Serbia and the Serbian Rebellion in Croatia (1990-1991)

Hayball, Harry Jack. 2015. Serbia and the Serbian Rebellion in Croatia (1990-1991). Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

It is often suggested that the Serbian rebellion in Croatia in 1990-91 was orchestrated by Serbia, and, in particular, by its president Slobodan Milošević personally. Despite the popularity of this interpretation, however, the literature on the break-up of Yugoslavia is yet to offer a focused study of Serbia's role in the descent into conflict in Croatia. Many sources that have become available in recent years remain unused. Through a critical and cautious use of such sources, including extensive interviews with participants in the conflict and contemporary documentation, this thesis aims to fill this gap in the literature and to update our knowledge of this important aspect of the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia. Honing in on Belgrade's relationships with Serb political and military/paramilitary leaders in Croatia, as well as Serbia's direct involvement in and attitude towards the road to war, it concludes that the existing focus on Milošević's Serbia has been misplaced. Serbia's stance towards Croatia was hardline, but Belgrade's influence over the Croatian Serbs was limited and its direct involvement in events minimal. Milošević did not have a grand plan to orchestrate violence in Croatia, and the leaders of the Serbian rebellion in Croatia were fundamentally independent and autonomous actors, who, far from being Milošević's puppets, were often in conflict with him. The interaction between Croat and Serb nationalists within Croatia provides a strong explanation for the descent into conflict there, including its rapid militarisation. A partial exception is provided by the region of Eastern Slavonia, where factors such as the late onset of the rebellion made the region much more amenable to Belgrade's influence, though principally after the war had already begun. The findings of this thesis point to a need for re-assessment of the role of Serbia in the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Croatia, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Krajina, Knin, Slavonia, Milosevic, Tudjman, Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, RSK, transition, disintegration, break-up, war, ethnic, mobilisation, rebellion, Raskovic, Babic, Martic, Jovic, 1990, 1991, JNA, Kadijevic, Adzic, DB, RDB, Stanisic, Frenki, Pekic, Boljkovac, army, military, police, arms

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30 June 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 Jul 2015 16:29

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 14:04


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