Soon after the Tito?s split with Stalin in 1948 at the beginning of the 1950s, the question surfaced as to how much foreign aid Tito?s Yugoslavia would need. The American economic analyst answered in terms of billions of U.S. dollars, and then one of the highest ranking American administration officials replied that it was important just to keep Tito afloat. At the end of 1980s when Ante Markovic tried to keep his economic program going, only a few politicians in the West understood the importance of its implementation. The citizens of Yugoslavia were in desperate need of an identification symbol after the economic failure of self-management socialism and the collapse of the nonaligned movement. It would be the convertible dinar, for which Markovic fought as part of his economic program and which could not succeed without economic aid from the West. As A. Ross Johnson emphasized, the international community?including both the United States and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation?tried to maintain the status quo and hold together a Yugoslavia that had become an empty shell. Instead of seeking to facilitate a peaceful transformation, the international community attempted to perpetuate the ancien r?gime, and tried to preserve SFRY, it did very little to stop the violence.
It thus bears considerable responsibility for the violence and insecurity that followed. Both the United States and Russia, along with other states, ignored the truth that no state, whatever its origins, can expect to survive without the support and at least the passive allegiance of most of its citizenry.
According to most of Western authors, the foreigners, i.e. the political leaders from most of Europe and also the USA, in the late 1980s wanted desperately to keep the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. Some other authors blame the West not only for the dissolution but also for the breakup of the former Yugoslavia into pieces in such a violent way. Also Slobodan Milo?evic started his defense in Hague by blaming the foreigners for the break up of Yugoslavia. Milo?evic, who was acting as his own lawyer in front of the Hague Tribunal, said: ?the international community was the main force for the destruction of Yugoslavia, accusing Germany, Austria, USA and Vatican?. There is a fundamental historical fact that one should proceed from the beginning when seeking to understand what lead to everything that happened in Yugoslavia ?.from 1991 until today, and that is the violent destruction of a European state Yugoslavia which originated from the statehood of Serbia, the only ally of the democratic world in that part of the world over the past two centuries.?
We as a team do not believe that, regardless of the policy of the foreigners towards the former Yugoslavia, it could possibly have been kept in one piece. It might have been possible that the dissolution process would have been more peaceful if the superpowers had acted differently. The ignorance with which European and non-European powers approached the Yugoslav situation is evident in a letter that one of the officials of the British Foreign Office wrote to an official of one of the Macedonian ?migr? organizations in May 1991, responding to the demand for recognition of Macedonia as an independent state:
... As you are no doubt aware, the Macedonian issue is seen differently by the Greeks, Yugoslavians and Bulgarians; Her Majesty?s Government is aware of the positions taken by the different groups. However, we feel that any problems which exist should be resolved by the parties concerned, and it would not be appropriate for Britain to intervene ?
The team also agrees that the United States had a decisive role in the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia. There were three phases of U.S. policy in European wars in general: (1) The U.S.A. initially did not want to interfere in a primarily European problem? much as they didn?t during the wars of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Then they started to interfere in their capacity as a superpower to end the fighting, first through (2) diplomacy and, finally, (3) armed intervention. U.S. policy toward Yugoslavia was also determined by domestic public opinion polls.
The U.S. since 1948 supported united and?since Tito?s death?also democratic Yugoslavia. Even more, American diplomats and politicians occasionally tried to persuade Tito to democratize Yugoslavia. There were studies over the years for the State Department that described fully the complicated national makeup of Yugoslavia and questioned its future cohesion post-Tito. Some already in 1970s described scenarios of a disintegrating Yugoslavia. Our team member Ross Johnson defined pre-1991 U.S. policy as that of supporting a united, independent (non-Soviet) Yugoslavia during the Cold War. This was made clear at the time of President Nixon?s visit in September 1970 and on many other occasions. Democratization was largely ignored. Radio Free Europe never broadcast to Yugoslavia (until 1994). Johnson characterized U.S. policy toward the SFRY in the 1980s as one of ?malign neglect? and he wrote: ?Long-standing U.S. policy generally focused on all-Yugoslav and Belgrade-centered developments, but this was not explicitly or consciously ?pro-Serb.? He conducted a RAND policy study for the State Department in the early 1980s, drawing on extensive discussions with U.S. and Yugoslav officials in most of the republics, which attempted (without much success) to counter this ?centralist??not pro-Serb? American bias. The inconsistencies of U.S. policy during this period were evident from Ambassador Warren Zimmerman?s address to the International Institute for Strategic Studies Conference in Z?rich in September 1991, where he (1) called for support for the Ante Markovic government; (2) criticized German Foreign Minister?s Hans Dietrich Genscher?s approach to Yugoslavia; and (3) said Yugoslavia was a European and not an American issue.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) came out in October 1990 with the forecast that Yugoslavia would cease to function within one year and would probably dissolve within two. Also, according to this report: economic reform would not stave off the breakup.
The agency predicted that Serbia would block Slovenian and Croatian attempts to secede from the Yugoslav confederation, that there would be a protracted armed uprising by the Albanians in Kosovo, and that Serbia would foment uprisings by Serbian minorities in Croatia and Bosnia. The CIA noted the danger of a slide from ethnic violence to organized civil war between republics but considered it unlikely. It concluded flatly that there was nothing the United States or its European allies could do to preserve unity and that Yugoslavs would see such efforts as contradictory to advocacy of democracy and self-determination. From historian?s point of view this report is relatively good analysis of the situation in then Yugoslavia. In the ?key judgements? the CIA analysts wrote that neither the Communist Party nor the Yugoslav National Army would be able to hold the federation together: The correctly found out that the party was in shambles and that the army lost prestige because of its strong Communist Party identification and because much of the country considered it a Serb-dominated institution. They also wrote that no all Yugoslav political movement had emerged to fill the void left by the collapse of the Titoist vision of a Yugoslav state, and none will.
Discussion on historic background, economy as well as maps and tables which followed in the CIA report are accurate and correct, which is important because of discussion on the controversy on the knowledge of highest US officials on what happened in Yugoslavia and the reasons for that what happened in the 1990s in former Yugoslavia which follows in this report. As then U.S. Ambassador to Belgrade Warren Zimmermann wrote in his memoirs, this prescient analysis erred only on Kosovo, which remained tense but quiet, and on the timetable for civil war, which unfolded even faster than predicted. In its main elements, the estimate proved dead accurate. He didn?t disagree with the CIA report findings?the embassy had been warning about breakup and violence for a year?but he saw its air of inevitability, in the perfervid atmosphere of Washington, as a major problem. He worried that its bald assertion that nothing could be done might take the heart out of American efforts to stave off the worst. He believed that the high cost of failure warranted continued American efforts to seek a formula for unity. ?This game can be won,? he argued in a piece of inflated advocacy in November. ?Dissolution is not inevitable.? In spite of CIA warnings, it became clear, if not before, then after the visit of Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany in the second half of May 1991, that the United States did not want to get intensively involved in the Yugoslav crisis and that the U.S. would let the European states, especially the EC, try to solve it. The so-called CIA report tells us that the CIA analysts and their advisors knew well the Yugoslav situation and that they even predicted well what was to come. The question is, whether the politicians in the U.S. wanted to know it and whether the politicians wanted to act accordingly? There is also another question, if there was anything the international and therefore also U.S. politicians could do to prevent the eruption of the crisis?
The senior George Bush?s administration was, however, too busy resolving the crisis in Iraq and did not want to be involved in another regional crisis. The key personalities of this period were U.S. Ambassador to Belgrade Warren Zimmermann; Undersecretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who had also served as US Ambassador to Yugoslavia in late 1970s; and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who had served as military attach? in Belgrade in early 1960s. They represented the ?pro-Serbian lobby? in Bush Sr.?s administration, which was connected to Yugoslavia also through political and economic interests (e.g. the Yugo-America Company, in which Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state, took part). These members of the Bush administration at the beginning supported the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and the reform policy of Ante Markovic, though not very effectively. The U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, often said: ?We don?t have a dog in this fight,? and President Bush asked Scowcroft at least once a week: ?Tell me again what this is all about.?
The U.S. politicians were then so na?ve (as they ignored the power of the national/ethnic movements and national/ethnic problems in general that could not be solved by economic measures) that they believed that the market-oriented economic reforms of Ante Markovic, along with financial aid from the West, especially the U.S.A., could stop nationalist and separatist tendencies. The question here is whether they really believed this or were they simply acting out of despair. The U.S.A. let the EU take the lead. Although its own diplomats closely followed the situation, including the building crisis in Kosovo, in the 1980s, they were not heard in the State Department. At the end of June 1991, the State Department tried to pacify the situation and appealed on the basis of following the principles of safeguarding human rights and democratic changes, which they said could help keep Yugoslavia together.
Politics of Missed Opportunities (1990?June 1991)
This is not the place to recount the well-known chronology of dissolution that followed the Slovenian plebiscite of December 1990. As Susan L. Woodward has argued, the core motivation of U.S. urgings for greater European participation was to ensure Europe?s responsibility for the transition in Eastern Europe. Many saw a more cynical motive to U.S. policy, however, as if it demanded from the Europeans that they prove their ability to go it alone and, in expectation of their inability to do so, served to demonstrate the continuing importance of NATO and U.S. leadership. But the decision to use the UN to organize the military coalition for Desert Storm was even more significant in its negative consequences for the Yugoslav conflict. With Yugoslavia?s long history of participation in the UN, strong ties with Third World countries, and non-membership in the EC or in NATO, the UN was the one international organization that could mount an external intervention that all parties in Yugoslavia would most likely accept as neutral and legitimate. UN preoccupation with Iraq and the use of the UN to protect a U.S. vital security interest sent the strong message that no such intervention would occur in Yugoslavia.
For the Croats and Slovenes an important issue was to become a member of EC as soon as possible and as Slovenes and as Croats and not as ?Yugoslavs.? It might be oversimplification, but this was the thinking in the circles of Slovene intellectuals who gathered around Nova revija. Both the federal government and Slovene and Croatian politicians had been actively seeking explicit support from European institutions and governments for their separate programs.
On 23 December 1990 the citizens of Slovenia, and on 19 May 1991 the citizens of Croatia, voted for independent states by a vast majority. Slovenia?s and Croatia?s drives for independence gained a substantial boost on 13 March 1991, when the European Parliament passed a resolution declaring ?that the constituent republics and autonomous provinces of Yugoslavia must have the right freely to determine their own future in a peaceful and democratic manner and on the basis of recognized international and internal borders.? While most European governments continued to support the federal government and to insist that the Yugoslavs stay together, the apparently uncontroversial nature of this declaration, as if fully in line with Council for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) principles, according to James Gow, demonstrates how far Slovenia and Croatia had influenced European opinion and how little chance there was that alternatives to republican sovereignty would be heard, as pointed out by Susan L. Woodward.
The team concluded that Slovenia and Croatia had influenced European public opinion, but not to the extent that no alternatives to republican sovereignty would be heard. Successive European and US initiatives?the Vance Plan, the Cutileiro Plan, the Vance-Owen Plan, the Owen-Stoltenberg Plan, the Z4 Plan, etc.?were all ready to compromise the principle of republican sovereignty in one way or another. As Woodward suggested, Yugoslav Foreign Minister Budimir Loncar explicitly sought help in mediating the political crisis from the EC instead of the U.S.A., in the hope that this would energize political support for the federal government?s pro-Europe reforms and counteract mounting sympathy for Slovenia and Croatia. The question is, however, whether the federal government of the SFRY was sincere in its pro-European reforms. Woodward wrote also that Germany had already joined the ranks of Austria, Hungary, and Denmark in at least covert support and encouragement of Slovene and Croatian independence.
Unless and until evidence is produced to the contrary, the team must assume that Germany (and also Austria, Hungary, Dennmark etc. were not secretly working for Croatian/Slovenian independence at the beginning of 1991 Even at the beginning of the crisis in June 1991, according to the available sources, Germany did not intend to support the break up of Yugoslavia. During the last quarter of 1991, however it was Germany who persuaded EU and even the US later to recognize Slovenia and Croatia and BIH.
This position is supported by the points made by then head of the South-Eastern European Section of the German Foreign Ministry Michael Libal in his Limits of Persuasion. This book provides the reader not only with the insights of a participant in the events but also with the very good analysis of a historian and political scientist. Libal claims that although the German parliamentarians demanded from German government recognition of Slovenia and Croatia in June of 1991, the German government tried to use the threat of recognition as a method of pressure on the Serbs of Croatia and the Yugoslav government to end the military fighting. It is interesting to note that the first to demand recognition were German Social-Democrats, who were then in opposition; but they were also very soon followed by Christian-Democrats of the government party of Chancellor Kohl. On 24 August, German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher called the Yugoslav ambassador in Bonn, Boris Frlec, to make clear the attitude of the German government not only to him but also, via an appropriate press release, to the public at large. Genscher denounced the action by the Serb irregulars and the army as efforts to change the internal borders by force and as a threat to the negotiation process, and demanded the withdrawal of the Yugoslav People?s Army (Jugoslavenska narodna armija ? JNA) to their barracks. With an explicit reference to the relevant decision of the last CSCE meeting, he also requested that the Yugoslav government establish control over the irregular armed forces. The cores of Genscher?s d?marche, however, were two sentences that raised the threat of recognition:
?If the bloodshed continues and the policy of faits accomplis by force supported by the Yugoslav army is not halted immediately, the Federal Government [of Germany] must seriously examine the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia in their given frontiers. It will also commit itself to a corresponding examination with the European Community?
As Serbs did not give in and violence continued, Germany continued to pressure the EC to take action. While Germany reluctantly supported the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, the Soviet Union wanted Yugoslavia to be preserved at all costs. The Soviet Union expressed its views in a letter of 4 August 1991 to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in which it criticized the EC for not doing everything it could to solve the Yugoslav crisis. The policy of the Soviet Union towards Yugoslavia was based on the historical friendship of the Russians with the Serbs. Also the Orthodox religion bonded the Russians with the Serbs, as it had the Greeks. Already during the first period of the Yugoslav crisis, the Soviet Union had also experienced independence movements and declarations of independence of some of her Soviet republics, especially in the Baltic and Transcaucasian republics. Therefore the Soviet Union was predestined to be interested in preserving the unity of Yugoslavia. Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Alexandrovich Bessmertnych had stated already in April 1991 that keeping the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia was ?one of the preconditions for stability in Europe.?
At the beginning of July 1991, the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent written warning to all neighbors of Yugoslavia in which it warned them not to ?use? the Yugoslav crisis and to abstain from any activities that would tend to renew the old territorial demands of Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, and Austria towards Yugoslavia; or in other words, they should abstain from any usage of Yugoslav dissolution movements to satisfy their own nationalistic interests. Soviet ambassadors in the countries neighboring Yugoslavia were given explicit instructions to do everything possible to convey a message that the Soviet Union supported preservation of Yugoslavia.
It is important to note, however, that?in spite of the fact that the Soviet Union sent a message to the international community that she would not inactively look upon the activities of breaking up of Yugoslavia, especially involving any outside intervention?the Soviet political leadership decided that it would help Yugoslavia only politically through international institutions, and not militarily. The first deputy of Soviet Foreign Minister, Julij Mikhailovich Kwizinskiy even said that because of its internal political and economic problems, the absolute priority in the foreign policy of the Soviet Union was to have good relations with the U.S.A, Western Europe, and Germany in particular. Everything else was subordinated to that.
Such a stand of the Soviet Union disappointed Serb politicians and the pro-Serbian leadership of the ?Yugoslav People?s Army.? According to the Yugoslav Defense Minister, General Veljko Kadijevic, the U.S.A. wanted to change the regime and the sociopolitical system in Yugoslavia. The assessment of the situation by Kadijevic and Jovic was that dissolution of the Yugoslav Federation with the policy of ?executed facts? (declarations of independence of Slovenia and Croatia, rebellions of Albanians in Kosovo, etc.) and other acts against the constitution would lead to civil war and the direct military interference of foreigners. All this, they stated, was part of a unified plan to destroy the SFRY as an independent and unified state.
The Serb political leadership and most of the officers of the Yugoslav army still insisted on the doctrine of alertness to danger from a ?foreign enemy? that was developed in Socialist Yugoslavia after World War II. All the citizens of Yugoslavia had ?to carefully observe the actions of foreign enemies, who wanted to change the political system in Yugoslavia or who worked towards the dissolution of Yugoslavia.? Therefore we should not be surprised that they looked for the reasons for the crisis in the activities of foreigners and not in the unsolved Yugoslav national question, the more or less undemocratic regime, and other problems. The Yugoslav leadership also blamed Gorbachev, who, according to them ?cheaply sold out the ideas of socialism and communism.? His activities broke the Warsaw Agreement, broke socialism in Eastern Europe, destabilized the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, broke the established relations among powers in Europe, and enabled enemies of socialism to carry on their activities.
In relation to the Yugoslav crises, countries in the non-aligned movement had different reactions. As one of the founders of the non-aligned movement and from 1989 again the presiding country, Yugoslavia enjoyed great respect; and many of the non-aligned countries (especially the African ones) owed a ?great debt? to Yugoslavia. Therefore the Yugoslav crisis presented a profound shock for many of them. A large gap in understanding of the Yugoslav crisis showed among some countries who supported the unity of Yugoslavia at all costs. Some Muslim countries (i.e. Algeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Tunisia, etc.) watched the events in the region of former Yugoslavia through the prism of an endangered situation for the Muslim population in Yugoslavia. This standpoint of Muslim countries towards the situation in Yugoslavia was a great disappointment, especially for the Serb politicians. After the meeting of the Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned on Bali, Indonesia, in May 1992, Jovic wrote, among other things: ?Many countries which received help from Yugoslavia ? turned their back to us and did not become ashamed ?? Support of the non-aligned countries (which then represented almost two thirds of the member states of the UN) would be very important for the Serb policy.
Also Hungary, which then already wished to attain candidate status to join the EU and NATO, and due to its large Hungarian minority in Vojvodina (in Serbia). could not support the breakup of Yugoslavia. From May 1990, the Hungarian foreign political concepts became increasingly transparent and assertive on three objectives: European integration, good neighborly relations, and support for Hungarians in the neighboring countries. The Yugoslav tensions, however, complicated attempts to execute these objectives in tandem. In the given situation, the Hungarian government attempted to synchronize its decisions with the views of the West European and prominent international organizations, this did not mean, however, that contrary views were not expressed either by members of the government or in government circles. As Foreign Minister G?za Jeszenszky?rather unfortunately from the diplomatic point of view?stated publicly, Hungary aims to establish ?friendly? relations with Croatia and a ?correct? one with Serbia.
The statement that Hungary did not support the dissolution of Yugoslavia is opposed by Jovic, who in his memoirs wrote that the U.S.A. in December 1990 ?? asked Hungary to use all forces and with American help destroy the socialist system in Yugoslavia and also destroy the unity of Yugoslavia, and especially to take measures against Serbia.? According to Jovic, Americans viewed in Serbia the chief supporter of socialism in Yugoslavia. Therefore the U.S.A. blamed Hungary because Hungary did not get itself into position to influence politicians in Yugoslavia, but it did every effort in this regard. Jovic supported this by citing the import of weapons by Croatia from Hungary in 1990, which Croatia did illegally, from his point of view, to form its own army.
In January 1991 a discussion took place at a meeting of the Presidency of SFRY. At the end of January 1991, Belgrade TV showed a film of Yugoslav counterintelligence services in which the Croatian Minister of Defense, General Martin ?pegelj, and Croatian Minister of the Interior Josip Boljkovac were caught talking about the import of 20,000 tommy-guns from Hungary. Hungarian historian Imre Szil?gyi wrote in his paper that the foreign secretary of the Hungarian government traveled to Belgrade and expressed regret over the ?tension created by the issue in the progressing Hungarian-Yugoslav relationship,? and also expressed his hope that the dispute could be amicably settled. The Hungarian government insisted that it was prepared to provide guarantees that such incidents would not occur in the future and expressed hope that re-established ties would be characterized by trust. Finally, the government issued a statement: ?The Hungarian government presumes with regard to its relations to Yugoslavia that the Yugoslav Socialist Federal Republic is a federative union of several nations. Yugoslavia?s borders are guaranteed by international documents, its statehood is organic to the European status quo which guarantees peace, security and cooperation on the continent, and Hungary is not interested in the destabilization of Yugoslavia.?
However, the dispute was far from over, since the Hungarian State Secretary of the Defense Ministry, Erno Raffay, shortly after the arms delivery affair, asserted that the arms export prevented the intervention by the Yugoslav People?s Army in Croatia. In his reply, the Yugoslav deputy foreign minister pointed out that this statement is a classical example of interference in the country?s internal affairs, challenged the Hungarian government to state its position on the issue, and insisted that the affair was not yet closed. In this context, Slovene Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel presented a detailed description of the considerations (at times contradictory) of Hungarian politicians. Rupel arrived in Hungary on 22 January 1991 and held talks with Prime Minister J?zsef Antall and Foreign Minister Jeszenszky. Antall opined that a kind of fault-line runs through the so-called Central European region separating the countries influenced by Western Christianity from those influenced Byzantine Christianity or Islam, and this fault-line runs through Yugoslavia itself. Antall emphatically praised Slovenia and Croatia as friendly countries and supported the independence aspirations of Slovenia. At the same time, however, he pointed out to the Slovenians that Milo?evic was holding the half-million (sic!) Hungarians in Serbia as hostages; hence Hungary had to refrain from taking hasty steps.
On the other hand, he emphasized that the question of recognition of Slovenia and Croatia as independent states must be coordinated with the European Community, the Council of Europe, and NATO. To the suggestion that Slovenia would be pleased if Hungary were to be among the first to recognize Slovenia, Antall replied that Hungary will not be the first to do so, adding that Slovenia would not benefit much even if Hungary did it in conjunction with Austria. At that time, nobody in Western Europe thought seriously about the disintegration of Yugoslavia. (Strangely, this meeting was not even mentioned in the Hungarian press).
Italy, by contrast, remained in an ambivalent position. The Italian foreign minister, Gianni De Michelis, strongly supported a united Yugoslavia. In spring 1991 he said to his Slovene counterparts: ?My dear sirs, in Europe there is no place for new states, and I am sure that you do not want to emigrate to another continent.? He also opposed changing of internal Yugoslav borders. He expressed this standpoint very clearly at a conference of foreign ministers on 10 July 1991, where he also interceded on behalf of a system of minority protection that would be based on international law. This situation mirrors the special Italian experience: after World War II the German-speaking minority of South Tyrol had to give up its rights to self-determination in exchange for political autonomy within Italy. During the Yugoslav crisis this type of autonomy served as a possible model to solve the Serb problem in the so-called Krajinas. This would, in accordance with the political intentions of the Italian foreign minister, also hinder the widening of German influence towards the South-East (through independent Slovenia and Croatia) and protect Italian interests.
France also fought for the further existence of a united Yugoslavia, basing its policy towards Yugoslavia on traditions of French-Serb friendship. From a strategic point of view, Yugoslavia was an important factor in European stability. Keeping together the Yugoslav federation would, in the French view, avoid spreading of separatist and nationalist tendencies in other European regions. On the other hand it would also thwart plans for establishing a new Mitteleuropa under German leadership. In an interview in Le Monde, French president Fran?ois Mitterrand said: ?I would like to remind [you]?of the answer of Bismarck to the question of why in 1866 after he won at Sadowa in a battle with Austria-Hungary, he did not divide this monarchy, as happened in 1918. Bismarck?s answer was: 'Austria-Hungary knows how to handle South Slavs. We [Germans] of course do not.' Therefore he did not want to change the balance of power in the region In French policy also the standpoint developed that the rights and interests of the Serb minority in Croatia were threatened after Croatia declared its independence and they were no longer under the jurisdiction of federal Yugoslavia. Mitterrand said in an interview published in Le Monde on 9 February 1993.
A Croatian Serb could feel threatened also in the past but he could feel protected by the federal state. He was a Yugoslav [citizen]. In independent Croatia he would become a Croat [citizen] and?according to his [Croatian Serb] opinion?because there is no guarantee from federal authorities for his minority protection, he must get guarantees for his rights from the other authorities in charge ??
The French state was concerned with the question of the status of minorities in future newly established states, especially the rights of the Serb minority in Croatia. Also the pressure of Germany to recognize Slovenia and Croatia proved, from the French point of view, that Germany was protecting those republics. France on the one hand did not want to get involved in the war; on the other hand it had its own minority problems, especially with separatists in Corsica, Basques, as well as with new immigrant minorities, especially some militant Algerian groups.
Great Britain tried to keep a low profile on the Yugoslav crisis, especially because the U.S.A., its greatest ally, did the same. On the other hand Great Britain also had to fight with centrifugal forces, especially in Wales, North Ireland, and Scotland, which did not always agree with the politics of the central government in London. In spite of the fact that Great Britain in history had intensive contacts with Serbia, it did not want to get involved. It also did not want to take the same side as France, with which it had estranged relations in the past and which was under pressure from Germany because it opposed recognition of Slovenia and Croatia.
Great Britain was, in spite of this, (at least indirectly) involved in the Yugoslav crisis as a member of NATO, the EC, the OSCE, the Western European Union (WEU), and the UN. The former British foreign secretary, Lord Peter Carrington, presided over an EC peace conference on Yugoslavia. British press commented on the attempts of Great Britain to keep Yugoslavia together as ?a fight against a German zone of influence? in the Balkans.
The position of the Netherlands towards the Yugoslav crisis is also interesting, especially because the Netherlands presided over the EC in the second half of 1991. Since it was exactly at that point that the armed conflicts started in Yugoslavia, the role of the Netherlands was even more important. At the beginning of the conflict, Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek led the policy of keeping Yugoslavia united and of non?recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. Therefore, the German newspaper Die Welt described van den Broek as behaving as if ?he would be minister of interior of Yugoslavia? and that he tried to show ?Croatians as aggressors.? According to Peter Zeitler, in the second half of 1991, van den Broek was the greatest opponent of the German initiative for recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. Of course, historical animosities between the Netherlands and Germany played their role.
The Austrian government was cautious about Yugoslavia; its statements had to be in accord with those of the EC because the Austrian government was then concerned about not disturbing Austria?s application for EC membership. The Austrian standpoint towards the Yugoslav crisis was influenced also by the fact that Slovenes and Croats live in Austria as autochthonous minorities (Karel Smolle, an ethnic Slovene from Carinthia and former member of Austrian Parliament was named representative of Prime Minister Peterle?s government) and that there were already then many Gastarbeiters from Yugoslavia working in Austria. Also, the Austrian economy was affected by the crisis. Austria was especially afraid of a great influx of refugees.
There was an internal debate within Austrian government, as Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky followed the path of his fellow Socialists in support of a united Yugoslavia, while his foreign minister, Alois Mock, was a leading advocate of recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. Mock also wanted to convince Europe to act; he even tried to convince the international community to intervene militarily. Austrian Chancellor Vranitzky tried to convince Mock to limit his activities on behalf of Slovenia. However, Mock tried to convince the Austrian government to give Slovenia logistic and other help. Austria even gave Slovenia loans with which it could continue its import and export in June and July 1991. Vranitzky did not oppose that; later when the question of international recognition of Slovenia and Croatia was on the table he kept a low profile.
Austria contributed a great deal to recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. Already on 15 August 1990, together with members of the EC, it demanded?because of the brutal behavior of the Serb authorities towards the Albanians of Kosovo?discussion of this issue within the OSCE. On 10 October 1990 Vranitzky confirmed in a conversation with then Vice-president of the Presidency of SFRY Stipe Mesic that Austria preferred the non-interference of other states in Yugoslav internal affairs. In March 1991, on the occasion of a meeting with Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic, he emphasized that only the Yugoslav government was the official partner for Austria. In spite of that, the Austrian government already had contacts with the governments of the Republics of Slovenia and Croatia. On 12 March Vranitzky emphasized that Austria was ready to cooperate with the Yugoslav republics, although it would remain in contact with the federal government. In March 1991 Austria again tried to get the OSCE to intervene.
Public opinion was an important factor in the formation of the Austrian policy leaning in favor of Slovenian and Croatian demands for independence. On 9 July 1991 Austrian Chancellor Vranitzky invited some representatives of Western Social-Democratic parties to Vienna in order to exchange views on the Yugoslav crisis. The leader of the German Socialists, Bjoern Engholm, demanded recognition of Slovenia and Croatia as a result ?of the end of the negotiations and not at the beginning of negotiations.? The leader of the Italian Socialists, Betino Craxi, was afraid of a ?chain reaction;? in spite of that he demanded a new order on the territory of Yugoslavia and he also demanded recognition of the republics. The president of PASOK (Greek Socialists), Carolos Papoulias, warned ?against threatening of security in the Mediterranean;? in his words the situation was ?very explosive.? In spite of the fact that Western European Social-Democratic parties came to a conclusion that they did not have a unified position towards the Yugoslav crisis, most of them still demanded the principles of self-determination for the Yugoslav nations. And that in spite of the fact that they still wanted somehow to keep Yugoslavia together. They all demanded a peaceful solution of the crisis on the basis of negotiations.
The Norwegian prime minister, a Socialist, Groo Brutland, also supported a united Yugoslavia. In fact, a majority of the members of the international community were convinced that a united Yugoslavia should be preserved in order to play a role in maintaining a military and geopolitical balance in Europe. During that period, in spite of the reluctance of the U.S. administration, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. embassy in Yugoslavia continued to try to influence the Yugoslav scene. The Nickles Amendment, which threatened a cutoff of economic aid by 5 May 1991 if relations between Serbia and the Albanian population of Kosovo did not improve, was introduced in the U.S. Congress.
During the next years the Yugoslav crisis?especially the crisis in Kosovo?brought quite a few debates in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. Representatives and senators were active in introducing amendments to the foreign aid bills and special resolutions regarding critical conditions in Yugoslavia. Some of them wanted to force Milo?evic to solve the Kosovo question by giving democratic rights to both major ethnic groups. In the years 1985?1995, U.S. Congresswoman Helen Delich-Bentley (R?Maryland), of Serb descent, made an important contribution to lobbying for the ?Serb Truth.? Also, the support of other members of Congress from districts where large numbers of the electorate were of Serb descent was important. Those Congress members were almost always in a bind, however, since their constituencies usually included not only Serb-Americans, but also Croat-, Slovene?, and Albanian-Americans. Among those whom American Srbobran, an organ of Serb National Federation ? the largest Serb ethnic fraternal organization in the U.S. - identified as ?good friends of the Serbs? were Lee Hamilton (D-IN), Dante Fascell (D-FL), Jim Moody (D?WI), and Gus Yatron (D-PA, who as an Orthodox Greek-American was virtually predestined to be ?pro-Serb?). Hamilton, who was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was the one who received the largest re-election campaign contributions from the Serb- and Greek-American communities, followed by Delich-Bentley and others. Representative Bentley, with the help of the others, succeeded in preventing passage of numerous resolutions and bills in Congress that would harm Serb interests. The U.S. Congress continued its support for Slovenia and Croatia, with an amendment to the Direct Aid to Democracies Act (the Dole Bill) offered by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher that sought to separate Slovenia and Croatia from Yugoslavia so that penalties for human rights violations in Kosovo would not apply to these republics and they could be sent aid, bypassing the Yugoslav government. In spite of the above-mentioned attempts of some members of the U.S. Congress, the Bush, Sr., Administration until 1992 tried to avoid playing any important role in solving the Yugoslav crisis. Bush, Sr., was afraid that any role his administration would play would influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November. The U.S.A., therefore, opposed recognition of the Yugoslav republics. Also the U.S.A. was afraid that the Yugoslav crisis would influence the very complicated internal political situation in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, in the U.S.A., according to Zeitler, there was no special interest in the Yugoslav crisis, even in the regions where Serb and Croat immigrants and their descendants lived. Klemencic has written on this in another paper; there were many activities for and against recognition of Slovenia and Croatia by all ethnic groups from former Yugoslavia in the U.S.A.
The U.S.A. did not have special economic interests in Yugoslavia. Annual U.S. aid was $5 million; there was almost no trade in weapons. The U.S.A. also did not have any mandate to intervene in this faraway region. And so at the OSCE conference in January 1991 they opposed any military intervention. The U.S.A. supported democratic processes in Yugoslavia but not at the expense of unity. On 18 June 1991 Secretary of State James Baker, at the Berlin Aspen Institute, demanded that members of the OSCE and the U.S.A. do everything they could to preserve the unity of states of Eastern Europe. According to the New York Times Secretary Baker said: ?A way has to be found to balance the increasing demands of individuals in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to express their long suppressed ethnic and national identities and the demands on increasingly economically interdependent world, which requires integration with multinational and supranational economic institutions.? After the conference of foreign ministers of OSCE, on 21 June?four days before the Croatian and Slovene declarations of independence?Baker visited Belgrade. At first Yugoslavia was not on his itinerary. He wanted to visit Albania and as high ranking Administration official said to a New York Times reporter secretary Baker added Yugoslavia to his itinerary just a few days before his departure from the USA, because a visit to Albania without a stop in Yugoslavia would be interpreted as a snub in Belgrade. Baker did not know too much about Yugoslavia. Baker actually did not have any plan and had few ideas to offer on Yugoslavia except to suggest that the U.S. wanted a united Yugoslavia; but not only that: the U.S. wanted to see it democratic as well. He wanted to tell the leaders of Yugoslavia?s republics that they should continue to negotiate. He called for the devolution of additional authority, responsibility, and sovereignty to the republics of Yugoslavia, at the same time he expressed continued US support for a united Yugoslavia by promising Milo?evic that the United States would not recognize the independence of either Slovenia or Croatia. Regardless of the outcome, Baker expressed the expectation that the crisis would be resolved peacefully, even though domestic political considerations prevented the Bush administration from backing this warning with the threat of force. Hence, when Milo?evic asked what the US would do if Belgrade resorted to a military solution, Baker merely stated that it would be ostracized by the international community.
Baker reported on his Yugoslavia visit to President Bush, Sr., as he wrote in his memories:
I argued strongly against unilateral steps that would preempt a negotiating process, and basically sought to introduce a heavy dose of reality into the unreal political climate in Yugoslavia. Markovic was very pleased with this message and the thrust of the visit. Frankly I?m dubious the effect.? I felt that way because of the insane psychology of may meetings; the leaders seemed to be sleep-walking into a car wreck, and no matter how loud you yelled?or in the case of Milo?evic, practically slapped them in the face?they just kept on going. I told the President that we?d need to work with the Europeans to maintain a collective non-recognition policy against any republic that unilaterally declared independence, as a lever to moderate behavior. ?It is the practical steps that begin to implement independence (e.g., setting up custom posts, etc.) that will quickly produce disintegration and warfare. (We?ll also want to continue to persuade Markovic to exercise restraint , particularly with regard to the use of the military in response to these declarations.)? I concluded my report pessimistically: ?my gut feeling is that we won?t produce a serious dialogue on the future of Yugoslavia until all parties have a greater sense of urgency and danger. We may not be able to impart that from the outside, but we and others should continue to push.
Baker differed between independence proclamations of Slovenia and Croatia on the one hand and Bosnia and Macedonia on the other. Lawrence Eagleburger wrote later in his comments to a memo of Tom Niles, who was then the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, on options for recognition of post-Yugoslav republics: ?? How could we recognize Croatia and Slovenia, which had pursued independence unilaterally and in violation of Helsinki principles, and not recognize Skopje and Sarajevo, which had done so in a peaceful and democratic manner? Moreover, not recognizing Bosnia and Macedonia, he noted ?could create real instability, which less than mature players in Serbia and Greece might decide to exploit.?
While interpretations of Baker?s visit have varied, Zdravko Tomac probably spoke for many Croats when he wrote that, in his view ?James Baker ... actively encouraged the federal government, Serbia and the Yugoslav Federal Army. By insisting on the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, he agreed with Milo?evic?s policy and endorsed the JNA?s threat to Slovenia.?68 Then Slovenian Prime Minister Lojze Peterle emphasized in his memoirs that Baker insisted that Yugoslavia ought to stay together, but not for any price; i.e. it should be democratic.
The JNA did, to be sure, favor the use of force to crush Slovenia?s bid for independence, but Milo?evic had decided months earlier that ?Slovenia should be left in peace.? Baker compared Slovenia and Croatia to ?teenage girls whose hormones got wild.?71 Slovene politicians tried to tell Baker that it was far too late to call off the transition to independence, but Baker did not even want to listen.
Baker then declared his open support for the compromise constitutional formula on asymmetric confederation within a federation, put forth June 6 at the sixth Summit of Six meeting outside Sarajevo by President Alija Izetbegovic of BiH and President Kiro Gligorov of Macedonia. This proposal failed because of a complete failure of the Yugoslav economic and political system. Some blame interethnic conflict, while the others, according to our team member Marko Hoare, blame different national projects and state policies pursued by the leaders of the various Yugoslav republics and nationalities.
International organizations and their working bodies, like OSCE, EC, European Parliament, NATO, the UN, etc., also tried to deal with the Yugoslav crisis. The positions of individual members of these bodies differed. Often they mirrored the official policy of their states or their homeland political parties; individual members of these international organizations or their working bodies sometimes even represented their own opinions. In spite of all that, until the beginning of military clashes in Yugoslavia, the consensus of these international organizations and their working bodies was that Yugoslavia should keep its territorial integrity but it should become a democracy.
The EC foreign ministers on 18 December 1990 demanded respect of human rights and democratic principles in Yugoslavia. At the same time they demanded also the territorial integrity and unity of Yugoslavia and also respect of the interests of the republics. Already on 14 February 1991, Slovene Prime Minister Peterle met with President of the European Parliament Enrique Baron and member of the European Commission Abel Juan Matutes and made them acquainted with Slovene attempts to achieve independence and with the Slovenian wish to become a full member of the EC. On 4 April 1991 the EC ?troika? foreign ministers of Luxembourg (Poos), Netherlands (van den Broek), and Italy (de Michelis) visited Belgrade, where they met Markovic and Loncar and expressed the anxiety of the EC about the events in Yugoslavia; on this occasion they did not want to meet with representatives of Croatia and Slovenia.
At their 9 April 1991 meeting, presidents and prime ministers of EC member states again demanded that Yugoslav territorial integrity be preserved. This was the position of the EC for the next few months. Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jacques Santer even declared that if Yugoslavia preserved territorial integrity, it could hope for Associate Membership in the EC. EC Commission President Jacques Delors and Santer then even visited Belgrade to explain this standpoint to representatives of the federal government as well as all six republics.77 Before departing for Belgrade they both emphasized that the EC did not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia and that it did not accept the role of intermediate between the opposing sides. Markovic tried to calm down Santer and Delors by a statement that the situation in Yugoslavia is complicated but not dramatic. Santer stated also that Yugoslavia would not get the status of Associate Member of EC until it solved its internal problems. During the visit of Santer and Delors to Belgrade, member states of the EC again declared their wish to keep a united Yugoslavia. Of course that unified support is not surprising because at that time eight foreign ministers of EC member states belonged to Socialists or Social-Democrats, i.e., the parties which traditionally supported the unity of Yugoslavia.
In addition to promises about Associated membership, EC tried to keep Yugoslav territorial integrity also by offering credits. EC President Jacques Delors and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Santer visited Belgrade on 29?30 May 1991 in order to make a commitment to the territorial integrity and international borders of Yugoslavia. The week before, and the very day after Croatians voted for independence, the EC had made the Yugoslav-EC association agreement contingent on the country remaining united. Delors also promised to request $4.5 billion in aid from the EC in support of the Yugoslav commitment to political reform. A day before Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, on 24 June 1991, a third financial protocol was approved with which the EC gave Yugoslavia 1.5 billion German Marks in loans At the same time the European Investment Bank also assured that it would give Yugoslavia another loan of 1.5 billion German Marks. Twelve EC foreign ministers simultaneously declared that they did not support Slovenian and Croatian endeavors to become independent and that they anxiously awaited further development of events in Yugoslavia.
The West tried to resolve the Yugoslav crisis through a combination of economic and political pressure, while the Soviet Union gave Markovic?s government only oil and weapons. The West did not oppose when the Soviet Union sold arms to the JNA, i.e., twenty Mig-29 airplanes, rocket weapons, radar equipment, etc. Gorbachev and the Soviet generals were also determined to keep Yugoslavia united. They were aware that the Slovenian and Croatian ?example? could be followed by numerous nations in the wide region from Central Europe to the Bering Sea. European and U.S. politicians, therefore, did not hide that they were worried about ?the echoes? of the Yugoslav crisis in the Soviet Union.
The OSCE got actively involved in the Yugoslav crisis also. Only a few days before the Slovene and Croatian declarations of independence, a meeting of foreign ministers of OSCE took place on 19 and 20 June in Berlin. This meeting had been planned earlier, at a Paris meeting in November 1990. At the Berlin meeting, the foreign ministers accepted ?mechanisms of fast interventions? in case critical circumstances developed that would endanger common security. They devoted part of the meeting to the crisis in Yugoslavia. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Budimir Loncar warned members of the conference that dissolution of Yugoslavia would destabilize other parts of Europe also. Loncar warned that if Yugoslavia disintegrated, new states would be established ?? which will permanently fight each other and will be shaken by ethnic rivalries. All these states will not be able to survive in democratic Europe ? These states will represent a ticking bomb in the heart of Europe, if they would not cause a chain reaction in the continent, where there are 46 potential and dangerous ethnic conflicts possible in the waiting ? Therefore it would be necessary to keep the integrity of the state ?? All participants in the conference expressed their interest in keeping Yugoslavia united, but democratic and federative. This was mirrored in many drafts of a final statement on the Yugoslav situation. One such statement, prepared by then president of the EC Council of Foreign Ministers Jacques Poos, was not accepted at the end. The most interesting part of this statement was the opinion of Poos that ?it is a misfortune of the Yugoslav nations that they are too small to gain independence.? The most interesting fact regarding this part of his draft is the fact that the area of Luxembourg?from which Poos came?is eight times smaller than Slovenia and has one-fifth its population.
In a final statement, participants in the conference declared their support for unity and the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia while at the same time supporting democratic development of Yugoslav society, economic reforms, and observance of human rights in all parts of Yugoslavia, including minority rights. They demanded a peaceful solution of the Yugoslav crisis and asked all sides to continue the dialogue.
During the meeting OSCE also held intensive discussions among the foreign ministers of Germany (Genscher), the U.S.A. (Baker), the Soviet Union (Bessmertnych), and Yugoslavia (Loncar). In their separate statements they declared that it was up to the nations of Yugoslavia to decide on its future. Gensher also mentioned that the right of secession, included in the Yugoslav constitution of 1974, should be respected.
The European Parliament devoted much of its time to the Yugoslav crisis. The Greens in the European Parliament sharply criticized the situation in Yugoslavia and especially the war in Slovenia and expressed their criticisms in a letter to van den Broek and Delors.
At the beginning of July 1991, under the leadership of Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens, a meeting of the presidency of the European People?s Party took place. At this meeting they passed a resolution on the situation in Yugoslavia and condemned the attack of the JNA on Slovenia. It is important that this resolution contained a statement ?that Slovenes and Croats ? when they declared independence of their states acted in accordance with their right of self-determination as well as with the wishes of their nation.? At the same time they demanded that the international community recognize Slovenia and Croatia as independent states if there was not a peaceful solution to the problem within three months.90 Already on 3 July 1991 a CDU/CSU faction in the European Parliament prepared a press release in which it expressed solidarity with the Slovene and Croatian nations and their freely elected governments and at the same time demanded recognition of their independence from the German government, the Council of Ministers of the EC, and from the European Commission.
Special support to the Croatian and Slovene independence was also given by the Pan-European Union and especially the son of the last Austrian Emperor, Otto von Habsburg. He expressed his support for the right of self-determination for Slovenes, Croats, Kosovo Albanians, and other nations of Yugoslavia in different statements from 1988 onwards. He made it possible for Prof. Mate Me?trovic of Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, president of the Croatian National Congress to speak in the European Parliament in October 1988, where Me?trovic, among other things, emphasized that ?Milo?evic will awake wild masses of Serbian people; therefore the Croatian National Congress is afraid that a catastrophe of such proportions is nearing, the like of which today?s generation in Europe has not seen.?
Otto von Habsburg and Karl von Habsburg visited Zagreb for the first time on 21 June 1990, where they talked to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. In a speech to the Croatian PEN Club, Otto von Habsburg demanded an independent Croatia in a politically unified Europe. In November 1990 Otto von Habsburg enabled the president of the Slovene Parliament, France Bucar, and the president of the Croatian Parliament, ?arko Domjan, to speak to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Bucar invited Otto von Habsburg to visit Slovenia. The media in Slovenia especially emphasized his statement that ?Slovenia has to return to the map of Europe,? and also his warnings against possible threats of violence. Others who received Otto von Habsburg included the president of the Slovenian Presidency, Milan Kucan, and Archbishop Alojzij ?u?tar.
In February 1991 came to a sharp discussion between Otto von Habsburg and the presiding head of the European Council of Foreign Ministers, Poos, who did not react positively to the demands of the nations of Yugoslavia for self-determination. Otto von Habsburg stated:
Representatives of the EC stated to the representatives of individual republics that they would cease any technical help if the republics declared independence. This was the standpoint of the Greeks, who practiced unconditional centralism in their country and who themselves oppressed minorities and who did not want at all to talk about self-determination of nations. It is normal that?with the exception of Italian social-democrats?all socialists supported centralism; but I think that we have to support self-determination of nations and we have to give that right also to Croats and Slovenes. NATO and the UN in this period did not give special attention to the crisis in Yugoslavia. Both organizations limited their reactions to following the situation in Yugoslavia and issuing statements that the crisis could destabilize the region.
We can easily say that the international community did not fully appreciate either the Slovenes? and Croats? fear of Serbian supremacy or their desire to embrace a European identity in place of the Balkan one that they had acquired with the creation of the first Yugoslavia (1918) and which had become for them a symbol of backwardness. Slovenia was still little known in 1991. Even those who were better acquainted with the situation agreed with U.S. Ambassador Zimmermann, who reproached Slovenia for displaying egoistic nationalism ?? la Greta Garbo? and insensibility towards foreseen consequences. The only states that knew the problems of Yugoslavia more deeply were Austria and Germany, because of their numerous researchers who studied regional history, geography, etc., and because of their historic relations with the Habsburg South Slavs. As a result, the media in those states reported favorably on Slovene and Croat plans for independence. In the view of the international community, with Milo?evic and his army in power, Yugoslavia could retain unity, but it could not become a democratic state. As an excuse for retaining the ?status quo,? it was enough to state that Croats and Slovenes, when they wanted independence, were sick with an ?anarchistic ethno-national illness,? which meant that it had no democratic value. This was the thinking of most of the diplomats stationed in Belgrade. Of them, Viktor Meier, correspondent of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that ?he never had seen such a mixture ? of false assessments, mental laziness, and superficiality.?