Croatia History Part I

Inhabited by the Illyrians and colonized by the Greeks, the region was part of Pannonia in Roman times and in 356, after being provisionally subdued by the Ostrogoths, it was annexed by Justinian to Byzantium. Conquered by the Avars (568), it was gradually inhabited, starting from the century. VII, from Slavic populations who, coming from the N of the Carpathians, occupied the area between the Sava and the Drava (so-called Pannonian Croatia) and that along the coast (Dalmatian or maritime Croatia). Forced to suffer the hostility of the Avars, these populations later identified in the ancestors of the Croatian nation, ended up asking for support from the Franks and Byzantium. Converted to Christianity under Frankish influence, they were linked more to the Germanic influence than to the Byzantine one and the religious element ended up catalyzing the need for independence from the Byzantine rule, re-established between 877 and 910. The Croatian prince Tomislao established an independent Croatian state and had the title of king in 925. In the sec. XI the Croatian state was consolidated and extended to Dalmatia, but internal struggles and rivalries of the powers interested in Croatia led Peter IV Kresimir (1058-74) to lean on Hungary, until, with the extinction of the Croatian dynasty in 1102, the crown of Croatia and Dalmatia passed to Colomanno, king of Hungary; in 1260 Bela IV of Hungary divided Croatia, separating the Kingdom of Croatia and Dalmatia from the Kingdom of Slavonia. The region remained with the Hungarians until 1526 when, following the defeat of the Hungarian-Croatian troops by the Turks (Mohacs), it passed under the Habsburgs.

Engaged in continuous resistance to the Turks and at the same time defending their autonomy against the Serbs and the Habsburg centralization, the Croatian population was urged to keep their “Illyrian” consciousness alive and after the Napoleonic rule (1809-13) it developed in Croatia a political-cultural movement headed by L. Gaj: Illyrianism. The struggle for its autonomy continued to characterize the life of Croatia until the end of the First World War, when the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire led to the union of Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918) with capital Belgrade, renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. A strong antagonism against the Serbian element and against its centralization policy made life difficult for the new state within which in 1939 (25 August) Croatia was finally established as an autonomous banat. With the German occupation of Zagreb (April 1941), the Ustashas (Croatian nationalists) proclaimed an independent state of Croatia extended also to today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was actually subservient to the Nazi-fascists, offering the crown to the Italian prince Aimone d’Aosta.

The Croatian state, which had pursued the objective of ensuring ethnic purity in its territory by eliminating Serbs, Gypsies and Jews as non-Croats, ended with the conquest of the region by the Allies in the North and with the arrival of troops of Tito (May 6, 1945). On 30 November 1946 Croatia as a Republic from the territory corresponding to that of today’s Croatian state entered the federal system of the Yugoslav People’s Republic. In the 1970s, the Ustasha reconstituted a clandestine separatist movement of fascist inspiration, which carried out numerous terrorist acts in Yugoslavia and abroad. At the end of the 1980s, following the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, according to computerminus, a secessionist political force developed in Croatia which, after a popular referendum in favor of a large majority of detachment from the Federation of Yugoslav Republics, induced the Parliament to proclaim, on June 26, 1991, the independence of Croatia. This however, as well as the simultaneous declaration of sovereignty of the Slovenia, was not recognized by the federal institutions of Belgrade, which mobilized the army against the rebel republics, responsible for having proclaimed the secession by unilaterally altering the federal structures of the state.

The bloody civil war that followed, made even more bloody by the ethnic clashes with the fierce Serbian minority present in Croatia, did not subside even after the recognition of Croatian independence by the EEC countries (January 1992) and by most of the international community, so much so as to determine the dispatch of a strong contingent of the UN. The presence of an interposition force and, above all, the evolution of Bosnian events actually eased the tension between Croatia and Serbia, Krajina where, in 1993, the Serbian population spoke out for unification with the Bosnian Serbs. At the same time, Croatia was the protagonist, precisely in Bosnia and Herzegovina, of a fluctuating policy made up of official agreements with Muslim rulers, while the Croatian-Bosnian militias pursued that practice of ethnic cleansing that was the leitmotif of the Balkan crisis.

Croatia History 1