1991-03-31 to 1995-11-12
CroatiaThe Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between Croat forces loyal to the government of Croatia—which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)—and the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and local Serb forces, with the JNA ending its combat operations in Croatia by 1992. In Croatia, the war is primarily referred to as the "Homeland War" (Domovinski rat) and also as the "Greater-Serbian Aggression". In Serbian sources, "War in Croatia" (Rat u Hrvatskoj) and "War in Krajina" (Rat u Krajini) are used.
A tense atmosphere prevailed on May 13, 1990, when a football game was held at Zagreb in Maksimir Stadium between Zagreb's Dinamo team and Belgrade's Red Star. The game erupted into violence between the Croatian and Serbian fans and with the police.
On 14 May 1990, the weapons of the TO of Croatia, in Croat-majority regions, were taken away by the JNA, preventing the possibility of Croatia having its own weapons as was done in Slovenia. Borisav Jović, Serbia's representative in the Federal Presidency and a close ally of Slobodan Milošević, claimed that this action came at the behest of Serbia.
According to Jović, on 27 June 1990 he and Veljko Kadijević, the Yugoslav Defense Minister, met and agreed that they should, regarding Croatia and Slovenia, "expel them forcibly from Yugoslavia, by simply drawing borders and declaring that they have brought this upon themselves through their decisions". According to Jović, the next day he obtained the agreement of Milošević.
After the election of Tuđman (Croatian President) and the HDZ, a Serb Assembly was established in Srb, north of Knin, on 25 July 1990 as the political representation of the Serb people in Croatia. The Serb Assembly declared "sovereignty and autonomy of the Serb people in Croatia".
In August 1990, an unrecognized mono-ethnic referendum was held in regions with a substantial Serb population which would later become known as the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) (bordering western Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the question of Serb "sovereignty and autonomy" in Croatia.
On 21 December 1990, the SAO Krajina (Serbian Autonomous Oblast of Krajina) was proclaimed by the municipalities of the regions of Northern Dalmatia and Lika, in south-western Croatia. Article 1 of the Statute of the SAO Krajina defined the SAO Krajina as "a form of territorial autonomy within the Republic of Croatia" in which the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, state laws, and the Statute of the SAO Krajina were applied.
On 12 March 1991, the leadership of the Army met with the Presidency of the SFRY in an attempt to convince them to declare a state of emergency which would allow for the army to take control of the country.
The Croatian military was in a much worse state than that of the Serbs. In the early stages of the war, lack of military units meant that the Croatian Police force would take the brunt of the fighting. The Croatian National Guard, the new Croatian military, was formed on 11 April 1991, and gradually developed into the Croatian Army by 1993.
On 15 May, Stjepan Mesić, a Croat, was scheduled to be the chairman of the rotating presidency of Yugoslavia. Serbia, aided by Kosovo, Montenegro, and Vojvodina, whose presidency votes were at that time under Serbian control, blocked the appointment, which was otherwise seen as largely ceremonial.
On 19 May 1991, the Croatian authorities held a referendum on independence with the option of remaining in Yugoslavia as a looser union. Serb local authorities issued calls for a boycott, which were largely followed by Croatian Serbs. The referendum passed with 94% in favor.
In August 1991, the Battle of Vukovar began. The Battle of Vukovar was an 87-day siege of Vukovar in eastern Croatia by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), supported by various paramilitary forces from Serbia, between August and November 1991. Before the Croatian War of Independence the Baroque town was a prosperous, mixed community of Croats, Serbs and other ethnic groups. As Yugoslavia began to break up, Serbia's President Slobodan Milošević and Croatia's President Franjo Tuđman began pursuing nationalist politics. In 1990, an armed insurrection was started by Croatian Serb militias, supported by the Serbian government and paramilitary groups, who seized control of Serb-populated areas of Croatia. The JNA began to intervene in favour of the rebellion, and conflict broke out in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia in May 1991. In August, the JNA launched a full-scale attack against Croatian-held territory in eastern Slavonia, including Vukovar.
The Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia, also referred to as Badinter Arbitration Committee, was set up by the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC) on August 27, 1991, to provide the Conference on Yugoslavia with legal advice.
On October 5, President Tuđman made a speech in which he called upon the whole population to mobilize and defend against "Greater Serbian imperialism" pursued by the Serb-led JNA, Serbian paramilitary formations, and rebel Serb forces.
The next day, as a previously agreed three-month moratorium on implementation of the declaration of independence expired, the Croatian Parliament severed all remaining ties with Yugoslavia. 8 October is now celebrated as Independence Day in Croatia.
Croatian forces made further advances in the second half of December, including Operation Orkan 91 which was a military offensive undertaken by the Croatian Army (Hrvatska vojska – HV) against the Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija – JNA) and SAO Western Slavonia Territorial Defense Forces in the Sava River valley, in the region of Western Slavonia during the Croatian War of Independence. The operation began on 29 October 1991 and ended on 3 January 1992 when a nationwide ceasefire was signed to implement the Vance plan. The offensive was aimed at recapturing the region, in conjunction with two other HV offensives launched against SAO Western Slavonia in the north of the region within days.
On 14 November, the Navy blockade of Dalmatian ports was challenged by civilian ships. The confrontation culminated in the Battle of the Dalmatian channels, when Croatian coastal and island based artillery damaged, sank, or captured a number of Yugoslav navy vessels, including Mukos PČ 176, later rechristened PB 62 Šolta.
On December 19, as the intensity of the fighting increased, Croatia won its first diplomatic recognition by a western nation—Iceland—while the Serbian Autonomous Oblasts in Krajina and western Slavonia officially declared themselves the Republic of Serbian Krajina.
In 1992, the Croat-Bosniak conflict erupted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just as each was fighting with the Bosnian Serbs. The war was originally fought between the Croatian Defense Council and Croatian volunteer troops on one side and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) on the other, but by 1994, the Croatian Army had an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 troops involved in the fighting.
On February 18, 1993, Croatian authorities signed the Daruvar Agreement with local Serb leaders in Western Slavonia. The aim of the secret agreement was normalizing life for local populations near the frontline. However, authorities in Knin learned of this and arrested the Serb leaders responsible.
Under pressure from the United States, the belligerents agreed on a truce in late February, followed by a meeting of Croatian, Bosnian, and Bosnian Croat representatives with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Washington, D.C. on February 26, 1994.
From November 29 – December 24 in the Winter '94 operation near Dinara and Livno. These operations were undertaken to detract from the siege of the Bihać region and to approach the RSK capital of Knin from the north, isolating it on three sides.
On 4 August, Croatia started Operation Storm, with the aim of recapturing almost all of the occupied territory in Croatia, except for a comparatively small strip of land, located along the Danube, at a considerable distance from the bulk of the contested land. The offensive, involving 100,000 Croatian soldiers, was the largest single land battle fought in Europe since World War II. Operation Storm achieved its goals and was declared completed on 8 August.
As the UNTAES replaced the UNCRO mission, Prevlaka peninsula, previously under UNCRO control, was put under control of United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP). The UNMOP was established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1038 of 15 January 1996, and terminated on 15 December 2002.