Useful Notes: The Yugoslav Wars

"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand." - Matthew 25 legend 

"If you saw what I see for the future of Yugoslavia, it would scare you."

A series of six wars encompassing the former Yugoslavia from 1991-2001:

Basically, without somebody to hold it together, Yugoslavia blew to pieces in a spectacular fashion, producing the only big war in Europe since World War II. The war is often thought of as religious, but has more roots in the whims of politicians twisting and manipulating holy writ to serve their own cynical purposes; as such, the battle lines were drawn in accordance with this masquerade: Serbs, who were Orthodox Christian, received help from the similarly Orthodox Russians; Croats, who were traditionally Catholic, received help from the Western countries; and the Bosniaks, who had converted to Islam during the Ottoman era received help from both the West and fellow Islamic countries. The wars also had an economic edge to them; the two northern republics were the most heavily industrialized, and their inhabitants often accused the government of subsidizing the Serb plurality (Serbs amounted to about 36% of the population; next largest were Croats at about 20%) at their expense, making them the first to bail.

Especially the wars in Croatia and Bosnia saw the term "ethnic cleansing" invented and put to practice, with the United Nations generally standing around, powerless to help as the big powers dithered in New York as the entire region just went to shit. It initially started off as a small conflict in Slovenia and eventually grew to a much larger war in Croatia. The true horrors, however, were showcased in the Bosnian War, which overlapped the Croatian War of Independence, and where the fighting quickly morphed into Bosnian Serbs versus Bosnian Croats versus Bosnian Muslims loyal to Izetbegovic versus Bosnian Muslims loyal to Abdic versus any militia given even a degree of autonomy. While the world was aware of the bloody conflicts going on, the media had a tendency to avoid mentioning WHY the war even started in the first place. As a result, the Western world, unaccustomed to the rivalries in the Balkans, sat around and twiddled their thumbs, basically unable to help or understand these conflicted people. (Yet supplying and selling weapons and supplies to this certain sides in an attempt to tip the balance and bring the war to an early end. And every major power backed at least one side, everything from Jihadists in Bosnia to Croatia having the French and America supply arms.) This, combined with the "us versus them" mentality of the people at war, made for a deadly combination.

Eventually, that war ended via Western intervention, but things got trickier as Albanians in Kosovo decided that it was time to break ties with Serbia. This sparked the third big conflict, the Kosovo War. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia engaged in a ruthless crackdown which the United States used as an excuse to intervene. The war only came to an end after America outright launched a controversial bombing campaign. In 2008. Albanians in Kosovo claimed independence which is only partially recognized by the international community.

     The Cast 
Due to the convoluted nature of the of the war and the people that were involved here is a little summary of some names to know.


  • Ante Marković - Last prime minister of Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA)

  • Veljko Kadijević - Minister of Defence in the Yugoslav government from 1988 to 1992.
  • Blagoje Adžić - General and Chief of the General Staff of the JNA from 1989 to 1992.
  • Života Panić - General and was the last acting minister of defense and army chief of staff in the Yugoslav government. Commander of JNA forces in the battle of Vukovar.
  • Veselin Šljivančanin - General that participated in the Battle of Vukovar who recently wrote a detailed book about the detention life in the ICTY custody.

Republika Srpska

  • Radovan Karadžić - President of Republika Srpska (RS) from 1992 to 1996. He was also the founder and first leader of Serbian Democratic Party (SDS).
  • Biljana Plavšić - Vice-president of Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996. Following the war she succeeded Radovan Karadžić as president of RS in 1996.
  • Momčilo Krajišnik - Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska.
  • Ratko Mladić - Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS).
  • Manojlo Milovanović - Colonel General of the VRS and second man after Mladić.
  • Stanislav Galić - Commander of the VRS in and around Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994.
  • Dragomir Milošević - Commander of the VRS in and around Sarajevo from 1994 to 1995.
  • Dragan Obrenović - Senior officer and commander in the JNA and later the VRS.
  • Milan Lukić - Commander in the paramilitary group "White Eagles" and was a prominent figure in the 1992 takeover and subsequent ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia.

Republika Srpska Krajina

  • Milan Martić - Military and political leader of Republika Srpska Krajina. Martić held various leadership positions, including President, Minister of Defence and Minister of Internal Affairs.
  • Milan Babić - First President of RSK.
  • Mile Mrkšić - Former JNA and general and later the Commander in Chief of the Military of Serbian Krajina (SVK).
  • Goran Hadžić - Leader of the Serbs in eastern Slavonia and later briefly president of RSK.


  • Milan Kučan - first President of Slovenia.
  • Janez Janša - Minister of Defense of Slovenia.
  • Igor Bavčar - Minister of Interior of Slovenia.

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia / Serbia and Montenegro
  • Slobodan Milošević - President of Serbia from 1989 to 1997. Later became president of FR Yugoslavia from 1997 until his overthrow in 2000.
  • Mirjana Marković - Milošević's wife and leader of the JUL.
  • Borisav Jović - Milošević's right hand man and served as the Serbian member of the collective presidency of Yugoslavia during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
  • Momir Bulatović - President of Montenegro.
  • Milo Đukanović - Prime Minister of Montenegro and in charge since 1989.
  • Jovica Stanišić - Head of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and Double Agent working for the CIA.
  • Franko Simatović "Frenki" - Head of the Serbian secret police.
  • Vojislav Šešelj - Founder of the nationalist Serb Radical Party (SRS) who led volunteers of the SRS that served in both Bosnia and Croatia.
  • Momčilo Perišić - General and Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army (VJ) who worked for the Americans.
  • Nebojša Pavković - Chief of the General Staff who allegedly had also close ties with the Americans.
  • Božidar Delić - Former VJ general and current vice president of the Serbian parliament.
  • Sreten Lukić - Head of the Serbian police during the Kosovo War.
  • Željko Ražnatović "Arkan" - Serbian paramilitary leader and commander of the Serb Volunteer Guard (SDG) unit. Undisputed crimeboss in Serbia up until his assassination in 2000.
  • Milorad Ulemek "Legija" - Former French Foreign Legionnaire and commander of the now defunct Special Operations Unit (JSO).


  • Franjo Tuđman - President of Croatia from 1990 until his death in 1999.
  • Martin Špegelj - Second Defense Minister of Croatia and, later, the chief of staff of the newborn Croatian Army (HV) and inspector-general of the army.
  • Gojko Šušak - Croatian Minister of Defense from 1991 to 1998.
  • Stjepan Mesić - General secretary of HDZ and the first prime minister of Croatia in 1990. He became speaker of the Croatian parliament in 1992 but stepped down and left HDZ in 1994 because of their policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Anton Tus - HV general and the first Chief of the General Staff of Croatia's armed forces from 1991 to 1992.
  • Janko Bobetko - HV general and Chief of the General Staff from 1992 until his retirement in 1995.
  • Zvonimir Červenko - HV general and the chief of General Staff between 1995 and 1996.
  • Ante Gotovina - Lieutenant General in the HV and commander of Croatian forces during Operation Storm and Operation Mistral.
  • Mile Dedaković - Commander of the 204th Vukovar Brigade and the city of Vukovar's defenses in during the 1991 Battle of Vukovar.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Alija Izetbegović - President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1990 and 1996.
  • Fikret Abdić - Former head of Agrokomerc and president of the short lived Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia that collaborated with the Serbs.
  • Haris Silajdžić - Foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1990 - 1993 and served between 1993 and 1996 as the prime minister.
  • Sefer Halilović - Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ArBiH) from 1992 to 1993.
  • Rasim Delić - Chief of Staff of the Army of the ArBiH from 1993 to 1995.
  • Jovan Divjak - Commander of ArBiH forces in Sarajevo at the beginning of the war (1992-1993) and later served as deputy commander of the ArBiH Headquarters.
  • Atif Dudaković - Commander of the Bosnian 5th Corps.
  • Mustafa Hajrulahović - Commander of the Bosnian 1st Corps and later intelligence chief in the Bosnian government.
  • Naser Orić - Commander of the ArBiH 28th Division who was in charge the defenses of Srebrenica and former bodyguard of Milošević.
  • Blaž Kraljević - Commander of Croatian Defence Forces (HOS).


  • Mate Boban - President of Herceg-Bosna from 1991 to 1994 following the Washington agreement.
  • Dario Kordić - Political leader of Bosnian Croats in Central Bosnia and a military commander of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO).
  • Jadranko Prlić - Prime minister of Herceg-Bosna.
  • Valentin Ćorić - Interior minister of Herceg-Bosna.
  • Bruno Stojić - Minister of defense of Herceg-Bosna.
  • Milivoj Petković - Commander of the HVO.
  • Slobodan Praljak - Major General in the HVO and commander of the Croatian forces around Mostar.

The Albanians

  • Ibrahim Rugova - First President of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo.
  • Adem Jashari - Co founder and Chief commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) until his death in 1998.
  • Agim Çeku - Former HV general and KLA Chief of Staff from May 1999.
  • Ramush Haradinaj - 2nd KLA commander and currently one of the if not the most powerful and feared crimeboss in Kosovo.
  • Hashim Thaçi - 3rd KLA commander and head of the Drenica Group.
  • Fatmir Limaj - KLA commander in Lapušnik.
  • Zahir Pajaziti - KLA co-founder and commander.
  • Tahir Zemaj - Chief commander of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK).


  • Wesley Clark - In charge of NATO, and bought Kosovo's coal mines.
  • Mike Jackson

List of tropes involved during the war:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Possible and done often.
    • There has always been a different interpretation of the character of Yugoslavia itself. While Slovenes and Croats saw Yugoslavia as a confederation of sovereign states similar to the EU and the USSR, the Serbs saw Yugoslavia as one sovereign state that could be crated and dissolved with the consent of all constitutive ethnic groups. Train wreck ensued.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Most paramilitary organisations like SDG were this.
  • Artistic License – Economics: The reason this whole tragedy happened.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Badass In Charge: Averted with the political leaders.
    • Karadžić may be the best example of a subversion. He was most likely a typical nerd and a beta male who was trying to act like an alpha male with predictable results. In spite of being urged by Milošević to return to the negotiation table (as the Srpska already achieved her goals by holding 68% of Bosnia, more than the planned 62%) and in spite of Mladić openly stating that the horribly undermanned VRS would, beyond any reasonable doubts, not be able to hold off an eventual combined offensive of the HV, HVO, ArBiH and NATO (which later happened), Karadžić's ego prevented him to return to the negotiations before thousands of Serbs were killed and expelled from Western Bosnia. Ugh!
  • Balkanize Me: Although not quite the Trope Namer—that would be the gradual disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early century, cemented by World War I—it certainly brought the term back into widespread use.
  • Beardness Protection Program / Beardless Protection Program: A tactic used by a lot of war crime convicts while in hiding.
  • Civil War: An interesting version. While Croatian and Bosniak narrative calls it a "Greater Serbian aggression" and the local Serbs see it as a defensive war to avoid suffering the same gruesome fate as they did in World War II, it was in it's core a typical ethnic civil war with the characteristics of a mafia/gang war in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo with both direct and indirect outside involvement.
  • Cycle of Revenge: What the wars eventually devolved into.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The reason Albanian propaganda succeeded while the Serb propaganda failed. Çeku, Haradinaj, Thaçi and other high ranking officials of the KLA have been reading the Evil Overlord List like a bible.
  • Death World: Most of Bosnia during the early/mid 90s.
  • Demonisation: Practiced by all and against all sides.
  • Draft Dodging: One of the main reasons the JNA failed her objectives in Croatia. As the people in Serbia and Montenegro felt for various reasons very apathetic towards the wars, Montenegro managed to draft 28% of her soldiers for the war while Serbia, the most powerful, largest and most inhabited republic, got only 11%. The low motivation was also the reason Serb media went far too often overboard in their propaganda efforts. Also, the overwhelming majority of non-Serb soldiers had deserted (or were forced out) of the JNA by mid-1991.
  • The Dreaded: Željko "Arkan" Ražnatović. Bosniak civilians immediately left their homes when they heard rumors that he and his troops were advancing towards their village/town. For a good reason. This trope combined with the government's protection was also the main reason why in Serbia he was untouchable before he stopped being useful to Belgrade.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Used by the Serbs. Most notably, Bosnian Serb soldiers used this tactic at Vrbanja Bridge where they took over French peackeeper-manned posts by wearing French Army uniform, gear and equipment. French officers and enlisted personnel alike are understandably, pissed off at them and took them out to take back the bridge.
  • Eagle Squadron: Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Serbs all had foreigners head over to help them out. As a general rule, Bosniaks received aid in form of Mujahideen from the Muslim Arab world, Bosnian and Croatian Serbs were aided by volunteers from Serbia, Greece and Russia, and Croats from the United States, Latin American and (mostly Catholic) Western European countries like Ireland, Germany, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain etc.
  • Enemy Mine: In the early stages of the war Tuđman and Milošević made a deal to carve up Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia. And in 1994, Croats and Bosniaks allied themselves under US pressure against the Serbs.
  • Epic Fail: Serbia's post-Đinđić policy in a nutshell.
  • Expy: Milošević and Tuđman attempted to be the next Tito and failed at it. Ironically the closest thing to Tito's Expy is Milo Đukanović but mostly on the grounds of being a Long Runner.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: More or less every party, save the UN and NATO forces, had this reason in mind. Unfortunately, every homeland just so happened to included parts of someone else's homeland. While the Croats and Bosniaks fought for the territorial integrity of their homeland, the Serbs of the Croatian Krajna and Bosnia sought separation from said countries and annexation by Serbia which is why the Serbs wanted to remain in Yugoslavia while others sought independence. The ethnic composition of Yugoslavia made a lot of things easier said then done.
  • Follow the Leader: Franjo Tuđman had a uniform that was similar to Tito's. There is even a popular joke in former Yugoslavia describing this trope: Tito and Tuđman meet each other in hell. Tuđman greets him with "Hello dictator!" while Tito replies with "Hello imitator!".
  • Friendly Enemy: Milošević and Tuđman with the emphasis on friendly.
  • Funny Moment / Black Comedy : The trials in the Hague have a lot of these with most of the humor being unintentional. Even without any political bias a neutral person would come to the conclusion that the only thing the ICTY is lacking is a Laugh Track. Šešelj's trial in particular is a hilarious train wreck.
    • On a lighter note: When Dale Zelko (the F-117 pilot) and Zoltan Dani (the ethnic Hungarian commander of the Serb forces who shot him down) met, Zelko gave him as a present a model of the F-117 saying jokingly "please don't break it like the last time".
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: All sides spawned a lot of examples of this trope who depended on nationalism instead of sex appeal. Most of them can't exactly be described as "glamorous" however.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: A lot of (alleged) war criminals who were former enemies became close friends in Hague custody. In fact, the Hague has been often referred as the "Last Bastion of Brotherhood and Unity".
  • The Greatest History Never Told: One of the biggest and most glaring examples of ethnic cleansing since World War II, which is ironically overshadowed and largely ignored in the Western World due to the happening of said instance.
  • Guile Hero: Slovenia. Before starting military activity they established a media center to present themselves as a small democratic country standing up against oppressors and then banked on the idea that Yugoslavia wouldn't intervene in full force due to international pressure and more the urgent situation in Croatia (which unlike Slovenia had a significant Serbian minority). They were right.
  • Heartwarming Moment: The above mentioned second meeting of Dale Zelko and Zoltan Dani.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Jusuf "Juka" Prazina. Former Sarajevo gangster and Bosniak warlord. When he got in quarrel with the Bosnian government, he went rogue and later switched allegiance to the Bosnian Croats.
  • Improvised Weapon : Croatia and Bosnia were woefully unequipped when the Serbian offensives started, so they had to resort to this very often. A notable example was Croatia having so few combat-capable planes that it had to resort to making makeshift bombers out of Antonov An-2 cropdusters. Shockingly, it worked! Using these flying technicals, the Croats were able to take out quite a lot of Serbian fortifications, armoured vehicles and camps around Vukovar, at least partially alleviating the city from the ongoing siege. Bosnia was in an even worse position concerning military equipment : The unconquered territory had virtually no meaningful air force left, the armoured vehicles were mostly obsolete and both the regular and irregular infantry had to be stretched to near breaking point to just hold at least a part of the long front line that sliced the country into very uneven parts. Unsurprisingly, this desperation and hunger for better weaponry caused a lot of Break Out the Museum Piece moments - with one notable case being preserved WWII era armoured cars being refitted with modern weaponry and sent to the front. Croatia eventually built up a proper army thanks to foreign aid and some emergency purchases by the second half of the war, and created what's now a well-regarded arms industry out of practically nothing. Bosnia was less fortunate in this regard.
  • Instant Militia: Subverted. Every side built their armies from the local Territorial Defence Militia. The VRS was created out of the remnants of the Bosnian Serb JNA elements.
  • Jack of All Stats: Naser Orić. A relatively decent Bosniak commander, an adept karate fighter, bouncer, former corporal of the JNA bio-chemical batallion and a controversial businessman. Also accused of war crimes against Serb civilians. He even bragged about it to western media!
    • Since he left his command post in Srebrenica days before the Serbian attack, some Bosniaks consider him to be a Dirty Coward.
  • Kangaroo Court: What the ICTY is accused to be by some. Certain recent verdicts didn't really help in this regard.
  • Kent Brockman News / Propaganda Machine: Too many cases to count. The Serb media in particular to the point of local Memetic Mutation as due to some outlandish claims it did a good job at embarrassing itself.
    • Western media, too, often fell under this trope. On 22 December 1992, during the Bosnian War, CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour was reporting from Kiseljak, not far from Sarajevo. Kiseljak was under Croatian military control and the town's population was almost exclusively made of Croats. Despite that, Amanpour reported that, "While people in Sarajevo are dying from starvation, the Serbs are living in Kiseljak in plenty".
    • In 2004, moreover, a Pulitzer Prize finalist journalist for USA Today resigned after it was revealed that he had faked proof about a meeting in 1999 at which he claimed he had been shown direct evidence of an order to ethnically cleanse a Kosovo village, about which he had published an article on the front page of his newspaper at the height of the war.
    • In 2011 the RTS (Radio Television of Serbia) issued a public apology for its role in the war while the news agencies of other factions have yet to follow the example.
  • La Résistance: In practice: everyone (or no one, depending on how you look at it,) even though Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and FR Yugoslavia were internationally recognized countries throughout the war.
  • Last Stand: Many examples of this trope, on all sides.
    • JNA Major Milan Tepić. In July 1991, barracks of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) were sieged and attacked by the Croatian militia. Refusing to surrender tanks and heavy weaponry to the enemy, Major Tepić ordered the soldiers to evacuate the barracks, then he lit the fuse and blew up the barracks, sacrifising himself. He was assisted by a conscript who refused to evacuate and instead opened supressive fire from an APC.
    • The Croatian defense of Vukovar against a much larger JNA/Serbian force. Despite fighting bravely and cunningly, they were ultimately overrun by the enemy.
    • In August 1995, the Croatian Army swiftly took control over Serbian Krajina in Operation Storm. Army of Serbian Krajina was defeated; 200,000 Serbs were forced to flee. However, some Serb units held their positions and fought the enemy, despite all being lost.
  • Męlée ŕ Trois: The Bosnian War was Serbs vs Bosniaks vs Croats until 1994.
  • Memetic Mutation: This horrible propaganda song featuring the so-called "Dat Face Soldier" or the "Remove Kebab"note /Serbia Strong meme being the most known one. It's a song made by Serbian soldiers supporting Karadzic, and is infamous in 4chan for the steel-eyed, slightly shellshocked, dour expression on the accordion player as he hammers away.
  • Misplaced Nationalism: To the point where many of the most deluded ultranationalists will deny any war crime or injustice perpertrated by their preferred faction, no matter the evidence.
  • Moment of Awesome: Serbia became the first country to actually shoot down a stealth aircraft. The wreckage was recovered by Serbia, and is believed to have been thoroughly examined by Russian officials; some pieces are currently on display in Belgrade. See below for how they did it.
    • Locals even printed up T-Shirts reading "SORRY! We didn't know it was invisible. Greetings from Serbia!".
  • Never Live It Down: An own page of this may be even longer than the main page itself. Reading the forums and comment sections of the local online newspapers one may get the impression that the war still continues.
  • Never My Fault: From all sides to the point of Narm.
  • The '90s: The wars encompassed all years of this decade, sans 1990 (and they even spilled into 2000 and 2001).
  • Patriotic Fervor: Like we need to say it.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Practiced, even up to this day, equally by all sides ad nauseum to put it lightly. Period. For a detailed analysis in the case of Serbs and Croats read this.
  • Private Military Contractors: The MPRI being the most infamous one.
  • Psycho for Hire: Mašun "Caco" Topalović. Former Sarajevo rock musician and a Bosniak warlord. Angry because he lost his fingers to Serbian sniper, he began mercilessly executing local Serb residents. He became so notorious, the Bosnian autorities finally decided to arrest him. In a complete twist, he captured the Bosniak military police and used them as human shield. This proved to be a fatal mistake.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mladić being the red to Milovanović's blue.
  • Rock Beats Laser: The aforementioned Bosnian and Croatian improvised weaponry and vehicles. During the first months of the war bazookas made out sewer pipes and explosives taken from Serb dud grenades were pretty much the only weapons making up Sarajevos anti-armor defense. In addition, during Operation Allied Force, Serbia had used many unconventional tactics to match with a technologically advanced foe. Among things they used were burning hay to fool IR guided weapons, adding more reflective surfaces to farm equipment to fool radar and radar-guided weapons (such as Laser-Guided Bombs), then there was the incident of the F-117 being shot down. This was done by using a radar that operated at long wavelengths, allowing the aircraft to be detected for brief periods of time, but it was enough to shoot the aircraft down.
    • While the use of long-wave radar was important, a fair bit of the responsibility for the F-117 shoot-down rests on the USAF. F-117s had used identical and similar flight paths in many previous raids, and the Serbs were able to work out the flight paths via the brief glimpses their radar granted them. Serbian spotters watched for incoming F-117s on infrared equipment, the idea being that the batteries could zero in on its vector for a better chance of a clear detection, and kill.
    • The Bosniaks did some incredible things with ham radio operators, breaking codes the Serbs didn't even think the the Muslims in Bosnian could intercept, let alone break.
  • The Remnant: The Republika Srpska and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo.
    • The Eastern Slavonian part around Erdut of the Republika Srpska Krajina used to be this trope before it was peacefully reintegrated in 1998. Today the RSK has a Belgrade-centered government in exile since 2005.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: A lot of Neo-Nazis fought on the Croatian side while some of the Greek volunteers who aided the Serbs came from the Golden Dawn party.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Except that Vuk Drašković's prophecies always turned out to be right...
  • The Siege: The Battle of Vukovar featured a force of around 2,200 Croatian infantry fighting against a much larger Serbian force that had armor and air support. Despite being horribly outmatched and surrounded, the Croats held out for 87 days and inflicted heavy casualties on their enemies in brutal street-to-street fighting.
    • The Siege of Sarajevo holds the record as longest siege in modern history, lasting almost four years, over a year longer than the Siege of Leningrad, and costing over 12,000 people their lives before it was ended with The Dayton Agreements. The only reason the city lasted so long was because the Bosnian military built a tunnel into the siege zone from the nearby airport.
  • Sniper Duel: Several times.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Admira Ismić and Boško Brkić, who had a documentary made about their deaths named Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo.
  • Tank Goodness: Many different tanks were used during the wars, from World War II era T-34s to the much more modern M-84s. However, they usually proved rather ineffective for various reasons (bad terrain, lack of maintenance, lack of properly trained crews etc.).
  • Urban Warfare: Bosnia's capital Sarajevo and the Croatian border town of Vukovar in particular. Many settlements, both big and small, were besieged during the wars...
  • Vestigial Empire: The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (consisting of Serbia and Montenegro) considered itself as the legal succesor of the Socialist Federal Republic Yugoslavia. Though the UN and the other former Yugoslav republics thought otherwise, which is why the FRY had to (re)apply for UN-membership.
  • Vetinari Job Security: Once Tito died, the Clock started ticking on when this whole can of worms would open.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: As Bosnia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) was ordered to leave Bosnian territory. The Bosniak militia guaranteed that the JNA convoys will not be attacked. Two convoys left their barracks in Sarajevo and Tuzla, respectively. Both were ambushed and destroyed. Since the majority of the killed soldiers were ethnic Serb conscripts, these attacks caused an outrage in the Serbian public.
    • The JNA convoy in Sarajevo transported conscripts, high-rank officers, but also Alija Izetbegović, who was previously arrested by the JNA. The Bosniak militia insisted that the vehicle with Izetbegović should be the first in the convoy; JNA officers agreed. As soon as the convoy entered Dobrovoljačka street, the first vehicle increased speed, the second one was blocked by a tree, and the Bosniak forces opened fire.
    • The other convoy in Tuzla transported only conscripts and lower-rank officers, but was never-the-less ambushed and destroyed, despite the assurances from the other side. The attack occurred in Boračka street.
  • Wartime Cartoon: The war spawned various propaganda comics like Super Hrvoje, Kninjas - The Knights of the Serbian Krajina and Bosman.
    • As of late the Albanian hero Shqiponja joined the ranks of obscure wartime propaganda mascots.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Dozens. Arkan was the most prominent one from the Serb side who build a lot of his fortune from pillaging Bosniak and Croat homes and according to rumors even fellow Serbs. Some Bosniak commanders in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Bihać made a fortune making black market deals with the Serbs and often extracted money from the locals they were "protecting". Even on the American side we have Wesley Clark (taking over Kosovo's coal mines) and Madeline Albright (taking over Kosovo's telecom) as an aftermath of the war. It is evident that for a lot of the political elite of the ex-Yugoslavia on the various sides, this trope was the main motivation for the war, using the ethnic hatreds of their respective peoples and the more sincere compatriots in the elite as a pretext. Needless to say the smell of Yugoslavia's carcass attracted a lot of hyenas and vultures.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Serbian government and its various proxies were often operating at cross purposes.
  • Witness Protection: What both the Serb prosecution and the ICTY failed at during the trial against KLA commander Haradinaj.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: Up to Eleven.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Despite winning independence, a significant number of people in the new countries feel they're worse off than before the war. The reasons are mostly economic (high unemployment and corruption) rather than political (though a number of people are nostalgic for the old country - a phenomenon known as Yugo-nostalgia).
    • Serbia militarily defeated the KLA by May 1999, had only minimal military casualties during the entire war and successfully repulsed a combined KLA, Albanian and NATO offensive from Albania. The Kumanovo Treaty even allowed a limited number of Serb policemen and soldiers to return to Kosovo under KFOR jurisdiction in order to protect not only the Serbs and other non-Albanians but also the churches and other Serb cultural monuments. Sadly for them the the catastrophic and shortsighted policies of Koštunica and Tadić, just like the United States abusing it's position, destroyed any last hopes of Serbia ever peacefully reintegrating Kosovo.
      • Debatable, it's misleading to suggest that Serbia repulsed an offensive from NATO. The Kumanovo Treaty effectively ended FRY's de-facto sovereignty over Kosovo, and role of the Serbian authorities was much smaller than was envisaged under the Rambouillet Treaty.
    • Macedonia defeated the NLA and was about to put the final nail in their coffin with one decisive offensive that would have also politically weakened the Albanians significantly. The offensive was cancelled due to American preassure and the Ohrid Agreement was signed which granted a lot of consessions to the Macedonian Albanians. What sounds fine and dandy in the first place gave the Albanians the opportunity to politically blackmail Macedonia at their whim, which they do. On top of that the ethnic tensions between Macedonians and Albanians are sadly far from being resolved.
    • Inverted with the Republika Srpska. Being under sanctions from Serbia since 1994 and having no means to repel the combined military apparatus of the Bosniaks, the Bosnian Croats, Croatia and NATO, the Republika Srpska evaded utter defeat and total collapse by agreeing to the Dayton Agreement and being saved by the Americans the same way just like the Macedonian Albanians above. Today the Republika Srpska is the politically more stable entity in Bosnia and the Serbs have 49% of Bosnia and Herzegovina for themselves (far beyond anything that was ever offered to the Macedonian Albanians). Like the Macedonian Albanians above, the Bosnian Serbs are in a perfect position to obstruct anything that is against their interests.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Inverted. All that needs to be said.
  • You Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Košare. Around 1,000 Serbian soldiers managed to repel a force of 6,000 KLA insurgents who, aided by Albanian artillery, attempted to cross the border from Albania into Kosovo.
  • Zerg Rush / We Have Reserves: A popular tactic used by the Bosnian Army (ArBiH) and one of the main reasons for their horrendous casualties.

In fiction:

The primary use of the war today is as a source of modern day war criminals, as the Nazi ones are getting too old now. Because of the nature of the mass graves, many a forensic pathologist will have worked there.

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     Animation and Comics 
  • Kimagure Orange Road: Mentioned in the Shin Kimagure Orange Road sequel-film, when it is stated that adult Kyosuke is a war reporter went missing in action taking pictures in Bosnia during the wars. The light novels describe in a greater length how they affected Kyosuke's psyche.
  • In Seikon No Qwaser it serves as the backstory of Teresa who grew up in a Serbian-Orthodox monastery in the Krajina.
    • One of the antagonists is called Croa a.k.a. "gas chamber", a fitting name because of both his ability to control chlorine and the genocidal crimes against Serbs (among them, against the women of Teresa's monastery. She herself was present and was damn lucky, that she wasn't raped and murdered like the rest of her friends) he commited.
  • In Jormungand Koko tangles with a Serbian warlord known as "Baldra" (short for "Balkan Dragon"), whose real name is Dragan Nikolaevich. He is pretty obviously based off of Željko Ražnatović. The series takes place in 2012, which led some Serbian fans to joke about how the plot is Two Decades Behind.
  • The Fixer: A Story from Sarajevo is a journalistic comic on the Bosnian War, written by Joe Sacco. It tells the story of a Sarajevan man who, having lost everything else in the war, sells his stories to Western journalists. It was published in 2003. Time listed it as one of the Best Comics of 2003.
  • One Punisher story has Frank go in the Balkans, helping some overwhelmed NATO troops along the way.
    • The villains of the infamous Slavers arc are from the Balkans, and give Frank the first real challenge he's had in a while, since they think like soldiers, not gang members.
  • One version of the Lizard (the Spider-Man villain) had him lose an arm in Kosovo, his trying to regenerate turned him into a monster.

  • The Bosnian film No Mans Land, a famous anti-war movie about a Bosnian Muslim who is immobilized on a battlefield. As the Serbs have deliberately laid him on an anti-personnel mine which will explode if he gets up, he can't move at all. His choleric Bosnian friend and a bumbling New Meat Serbian soldier then procede to bicker over him about who really started the war, etc. Later, they grudgingly unite to fight for his and their own survival in the bombarded trenches. They even try to call help to free him from the trap. Rule of Funny as well as Rule of Drama ensues. The film has a major Downer Ending.
  • Michael Winterbottom's Welcome to Sarajevo.
  • Behind Enemy Lines features an American airman shot down over Bosnia, who must then fight through hostile Serbian troops to get to safety. The villain's dragon in this film served as an inspiration for Niko Bellic of Grand Theft Auto IV
  • The Serbian film Vukovar: jedna priča (Vukovar: A Story, alternate title: Vukovar poste restante) tells story of a young couple, a Serb guy and a Croat girl, whose romance is threatened by the war in Vukovar. Shot on actual location while the war was still ravaging.
  • The Serbian film Underground, by Emir Kusturica, tells the story of Yugoslavia from the Serbian resistance of World War II to the Yugoslav wars. This dark comedy is ultimately about the tragedy of Yugoslavia's balkanization. It was also released as a 5 1/2 hour miniseries called Once Upon a Time, There was a Country, which is also the film's closing line. Although it was well-received and won a Palm D'Or at the Cannes Festival, some critics accused it of being Serbian nationalistic propoganda and of having an overly idealistic portrayal of communist Yugoslavia.
    • Interresting enough, the Serbian critics pointed out that the film's portrayal of communist Yugoslavia is actually negative. As with any other work of art, this is a subject of interpretation.
  • Another film by Emir Kusturica, Life Is A Miracle, is a touching love story of a Bosnian Serb railroad worker and a Bosniak woman, whom he first intended to exchange for his captured son. Set during the Bosnian war.
  • The Serbian film Pretty Village Pretty Flame tells a gritty story of Bosnian Serb soldiers trapped in a tunnel and surrounded by Bosniak troops. Through flashbacks, we find out more about each of the characters and ultimately, the country itself. Considered to be a modern classic of Serbian cinema. Based on a true story.
  • In the Serbian film Neprijatelj (The Enemy), Bosnian Serb soldiers are tasked with de-mining some minefields, only days after the war ended. In a deserted factory in the middle of nowhere, they find a man of unknown ethnicity, walled in a room. They soon find out that, long before they came, both Serb and Bosniak soldiers died trying to keep that man inside. Why? He's the Satan.
  • The Serbian film Sky Hook. Young, disillusioned people spend time playing street basketball in Belgrade during NATO bombing.
  • The Croatian film Will Not End Here tels a story of a former Croatian sniper who tracks down a Serbian woman he saw years before, during the war, through his scope. He finds out she's now being forced to make porn films and decides to buy her off and save her. She can't understand why. During the war, he was ordered to kill her husband, a local Serb commander in Krajina. Patiently waiting for the commander to come home, he gradually fell in love with the woman he watched through his scope. And then, one day, her husband arrived...
  • The Croatian film Crnci (The Blacks). Former members of a Croatian black-ops unit are haunted by what they did during the war.
  • The Croatian film Živi i mrtvi (The living and the Dead). Film follows two separate timelines. One takes places in 1943 in western Bosnia and follows a squad of Croatian soldiers and their fascist superior officers. The other is set in 1993, and follows a group of Bosnian Croat soldiers who venture the same path. In the end, the living will meet the dead.
  • The Bosnian film Gori vatra (translated as the The Fuse) takes place shortly after the war, in a small Bosnian town of Tešanj, where US President Clinton is due to visit. The welcoming committe must fake everything, so as to appear Bosniaks and Serbs live together and get along (they don't), and to appear donation money was well spent (it was stolen). Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the TV-movie Mac Gyver Lost Treasure Of Atlantis, MacGyver and Prof. Atticus go to the Balkans to find Atlantean artifacts. After finding them, they must escape from hostile military forces.
  • Savior features an American soldier turned mercenary who goes to Yugoslavia seeking revenge against muslims because they killed his family. Things become a lot more complicated later on though, as the movie explores themes of redemption, honour, and the effects of war on the civilian population from a very human, "from below" perspective.
  • The documentary-style British movie Warriors chronicles the hopeless struggle of British UN Peacekeepers to prevent crimes commited on the civilian populace in war-torn Bosnia. Despite their honest efforts to save the persecuted refugees that are running from the various guerilla groups, the young soldiers are constantly bullied by their UNPROFOR higher-ups into letting the people they were supposed to protect get killed or be left at the mercy of unscrupolous killers. When the peacekeepers return home, most of them are showing clear signs of PTSD. The title of the movie is semi-ironic, actually referring to the British-built APCs they intended to use for the evacuation of the refugees. The film was released in the US as Peacekeepers.

  • Chinese Sci-Fi writer Cixin Liu's Butterfly of Entropy told the story of a Serbian meteorlogist who tries to creat heavy clouds above his hometown to spare his family from NATO bombing by starting wind current changes in some calculated points (like a butterfly generating a storm). He failed because, it seemed he already generated too much random currents and heat changes on his way.
  • Zlata's Diary, the diary of a young girl named Zlata Filipović documenting her experiences before and during the Siege of Sarajevo. Despite contemporary media comparisons to Anne Frank (which she was understandably uncomfortable with), she escaped the war and is now a writer and film maker in Dublin. She also produced more than 40 pieces ofsadist literature set in Serbia beside this diary.
  • Svedok iz Sarajeva (Witness from Sarajevo) is a book written by a Sarajevo Serb, under pseudonym Boris Jug. He describes his life as a Serb in a largely Muslim city sieged by Serb forces. His life is in danger, but he gets help from unexpected places and manages to flee the city. A book that rather faithfully describes the dangers of everyday life in a war-torn city.
  • SMRT (Death) is a book by Russian writer and oppositionary politician Eduard Limonov. In it, he decribes his travels from Serbian Autonomous Region of East Slavonia in 1991 to Republika Srpska in 1992, the various people he met and dangers he encountered.
  • Jeb'o sad hiljadu dinara (litteral translation: Who gives a f***k about 1000 dinars now) is a bestselling novel by Croatian writer Boris Dežulović. Croatian soldiers go on an undercover mission disguised as Bosniak soldiers. Bosniak soldiers go on an undercover mission disguised as Croatian soldiers. Two groups meet. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Gvozdeni rov (Iron trench) by Milorad Ulemek. Its story is centered arround trench warfare between Serbian and Bosniak forces. At one point, a new and deadly force joins the Bosniak ranks - the Arab Mujahideen.
  • The Untochable by British writer Gerald Seymour takes place in post-war Bosnia, but contains numerous flashbacks set during the war.

    Live Action TV 
  • Two years before the events of the first season of 24, Jack Bauer leads a squad sent to kill Serbian war criminal Viktor Drazen. They fail to do that, but do kill his wife and daughter. Naturally, Drazen isn't happy.
  • In Season 1, Episode 7 of The Agency, one of the agents tries to uncover the truth about his brother's death. Finding out that his brother was last seen at a Serbian checkpoint in Kosovo, he assumes it was the Serbs who killed the brother. Much to the hero's surprise, he finds out that his brother was actually allowed pass the checkpoint but later stumbled upon the opposing faction: the Kosovo Liberation Army. Since wearing (fake) Serbian documents, his brother was immediately lined up together with the captured Serbian civilians, executed and burried in a mass grave.
  • Serbian sitcom Složna braća (Brothers who get along). All three warring factions in Bosnia got their respective political entities, each gaining 33,33% of land. This leaves 0,01% as a UN administered no man's land. The story centeres around a caffe/motel/whorehouse owned by a Bosnian Muslim, located in this small piece of land. Muslims, Serbs, Croats and UN soldiers alike visit his establishment. The series is known for both straight and reverse use of national stereotypes and somewhat dark humor.
  • Waking the Dead has Dr. Tara Fitzgerald having done forensic work in the former Yugoslavia. In one episode, the team investigate a case she worked on and results in a Crowning Moment of Awesome as those responsible are identified by three witnesses a decade later.
  • New Tricks A Serbian war criminal went into hiding as a monk in an addiction clinic and killed a man who recognised him.
  • In NCIS, Dr. Donald Mallard worked on war graves in the former Yugoslavia.
  • Many episodes in the early seasons of JAG, including the pilot, takes place in the background of this conflict.
  • The pilot for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Stabler and Benson investigating the murder of a cab driver... who turned out to be a Serbian war criminal and rapist who was done in by his victims.
  • ER had Dr. Luka Kovac, a Croatian who lost his wife and two children during the conflict. Incidentally, Goran Visnjic had also appeared prior to the series as one of the main characters in the aforementioned Welcome to Sarajevo.
  • The Death of Yugoslavia by BBC is probably by far one of the best documentaries about the war. Not only does it give great insight in every faction and their motivations, but also explains quite well how step by step Yugoslavia became fragmented and collapsed from within.
  • An episode of Extras features Ben Stiller directing a movie set during the Yugoslav Wars and based on the life of a real survivor.
  • An episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia features the gang working as extras on the set of a movie about the Yugoslav Wars. Frank and Dee play corpses during a scene of ethnic cleansing, but they refuse to sit still.
  • In the Community episode "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy", Britta begins dating Lukka, who is from the Balkans. She assumes that he's a Woobie war survivor, but later discovers that this isn't quite so:
    Lukka: So much killing. The corpses stacked like firewood, the rivers red with their blood. I miss it so much.
    Britta: Oh, Lukka! [starts kissing him, but then pulls back] Wait, just to clarify, when you say you miss it, it's like you have survivor's guilt; like you wish you were back over there defending the motherland, right?
    Lukka: Yes, I miss cleansing our fields and forests of the unclean people who stole my country. I miss the smell of the villages burning. [laughs wistfully] I miss the way they used to run from our tanks in fear.
  • In the TV series Motive, one episode has a peaceekeeper discovering that the Bosnian Serb doctor who refused medical treatment to injured Muslims has escaped to Canada.


     Video Games 
  • The protagonist of Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko Bellic, is a Serbian veteran of the Yugoslav Wars, particularly Bosnia.
  • T-72: Balkans on Fire is set during one of the Yugoslav Wars in which the player is a Russian volunteer fighting on the Serbian side, mostly against the Croats.
  • Back to Kosovo is a high-quality fan-made mod for Ghost Recon. The player can control Serbian soldiers during the Kosovo war.
  • Kosovo Sunrise is a mod for Blitzkrieg, made by a member of the Panzerkrieg development team. The player can control Serbian troops during the Kosovo war.
  • Nova Logic 1997 flight simulator F-16 Multirole Fighter featured a campaign in which NATO bombs Serbia. This was made two years before NATO actually bombed Serbia! However, they didn't bother to look up the maps - Serbia is portrayed as an island.
  • Soldierof Fortune has a mission in Kosovo, where a fictional Serbian militia threatens to use a captured F-117 and a smuggled nuclear bomb, while NATO bombs them...again. This rather absurd sub-plot drew attention of Serbian players who laughed at numerous errors in geography, factography, logic etc. Narm Charm at its finest.
  • Tactics Ogre is very heavily based off the Yugoslav wars. Seriously, just replace the names of Dolgare with Tito and all the ethnic groups with Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian note . They do not shy away from showing the hatred between the three factions either.
  • Markov from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was a Russian who participated in this conflict, most likely on the side of the Serbians. His Start of Darkness occurs when an American airstrike accidentally kills his wife (most likely a reference to the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by the U.S.).
  • Steel Panthers, specifically WinSPMBT, covers almost all the various factions involved in the wars.
  • This War of Mine draws heavily from the interviews of survivors of the siege of Sarajevo to inform its experience.