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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 18:42 GMT
Analysis: Motives behind Yugoslavia's demise

The disappearance of the name "Yugoslavia" marks the end of 74 years of history - its importance is more than symbolic.

The re-shaping of Yugoslavia has taken place largely at the urging of the international community, in particular the European Union's foreign policy representative, Javier Solana.

The EU is concerned to prevent more border changes in the region.

The agreement re-drawing Yugoslavia is a very loose arrangement indeed. Even the name gives it away - Serbia and Montenegro, the names of the two republics, rather than a separate name for the common state.

Kosovo question

The real motivation for pushing through such a deal is to put a stop to any more grand plans to change Balkan borders, with the instability that would unleash.

YUGOSLAVIA'S RISE AND FALL
Map of Serbia and Montenegro
1918 - Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is created
1929 - kingdom is renamed Yugoslavia
1945 - becomes communist state under Tito
1990s - four states break away
2003 - Yugoslavia vanishes, rump state becomes Union of Serbia and Montenegro
This applies particularly to Kosovo, part of Serbia in law, but in practice an international protectorate, with many ethnic Albanians straining at the lead for independence.

Kosovo's United Nations governor, Michael Steiner, counsels "standards before status" - establish the rule of law and functioning institutions before dealing with the thorny question of whether Kosovo should remain part of Serbia or go it alone.

Others, meanwhile, are forging ahead. The Serbian Government's co-ordinator on Kosovo has put forward the idea of partition - if Serbia cannot keep the whole of Kosovo, it would at least retain control over northern areas where most Serbs live.

That, in turn, could have repercussions in Bosnia, where the Bosnian Serbs would rather unite with Serbia proper, at the expense of the unitary Bosnian state, weak though it is.

Montenegro has always been a separate republic from Serbia, like all the other republics who seceded from the old Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. When they broke away, no one anticipated a series of wars which would devastate the region and claim hundreds of thousands of lives.

Now the potential after-effects of such changes are all too clear - which is why so much effort has been devoted to stopping any more.

See also:

04 Feb 03 | Europe
25 Jan 03 | From Our Own Correspondent
28 Jan 03 | Europe
15 Mar 02 | Media reports
15 Mar 02 | Europe
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