Serbia's contemporary history
Serbia's contemporary history is the country's
history after 2006. From 1992 to 2006, Serbia was in the
Federal Republic of Montenegro, called Serbia and
Montenegro. In the summer of 2006, Serbia again became
an independent country when Montenegro left the union
after a referendum.
Independent Serbia also includes the autonomous area
of Vojvodina. Until February 2008, the province of
Kosovo -Metohija was also part of Serbia.
Dissolution of the Federal Republic
Ever since the union of Serbia and Montenegro was
concluded, there have been dissolution trends -
especially after the new 2003 union agreement. This was
rejected by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica.
But in 2006, the Montenegrin government announced it
would hold a referendum on independence. Following a
debate on procedures and voting rights, the Pro-Serbian
opposition in Montenegro - and not least the EU - agreed
that they would accept the result of the referendum if
the yes majority was over 55 percent.
At the May 21 referendum, the yes majority was 55.4
percent. On June 3, 2006, Montenegro became an
independent state. Serbia declared itself an independent
republic on June 5 and inherited the federation's place
in the international organizations. The week after,
Serbia recognized the new Republic of Montenegro. The
country was qualified for the World Cup later that
month, where the team was named Serbia and Montenegro.
One of the main reasons Montenegro broke out of the
state federation was the relationship with the EU. In
May 2006, the EU suspended negotiations with Serbia on
EU membership. The main reason was Serbia's failure to
cooperate with the International Criminal Court in The
Hague. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević died
in The Hague in 2006, without the trial against him
ending. Allegations that he had been poisoned or
committed suicide were quickly rejected; he died a
natural death, and speculation soon ended.
Kosovo declares independence
Kosovo had been a province within Serbia since 1946,
but lost its status as an autonomous territory in 1989.
During the 1990s, the conflict between the Kosovo
Albanian people and the Yugoslav (Serbian) authorities
escalated, and in March 1999 NATO launched its bombing
campaign. After the end of the war in June of that year,
Kosovo was put under UN administration.
In the autumn of 2005, the UN Security Council
decided to launch international negotiations to
determine Kosovo's future. The negotiations were led by
UN's new special envoy Martti Ahtisaari. In 2007,
Ahtisaari presented its plan, which in practice meant an
independent Kosovo; the province should have its own
constitution and state symbols, its own armed forces and
independent space in international organizations.
The plan also established Kosovo's "multi-ethnic
character" and contained guarantees for the Serbian
minority. Serbia immediately rejected the plan and
brought the matter to the UN. Russia blocked decisions
that supported Ahtisaari's plan, while Serbia's demands
were rejected by the other permanent members of the UN
During an extraordinary meeting of the Kosovo
National Assembly on February 17, 2008, the province
declared itself independent. Russia immediately brought
the matter to the UN Security Council. Serbia thought
the Declaration of Independence was illegal. Most
European countries and the US supported Kosovo's
In spite of the country's international isolation was
Serbia in autumn 2006 with the NATO program Partnership
for Peace, along with Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In 2006, Norway was responsible in NATO for relations
with Serbia and was a driving force for Serbia to join
Serbia was the Hague Tribunal in 2007 acquitted of
responsibility for the massacre in Srebrenica in 1995.
It was the first time since the UN tribunal establishing
that a country was accused of genocide, but even though
the court ruled that genocide had taken place, it could
not directly linked to Serbian government agencies.
In the February 2008 elections, Boris Tadić of the
Democratic Party was re-elected as President in front of
Tomislav Nikolić of the Nationalist Party. Thus Serbia
took a step closer to EU membership. In April, the EU's
foreign ministers signed a long-delayed agreement with
Serbia on closer cooperation.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was
arrested in July 2008 by Serbian security forces in
Belgrade. He had been on the run for 13 years. Karadžić
was sent to the War Criminal Court in The Hague, which
has accused him of crimes against humanity, mass murder,
rape, abuse, robbery and ethnic cleansing.
European foreign ministers praised Serbia for the
arrest and expressed that this was important for
Serbia's road to EU membership.