Historical background


Federal Republic of Yugoslavia established after WWII

A Federal Republic was established under Tito's communist rule in 1945. Macedonians and Montenegrins were recognized as distinct nations. While Serbs still constituted the largest single national group, they were divided between republics with around 2 million living in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Serbian nationalism was kept in check, as was nationalism in other Republics, by the communist authorities.


As regional autonomy became a fact of life in the Yugoslav system, especially after the 1974 constitution came into force, Serbian leaders and intellectuals developed two grievances.

  • First, it appeared that Kosovo and Vojvodina were approaching de facto Republic status, thus threatening to "rob" Serbia of nearly 30% of its territory.
  • Second, the move toward greater autonomy for the existing Republics put the rights of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia at risk.