Yugoslavia. Civil war 1991-1995 and 1998-1999
Country: Former Yugoslavia and Kosovo
Period: 1991-1995; 1998-1999
Type of conflict: Secession and civil war
Conflict: Nationalism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia lead to the first European war since World War II
Parties involved: armies and rebels from former Yugoslavia, foreign mercenaries, NATO
Estimated number of victims: 140,000 deaths in total. 14,000 people missing
Yugoslavia is a country made up of various nationalities and republics. Things go wrong when the Serbian nationalist Slobodan Milosevic comes into power in 1989. In response, nationalists win elections in all the constituent republics. Slovenia and Croatia declare independence in 1991, but the Serbians living in those countries feel threatened and take up arms. The same thing happens a year later in the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has Croatian, Serbian and Moslem minorities. Intense fighting breaks out between the ethnic groups in Croatia and Bosnia. The United Nations send troops to keep the peace. Dutch soldiers are also deployed, but they cannot prevent Serbians from capturing the city of Srebrenica in Bosnia in 1995. The Serbians then kill 8,000 Muslim inhabitants. Slovenia and Croatia are now members of the European Union, while Serbia is negotiating its entry into the union.
In 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army rises up in support of the Albanian majority and against its oppression by a small group of Serbians. Milosevic, leader in Serbia and Montenegro only at the time, invades Kosovo with force, ‘to protect the ethnic Serbians’. The international community makes peace proposals, but Milosevic refuses to agree. In response, NATO (the military alliance of American and European forces) bombs targets in Serbia and Kosovo for 78 hours. In the end, Serbia retreats from Kosovo. In 2001 Milosevic is arrested and brought to trial by the International Court of Justice. The United Nations monitors the situation in Kosovo and protects the population from starting a new conflict. In 2008, the Albanians in Kosovo declare their country independent. Even so, fighting regularly erupts.