Independence of the Republic of Croatia

Croatian flag

Today 27 years ago Republic of Croatia became independent.

One of the most important steps to the independence of the Republic of Croatia is a referendum held on 19 May 1991, on which people had to declare whether they are for independent Croatia. 83.6% of the total number of registered voters came out, and the positive response was 93.2%. Thus, the possibility of remaining Croatia in Yugoslavia as a federal state was denied, but it was compromised the possibility of access to the alliance of sovereign states with other republics, in some kind of loose confederation. All these decisions spread the conflicts in Croatia and caused the growing protests of Serbs minority in Croatia.

The crisis was internationalized and third-party representatives of the Economic Community (EC) and the United Nations (UN) were included in it. They are also partly responsible for the coming tragedy, because they have believed for a long time that a rational West European approach based on economic interests and diplomatic considerations would be acceptable to all. They allowed Milosevic and his supporters to represent Yugoslavia for too long.

All the reactions of the EC, the US and the UN were delayed and inadequate. It was particularly damaging from their part the equalizing the victim and the attacker for too long. They supported the fiction about the existence of Yugoslavia, that is to say, to preserve Yugoslavia by prior agreement of interested parties. The West was satisfied with the role of observers and limited their participation in running the so-called “Diplomacy of good will”.

Croatia has prepared for the war basically since the summer of 1990, and in the spring of 1991, poorly armed volunteer assignments were organized. The members of the Croatian Democratic Union were becoming more involved. The first brigade called Croatian National Guard is being organized as the core of the future Croatian Army. It acted in coordination with special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It was becoming obvious that the war was inevitable because the two armies who considered the same territory as theirs are difficult to keep out of conflict.

As the Serbian leadership, which I have mentioned before, firmly rejected the Croat-Slovenian proposal on the Confederation, the Croatian leadership in the spring of 1991 was seeking ways to withdraw from the Yugoslav community. The ideas of Croatia's full independence were emerging in the HDZ, even before the elections, and especially after the victory. Until the spring of 1991 Tuđman was ready for compromise solutions to greater Croatian independence within Yugoslavia, but the growing pressure on Croatia and frequent armed provocations were causes for full independence. 

Building of Croatian Parliament in Zagreb
Building of Croatian Parliament in Zagreb. Credit: Suradnik13, Wikimedia Commons

So, on 25 June 1991 the Parliament adopted the Constitutional Declaration on Croatia's sovereignty and independence. According to it, in the territory of Croatia are only the laws passed by the Parliament, and those federal regulations that are not in conformity with the Croatian ones are out of force. The same day the Assembly of Slovenia did the similar thing after which JNA unsuccessfully attacks Slovenia. After 5 days of war, the truce was concluded.

I am presenting you the text of the above mentioned decision in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia:

The Parliament of the Republic of Croatia, by executing the will of the people, announced by the referendum of May 19, 1991, made the Constitutional Declaration on sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Croatia, which reads as follows:
The Republic of Croatia is proclaimed as a sovereign state.

With this act, the Republic of Croatia starts the separation process from other republics and the SFRY. The Republic of Croatia initiates the procedure for international recognition.
The international agreements which the SFRY concluded shall apply to the Republic of Croatia if they are not opposed with the Constitution and the legal order of the Republic of Croatia, based on the international convention on the succession of States regarding the treaty.

Only the laws enacted by the Croatian parliament apply on Croatian territory, and federal regulations that have not yet abolished. The Republic of Croatia takes over all the rights and obligations that have been transferred to the SFRY bodies by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and the SFRY Constitution. The process of gaining these rights and obligations shall be governed by the constitutional law.

The state borders of the Republic of Croatia are internationally recognized state borders of the former SFRY in the part related to the Republic of Croatia and the borders between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro within the former SFRY.
Accepting the principles of the Paris Charter, the Republic of Croatia guarantees all its citizens national and other fundamental rights and freedoms of man and citizen, democratic order, the rule of law and all the highest values of its constitutional and international legal order.
This constitutional decision comes into force when the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia declares it.

Soldiers keep the flags in greeting to Supreme Commander of Croatian Army
Soldiers keep the flags in greeting to Supreme Commander of Croatian Army
Credit: Suradnik13, Wikimedia Commons

The attack on Slovenia was perceived as a clear sign that a similar assault on Croatia might soon occur, so the preparations have continued during the summer of 1991. Even the conflicts between the political parties calmed down because of determination to defend Croatia as never before. This political unity was most expressed at the beginning of August when the government of Democratic Unity was formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Franjo Gregurić, the only multi-party government in the period of HDZ ruler ship.

In July and early August incidents were becoming more frequent and more violent that it grew in local armed conflicts. Hot spots were around Knin, Glina, Kostajnica, and in Eastern Slavonia around Osijek and Vukovar, in Western Slavonia around Pakrac and Okučani. Para-police and paramilitary units of local Serbs occupied Croatian police stations and expelled Croatian police and citizens. There were massacres of civilians and soldiers from the Serb side, and war crimes of the Croatian side over the Serbs.

This is the excerpt from post on my Patreon about Croatian independence and international recognition. If you want to know more about this topic and its context, become my patreon and get access to it by clicking here. Billing is on monthly basis.  


  1. I had no idea about Croatia's independence story so this was such an interesting read. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I loved history back in grade school and about Kenya's independence, there was a really big war that lasted for years and years leading to bloodshed and much killings. And as much as we went through the same fate as Croatia, they are lucky since theirs never lasted as long.

    1. Yes, unfortunately, many countries passed through the hell of war... Must never forget!

  3. We have to say this was a lovely read. We loved going back in time are reading more about events in history

  4. I absolutely loved this post. So well written and informative. I love reading about the history of countries and how they go to where they are now. Well done!

  5. It sounds like such an interesting history of the area. I love learning about an area and a people's history. So much can be learned from studying it. I am sure your Patreon post would be even better.

    1. Then become my patron :) yes, history is full of interesting things that can taught us.

  6. What a helpful post. Thanks for sharing the history of Croatia's independence here. I didn't know any of the information here.

  7. Such an interesting blog post! Thank you for sharing about Croatia's road to independence. What I found most impressive, was the rate of voter turnout. Here in the US, we generally only have a 50% turnout.

    1. Thank you for your kind words :) Yes it was big one because they were deciding about very important thing, about country's destiny. Today, voter turnout is less then 50% :/