US Policy Toward the Balkans 1991-2003


1991: Bush admin. is concerned over prospects widespread secession leaned in Eurasia.


Soviet Union fissures in Dec. 1991: will there be widespread conflict? Civil wars breakout in several Soviet Republics (Georgia, Tajikistan, Armenia-Azerbaijan)


Fear of ethnic based wars in much of eastern Europe.


US policy becomes that of opposing secession, especially violent secession



Wars of the Yugoslavian Secessions


Federal republics of Yugoslavia seek independence in 1991-1992.


European Union leads in diplomacy of recognition.


US, EU, and Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) had called for Yugoslavia to retain its territorial integrity.


Croatia and Slovenia secede unilaterally in June 1991 after failed negotiations to achieve peaceful separation.


Brief war in Slovenia ends in EU/CSCE mediated cease-fire and monitoring mission


Violence erupts in Serb-areas of Croatia in August 1991. Mediation efforts by EU and CSCE fail. UNSC takes up matter.


Nov. 1991: Serbs and Croat areas in B-H declare independence


EU decides to recognize Croatia and Slovenia in Jan. 1992.


Plans made for UN peacekeeping force in Croatia in February 1992 (UNPROFOR).


March 1992: following secession move by Serbian Republic of B-H (i.e., the Serb majority area of Bosnia bordering Serbia), 63% of those voting support independence for B-H.

-         unlike Slovenia (90% Slovene) and Croatia (85% Croat) in 1991, Bosnia was more divided ethnically (40% ‘Muslim’; 32% Serb; 18% Croat)


April 1992: violence spreading in Serb sections of Yugoslavia, but B-H recognized by EU.


May 1992: EU recognizes Macedonia but not by the name “Macedonia” due to Greek objections.


July 1992: reports of Serbian-run “concentration camps” in Bosnia become public.


Oct 1992: UN declares a “no-fly” zone over Bosnia.


1992: Christmas warning by Bush admin that use of force in Kosovo would lead to US military intervention; reiterated by Clinton admin.


Clinton Admin. Policy


Clinton admin. under mild pressure to intervene


Decided to enforce no-fly zone by “Operation Deny Flight” in April 1993


Allow UN-EC mediation plan to proceed


US would not back a plan imposed on Bosnian gov.; Bosnian gov. resists terms of plans


Congress skeptical of Vance-Owen Plan


Clinton admin considers “lift-and-strike” option

-         lift UN arms embargo to all warring parties and use air-strikes to support Bosnian gov’t against Serbs

-         many in Congress back such an approach

-         US military is skeptical

-         EU is opposed

-         US diplomacy was weak


War ranges on and off in B-H

-         Jan- April 1995 cease-fire


Fear of US troop commitment


-         May-June 1995: US commits to cover withdrawal of UNPROFOR, or else UNPROFOR will be disbanded


- May-Sep, 1995: series of Serb and Croat-Bosnian offensives



1995 Bombing Campaign/Croatian Offensive


Under UNSC authorization to use “all necessary means,” NATO bombs Bosnian Serb positions while tacitly approved Croatian land offensive forces back Bosnian Serbs from Aug-Sep 1995 (11 days total, with over 1,026 bombs dropped by US and other NATO member aircraft) after mortar attack on Sarajevo.


Serbs agree to ceasefire and comprehensive talks in Oct.


Agreement on federal B-H reached at Dayton, Ohio in Dec. 1995


Dayton Accord ‘invites’ UNSC resolution to create IFOR to take over from UNPROFOR.


International Force (IFOR), later Stabilization Force (SFOR) deployed in Bosnia to ensure ceasefire under NATO command structure. (Non-NATO nations, including Russia, participate).

US deployed 20,000 troops of 50,000.  Reduced to 6,900.


EU takes over in Dec. 2004