Economic Change and the National Question in Twentieth-Century Europe

By Alice Teichova; Herbert Matis et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
Economic background to national conflicts in Yugoslavia
Neven Borak

INTRODUCTION

Yugoslavia (1918–91) was a conglomerate of several different ethnic groups (table 16.1), two alphabets, three major religions, five languages, it was known for large socio-economic disparities and inequalities and a unique state system. It has threaded the way from a unitary state (1918–41), often accused of being just a hegemony of one nation over the others, to the state of eight federal units (1945–91). After the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, four of them, namely Slovenia, Croatia, BosniaHerzegovina and Macedonia, became internationally recognised independent states, whilst the remaining four (Serbia, Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro) are at the time of writing united under one state, which has, quite unjustifiably, retained the name Yugoslavia. Figure 16.1 reveals one of the most important characteristics of the former Yugoslavia: the further south-east one goes from the north-western part of the country, the smaller is the national homogeneity of the former federal units; in Slovenia 90.5 per cent of the population were Slovenians, in Croatia 75 per cent of the population were Croats, in Serbia 66.4 per cent of the population were Serbs (including Vojvodina and Kosovo), in Macedonia 67 per cent of the population were Macedonians and in Montenegro 68.5 per cent of the population were Montenegrins. Muslims were the most numerous nation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, accounting for 39.5 per cent of the total population. Serbs represented the second most numerous segment of population — 32 per cent — and Croats were the third, representing 18.4 per cent of total population. According to the OECD 1 estimate, Yugoslavia was at the level of Turkey in terms of per capita gross domestic product at purchasing power parity in 1985. Kosovo, the less-developed part of Yugoslavia, was at the level of Pakistan. The most developed part, Slovenia, was compared with Spain and New Zealand. Vojvodina and Croatia approached Greece and Portugal. Bosnia-

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