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Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of (08/02)


For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia or F.R.Y.)

Area: Montenegro (13,938 sq. km.) is slightly smaller than Connecticut; Serbia (88,412 sq. km.) is slightly smaller than Maine. Combined, they are slightly smaller than Kentucky (102,350 sq. km.).
Cities: Capital of the F.R.Y. and Capital of Serbia--Belgrade, Capital of Montenegro--Podgorica. Other cities--Pristina, Pancevo, Novi Pazar, Uzice, Novi Sad, Subotica, Bor, Nis, Tivat, Kotor.
Terrain: Varied; in the north, rich fertile plains; in the east, limestone ranges and basins; in the southeast, mountains and hills; in the southwest, high shoreline with no islands off the coast.
Climate: In the north, continental climate (cold winter and hot, humid summers with well-distributed rainfall); central portion, continental and Mediterranean climate; to the south, Adriatic climate along the coast, hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall inland.

People (2001 est.)
Nationality: Noun--Montenegrin(s) and Serb(s); adjective--Montenegrin and Serbian.
Population: 8,029,345, (Montenegro 650,575); Serbia (not including Kosovo) 7,478,820--2002 Republic Census).
Population growth rate: -0.27%.
Ethnic groups: Serbian 62.6%, Albanian 16.5%, Montenegrin 5%, Hungarian 3.3%, other 12.6%.
Religions: Orthodox 65%, Muslim 19%, Roman Catholic 4%, Protestant 1%, other 11%.
Languages: Serbo-Croatian 95%, Albanian 5%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--17.42 deaths/1,000. Life expectancy--70.6 yrs., female 76.7 yrs.

Type: Republic.
Constitution: Adopted April 27, 1992.
Independence: April 11, 1992 (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia formed as self-proclaimed successor to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).
Branches: Executive--President (chief of state), Prime Minister (head of government), Federal Executive Council (cabinet); Legislative--bicameral Federal Assembly (Savezna Skupstina) consists of the Chamber of Republics (Vece Republika) and the Chamber of Citizens (Vece Gradjana); Judicial--Federal Court (Savezni Sud) and Constitutional Court.
Political parties: Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM), Christian Democratic Party of Serbia (DHSS), Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS), Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (LDK), Democratic Alternative (DA), Democratic Center (DC), Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians (DZVM), Democratic Party (DS), Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS), League for Sumadija (LS), League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Liberal Alliance of Montenegro (LSCG), New Democracy (ND), New Serbia (NS), Party of Democratic Action (SDA), People's Party of Montenegro (NS), Reformist Democratic Party of Vojvodina (LSV), Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDP), Social Democratic Union (SDU), Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS--former Communist Party), Socialist People's Party of Montenegro (SNP), United Democratic Movement (LBD), Yugoslav United Left (JUL).
Suffrage: 16 years of age if employed; universal at 18.

GDP (2002 est.): $12.84 billion.
GDP growth rate (2002 est.): 4%.
Per capita income (2002 est.): $1,200.
Inflation rate (2002 est.): 20%.
Natural resources: Oil, gas, coal, antimony, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, gold, pyrite, chrome, navigable rivers.
Agriculture: 25%.
Industry: 50%.
Trade (2002 est.): Exports--$2.2 billion. Major markets--Russia, Italy, Germany. Imports--$5.6 billion. Major suppliers--Germany, Italy, Russia.


The Serbian state as known today was created in 1170 A.D. by Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjic dynasty. Serbia's religious foundation came several years later when Stefan's son, canonized as St. Sava, became the first archbishop of a newly autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church (1219). Thus, at this time, the Serbs enjoyed both temporal and religious independence. After a series of successions, Serbia fell under the rule of King Milutin who improved Serbia's position among other European countries. Milutin also was responsible for many of the brightest examples of Medieval Serbian architecture. Moreover, Serbia began to expand under Milutin's reign, seizing territory in nearby Macedonia from the Byzantines. Under Milutin's son, Stefan Dusan (1331-55), the Nemanjic dynasty reached its peak, ruling from the Danube to central Greece. However, Serbian power waned after Stefan's death in 1355, and in the Battle of Kosovo (June 15, 1389) the Serbs were catastrophically defeated by the Turks. By 1459, the Turks exerted complete control over all Serb lands.

For more than 3 centuries--nearly 370 years--the Serbs lived as virtual slaves of the Ottoman sultans. As a result of this great oppression, Serbs began to migrate out of their native and (present-day Kosovo and southern Serbia) into other areas within the Balkan Peninsula, including what is now Vojvodina and Croatia. When the Austrian Hapsburg armies pushed the Ottoman Turks south of the Danube in 699, many Serbs were "liberated," but their native land was still under Ottoman rule.

Movements for Serbian independence began more than 100 years later with uprisings under the Serbian patriots Karageorge (1804-13) and Milos Obrenovic (1815-17). After the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, Serbia became an internationally recognized principality under Turkish suzerainty and Russian protection, and the state expanded steadily southward. After an insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875, Serbia and Montenegro went to war against Turkey in 1876-78 in support of the Bosnian rebels. With Russian assistance, Serbs gained more territory as well as formal independence in 1878, though Bosnia was placed under Austrian administration.

In 1908, Austria-Hungary directly annexed Bosnia, inciting the Serbs to seek the aid of Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece in seizing the last Ottoman-ruled lands in Europe. In the ensuing Balkan Wars of 1912-13, Serbia obtained northern and central Macedonia, but Austria compelled it to yield Albanian lands that would have given it access to the sea. Serb animosity against the Hapsburgs reached a climax on June 28, 1914, when the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, setting off a series of diplomatic and military initiatives among the great powers that culminated in World War I.

Soon after the war began, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces occupied Serbia. Upon the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the war's end in 1918, Vojvodina and Montenegro united with Serbia, and former south Slav subjects of the Hapsburgs sought the protection of the Serbian crown within a kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Serbia was the dominant partner in this state, which in 1929 adopted the name Yugoslavia.

The kingdom soon encountered resistance when Croatians began to resent control from Belgrade. This pressure prompted King Alexander I to split the traditional regions into nine administrative provinces. During World War II, Yugoslavia was divided between the Axis powers and their allies. Royal army soldiers, calling themselves Cetnici (Chetniks), formed a Serbian resistance movement, but a more determined communist resistance under the Partisans, with Soviet and Anglo-American help, liberated all of Yugoslavia by 1944. In an effort to avoid Serbian domination during the post-war years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were given separate and equal republican status within the new socialist federation of Yugoslavia; Kosovo and Vojvodina were made autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia.

Despite the attempts at a federal system of government for Yugoslavia, Serbian communists played the leading role in Yugoslavia's political life for the next 4 decades. As the Germans were defeated at the end of World War II, Josip Broz Tito, a former Bolshevik and devout communist, began to garner support from both within Yugoslavia as well as from the Allies. Yugoslavia remained independent of the U.S.S.R., as Tito broke with Stalin and asserted Yugoslav independence. Tito went on to control Yugoslavia for 35 years. Under communist rule, Serbia was transformed from an agrarian to an industrial society. In the 1980s, however, Yugoslavia's economy began to fail. With the death of Tito, separatist and nationalist tensions emerged in Yugoslavia. In 1989, riding a wave of nationalist sentiment, Serbia's leadership reimposed direct rule over the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, prompting Albanians in Kosovo to agitate for separation from the Republic of Serbia. Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia. On April 27, 1992 in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Montenegro's history is almost inextricably tied to Serbia's. Similarly to Serbia, Montenegro was under the rule of the Ottoman Turks for the duration of their reign in the Balkans. When the Turks were removed from the area, Montenegro became an independent principality within the Austro-Hungarian Empire but did not become an independent, sovereign state until 1878.

During World War I, Montenegro fought on the side of the Allies but was defeated and occupied by Austria. Upon Austrian occupation, the Montenegrin king, King Nikola I, and his family fled to Italy. Consequently, the Serbian king, Petar Karadjordjevic, was able to exploit the chaotic conditions in Montenegro at the war's end, paving the way for the violent and unwanted Serbian annexation of Montenegro.

Montenegro was the only Allied country in World War I to be annexed to another country at the end of the war. The majority of the Montenegrin population opposed the annexation and on January 7, 1919, staged a national uprising--known to history as the Christmas Uprising--against the Serbian annexation. The uprising became a war between Serbia and the Montenegrins that lasted until 1926. Many Montenegrins lost their lives, and though many hoped for an intervention by the Great Powers to protect their sovereignty, none came and Montenegro was effectively absorbed into the new kingdom of Yugoslavia.

When Yugoslavia was invaded and partitioned by the Axis powers in April 1941, Montenegro was appropriated by the Italians under a nominally autonomous administration. This caused a great divide within the Montenegrin population. Many nationalists who had been frustrated with the experience of Yugoslav unification supported the Italian administration. Also, there were advocates of the union with Serbia who began armed resistance movements as well as many communists who, by nature of their political beliefs, were opposed to the Italian presence. As war progressed, the local strength of the communists grew and Montenegro served as an effective base for communism in the region; it was an important refuge for Tito's Partisan forces during the most difficult points in the struggle. After the war, the communist strategy of attempting to unify Yugoslavia through a federal structure elevated Montenegro to the status of a republic, thus securing Montenegrin loyalty to the federation.

The breakup of the Yugoslav federation after 1989 left Montenegro in a precarious position. The first multiparty elections in 1990 showed much public support for the League of Communists, confirming Montenegrin support for the federation. Montenegro joined Serbian efforts to preserve the federation in the form of a "Third Yugoslavia" in 1992. Though Montenegro reaffirmed its political attachment to Serbia, a sense of a distinct Montenegrin identity continued to thrive. Outspoken criticism of Serbian conduct of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina boosted the continuing strength of Montenegrin distinctiveness. Both the people and the government of Montenegro were critical of Slobodon Milosevic's campaign in Kosovo, and the ruling coalition parties boycotted the September 2000 federal elections, which saw the electoral defeat of Milosevic and subsequent overthrow of his regime. The Belgrade Agreement of March 2002, signed by the heads of the federal and republican governments, set forth the parameters for a redefinition of Montenegro's relationship with Serbia within a joint state; however, by Summer 2002 debate over the details of the new federal structure was still ongoing in both Montenegro and Serbia.

In late 1998, Milosevic unleashed a brutal police and military campaign against separatist insurgents in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo. Milosevic's campaign and failure to capitulate to resolutions agreed upon in the Rambouillet Accords provoked a military response from NATO which consisted primarily of aerial bombing and lasted from late March 1999 through late June 1999. For the duration of Milosevic's campaign, enormous masses of ethnic Albanians were either displaced from their homes in Kosovo or killed by Serbian troops or police.

After June 1999, Kosovo was made a UN protectorate, under the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) based in Pristina. Under UNMIK aegis and with NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) providing security, efforts to build a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo commenced immediately. From early 2001, UNMIK has been working with representatives of the Serbian and F.R.Y. governments to reestablish stable relations in the region. Kosovars elected a new assembly in November 2001, which formed a government and chose a president in February 2002. In Spring 2002, UNMIK announced its plan to repatriate ethnic Serb IDPs.

Although threatened by Milosevic throughout the last years of his rule, Montenegro's democratization efforts have continued. In January 1998, Milo Djukanovic became Montenegro's President, following bitterly contested elections in November 1997, which were declared free and fair by international monitors. His coalition followed up with parliamentary elections in May. Having weathered Milosevic's campaign to undermine his government, Djukanovic has struggled to balance the pro-independence stance of his coalition with the changed domestic and international environment of the post-October 5 Balkans.

Before October 5, even as opposition grew, Milosevic continued to dominate the organs of the F.R.Y. Government. And although his political party, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), did not enjoy a majority in either the federal or Serbian parliaments, it dominated the governing coalitions and held all the key administrative posts. An essential element of Milosevic's grasp on power was his control of the Serbian police, a heavily armed force of some 100,000 that was responsible for internal security and which committed serious human rights abuses. Routine federal elections in September 2002 resulted in a narrow official victory for Milosevic and his coalition. Immediately, street protests and rallies filled cities across the country as Serbs rallied around Vojislav Kostunica, the recently formed Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS, a broad coalition of anti-Milosevic parties) candidate for F.R.Y. president. Cries of fraud and calls for Milosevic's removal echoed across city squares from Subotica to Nis.

On October 5, 2000, Slobodan Milosevic was forced to concede defeat after days of mass protests all across Serbia. New F.R.Y. President Vojislav Kostunica was soon joined at the top of the domestic Serbian political scene by the Democratic Party's (DS) Zoran Djindjic, who was elected Prime Minister of Serbia at the head of the DOS ticket in December's republican elections. After an initial honeymoon period in the wake of October 5, DSS and the rest of DOS, led by Djindjic and his DS, found themselves increasingly at odds over the nature and pace of the governments' reform programs. Although initial reform efforts were highly successful, especially in the economic and fiscal sectors, by the middle of 2002, the nationalist Kostunica and the pragmatic Djindjic were openly at odds. Kostunica's party, having informally withdrawn from all DOS decisionmaking bodies, was agitating for early elections to the Serbian Parliament in an effort to force Djindjic from the scene. After the initial euphoria of replacing Milosevic's autocratic regime, the Serbian population, in reaction to this political maneuvering, was sliding into apathy and disillusionment with its leading politicians by mid-2002.

The Federal Assembly (Savezna Skupstina), consisting of the Chamber of Republics (Vece Republika) and the Chamber of Citizens (Vece Gradjana, is the lawmaking body of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

There are 40 seats in the Chamber of Republics, 20 of which are Serbian and 20 of which are Montenegrin. Members serve 4-year terms, and seats are distributed on the basis of party representation to reflect the composition of the legislatures of the republics of Montenegro and Serbia. There are 138 seats in the Chamber of Citizens, 108 of which are Serbian with half elected by constituency majorities and half by proportional representation. Of the 30 Montenegrin seats, 6 are elected by constituency and 24 are elected proportionally. Members serve 4-year terms. The last election for the Chamber of Republics and the Chamber of Citizens was held on September 24, 2000. The distribution of seats by party is Chamber of Republics-SNP 19, DOS 10, SPS-JUL 7, SRS 2, SPO 1, SNS 1; Chamber of Citizens DOS 58, SPS 44, SNP 28, SRS 5, SNS 2, SVM 1. Judicial System: The court system consists of a Constitutional Court and a Federal Court (Savezni Sud). In both courts judges are elected by the Federal Assembly for a 9-year term.

Military branches include the Army of Yugoslavia (VJ), which includes ground forces with internal and border troops, naval forces, and air and air defense forces, and Civil Defense. Civilians fit for military service are estimated at about 2,088,595 (2001 est.). The 2002 estimate for military expenditures as percent of GDP is 3.6%. As of Summer 2002, democratic reforms implemented in other areas of government and society had not been replicated in the VJ or the Ministry of Defense.

Principal Government Officials
F.R.Y. President--Vojislav Kostunica
President of Serbia--Milan Milutinovic
President of Montenegro--Milo Djukanovic
F.R.Y. Prime Minister--Dragisa Pesic
F.R.Y. Foreign Minister--Goran Svilanovic
Serbian Prime Minister--Zoran Djindjic
Montenegrin Prime Minister--Filip Vujanovic

The economy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) entered a prolonged decline in 1998. Exacerbated by international sanctions imposed in response to President Slobodan Milosevic's actions in Kosovo, the F.R.Y. economy's downward spiral showed no real sign of recovery until 2001. A vigorous team of economic reforms has worked to tame inflation (non-energy inflation is less than 9% in 2002, down from over 45% 3 years earlier) and rationalize the F.R.Y. economy. GDP, although only half of its 1997 level, is projected to increase steadily in the near future.

The F.R.Y.'s monetary unit, the dinar, remained volatile throughout the Milosevic regime. Alarmed F.R.Y. officials took several steps to tighten monetary policy in 1998, including ruling out a devaluation in the near term, increasing reserve requirements, and issuing bonds. As 1999 began, the damage control operation had succeeded in returning the exchange rate to reasonable levels. However, it was not until 2002, after intense macroeconomic reform measures, that the F.R.Y. dinar became convertible--a first since the Bretton Woods agreements laid out the post-World War II international exchange rate regime.

Privatization efforts have not succeeded as well as macroeconomic reform. The process of privatization not popular among workers of large socially owned companies, and many citizens appear to believe the tendering process is overly centralized and controlled from Belgrade. Furthermore, international investment is still lagging in the F.R.Y., as a result of both domestic and international investment climates. Managers tend to blame the dearth of interest on the current negative business climate in the F.R.Y. The Kragujevac-based automobile plant--heavily damaged during the recent NATO bombing--remains the most publicly discussed large privatization candidate, but efforts to sell the plant for as little as $1 have failed.

Since the breakup of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia in 1989, the foreign policy of the F.R.Y. was characterized primarily by a desire to secure its political and geopolitical position and the solidarity of ethic Serbs in the Balkan region through a strong nationalist campaign. The F.R.Y. supported and exploited the expansion of violent conflicts, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and its own province, Kosovo, in order to advance its policies. Since October 2000, the F.R.Y. has all but eliminated its nationalist rhetoric and has worked to stabilize and strengthen its bilateral relationships with neighboring countries. In Spring and Summer 2002 the F.R.Y. resolved its longstanding border dispute with Macedonia and established full diplomatic relations with its neighbor and former adversary Croatia. Although a difficult political issue domestically, the F.R.Y. has established a solid working relationship with UNMIK and has released all disputed ethnic Albanian prisoners from Kosovo to the competent UN bodies.

In 2002, the F.R.Y. Government established a commission to coordinate cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and began serving warrants for the arrest of indicted war criminals who have sought refuge in the country.

Immediately preceeding the NATO bombing campaign of the F.R.Y. in Spring 1999, the U.S. and most European countries severed relations with the F.R.Y., and the U.S. embassy was closed. Since October 5, 2000, foreign embassies, including that of the U.S., have reopened, and the F.R.Y. has regained its seat in such international organizations as the OSCE and the UN and is actively participating in IMF and World Bank projects. As of Summer 2002, the F.R.Y. has applied for membership in both the Council of Europe and NATO's Partnership for Peace.

Foreign Aid
Subsequent to the outbreak of hostilities between NATO and the F.R.Y., the F.R.Y. received no foreign aid from the United States and other west European countries. Since October 2000, however, European Union aid has steadily increased, and U.S. restrictions on aid have fallen away as the F.R.Y. stepped forward to meet its international obligations. In May 2002, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was able to certify that the F.R.Y. was making significant progress on the last stages of Dayton Accord implementation, release of political prisoners, and cooperation with ICTY. As a result, the United States is now free to release aid money and support the F.R.Y. in international financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank. Total U.S. aid to the F.R.Y., including debt forgiveness, exceeded $180 million in fiscal year 2002. The U.S. is the single-largest donor of aid to the F.R.Y.

Since the outbreak of war between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the Spring of 1999 the United States and the F.R.Y. severed diplomatic relations. In response to the events of October 2000, the U.S. reestablished a diplomatic presence the following month. The U.S. embassy reopened in May 2001, and Ambassador William Montgomery presented his credentials to F.R.Y. President Kostunica January 4, 2002. The F.R.Y. embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Belgrade have reestablished bilateral relations and provide a full range of consular services.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--William Montgomery
Deputy Chief of Mission--Robert Norman
Public Affairs Counselor--Allen Docal
Political-Economic Counselor--Bert Braun
Consul General--Halarion Martinez
Regional Security Officer--Marian Cotter
Defense Attache--Col. John Sadler
Foreign Commercial Service--Patrick Hughes
USAID--James Stephenson

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