As an outcome of World War I, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes is formed. Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina had been part of the fallen Austro-Hungarian empire; Serbia and Montenegro existed as an independent state (Macedonia was then part of Serbia). [1]


The monarchy's name is changed to Yugoslavia [1]


The Axis invasion causes panic in Yugoslavia, as foreign occupiers partition the country and terrorize its people. Bloody encounters involve both invading and domestic forces throughout the four years of war. The Communist-led Partisans rise from near oblivion to dominate the country's resistance movement. They emerge from the war in firm control of the entire country. [11]


After World War II, the monarchy becomes a communist republic under Prime Minister Tito, now called the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. It was composed of six republics: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Montenegro, as well as two provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina. [1]


Intially Tito tries to maintain independence from both the West and the Soviets, but this leaves Yugoslavia too isolated and in 1949, fearing Soviet aggression, Tito starts to receive Western aid. [11]


The US starts to ship weapons to Yugoslavia. [11]


Tito introduces "Socialist Self-Management". State ownership is reduced and replaced with social ownership, with workers controlling enterprises. Government appointed directors retain veto powers over workers' council decisions. Foreign trade remains under central control. Both agriculture and industry grow and between 1957 and 1960 Yugoslavia has the second highest economic growth in the world. [11]

Tito tries to maintain a measure of independence from both East and West. To this end he forges links with similar minded nations including Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser and India under Jawaharlal Nehru. [11]


Rising inflation and a foreign trade deficit lead to political reforms and opening up to foreign investment. Tensions rise between the more developed Northern republics who must support the poorer, less industrialised Southern regions. [11]


Yugoslavia becomes a federation of republics and provinces. The federal government retains control only over common areas such as defence, foreign affairs, foreign trade and civil rights. [11]


Unrest in the republics increases, particularly in Croatia where there are calls for independence. Tito intervenes by replacing the leadership in several regions and clamping down on dissidents. [11]


Tito's tight rein on Yugoslavia keeps ethnic tensions in check until his death in 1980. Without his pan-Slavic influence, ethnic and nationalist differences begin to flare. [1]


At the time of Tito's death the country was already suffering high inflation and high foreign debt. In the 1980's the leadership, encouraged by US policy, tries to address this by moving towards a more Western "free" market. IMF loans are tied to conditions which further erode industry and the welfare state, increase foreign debt and lower standards of living. [12] [32]

The economic measures lead to thousands of strikes from 1987. The bureaucracy collapses, nationalist leaders rise to power in the republics and the republics start to work against each other. Ethnic divisions are thus greatly exacerbated. [13]

In a fragmenting Yugoslavia people groups fear being left with minority status in any succeeding state. "War in Bosnia and Croatia was not the inevitable product of centuries of ethnic hatreds. It was created from ambition, fear, and incompetence - local and international." [29]


With the end of the Cold War Germany looks to expand trade in Eastern Europe. Many suspect Germany would like to see Yugoslavia break up to aid this expansion. [32]

Milosevic abolishes Kosovo's autonomous status. He fires a hundred thousand ethnic Albanian workers and bans the use of their language in schools. Dozens more die protesting these proscriptions. [33]

By this time emigration of Albanians to Kosovo, which was encouraged by Tito, and a higher birthrate in Muslim families, has led to the population of Kosovo being 85% ethnic Albanian and 15% Roma and ethnic Serbs. [33]


Milosevic, the president of Serbia, at a time when nationalist/separatist tendencies are flaring up in the republics, fans the flames by calling only for a united Serbia. [33]

Faced with a plummeting economy Milosevic halts the IMF and U.S.-mandated reforms. He brings "structural adjustment" to a standstill. One month later, in early November, the U.S. Congress passes Foreign Operations Appropriations Law 101-513. Annual "foreign operations" appropriations facilitate U.S. corporate control of many of the world's economies by granting -- or withholding -- major funding to international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian, African and Inter-American Development Banks. Section 599a of this Act cuts off all aid, credit, and loans to Yugoslavia and demands immediate, separate elections in each of the country's six republics. The U.S. State Department would alone determine the validity of each election and resume aid to individual regions if the victors were deemed "democratic." [33]


February - The EC tacitly encourages the secession of Slovenia and Croatia by urging for multi-party elections before Yugoslavia could join Europe. [32]

March - Serbs in Croatia proclaim an autonomous Krajina, which is recognized by Milosevic. In clashes over control of local police stations, the first people are killed in that area. [27]

The Serbs have been suffering under the Croatian leadership's increasingly discriminatory policies and nazi leanings. [34]

June - Slovenia and Croatia each declare independence. With 90% of its population ethnic Slovenians, Slovenia is able to break away with only a brief period of fighting. Because 12% of Croatia's population is Serbian, however, rump Yugoslavia fights hard against its secession for the next four years. As Croatia moves towards independence, it evicts most of its Serbian population. [1]

The manner in which Slovenia and Croatia move to independence is in breach of the Yugoslavian constitution, but is recognised by Germany and then the rest of the EEC. This recognition is a violation of international treaties such as the Helsinki Final Act, the Montevideo Convention and the United Nations Charter. [14]

In their campaigns to take control of Serb dominated areas of Croatia, Serbian forces use terror to drive away local populations ("ethnic cleansing"), they also rely on heavy weapons to attack urban areas, because of a shortage of infantry. [27]

September - UN emposes an arms embargo on all parts of what had been Yugoslavia. [20]


January - A UN arranged ceasefire between the Croatia and the Yugoslavian forces begins. Thousands have died and destruction is widespread. A peacekeeping force of 14 000 is installed. [15]

Macedonia declares independence. [1]

March - Muslim, Serb and Croatian leaders in Bosnia sign an agreement for its division. After meeting USA's ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, the Muslim leader pulls out of the deal. Two days later Bosnia holds a referendum on independence, which is boycotted by the Serb population. [16] [17]

April - Bosnia and Herzegovina declares independence. The most ethnically diverse of the Yugoslav republics, Bosnia is 43% Muslim, 31% Serbian, and 17% Croatian (according to the 1991 Yugoslavian census). [1]

Both the Croatian and Serbian presidents had planned to partition Bosnia between themselves. Attempting to take control of the areas where they are in a majority, the ethnic Serbs, with the help of the Serbian Yugoslav army, takes the offensive and lays siege, particularly on Sarajevo. Muslims in these regions are driven out or flee. Croats also begin carving out their own communities. By the end of Aug. 1992, rebel Bosnian Serbs had conquered over 60% of Bosnia. Taking control of regions in which they had previously been in a majority. [18] [29]

Many Muslims are driven from their villages into the larger cities. It is reported that "ethnic cleansing" becomes general, including the extensive use of rape and the creation of concentration camps to hold Muslim men, where many are said to be murdered. The persistence of these reports leads to escalating commitment by the UN, culminating in pledges to use force and the enlistment of NATO forces as an instrument. [27] But the Western media almost entirely ignores the abuses and provocation by the Muslim forces, giving a highly imbalanced portrayal of events. [28] [29]

Many of the reports of concentration camps and extensive rape prove to be false. [33]

The Serbian Milosevic regime supports much of Bosnian Serb policy, but does not control it. The Bosnian Serbs have a parliament of their own and new leaders like Premier Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. [27]

Serbia and Montenegro form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with Slobodan Milosevic as its leader. This new government, however, is not recognized by the United States as the successor state to the former Yugoslavia. [1]

May - The UN Security Council impose economic sanctions on the government of Serbia. [19] Two days later a UN report certifies that Belgrade was in full compliance with demands that all federal troops withdraw from Bosnia. The World Court had also just ruled that Yugoslavia was not the aggressor in the Bosnian conflict. [33]

MI6 draws up plans to assassinate Yugoslav president Milosevic, according to an MI6 official. These plans are apparently not carried out. [2] [3]

November - In a New York Times article "Operation Balkan Storm: Here's a Plan" retired U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael J. Dugan says "A win in the Balkans would establish U.S. leadership in the post-Cold War world in a way that Operation Desert Storm never could". Dugan is best remembered for an unusually candid interview before the Gulf War where he laid out very precise plans for the destruction of Iraq. He was relieved of his command for being too frank in describing the Pentagon's war plans at a time when the U.S. was claiming to the UN that it wanted to impose sanctions on Iraq to pursue a diplomatic solution. However, four months later the war unfolded almost exactly as Dugan had described. [35]


Despite the UN arms embargo the USA allows arms to be supplied to Bosnia and Croatia. [21] [22]


USA facilitates the shipping of arms purchased by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia, into Bosnia via Croatia. The Croatians take 20%-50% of the arms as a "transit tax". Afghan Mujahedin fighters are also flow in. [21] [22]

The Bosnian and Croatian armies receive training from US firm Military Professional Resources Inc, a collection of former Pentagon top brass. [33]

The Croats themselves also obtain massive quantities of illegal weapons from Germany, Belgium and Argentina - again in contravention of the UN arms embargo. The German secret services are fully aware of the trade. [22]

Serbs, who make up less than 40% of the population of Bosnia, control some 70% of its area. Land in which, as a rural people, they had formerly been the majority population. [29] Karadzic is able to persuade the Bosnian Serb Parliament to accept several partition plans that gave Serbs between 50 and 52 percent of the country. Pressure from rump Yugoslavia plays a role: Milosevic wants to end the crisis, to end sanctions and curb an annual inflation rate which soon reaches 2 million percent. [27]

The Bosnian Muslim government, on the other hand, resists a settlement while it pursues international favour in the media, with some success, as Western reporters uniformly condemn Serbian excesses. [27] In fact the Western media is heavily biased against the Serbians and reports many events inaccurately to the extent that they influence the international reaction to the war. [28] [29]

April - The UN declares Srebrenica a "safe haven". [26]

May - The UN extends the "safe haven" to include five other Bosnian towns: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zepa, Gorazde and Bihac. The Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic, dismisses the concept. He says the havens will become death traps, where refugees, thinking they were safe, would instead become easy targets for Bosnian Serb forces. [26]

June - The Serb part of Croatia (Krajina) overwhelmingly votes for integration with Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia proper. [15]


February - NATO aircraft shoot down four Bosnian Serb planes which had just bombed a plant producing heavy weapons for the Bosnian army. [21] [25]

Bosnian Serb forces are blamed for an attack on civilians in Sarajevo which kills more than 60 people. It is later revealed that the Bosnian forces may have attacked their own people in order to lure NATO into the war. [21]

February-November - NATO carries out various limited air strikes against Serb targets, in order to protect the safe havens of Gorazde and Sarajevo. [25]

In this campaign the Muslims have consistently tried to use the United Nations and NATO (with the attendant safe areas, no-fly zones, exclusion zones, and demilitarized zones) as a shield, allowing themselves to weaken their forces in one area - depending on the United Nations or the international community to protect it - while concentrating their forces elsewhere. In the winter of 1993-94 the Sarajevo government stripped the capital's defenses to release troops to fight against the Croats in central Bosnia, counting on their public diplomacy efforts to manage the risk to Sarajevo. It was a near-run thing, but in the end the city was protected by the threat of NATO air strikes and the imposition of a heavy-weapons exclusion zone. [29]

March - The Croatian government and representatives of the Serb occupied part of Croatia (Krajina) sign a cease-fire. [15]

November - The USA publicly declares it will no longer support the arms embargo against Bosnia. [23]


The USA sends military advisors to Bosnia and provides training for the Croatian forces. [21]

May - Croatia retakes western Slavonia. [15] In the process it inflicts ethnic cleansing on the Serbs there. [29]

Serbs resume attack on Sarajevo and take some UN troops hostage. [26]

June - Serbs begin to release UN hostages. [26]

July - Serbs overrun UN "safe haven" of Srebrenica, forcing the lightly armed Dutch peacekeeping troops to withdraw. Muslims are expelled from the city. [26] Hundreds and possibly thousands of men and boys are killed. The most often quoted figure is 7,000 to 8,000, but far less bodies have been recovered and very few identified, nor is it clear when these people were killed. [54] [55]

August - Croatia retakes Krajina, aided by American planes which knock out Serb rocket and radar installations. An AP dispatch filed during the offensive reports that Croat forces shelled and strafed columns of Serb refugees. Canadian General Alain Forand, who was assigned to UN "peacekeeping" duty in Krajina during Operation Storm, has testified, "There is no doubt in my mind that the Croats knew they were shelling civilian targets" in the city of Knin, which was where the Krajina Serb parliament was located. [21] [24]

Shells hit a market in Sarajevo killing 37 people. The UN concludes that Bosnian Serbs are responsible and launches air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets. It is later found that Bosnian forces may well have been responsible for the attack on the market. [21] [25]

The Bosnian government claimed the number of dead and missing to be about 250 000. Many have been skeptical of that figure, with some suggesting the real number could be as low as 25 000, although other estimates are more frequently in the 70 000 to 100 000 range. In April the government lowered its estimate to just over 145 000, about 3 percent of the prewar population. [29]

If anyone doubts the capacity of Bosnia's non-Serb population to inflict ethnic cruelty, let him or her visit the Croat enclaves around Kiseljak or Vitez. The scarred shells of Catholic churches and Muslim mosques as well as thousands of private homes give ample testimony to the barbarity of Muslim and Croat violence, and these Muslim and Croat troops likely did what they did for much the same reasons as their Serb neighbors: revenge for real and alleged sins of the past and the perceived demands of present security. There are times when the distinctions among the factions appear more a question of power and opportunity than morality. [29]

November - A peace settlement for war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina is brokered in the United States. Bosnia is to remain a single state, but most power will be devolved to two new territories - a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian-Serb republic. But splits begin to appear in the fragile treaty almost as soon as it had been initialled by the leaders. 60 000 NATO led troops are to keep the peace. [18] [30] Many say the agreement is unworkable and the UN commander in Sarajevo, General Jean-Rene Bachelet, has accused the US government of using the Dayton talks as part of its re-election campaign. [31]


In the southern Yugoslavian province of Kosovo, the militant Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) begins attacking Serbian policeman. [1]


November - The KLA kill Qamil Gashi, the Albanian chairperson of the Serbian Socialist Party municipal council in Kosovo. The SPS was working to solve Kosovo's problems peacefully. [33] [36]

The KLA grows rapidly as foreign mercenaries, money and arms start to pour in. Mercenaries from Germany and the US take over command. [36]


The new KLA begins serious military operations, not only killing isolated Albanian and Serbian individuals but attacking government buildings and police stations. [36]

The KLA is trained and supported by the CIA, the German BND, the SAS and US company MPRI. [36] [38] [39] [40]

March - With the US envoy Robert Gelbard still declaring the KLA "without any question a terrorist group", Milosevic send in Serbian Interior police to shut down the KLA. A 50 person massacre among the Jashari clan, a "roots" family of the KLA, ignites a general uprising in the countryside. Summer sees villages torched in Serb offensives, but KLA territory gradually increased. [33] [37]

June - Sali Berisha, former president of Albania, allows the KLA to use his estate in Albania as its headquaters. Sali Berisha came to power in Albania in 1992 with US support, allowed the US to put a military base in Albania and turned over control of the Albanian secret police to the CIA. [36] [53]

October - The U.S. arrange a ceasefire. Serb troops withdraw a prescribed distance; the zone was to remain demilitarized. But KLA forces advance and resupply these positions within hours. [33]

November - Clinton launches a plan for the overthrow of the government of Yugoslavia. [3]


January - The Yugoslav police invite members of the international press and the OSCE to observe their actions against a KLA stronghold in the town of Racak. After several hours of fighting and a number of casualties amongst the KLA and Yugoslav forces, the Yugoslavs prevail and seize many KLA weapons. The observers report no civilian deaths. The next day the KLA show journalists 20+ dead bodies, in civilian dress, near Racak. Even before investigations are carried out the EU and US say the Yugoslavs have massacred civilians at Racak. Investigations can find no evidence of a massacre and no one from Racak claims the bodies. The evidence indicates that the dead are the KLA's own, killed in the previous day's fighting. Nevertheless in May the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) indites Milosevic and four of his aides for the killings. [41]

March - The US puts forward the Rambouillet peace proposal. It requires the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from Kosovo and the return of Kosovo autonomy. To this Milosevic agrees. But it also calls for the NATO occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia, which he refuses to accept. A Senate foreign policy aide reveals that "a senior Administration official told media at Rambouillet, under embargo, 'We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing and that's what they're going to get' ". The press dutifully doesn't report this. NATO air strikes begin on the 24th of March and continue for 78 days. [33]

The NATO bombings, which require international observers to be withdrawn, precipitate a number of actions by the Serb forces. NATO governments and media are quick to claim thousands are killed in ethnic cleansing, but subsequent investigations reveal far fewer dead. There was apparently no ethnic cleansing and no mass rape. NATO's bombing may well have killed more civilians than the Serbs did and certainly led to more people fleeing as refugees. [2] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [33]

Milosevic repeatedly offers to resume talks, but is ignored by NATO. The governments of Greece and Italy, both NATO states, formally protest continued bombing. Amongst other illegalities the bombing targets non military facilities and uses cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons. Civilian targets hit include hospitals, refugee convoys and crowded bridges. At least 500 civilians are killed in NATO attacks and possibly several times more than that. [8] [33] [52]

April – a NATO missile strikes Milosevic's home. The Pentagon denies it is targeting him. [3]

June - A peace plan is signed, but bombing continues for three more days as Milosevic insists on UN participation in the administration of Kosovo, as promised in the peace deal, rather than just NATO adminstration. [33]

NATO (KFOR) occupies Kosovo with 50 000 personnel. The Yugoslav army withdraws ahead of schedule, but the KLA does not disarm. Many Serb civilians are attacked and killed and 200 000+ flee to Serbia. KFOR officers say they are ordered to disregard such crimes. The KLA is renamed the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) under UN auspices. [4] [8] [33]

Yugoslavia is now the poorest nation in Europe. Billions of dollars were available for the bombings and arms companies have made huge profits, but little is made available for aid. [8] [33]


US is apparently behind a number of assassination attempts on Milosevic. It also makes efforts to ensure he is not re-elected in 2000, funding opposition parties and encouraging unrest. [3]


As many predicted, NATO takes control of Kosovo's industries and starts handing contracts to foreign corporations. The richest prize is the Trepca mining complex, seized by NATO forces on the grounds of environmental concerns. [33] [42] [43]

The US supports opposition parties in Serbia to try and ensure Milosevic loses the election due in September. They and the British also support Montenegro's president Djukanovic, who has adopted a heavily pro Western stance. [3]

January - In the face of trade sanctions from the U.S. and other nations, the Serbian economy continues to deteriorate and dissent spreads. Montenegro discusses separating from Serbia. [1]

May - Goran Zugic, security advisor to secessionist Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, is murdered. The CIA is accused of complicity in the murder. [3]

The KLA/KPC still remain in Kosovo, led by Agim Ceku who is under investigation for war crimes committed in Croatia between 1993 and 1995. They continue attacks against non Albanians, unchecked by KFOR. MPRI are again training the KLA/KPC. [33]

September - Opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica wins elections held Sept. 24., after a campaign heavily funded and guided by the US. Milosevic refuses to release the complete results, demanding a runoff election. [1] [44]

October - A popular uprising begins. A general strike is called and one million people flood Belgrade. Mobs attack Parliament building, security forces join them or retreat. Milosevic support crumbles, he steps down. Kostunica takes office, with Djindjic as prime minister. U.S., European Union begin to lift economic sanctions, offer aid. [1] [44]


April - Milosevic is arrested by Yugoslavian authorities and charged with corruption and abuse of power. [1]

June - Milosevic is turned over to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The move is contrary to the Yugoslav constitution and taken against the will of parliament. [1] [45] [46]

September - The UN Security Council lifts its arms embargo against Yugoslavia, abolishing the last remaining sanction by the international community. [1]


February - Slobodan Milosevic begin his trial at the UN International Criminal Tribunal on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, as well as for committing genocide in Bosnia. He is the first head of state to face an international war-crimes court. [1] However the ICTY is arguably completely illegitimate. [50]


February - The nation agrees to form a new state, replacing Yugoslavia with a loose federation called Serbia and Montenegro. The new arrangement was made to placate Montenegro's restive stirrings for independence, and allows for a referendum on independence to occur in three years' time. [1]

12th March - The prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, a reformer who helped bring about the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, is assassinated. Extreme nationalists, organized crime, and Serbia's own police and security services were implicated. [1] [47]

28th December - Parliamentary elections saw a resurgence of ultra-nationalists. Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist party received 7% of the vote, and the Radical party, whose leader, like Milosevic, is an indicted war criminal jailed in the Hague, received 27% of the vote. [1]


February – It is increasingly obvious that the trial of Milosevic is a sham. [9]

17th March - Mitrovica, in Kosovo, experiences the worst ethnic violence in the regions since the 1999 war. At least 22 people are killed, another 500 are injured and almost a 1 000 Serbs are driven from their homes. NATO sends in an extra 1,000 troops to restore order. The violence began after Serbs claimed a Serb teenager was the victim of a drive-by shooting and ethnic Albanians blamed Serbs for the drowning of two Albanian children. Some say the violence was organised by ethnic Albanian militants. [1] [48]

April – Milosevic requests Clinton, Blair and others to be witnesses in his trial. [10]

May - Prominent journalist and critic of Montenegrin government, Dusko Jovanovic, shot dead. His paper, Dan, is seen as a mouthpiece for the republic's anti-independence opposition, and had made allegations of corruption in the Montenegrin leadership. [49]

June - Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic elected Serbian president, defeating nationalist Tomislav Nikolic in run-off. Mr Tadic pledges to steer Serbia towards the EU. [49]


January - Ethnic Albanians protest after Serbian border guards shoot and kill ethnic Albanian youth illegally crossing border with Macedonia. [49]

February - Montenegrin leaders write to Serbian counterparts suggesting early end to union with Serbia and establishment of two independent republics. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica rejects suggestion. [49]

June - Prime Minister Kostunica announces arrests of several Serbian paramilitaries who appear in video screened on TV and alleged to show them executing Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica in 1995. [49]

July - Eight former secret police officers jailed for up to 40 years for murder in 2000 of Serbia's former president Ivan Stambolic. [49]

The trial of Milosevic still fails to produce any evidence to support the main charges against him. [51]