The Yugoslavian Conflict

Yugoslavia is a country burdened by feuding sides in a war that cannot
soon be resolved. The United Nations are attempting to help the situation, but
until the people of Yugoslavia can come to an agreement continued warfare and
heartache is inevitable.

The problems in Yugoslavia began because the country is separated into two
distinct parts. The north and west parts of the country were once under
the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the south and the east were
controlled by the Ottoman Empire. This had extreme effects on the ethnic,
cultural and economic differences between the two sides. The three major
religions in Yugoslavia were Greek Orthodox, Christianity, Roman Catholicism,
and Islam. The population in the north and west parts of the country were
mostly Catholic and the further south and east you went the population became
more Orthodox.

Though these are all important factors contributing to the current
problems in Yugoslavia, perhaps the most relevant issue is the issue of
language. It wouldn't really be proper to say that Serbian, Croatian,
Slovenian, and Macedonian are the four major languages because some of the
languages are so similar they could be considered the same one. For example
Serbian and Croatian are so similar that government policy was to promote
through the educational system the idea of a single Serbo-Croatian language.
However both the Serbians and the Croatians challenged this idea and went
through great pains to identify vocabulary that would highlight the differences
rather than the similarities.

War finally broke out in Yugoslavia on June 25 1991, when Slovenia and
Croatia proclaimed their independence and sovereignty, suspending the
constitution of Yugoslavia and federal legislation on their territories. The
first thing that Slovenian state did was to take over control of their borders,
removing Yugoslavian border posts and replaced them with Slovenia Republic
posts. Federal authorities responded to this challenge by proclaiming the
Slovenian acts illegal and charging that in the Republic of Slovenia some
federal functions, notably customs services and air traffic control, had been
forcibly taken over. The taking over of the borders by Slovenian militia was
deemed sufficient grounds to call out the Yugoslavian National Army. This
order was given from the ministry of defense, who had no authority to do so.
Yugoslavia was without a president at the time and control of the country was
given to the supreme commander of the armed forces. The whole affair was
organized as military support to the federal police and customs personnel. The
Slovenians offered strong resistance with their territorial defense units,
politically organized the withdrawal of their representatives from the
presidency and the Executive Council of Yugoslavia, and directed a massive
propaganda campaign presenting themselves as victims of brutal Yugoslavian
National Army aggression.

Croatia also attempted to claim independence, but they had a problem that
the Slovenians didn't have to deal with. They had a large population of
Serbians in Croatia and with the new laws that the Croatian government tried to
impose the minority Serbians were given no rights as a minority and were forced
to go by the new found Croatian law. This caused conflicts inside Croatia
between the Serbian rebels and the Croatian National Guard who tried to keep
order. Many of these conflicts left many people dead and wounded. The
Yugoslavian National Army (JNA) openly sided with the Serbian rebels, the
Croatians used this opportunity to start an all out anti-JNA campaign. The JNA
responded by saying that it took orders from the Presidency of Yugoslavia, not
from Tudjman, the Croatian leader, and that it was constitutionally obliged to
protect the integrity of the country and to preserve peace when it was
endangered. Tudjman put all army units in Croatia on highest alert and ordered
to shoot back if shot at. The fighting began in August 1991. After four and a
half months of fighting the United Nations negotiated a precarious cease-fire,
after fourteen previous failing attempts. Although Croatia was arming itself
with illegal weapons such as tanks and other heavy artillery, Tudjman knew that
they wouldn't stand a chance on the battlefield with the combined forces of the
JNA, Serb territorial defense units in Croatia, the local militia, and the
irregular volunteers coming from Serbia. Therefore the strategic aim was a
political and diplomatic victory rather than a military one. Croatia felt they
still had a chance to win even though the JNA was in Croatia. They had media
support from Germany if the JNA was drawn deeper into the conflict. Croatia
decided to provoke the JNA by blockading barracks and cutting off communal
supplies to them. It was a gamble, they were hoping to draw the JNA into
offensive action and gain political, material, and military support from the