February 10, 2011
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was created by Josip Broz, who was more widely known under his nom-de-guerre of Tito. Tito had a Croatian father and his mother was Slovene, he actively recruited Serbs as administrators in his government and spent much time in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. He died in Slovenia.
As leader of Yugoslavia he suppressed nationalist sentiment and ‘fostered’ unity. Peace, harmony and stability existed for many years, despite sporadic outbreaks, such as the Croatian Spring, when the Balkan penchant for diversity, and self-determination, bubbled through to the surface.
The nation prospered and in the years before Tito’s death GDP burgeoned, an NHS was in operation, literacy was wide-spread, almost 90%, and life expectancy was 72 years. All this was to change in a relatively short period.
With Tito’s demise in 1980 economic viability decreased drastically. The federal system could not cope with the national tensions of eight separate entities. The stresses and strains of historical diversity proved too much. The ensuing vacuum was ripe for the emergence of a successor to Tito.
Croatia and Slovenia, more successful than the other members of the federation, felt frustrated by having to support the less advantaged entities and relished the thought of independence. Serbia, conversely, believed that continuing union, with strong leadership provided by Slobodan Milosevic, was the answer.
Croatia and Slovenia declared independence. and thus provided the fuse for the Ten Day War in which the JNA, the Yugoslavian Army, technically better equipped and more stronger, received a hand bagging from the much smaller Slovene reservist units. The make up of the JNA 5th Military Command, tasked with bringing Slovenia to heel, with mainly Serbian and Montenegrin officers, was about a third Albanian, a fifth Croat, a fifth Serbian, a tenth Bosnian and a tenth Slovene other ranks. One can see that many of the foot soldiers would not be too enthusiastic in enforcing the Central Government’s policy. A ceasefire was initiated and shortly afterwards Slovenia’s demands for independence were recognised. Unfortunately, this military debacle was to prompt one of the most brutal conflicts seen in Europe for many years, with carnage, rape and bestiality becoming the norm during the coming years.