations with the “self-proclaimed” Serbian republic of Bosnia, hostile to the peace plan drawn up by international diplomacy.
In December 1995, following the signing of the Dayton and Paris Peace Agreements, with which Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks agreed to put an end to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro were lifted, while the question of Belgrade’s surrender of war criminals remained open. Internally, Milošević, President of the Serbian Republic, accentuated the authoritarian traits of his regime by carrying out purges within the Serbian Socialist Party and promoting the nationalization of the main journalistic and radio and television media. Inevitable were the clashes that broke out in Belgrade in November 1996 following the regime’s decision to cancel the results of the administrative elections in the capital and other Serbian cities. Following a certification of the victory of the opposition by the OSCE and an international isolation of Serbia, Milošević decided to retrace his steps. Meanwhile, in January 1997, inter-ethnic tensions between Serbia and the southern province of Kosovo resumed. Although Serbia tried to maintain good diplomatic relations with the surrounding regions, accepting for example that Croatia, in early 1998, would regain control of the province of Vukorar in Slavonia eastern, Kosovo had not yet restored the Albanian school system, according to the 1996 agreement, thus causing a growing threat of conflict in this province, which it sought to quell with the intervention of the army. Between February and March 1998, with a spurious military intervention against the KLA terrorist group, the Albanian Liberation Army, Serbia launched the first attacks against ethnic Albanian villages, massacring old women in the mountains of Dremiza. and children. The Contact Group, set up for peace in the Balkans by Great Britain, France, Germany, USA, Russia and Italy, then warned Serbia against continuing the repressions, with the blocking of the loans granted and the freezing of its assets abroad. and promoted a series of meetings between Milošević, and the leader of the Kosovo Albanians, I. Rugova, to reach a peace agreement.