Conflicts & War

The war was inevitable, says former president of Yugoslavia

By Vesna Bernardic

Zagreb, Jun 23 (EFE).- It has been 30 years since Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, marking the breakup of the Federation after a series of bloody ethnic wars that lasted a decade.

But according to the last president of Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesic — who represented Croatia in the Federation — reaching an agreement and avoiding a war was not possible.

“I proposed a confederation for three, five, eight years, as long as we needed to reach an agreement and then decide what to do. All the constituent elements would proclaim their independence and sign a confederal agreement. But no proposal was accepted,” Mesic told Efe.

Mesic said his counterparts from the other federations — which included Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and the two autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina — were unwilling to reach a political agreement.

“Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, then president of Serbia, was against any political, federal or confederal agreement proposed. They were only interested in Greater Serbia,” Mesic said.

“Meanwhile, Milosevic was deceiving the world that he wanted to preserve Yugoslavia,” he added.

Amid growing nationalism, Milosevic changed the fragile balance in the Federation when between 1989-1990 he stripped autonomy from Kosovo and Vojvodina and forced a pro-Serbian change of power in Montenegro.

“With the changes in Kosovo and Vojvodina, he destroyed an indispensable pillar of equal rights in the Federation, since the regions were one of its constituent elements. He simply annihilated those autonomies,” Mesic said.

Milosevic was indicted for war crimes during the Kosovo war and died in prison in The Hague in 2006.

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