The final dismemberment of the Federation of Yugoslavia took place last week, quietly and with the minimum of publicity, twenty-two years after Marshall Tito's death started its slow decline. Even to the last moment the Serbian nationalist parties, including Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian Socialist Party, resisted the inevitable and delayed the necessary parliamentary vote by several days. The Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica, who is a moderate Serb nationalist, was not present when the vote was finally taken. In the place of the Federation there will be a union of Serbia and Montenegro, an uneasy and unequal partnership since the former has a population of eight million while the latter's numbers less than one million. However, European Union diplomats were determined to avoid moves for Montenegro's independence which could have led to further destablisation in the southern Balkans, and used the promise of trade and other benefits to enforce the union. Now the future of Kosovo, once part of the Federation, remains to be settled. PP More than a decade of fighting and unrest has thus been ended. Between 1991 and 1995 there were wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo and recently as last year there was fighting in Macedonia between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians which EU diplomacy ended. The history of the Balkans precludes over-optimism but there is no doubt that progress towards peace has been made with the European Union playing a significant part.


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