The Republic of Croatia was proclaimed as independent state on June 25th 1991, this date marked the beginning of a new era in Croatian history and the formal withdrawal from Yugoslavia which was organized in 1945 as a Republic of the South Slav Federation. On May 22, 1992 the Republic of Croatia becomes the 178th member of United Nations.
Some historians affirm Hrvati or Croats are a purely Slavic people who migrated from White Croatia at the other side of Carpathian Mountains a region between rivers Bug and Dnieper (now Ukraina), about 2nd to 3rd century A.D. they advanced thru Danube valley towards Roman Illyricum domain, in 7th century settled in an area between Adriatic sea in the south and rivers Drava and Danube in the north on territories formerly occupied by Roman Provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia. The Avars and Slavs ventured into Dalmatia and conquered stronghold of Salona (614 A.D.) and destroyed Epidarus. This is most visible sign of the beginning of Croat settlement on the east coast of the Adriatic. That region was claimed by Byzantines and Franks, croats initially recognized their sovereignty however, they gradually emancipated themselves and established an independent state.
A tenth-century Byzantine legends registered by Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus reports that in the seventh century Emperor Heraclius enlisted the Croats to expel the Avars from Byzantine lands, also the story of the arrival of the Croats under the leadership of five brothers (Klukas, Lovelos, Kosences, Muhlo and Hrobatos) and two sisters (Tuga and Buga).
A newer theory, however, holds that the original Croats were nomadic Sarmatians who roamed Central Asia, migrated onto the steppes around 200 B.C., and rode into Europe near the end of the fourth century A.D., possibly together with the Huns. The Sarmatian Croats, the theory holds, conquered the Slavs of northern Bohemia and southern Poland and formed a small state called White Croatia near today’s Kraków. The Croats then supposedly mingled with their more numerous Slavic subjects and adopted the Slavic language, while the subjects assumed the tribal name “Hrvati”
The Croats disregarded they pagans believes quite early, largely during the pontificate of Pope Agaton (678 – 681). Roman church sent missionaries to baptize them in the Latin rite thus they were converted to Christianity. The Diocese for all Croat domains were established at Nin. Shortly afterward they received privilege of using national language in church services. In the eighth century, the Croats lived under loose Byzantine rule, and Christianity and Latin culture was recovered in the coastal cities.
In the 8th century Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (742–814) warred against Avars and Byzantines conquering Dalmatia and the islands. After years of negotiation and war, he received recognition from the Byzantine emperor Michael I in 812; in return Charlemagne renounced his claims to Istria, Venice, and Dalmatia, which he had held briefly.
A kingdom from the 10th cent., Croatia conquered surrounding districts, including Dalmatia, which was chronically contested with Venice. Croatia’s power reached its peak in the 11th cent., but internecine strife facilitated its conquest in 1091 by King Ladislaus I of Hungary.
In 1102 a pact between his successor and the Croatian tribal chiefs established a personal union of Croatia and Hungary under the Hungarian monarch. Although Croatia remained linked with Hungary for eight centuries, the Croats were sometimes able to choose their rulers independently of Budapest. In personal union with Hungary, Croatia retained its own diet and was governed by a ban, or viceroy. After the battle of Mohács in 1526 most of Croatia came under Turkish rule. In 1527 the Croatian feudal lords agreed to accept the Hapsburgs as their kings in return for common defense and retention of their privileges. During the following century Croatia served as a Hapsburg outpost in the defense of central Europe from a Turkish onslaught.
The centralizing and Germanizing tendencies of the Hapsburgs, however, severely weakened the power of the Croatian nobility and awakened a national consciousness. During the 19th cent. Hungary imposed Magyarization on Croatia and promulgated (1848) laws that seriously jeopardized Croatian autonomy within the Hapsburg empire. Joseph Jellachich , ban of Croatia, had the diet pass its own revolutionary laws, including the abolition of serfdom. Jellachich’s forces also marched against the Hungarian revolutionaries in the 1848-49 uprisings in the Hapsburg empire. When the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy was established in 1867, Croatia proper and Slavonia were included in the kingdom of Hungary, and Dalmatia and Istria in the Austrian empire. The following year Croatia, united with Slavonia, became an autonomous Hungarian crownland governed by a ban responsible to the Croatian diet.
Despite the achievement of autonomy in local affairs, Croatia remained restless because of continuing Magyarization. Cultural and political Croat and South Slav organizations arose, notably the Croatian Peasant party, founded in the early 20th cent. With the collapse of Austria-Hungary (1918), the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia ) was formed. Serbs dominated the new state, however, and promoted centralization, ignoring Croat desires for a federal structure.
Agitation resulted in the assassination (1928) of Stepjan Radic , head of the Croatian Peasant party. After Radic’s successor, Vladimir Macek , connived with fascist Italy to form a separate Croatian state, Yugoslavia allowed the formation (1939) of an autonomous banovina comprising Croatia, Dalmatia, and parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nevertheless, many Croats, especially members of the Ustachi fascist terrorist organization, insisted on complete independence.
When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Ustachi seized power and declared Croatian independence under Ante Pavelc. Croatia was placed under Italian and later German military control, while the Ustachi dictatorship perpetuated brutal excesses, including the establishment of concentration camps; in the Croat-operated Jasenovac camp alone, it has been estimated that some 200,000 Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and Croat opposition figures were killed. A large part of the population joined the anti-Fascist Yugoslav partisan forces under Tito , himself a native of Croatia.
Pavelic fled in the wake of Germany’s defeat in 1945, and Croatia became one of the six republics of reconstituted Yugoslavia. Croatian nationalism persisted in Communist Yugoslavia, however, and the Ustachi and other émigré nationalist groups remained active abroad. A major Yugoslavian decentralization reform that took effect in the early 1970s was designed in part to satisfy Croat demands for increased autonomy and dampen secessionist sentiment. The death of Tito in 1980, however, weakened Yugoslavia and increased demands for secession.
In 1990, the Croats elected a non-Communist government and began to demand greater autonomy. On June 25, 1991, Croatia declared its independence, with Franjo Tudjman , a former general, as president. Immediately fighting erupted with federal troops (mostly Serb) and Serbs from the predominantly Serb-populated areas of Croatia. The Serbs carved out the Republic of Serbian Krajina in central and NE Croatia.
In Jan., 1992, after other European Community-brokered cease-fires had failed, a more stable truce was mediated by the United Nations, which in February sent in a peacekeeping force. This force froze the territorial status quo, which left 30% of the land, in Serb hands and also left as refugees many Croatians who had been displaced by “ethnic cleansing” from Serb-held lands. Croatia was recognized as an independent nation by the European Community (now the European Union) in Jan., 1992, and was accepted into the United Nations. In 1993, Croatian forces launched attacks against Serb rebels in various areas. During 1995, Croatian forces recaptured most Serb-held territory (but not E Slavonia, in the northeast), leading approximately 300,000 Serbs to flee into Bosnia and Yugoslavia.
Croatia had supported and directed Bosnian Croats when fighting erupted in neighboring Bosnia in 1992, and Croatia played a role in negotiations for a Bosnian peace agreement. The Bosnian peace treaty was signed by Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia in Dec., 1995. A separate accord called for the return of Slavonia to Croatian rule; this went into effect in Jan., 1998, following a transition period overseen by UN peacekeeping forces. The international community has expressed concern over Croatia’s slow implementation of the Bosnian peace treaty, the delay in the return of Serb refugees, and alleged human-rights abuses, including the muzzling of independent newspapers. Tudjman’s autocratic rule and failure to cooperate on Bosnian issues led to Croatia’s international isolation in the late 1990’s.
Croatia becomes the 28th member of the European Union after a decade of negotiations, with thousands joining celebrations across the country and world.