By the end of the 1980ís, there was an independence movement in Croatia. Politicians that supported this movement became more popular among the local population. Franjo Tudjman was one these political leaders. He created the Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1990 after the Communist government allowed the formation of other parties. One of his political messages was the creation of a greater Croatia. This movement created fear for the Serbian minority in the republic. In the first multi-party elections in May 1990 the CDU won the majority seats and Tudjman became the president.
Tudjman made promises for security regarding the Serbs but he never kept them and he quickly alienated them. Later that year, a referendum was made that would allowed the Serbs to vote on whether or not a separate state should be created for the Croatian Serbs. The Serbs chose autonomy and Serbian Autonomous Regions (SARs) were created inside Croatia. The Tudjman government did not recognize these autonomous regions. When the rest of Croatia voted for independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991, the Serbian ethnic minority, about 600,000 stood firmly an opposition.
By October three SARs were established Krajina, Slavonia, and Western Slavonia. Soon after that, a savage civil war had started, broken by many cease fires. By the end of 1991 international pressure had led to Croatian independence, but one-third of the republicís territory was taken over by the Yugoslavian Army. One month later both the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) were involved in mediation efforts in the Former Yugoslavia.
In the beginning of 1992, both armies signed a cease-fire agreement. In regard of the cease-fire agreement, the UN sent 14,000 forces to ensure a peaceful withdrawal of the occupied forces. They proved ineffective. During the Serbian withdrawal, they forced out non-Serbs and started a second round of fighting between the two sides. The effects of the war on democratic rights was negative. The government stopped newspapers and began to arrest extremists in June 1992. The elections of August 1992 revised some of the provisions of the constitution of 1990. President Tudjman was re-elected and gave majority of seats in the assembly to the CDU.
In October of 1992, Croatia began supporting the Bosnian-Croats who wanted to create a Bosnian-Croatian state. The Bosnian-Croats declared independence for their break-away republic. After an election in early 1993, the CDU won the majority of the vote. The Croatian forces began violating the cease-fire agreements. This included the ban on military flights over Bosnia. They began taking offensive action against the Serbs, despite UN presence in the area. The UN and the EU failed to control the peace in the region. Negotiations continued in January of 1994 and an accord between Croatia and Serbia was signed. This agreed to restore communications and transportation between the two countries.
Still 25% of Croatian territory was occupied by the Serbs. Yugoslavia would not recognize the Croatian rights over the SARs. In March of 1994, Bosnian-Croats and the Bosnian government signed a peace agreement that called for a new federation. The new federation signed an agreement with Croatia to establish economic cooperation. This agreement provided Bosnia with a new source of weapons and other various supplies. Croatia finally had control over the SARs. This created a huge wave of Serbian refugees which were moved to the Serbian territory of Bosnia.
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