Serbia Brief History
For three autumn weeks, I explored Serbia and Macedonia, two of the Balkan countries, by car. Through my 2,500 kilometer long journey, I had the opportunity to form a good idea of these countries that have several similarities, but also differences. Both countries were affected by the war in the Balkans in the early 1990s and still suffer from the aftermath. Both countries can show off rolling, wooded mountain areas, lakes and historic sites to visit. According to Businesscarriers, their culture differs to some extent. While in Macedonia it was built healthy and breathed faith in the future, it almost felt as if life was “upside down” in Serbia.
My trip was planned so that I would get to some of the places in Serbia and Macedonia that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, such as the monasteries Studenica and Sopocani in Serbia and Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, which together with Lake Baikal and Lake Titicaca are one of the world’s oldest lakes, as well as the city of Ohrid with its fantastic old town and some of the unique churches and monasteries around Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. I visited the city of Nis (Serbia) where the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who introduced Christianity to the Roman Empire was born, and I visited the capitals of Belgrade in Serbia and Skopje, Mother Theresa’s birthplace, in Macedonia.
I met a lot of nice people during the trip who became piquant elements, an example is the invitation to a wedding party with about 350 guests in the city of Bajina Basta on the river Drina in Serbia.
The journey began, and ended, in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Serbia was the 98th country I visited and Macedonia the 99th.
Driving a car in these countries was not always easy, for various reasons; rural roads were often in poor condition and could be blocked by tractors, horse-drawn carriages, power tools, cows or sheep. On a couple of occasions I came across such thick fog that I could not drive faster than 25 – 30 km when the visibility was at most 20 meters. In the mountains on the border with Kosovo, I was stopped by heavily armed soldiers who wanted to know why I was driving on the small and winding roads. Not always easy to get around, but always exciting!
Serbia history in brief
History of Serbia, before Christ
The traces of the first settlements in the country we now call Serbia have been found at the Lepinski Vir on the river Danube and are Europe’s oldest settlements from the Neolithic.
During the Iron Age, the Balkans were invaded by the Illyrians from the west and the Thracians from the east
400s The Celts immigrated to the Balkans from the north
The Romans invaded the Balkans and shortly after the birth of Christ were rulers of the whole region
History of Serbia, after Christ
After the division of the Roman Empire into a western and an eastern part, different peoples in conflict with each other and with the Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, formed new states in the Balkans of varying scope and longevity.
The slaves, who came from the northeast, had colonized almost the entire Balkans
1000s, beginning The medieval Serbian Empire emerged
1187 The Serbian Empire was recognized by the Byzantine emperor
The Serbian state got its own Serbian Orthodox archbishop based in Pec in present-day Kosovo. The church became a unifying force and became very important for the Serbs’ national and cultural identity
Stefan Dusan was crowned King of the Serbs and the empire experienced a time of greatness. In Kosovo, which the Serbs count as their ancestral home, many churches and monasteries were built during this era
14th century, second half
The Serbian Empire collapsed and could not resist the Ottoman Turks as they began to advance across the Balkans
A large battle between Serbs and Turks took place on the Thresh Field at Kosovo Polje
Serbia became a Turkish sound state
The Serbian empire is integrated into the Ottoman Empire and after this the Serbs came to live under Turkish and Muslim domination for over four hundred years. However, the population adhered to the Serbian Orthodox religion and culture
16th century, end
The Habsburg emperor established a military border area with the Turks in present-day Croatia, the so-called Krajina, which means border. This created the Serbian enclaves in Croatia
After the Russo-Turkish War, the Turkish Sultan was forced to give the Serbs full independence
Serbia became a kingdom
Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed by the Habsburg dual monarchy. Successor to the throne Franz Ferdinand intended to give the South Slavic people autonomy to reduce their willingness to join Serbia. When Serbia wanted to liberate the Bosnian Serbs from Austrian rule, the country came into direct conflict with Austria-Hungary
In the First Balkan War, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece defeated the Turks
In the Second Balkan War, the victors fought for the free countries. Serbia and Greece shared Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro shared Sandzak area
During a visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 28, Franz Ferdinand was shot by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Serbian nationalist organization Black Hand. The murder was the prelude to the First World War
In December, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed under Serbian Regent Aleksandar Karadjordjevic after the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy in October. But tensions arose between the peoples immediately
The parties that wanted a centrally controlled unitary state won a narrow majority in the elections
In the late 1920s, the country was on the brink of civil war
In January, King Aleksandar dissolved parliament, the constitution was put out of action and the king made himself dictator. At the same time, the country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
King Aleksandar was murdered in Marseille by a VMRO terrorist but Ustasja was considered to be behind the murder. The guardian regime that took over after the assassinated king because his eldest son was underage supported the Germans at the beginning of World War II. Yugoslavia was already heavily economically dependent on Nazi Germany
At the end of March, the officers who supported the Allies against the Germans staged a coup
Therefore, on April 6, Yugoslavia was attacked by the Axis powers Germany and Italy and its supporters Hungary and Bulgaria. Montenegro was incorporated into fascist Italy, which also brought together Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia into a Greater Albania under its rule. Most of Serbia was occupied by the Germans, who appointed a puppet government. In most of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a fascist obedient state, the so-called Free Croatia, was formed with German support.
Two rival resistance groups fought against the invaders; the royal cetniks under Colonel Mihajlovic, backed by the Yugoslav government in exile in London, and the National Liberation Army, under the leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party, Josip Broz (Tito). Attempts to unite the movements resulted in a bloody feud between cetniks and left-wing partisans
The Allies, who first supported the loyalists, now instead gave Tito their support and in November, Tito proclaimed a partisan government in the liberated areas in the city of Jajce in Bosnia. At the same time, political and religious terror was taking place in parts of Yugoslavia. The Ustasy regime in Croatia persecuted Jews, Roma, and political opponents. They also tried by force to force Orthodox Serbs to convert to Catholicism. Many Croatian Serbs managed to escape to Serbia. Serbian groups, including the Cetniks, responded with brutal attacks on Croats
The worst fighting hit Bosnia. By the end of the war, one tenth of Yugoslavia’s population had been killed and 3.5 million homeless. More people had been killed in the internal battles than in the struggle against the occupying forces
In 1944, the loyalists were finally defeated when the king was formally deposed
On March 7, Tito formed a government. Serbia became one of the largest of the six constituent republics of the Communist-ruled Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Serbian capital Belgrade became the seat of all common administration and the capital of the new republic. To begin with, Josip Tito followed the Soviet ideology and Yugoslavia had a constitution based on the Soviet one from 1936. The Communist Party was the only one allowed and all opposition was suppressed. Large parts of the business community were nationalized
Tito’s ambition to form an alliance of the communist-ruled states in the Balkans with himself as leader led Josef Stalin, who did not want any competition for international communist leadership, to exclude Yugoslavia from the communist community and Tito was forced to turn to the West. He changed the direction of domestic policy and decentralized economic decision-making. Following this, Yugoslavia received extensive economic and military assistance from the United States and other Western countries
After Nikita Khrushchev came to power in the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia resumed relations
The economic success and Tito’s cohesive power had hidden the system’s contradictions. During the 1970s, Yugoslavia began to experience economic problems, which worsened during the 1980s. At the same time, internal contradictions increased. The constitution of 1974, which came about after a Croatian uprising, gave the republics extensive autonomy with their own governments and administrations. The central government in Belgrade was responsible for foreign policy, defense and parts of the economy, but the republics were able to veto important issues and for the most part the federation’s best came second
The new constitution weakened Serbia’s influence and the Serbian provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina gained far-reaching autonomy. After Tito’s death, the Serbs began to openly work for a redistribution of power within their own republic and the federation as a whole.
At the end of the year, Slobodan Milosevic became the leader of the Serbian Communist Party. He fought to restore the importance of the Serbs and made Kosovo a symbolic issue
1989 Slobodan Milosevic is elected president
History of Serbia, modern
The economic and political decline of Yugoslavia continued during this decade and some of the states declared their independence (first out were Slovenia and Croatia on June 25, 1991), which led to the attack by the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). This led to a bloody war in the former Yugoslavia. The war became extremely cruel and required many casualties and many abuses against the various ethnic groups were committed. Several of the leaders were later extradited to the court in The Hague where they were convicted for their roles in the war. The war did not end until NATO intervened and carried out bomb attacks on several cities in Serbia. Kosovo wanted independence, but Serbia refused