Revolutionary violence and military repression like in China was the ever present specter of the transitions in Eastern and Central Europe, too, during 1989/1990. When Slovenia and Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991, followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, the Serb-dominated Yugoslav Army tried to stop the secessions.
The European Community – soon to become the European Union – was successful in stopping the fighting in Slovenia, but lacked the military means to stop the bloodshed in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina where “ethnic cleansing” reached new dimensions.
The siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica became symbols of “genocide”in Europe in the late 20th century.
The United Nations brokered armistice agreements and sent peacekeeping forces, but the U.S. and the other great powers refused to send the troops needed to end the fighting early. Only late in 1995 did the U.S. broker the Dayton Agreement for Bosnia-Herzegovina, supervised by NATO troops and UN police forces.
In 1999, NATO unleashed a short war to assist Kosovo-Albanian separatists in Kosovo. For Austria, these wars meant tensions in its immediate neighborhood. Thousands of refugees once again poured across the border.
Austria contributed military and police peace keepers as well as civilian specialists to various UN, NATO, and EU operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. In addition, the Austrian population donated an enormous amount of private aid to the suffering people in the Balkans.
The former Yugoslavia breaks apart after 1990 and becomes a war zone where “ethnic cleansing” and genocide are practiced.
PHOTO CREDITS: FROM TOP Hedwig Pfarrhofer, APA; Votava; AP; Bozo Vukicevic/AP.