Congress debates withdrawing funds for the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
and discussion on rising
tensions in Kosovo.
on the opposition rally
against President Milosevic
A report on cycles of revenge in Kosovo
The struggle to keep the Bosnian civil war from starting again.
Background on the Dayton Accord, which ended the Bosnian Civil War.
Ejup Ganic, the president of the Federation of Bosnia, talks about postwar Bosnia.
Online NewsHour coverage of Europe
For more on the statue project, visit Jason's page.
people of Yugoslavia have kicked their president, Slobodan Milosevic,
out of office.
Tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets in protest, calling for Milosevic to step down. But Milosevic had run the country with an iron fist for 13 years, and he was not willing to admit that he had been voted out of office.
Instead, Milosevic insisted on a runoff election with the winner, constitutional lawyer Vojislav Kostunica.
On Oct. 5, about two weeks after the election, groups of demonstrators, young and old, seized control of the countrys parliament building in downtown Belgrade. The crowd set fire in the building and protesters were injured but not deterred. They took control of the state television and radio stations, which many viewed as propaganda machines for Milosevic.
"What we are doing today is making history," Kostunica told the crowd.
Demonstrators broke windows, smashed furniture and tossed pictures of Milosevic and other Yugoslav leaders out into the streets. The fancy leather chairs politicians used to sit on were hauled outside. Protesters sat on them, sipping plum brandy.
Milosevic instructed the police to break up the protests, but instead, they threw off their uniforms and joined the protesters.
Where is Yugoslavia?
Yugoslavia is not a simple country. When World War II ended, many European countries had to draw up new boundary lines. In 1945 Socialist leader Josip Broz Tito united several countries in Eastern Europe to form Yugoslavia. These regions -- today known as Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedoniawould share power under one central government. This arrangement is called a federation. (Click for a large map of the former Yugoslavia.)
From the beginning
the united federation had problems. There were deep-seated ethnic resentments,
land disputes and cultural differences. The people spoke different languages,
had different religions and didn't trust each other. The federation
always seemed on the verge of splitting up. Many people never developed
a loyalty toward the Yugoslav Federation, but secretly longed to establish
separate countries once again.
Tito died in 1980, and seemed to take with him the enthusiasm for a united Yugoslavia. By 1992, communism was collapsing across eastern Europe and many of the Yugoslav republics wanted independence. But it did not come easily. Years of civil wars, confusion, and chaos followed.
Slovenia was the
first to break away. Then Croatia fell into a war that left hundreds
of thousands of refugees wandering the countryside in search of new
When Bosnia-Herzegovina broke away from Yugoslavia, the region's simmering ethnic tensions boiled over. Bosnia's Serbs, Croats, and Muslims disagreed about whether or not their republic should fight for independence.
Serbs were determined to remain within the Yugoslav Federation and to
help build a greater Serbia. Serbs,
who are mostly Orthodox Christians, drove Muslims from their homes in
carefully planned operations that become known by the grim euphemism
'ethnic cleansing'. Civilians on both sides were butchered.
The U.S.and other countries saw the 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia as unacceptable. Under American pressure, leaders from the fractured groups came to the U.S. in 1995.
In Dayton, Ohio, the groups agreed to end the fighting, and signed a peace accord creating two self-governing entities within Bosnia - the Bosnian-Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation. The two entities have their own governments and armies, but relations are still tense.
That left only two republics in the Yugoslav Federation: Serbia and Montenegro. In Serbia the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina had always been allowed the freedom to govern themselves. Years ago, those regions were mostly populated by Serbs; immigrants from nearby Albania were a small minority.
But with time, Albanian
immigrants and their descendants began to outnumber the Serbs, who felt
they were losing control of the region. Milosevic clamped down, revoking
Kosovo's traditional autonomy and instituting a campaign of 'ethnic
cleansing' against Kosovar Albanians. Thousands were killed or fled
their homes in fear.
In 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) came out in open rebellion against Serbian rule and retaliated against the Serbs with violence of their own. Milosevic though, would not back down, and refused to allow ethnic Albanians more say in governing Kosovo. Unable to watch more slaughter, Western Europe and the U.S. responded with NATO forces.
bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days last year, destroying roads, bridges and
utilities. The bombing stopped after Milosevic backed away from his
plan. But because he still remained in power, the U.S. and other countries
placed economic sanctions against Yugoslavia, limiting trade, business
Meanwhile, relations between Serbia and Montenegro hit rock bottom. Montenegrin leaders began to distance themselves from Milosevic and openly considered aligning themselves with the West.
Milosevic's last stand
In 1999, Milosevic engineered changes in the constitution to give himself more power. He also changed the date of the election. This move angered Montenegrins, who threatened to break away from Serbia.
Together 18 opposition parties united to bring down Milosevic. The alliance is known as the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. They chose Vojislav Kostunica, a 56-year-old lawyer, as their presidential candidate.
the opposition from campaigning on radio or television. So the opposition
took its campaign directly to the people at street rallies
When the election
was held on Sept. 24, 55 percent of the vote went to Kostunica. But
Milosevic called for a second ballot, saying neither candidate won an
"Not so" said the Yugoslav people and took to the streets.
dawn on Oct. 5, thousands of farmers, miners and other opposition supporters
from towns and cities across Serbia formed long columns and began to
converge on Belgrade. By dusk, a half million people had gathered, to
listen to Vojislav Kostunica address them from the balcony of Belgrade
Kostunica declared Serbia had been liberated, and said he was proud to have been elected "President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
The rest is history.
There still a tremendous amount of uncertainty in Yugoslavia. Kostunica has a lot of work to do, and many of Milosevic's old friends and supporters still occupy important government posts and business positions. Milosevic is an indicted war criminal, but Kostunica has said he won't will turn over his old rival to the international court to stand trial.
Global leaders had
supported Kosovo's intentions to break away from Serbia while Milosevic
was in command, but now many say the province should remain part of
Serbia, to settle the region. Many Kosovars though, want to become an
are still in place against Yugoslavia, and although the EU and U.S.
are on the verge of lifting them, it will probably take Yugoslavia years
to rebuild. The economy is a wreck, unemployment is high, and basic
household goods are still hard to find.
These are the questions
awaiting the Kostunica and his new government. And, the eyes of the
world are looking to see how he answers.
What do you think? Have you been following the revolution in Yugoslavia? Does it surprise you that there are still nations struggling for a simple thing like a free election?
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