COMMUNIST YUGOLSAVIA AFTER THE WAR
After WWII, Yugoslavia became known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Tito, the President, modeled the government after the Soviet Union, though he shortly thereafter branched away from Stalin and fashioned his own form of socialism. Tito attempted to create a state with no dominant ethnic groups, and Croatia entered into a federation with 5 other republics: Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia/Hercegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia.
Tito’s communist dream continued, and in 1962 Tito founded the Non-Aligned Movement with India, Burma, Egypt, Ghana, and Indonesia in the hopes of finding finding non-aligned ground in the wake of the Cold War.
While Tito maintained peace, Croatia still saw a nationalist movement known as the “Croatian Spring,” further efforts for autonomy, and unrest over the distribution of power across the 6 republics of Yugoslavia. Tito firmly quelled the ‘Croatian Spring’ movement, but the stage was set for war after Tito’s death.
CROATIA AT WAR
After Tito’s death in 1980, the Yugoslav state was left with crippling debt, the lack of a strong successor, lost foreign credit sources, and residual mistrust amongst diverse ethnic groups. Initially, internal angst centered around Kosovo, where the Muslim Albanians and Serbs found themselves fearing hegemony. Similarly, Croats and Serbs found themselves at odds with Croatia longing for autonomy.
1987 saw the rise of Serb Slobodan Milošević, a politician hoping to install a communist government within Yugoslavia. However, Croatia and other Yugoslav republics leaned more toward democracy.
The Croatian elections of 1990 saw the election of Franjo Tudjam with the Croatian Democratic Union. While Tudjman immediately declared Croatian statehood as the first steps for independence, the new constitution also changed the status of Croatian Serbs from that of a “constituent nation” to that of a “national minority”—a classification that quickly raised Serbian outrage and initiated calls for Serbian autonomy.
Milošević, then Prime Minister, rallied Serbs to support the creation of a Greater Serbia and the ethnic cleansing of Croats living in eastern Croatia. Civil war erupted in 1991, with many Croatian cities suffering heavy damage and many Yugoslavian republics (largely Bosnia) drawn into the conflict.
In 1995, Operation Storm effectually brought an end to the fighting in Croatia and resulted in around 200,000 Croatian-Serbs deserting the country and leaving much of the occupied territories abandoned. The Dayton Agreement, signed in December 1995, ceased hostilities in Bosnia/Herzegovina, recognized Croatia’s traditional borders, and issued for the return of eastern Slavonia.
CROATIA AT PEACE
A sense of hostility and suspicion remained between the Croats and Serbs after the fighting ceased. Though the country found political stability, further associations and political integration between the two groups has been an ongoing process. The Croatian government has gradually begun fulfilling their promise to facilitate the return and resettlement of Serbian refugees, though many obstacles impede the process.
In December 11, Croatians elected the Social Democratic Party to lead their country, unseating the Social Democratic Party and truly initiating a new chapter for Croatia. Experience life in Croatia for yourself on our Croatia tour.