By Prof. Raymond Tanter, John Psarouthakis
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Extra info for Balancing in the Balkans
Just as the United States magnified the capabilities of the Soviet army, Washington also overestimated the capacity of the Yugoslav National Army in the post–Cold War era. The United States considered the Yugoslav National Army as a guarantor of stability against disintegration, rather than the perpetrator of instability that it became. By magnifying the capabilities of the Yugoslav National Army and assuming that it could guarantee stability, Washington added fuel to the smoldering fire that threatened to engulf the ethnic groups.
In 1915, during World War I, the fighting in the Balkans began to turn against Serbia. Croat, Serb, and Slovene diplomats wrote the Declaration of Corfu, which called for a “southern Slav” state. On December 7, 1918, King Alexander of Serbia announced the creation of that state—Yugoslavia. Six republics comprised Yugoslavia from 1946 until it fell in 1991. Then, three of the republics—Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia—seceded. A fourth republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, declared its independence during 1992.
But where you stand on a diplomatic alternative depends on where you sit. That is, a proposal from Belgrade may have looked self-serving to the other republics, and vice versa. With this caveat in mind, consider several forgone occasions for diplomacy. During late 1990, Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia indicated that they would accept a compromise solution. One idea was for Yugoslavia to evolve into a confederation with a balance among the members. Another proposed option was for a union of independent states.