1992 Bosnia and Herzegovina declares independence
the struggle between the ethnic groups continued, and from
April was concentrated in the Republic of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, which on 6 April had been recognized as
an independent state by the EU. The date had a historically
traumatic content for the Serbs, for it was the same date
that Germany had attacked Yugoslavia in 1941.
In order to limit its responsibility for the Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina assaults, Belgrade announced in early May
that it was relinquishing control over troops of the former
federal army fighting in the new independent states.
However, it was clear that the statement had no real
content. The European Union therefore imposed a trade
blockade on Yugoslavia on May 28 to pressure the country to
stop the fighting.
In addition to the foreign opposition to the government
of Belgrade, there was also a domestic one. On May 24,
Serbia's Democratic Movement - Depos - was formed. Its
passwords were: The drafting of a democratic constitution,
the dissolution of the independent party militias, impunity
for military deniers, and a postponement of the elections
scheduled for the end of the month. At the same time, the
Orthodox Church urged the Serbian government to resign when
unable to devise a policy of reconciliation. The movement
"Women in Black" had been working for peace and support for
the Yugoslav military deniers for several years already.
But elections were held on May 31 and they strengthened
Slobodan Milosovic's position even more. His Socialist Party
got 70.6% of the vote in Serbia, while the Democratic
Socialist Party in Montenegro got 76.6%. The democratic
opposition as well as the Albanian and Muslim minority in
the Sandchak region boycotted the election. Therefore, the
turnout was only 56%.
Writer Dóbrica Cosic was elected federal president on
June 15 and businessman Milan Panic was appointed prime
minister on July 14. The Serbian leadership thus expressed
greater willingness to negotiate, and, unlike Milosovic,
welcomed the Panic peace draft drawn up in London 26-27.
August. However, it did not hinder the intensification of
Serbian aggression in Bosnia.
At the presidential elections in Serbia on December 20,
Panic was beaten by Milosovic. On February 9, 93, he was
replaced at the Prime Minister's post by Radoje Kontic, who
initiated a cleansing within the public institutions in
Serbia. Over 1,000 employees at radio and television,
intellectuals and teachers lost their jobs. Finally, on June
25, Federal President Cosic was replaced by one of
Milosovic's close partners, Zoran Lilic.
The Serbian government's reluctance was also expressed in
Kosova, where any sign of independence was wiped out in the
context of a political and cultural extermination. Serbia
refused to recognize the provincial parliament and
government that had been operating since May 24, 1992. In
1993, Serbian police violently dissolved a meeting in memory
of dead Albanians, arrested the party leaders and closed the
Academy of Sciences in Kosova.
In parallel with Milosovics and the ruling socialist
party's increasingly authoritarian features, international
pressure increased and the economic and social crisis in the
country worsened. Thus, in 1993, 80% of the federal budget
went to the military and 20% of the country's GDP went to
support Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia. In the first 9 months
of the year, industrial production fell 39% and GDP fell by
60%. The consequences were dramatic. At the end of 93,
unemployment exceeded 50%. The government financed 80% of
public spending (equivalent to 70% of total GDP) by allowing
the banknote press to run freely. That caused inflation to
explode - from 100% in January to 20,190% in November. The
minimum wage fell to US $ 1˝ a month - just enough to feed a
family of 4 for three days.
In the fall, the government introduced rationing of the
basic commodities such as sugar, flour and oil, and in
December the first interruptions in the power supply were
implemented. At the beginning of 1996, the income of 78% of
families in the federation was below US $ 235 monthly.
From 1994 the Serbian Socialist Party under Milosovic's
leadership strengthened its position. By the December 93
parliamentary elections, it had received 123 out of the 250
seats of the People's Assembly. It had also concluded
agreements with eight MPs from the opposition and thus
secured a majority. Milosovic threw his worst political
rivals into prison and tried to distance himself from the
worst acts of war. He even went so far as to selectively
cooperate with the UN Criminal Court in The Hague. His main
goal was that the UN repeal the sanctions against Serbia,
which had been in effect since May 1992. On September 24,
94, the UN decided a partial repeal for a period of 100
days. International flights were allowed and so did cultural
and sporting exchanges.
In 1995, the Yugoslav president continued to play an
important role in Bosnia's peace efforts. Yugoslavia to some
extent distanced itself from Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan
Karadzic and Ratko Mladic - especially because of
disagreements over the military strategy. The bloody
conquest of Srebrenica and Zepa in July - carried out by the
Bosnian Serbs - helped to marginalize the opposition.
Belgrade had continued its supplies of weapons and
personnel to the "Republic of Serbia Krajina" in Croatia
until the middle of 95, but nevertheless failed to intervene
militarily when Croatia invaded the Krajina area in August.
Some Serbian refugees were allowed to come to Yugoslavia,
where they were resettled in Kosova, or in areas of
Vojvodina from which Hungarians and Croats had been