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View series: Europe and nations since 1945

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Wars in ex-Yugoslavia

This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations since 1945.

In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia decided to declare their independence, thus provoking the collapse of Yugoslavia and leading to a series of short wars marked by numerous massacres of civilians and by ethnic cleansing.

In a first, brief, conflict during June and July of that year, the Slovenian army fought against the Serb-dominated Yugoslavian Federal Army. This was followed by a war between the Croatian army and the Serb minority living in Croatia and supported by the Federal Army (August 1991 to January 1992). Zagreb lost the region of Krajina, which set itself up as a Serb Republic, and Eastern Slavonia, following the fall of the martyred town of Vukovar after a three month siege.

Early in 1992, the international community recognized the independence of Slovenia and Croatia and, soon after, that of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A third war broke out after the declaration of independence by Bosnia-Herzegovina where Muslims, Serbs and Croats lived side by side. This conflict pitted the Bosnian Serbs, supported by Belgrade, against an alliance of Croats and Muslims. In 1993, the alliance fell apart and the three communities began to fight against each other, resulting in high casualties and a long siege of the capital Sarajevo.  Despite intervention by UN and NATO peace-keeping forces, it proved impossible to prevent depredation and massacres, in particular at Srebrenica.

This war finally ended with the signing of the Dayton Agreement in November 1995, which confirmed the borders and the unity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This country became a federation of two distinct autonomous areas: a Croat-Muslim federation and a Serb republic of Bosnia with Sarajevo as capital for both entities. The Dayton Agreement also included plans for the restitution of Eastern Slavonia to Croatia, following the expulsion of the Krajina Serbs by the Croat army a few months earlier.  

As a result of the Agreement, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was reduced to Serbia and Montenegro and, as such, was recognized by the international community.