Hands off Jadran
On June 11, 1980, a month after the death of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, the first call was made about the preparation of Yugoslavia for disintegration. The leadership of the Union of Communists of Croatia on that day proposed to the Communist Union of the entire Yugoslavia to discuss the issues of expanding the political and economic rights of all republics of the still unified country.
They talked about the establishment of separate republican consulates and trade missions abroad, as well as the possibility of discussing the issue of granting Kosovo the status of a republic. The latter came as a real shock for Belgrade. And these initiatives of Zagreb were not purely Croatian, they were actually “entrusted” to Croatia by the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the semi-criminal Kosovar Albanian groups.
Assembly building in Belgrade
A corresponding meeting was soon convened in Belgrade, but the Yugoslav authorities participating in its work were stalling, trying to “roll up” those issues in all kinds of discussions and clarifications of legal issues. Nothing concrete was decided at the meeting, but the incentive to expand national separatism suddenly turned out to be very powerful. (for more details see “After Tito there was a flood. Heavy legacy of the master of Yugoslavia”).
However, this meeting practically did not discuss, for example, the long-standing claims of the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to a part of the Adriatic coast (Jadrana). Throughout the 70s and early 80s, Sarajevo regularly, but unsuccessfully, demanded from Belgrade to change in favor of Bosnia and Herzegovina the disproportionately vast territory of the Adriatic coast of Croatia, which actually blocked the neighboring republic from the sea.
Historically, since the domination of the Habsburgs, Bosnia and Herzegovina had access to the Adriatic for only 20 km, which, however, “rested” on the Croatian islands and peninsulas. In response to the demands of the Bosnian leadership, the authorities in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, directly threatened to withdraw from the SFRY, which was clearly feared in Belgrade. Under the threat of Croatian separatism, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial claims to Zagreb were regularly rejected.
The 1879 map shows not only the 20-kilometer stretch of the Bosnian coast, but also the Montenegrin coast occupied by the Austrians
The legacy of the collapsed Habsburg empire turned out to be such that over 80% of the entire Adriatic coast of royal and post-war Yugoslavia was part of Croatia. It was not without difficulty, slightly cut in favor of Slovenia – to the north of the Istrian peninsula, as well as Montenegro, invariably loyal to Serbia and Belgrade as the center of a united Yugoslavia. Serbia and Montenegro tried to take away from the Croats and Dubrovnik (ancient Ragusa), inhabited mainly by not Croats, but did not succeed.
The Croatian Adriatic coast has invariably attracted the West, and not only in terms of tourism. It later turned out to be very “convenient” for direct military intervention in Yugoslavia. In addition, the “coastal” factor allowed Zagreb in 1990-1991. block the foreign trade traffic of the disintegrating SFRY, because over 80% of the country’s sea and about a third of the river port capacities are located again in Croatia.
Zagreb – not Belgrade
Serbia did not want to recognize Turkish domination, traditionally gravitated towards Russia, and in the summer of 1914 fearlessly got involved in a battle with the huge Austro-Hungarian Empire. Which then included Croatia and even Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Vienna just a few years before World War II. For official Belgrade, monarchist or socialist, centripetal tendencies have always been characteristic.
But Zagreb has traditionally looked, and even now looks mainly at the West, and very aggressively defends its special positions not only in the region, but even in united Europe. So it is hardly surprising that Croatia, for a number of reasons, was literally the main “initiator” of the collapse of Yugoslavia (for more details, see “When Tito Left. Inheritance and Heirs”).
The most demonstrative Croatian separatism was supported by Germany and the Vatican. The latter is quite understandable, given that in Croatia with four million inhabitants, 86% of believers are Catholics, and they are just as orthodox as, for example, Poles. In this regard, the point of view of Petr Frolov, Minister-Counselor of the Russian Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015-18 is characteristic:
“In the early stages of the crisis in Yugoslavia, an unusually tough line of a united Germany emerged, which persuaded the rest of the EU to recognize Croatia and Slovenia as independent states. The leading countries of Europe, including the Vatican, rallied to support their fellow believers. conflict “.
P. Frolov drew particular attention to the fact that, in parallel with the support of the Catholics, the “faithful” of a completely different persuasion managed to get their “own”:
Demolishing mosques in old Bosnian Mostar would never occur to anyone
Agree, it is significant how the “remote” Muslims of Bosnia have stimulated the absolutely unthinkable, in the opinion of straightforward Western politicians, the link between Tehran and Riyadh. On the whole, a motley, but capable anti-Yugoslav coalition, in a sense, can even be envied …
It is interesting how the authoritative Serbian politician Dobrivoe Vidic, whom JB Tito considered either a rival or a potential successor, assessed the Croatian claims to independence. D. Vidic was twice the ambassador of Yugoslavia to the USSR, then headed the Assembly – the parliament of the united SFRY, and more than once warned the aging “master of Yugoslavia” about the danger of Croatian separatism. After the death of Marshal Tito, he wrote:
“Support for Croatian nationalists in Yugoslavia itself in the West has increased since the early 70s, when in terms of economic growth it became the leader in the SFRY, holding the leadership until the collapse of the country. The West considered that Croatia was economically ready to leave the SFRY. This role of Croatia also stemmed from the fact that Western investments went mainly to Croatia, and the Belgrade authorities organized the flow of subsidies and investments, mainly also to Croatia. “
This, in Vidic’s opinion, was, among other things, due to the fact that Josip Broz Tito himself was a Croat by nationality, although he was building a single country, relying primarily on Serbia and Serbs in all Yugoslav republics. The “internationalists” who came to power either did not dare to change the specific national alignment in any way, or they simply did not want to. It is possible, as Vidic believed, that this happened “due to the sharply intensified Croatian separatism, which was increasingly manifested soon after Tito and by the Croatian authorities.”
The last flight of Biedich
In conclusion, an important but little-known detail: on January 18, 1977, at the Belgrade airfield of Batainitsa, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, who was starting his last visit to Libya, was seen off by Cemal Biedic and his wife. The Bosnian communist Biedich was at that time not only the head of the united Yugoslavian authority – the Federal Veche, but also the chairman of the Assembly, as well as the informal leader of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia. Tito safely left to visit Colonel Gaddafi, and the Biedichs went home to Sarajevo on a Learjet 25.
Perhaps Tito’s best heir crashed on such a Learjet 25
This flight was cut short by a disaster: a small business-class jet suddenly crashed into Mount Inac in northeastern Bosnia. Cemal Biedich and his wife Razia, work colleagues Ziyo Alikalfich and Smayo Hrla, pilots Stevan Leka and Murat Hanich were killed. According to the official version, the cause of the disaster was the weather conditions, but rumors and versions about an “organized” disaster immediately spread.
Speculation was fueled by the fact that J. Biedich, a Bosniak from Herzegovina, did not support either local, Croatian or Albanian-Kosovar separatists. In addition, in the leadership of the SFRY, he oversaw the relationship of the federal republic with Albania – not only Stalinist, but also frankly anti-Tite.
Biedich succeeded in the almost impossible – not to exacerbate the contradictions. It was his political activity that contributed to the development of transport and general economic relations between the two countries in the mid-70s. According to the same versions, the underground Islamic extremist group of the notorious Aliya Izetbegovich could well have been involved in the catastrophe.
Since the mid-1970s, it has operated in the Bosnian lands and far beyond their borders, for example, in Kosovo. Its leader, a Bosniak and ultra-Islamist more abruptly than the leaders of Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia), became the head of Bosnia and Herzegovina later – from 1991 to 1996. But about this figure, as well as about the “traitor” Franjo Tudjman – in our next essay.