Serbia Modern History

By | October 19, 2021

On 23 March 1999, following Milošević’s opposition to the signing of the Rambouillet peace agreement, which provided for a strong autonomy of Kosovo within the Yugoslav Republic, the demilitarization of its territory, guarantees for the Albanians, the BORN intervened in Yugoslavia with air raids. The Serbian army, cornered by continuous aerial bombardments, intensified its ethnic cleansing action against the Kosovo Albanians, forcing them to flee en masse to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The attempt to resolve the conflict through diplomacy proved once again unsuccessful and for this reason the UN and many countries, including Italy, mobilized to help the refugees. In June of the same year, the allied forces interrupted the attacks against Serbia which, by now reduced to its limit, accepted the diplomatic proposal of a peace plan which provided for: an end to the violence and substantial autonomy for Kosovo, the withdrawal of the Serbian forces, the disarmament of the KLA and the return of refugees, operations supported by the presence of an international force coordinated by NATO. Meanwhile, throughout Serbia, many took to the streets to demonstrate against Milošević’s government, demanding his resignation. Despite the repressive measures adopted by the government, the demonstrations followed one another also in 2000 and turned into a real popular uprising in October of the same year, due to the attempted invalidation of the Yugoslav presidential elections, which saw Milošević defeated by the democrat Vojislav Kostunica. In the wake of the federal elections on 23 December 2000, the Serbian consultations for the renewal of Parliament also decreed the defeat of Milošević’s party and the victory of the democratic opposition (DOS). In January 2001 it settled like this, after years of socialist supremacy, a new democratic majority government, headed by Zoran Djindjić, who shortly after, in March 2001, favored the deportation of Milošević to the International Tribunal in The Hague in exchange for the remaining economic aid allocated by the United States for the serious damage caused to Serbia by the NATO bombings during the Kosovo war. On March 14, 2002, Serbia and Montenegro signed a federation agreement, which created a new state entity with a single president, a federal parliament (91 seats in Serbia and 35 seats in Montenegro) and a federal Council of Ministers.

The agreement also included maintaining a single seat at the United Nations and future membership of the EU. According to globalsciencellc, the agreement provided for a duration of three years, after which the redefinition of a new form of union or the eventual withdrawal from the federation by referendum was envisaged. The name of the new country was Serbia and Montenegro, which officially began to exist on March 4, 2003 with the first meeting of the Federal Assembly. Unlike the new federal institutions, those within the Serbian republic proved to be particularly fragile, since presidential elections were invalidated three times between 2002 and 2003 (13 October and 8 December in 2002 and 16 November in 2003) for failure to reach the quorum of 50% +1 of participation in the vote. Furthermore, in the same 2003 the Serbian premier in office Zoran Djindjić was assassinated, thus leaving Serbia deprived at the same time of the head of the government and the president. The late leader had been the promoter of a series of internal reforms, a rapprochement with the EU and a serious collaboration with the Hague Tribunal. After the death of the statesman, the coalition that the political and institutional forces had implemented around him collapsed. In fact, in the legislative elections of 28 December 2003, the newly elected parliament was characterized by its difficulty in expressing stable majorities capable of supporting a government. In addition, the successes of the Serbian radical party (SRS) of the ultranationalist leader Vojislav Šešelj, elected despite his incarceration in The Hague, and of the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) founded by Milošević. Vojislav Kostunica, former federal president and leader of the conservatively oriented Serbian Democratic Party (DSS), which also had external support from the Socialist Party. The expiration of the Serbia and Montenegro union was sanctioned by a referendum held in Montenegro, in 2006, to decide whether or not the country would remain in the federation.

The outcome was negative with 55.5% of the consensus, which thus determined the separation of Montenegro from Serbia. In November 2006, the new Constitution of the country was approved in a referendum which, among other things, reaffirmed Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo. In January 2007, the ultra-nationalists won the Serbian legislative elections, without however obtaining a majority in Parliament. In May the new government was formed, the result of a alliance between Kostunica (DSS) and Borislav Tadić (DS); Kostunica assumed the post of premier, while in November the government signed the Association and Stabilization Agreement with the European Union. In February 2008, presidential elections were held, won by B. Tadić with 50.5% of the votes, against the nationalist Nikolić. In the same month, Kosovo unilaterally declared its dependence, a decision that the Serbian government strongly contested. In March Kostunica resigned and asked the president to dissolve the chambers in view of new elections, later won in May by President Tadić’s ‘For a European Serbia’ coalition. In July 2008, the police arrested R. Karadzić, accused of war crimes, while in May 2011 it was Ratko Mladić who was captured. In April 2012, President Tadić resigned, in view of early elections, held in May with the victory of the nationalist Tomislav Nikolić. In July the new president instructed the socialist Ivica Dačvić to form a new government. The nationalist coalition obtained an absolute majority in the 2014 elections and the executive was entrusted to Aleksandar Vučić.

Serbia Modern History