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Croatia 1940's to 1997
To learn about the Balkans conflict, scroll down below.
To focus on an individual republic within the region, click on an icon above.


Croatian communist Andrija Hebran and other Croatian nationalists were purged by Yugoslav President Tito.

1969 to 1971
Era of the "Croatian Spring," a period of nationalist cultural revival. Calls for Croatian autonomy grew louder, which Tito muted with trials and by ousting certain Croatian politicians and intellectuals.

  Former Yugoslav army general Franjo Tudjman's nationalist party won a crushing victory April 22 in Croatia's first free election since World War II. Tudjman eventually removed Serbs from public administration and police jobs.

Rising tension and sporadic fighting between Serbs and Croats gave way to violence in which separatist Serbian gunmen fought with local Croatian police, killing more than 20 by the spring.

Serbia blocked the scheduled installation of Stipe Mesic into Yugoslavia's collective presidency, effectively leaving the country leaderless.

Slovenia and Croatia, the two richest and most Westernized republics, declared their independence. A bloody civil war erupted between Croats and Serbs and by the end of the year, Serbs had annexed nearly one-third of the country. More than 10,000 people – most of them Croats – died in six months of fighting.

Both sides agreed on a cease-fire, the 15th since the fighting began, and formally accepted a U.N. plan to deploy international peacekeeping forces in current battle zones. Peacekeepers encountered resistance to their effort to disarm combatants inside some of the internationally protected areas set up under the cease-fire. Meanwhile, Croats celebrated as the European Community recognized their nation as independent.

The war between Serbs, Muslims and Croats in neighboring Bosnia pulled in Croatia, which agreed on an alliance with the Muslim-led Bosnian government of President Alija Izetbegovic to fight against Serb separatists.

The Croat-Muslim alliance was broken temporarily after they bickered over which group would be in charge once the Serbs were defeated and opened fire on each other in several central Bosnian towns.

Croatia continued an offensive in southeastern Bosnia-Hercegovina, unraveling a cease-fire and drawing a warning from Yugoslavia, which threatened to intervene on behalf of the Serbs.

  A Croatian army assault against Serbs in the Serb-occupied territory of Krajina, Croatia, broke the one-year-old cease-fire.

  A March cease-fire between Croatia and Serb rebels dissolved after Bosnian and Croatian Serbs joined forces and launched an attack on the Muslim enclave of Bihac (located across the border from Serb-occupied Krajina) late in the year. Croatia announced that it would enter the Bosnian conflict to support the Muslims.

After launching several offensives to reclaim territory lost to Serb rebels, Croatian forces proclaimed victory in recapturing the Serb-held territory of Krajina.

Foreign ministers from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbian-led Yugoslavia endorsed a settlement, which guaranteed Bosnia's future existence as an independent state but divided its territory almost equally between two "democratic entities" – a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb-controlled entity.

The Dayton peace accord on Bosnia, a U.S.-sponsored settlement, brought general peace to the region.

  Hailed by the West as a step toward lasting peace in Bosnia, top Croatian leaders facilitated the hand over of 10 Bosnian Croats to the International Criminal Tribunal. The group included Bosnian Croat political leader Dario Kordic, 37, one of Bosnia's most notorious war crimes suspects.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

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