The Last Tango in The Hague
The Last Tango in The Hague
A contribution to the chronology of the dissolution of Yugoslavia – excerpts from testimonies at the trial of Slobodan Milošević

The last time that Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, faced some the protagonists of the Yugoslav crisis, the countries dissolution and the ensuing war was in the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

This “last tango in The Hague“ was a far different dance compared to their encounters in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. The stage was constrained by the rules of the legal proceedings within the ICTY, and the dancers were constrained by their respective roles: witnesses on one side, and the accused representing himself on the other.

Through self-representation, Milošević had the opportunity to address all of the witnesses directly. These witness testimonies were supposed to help establish facts about the events covered in three ICTY indictments; indictments in which Milošević was charged for crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia – in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia from 1991 to 1995, and in Kosovo in 1999. Present on the Hague podium, among others, were the last President of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) Presidency Stjepan Mesić, former President of Slovenia Milan Kučan, Serbia’s representative in SFRY Presidency Borisav Jović, the last Prime Minister of the SFRY Ante Marković, international negotiators David Owen and Paddy Ashdown, as well as NATO generals Klaus Naumann and Wesley Clark.

Their final meetings with Milošević were marked by the continuation of the long-standing debate on the causes and escalation of the Yugoslav crisis. What triggered it? Was the country inevitably destined to disintegrate? Why did Yugoslavia collapse into bloody war instead of a peaceful separation? Milošević’s trial was never concluded as the accused passed away before the case was completed. The discussion on the fate of Yugoslavia continues, with the testimonies of some of the dancers on this final Hague podium providing one more opportunity to reflect on the events that marked the fallout of the Federation.

The series of chronologically arranged events relevant to the Yugoslav crisis, dissolution, and wars contained in this narrative are limited to events portrayed in the testimonies at the trial of Slobodan Milošević. Relevant parts of those testimonies are grouped around the events they pertain to. The textual and audiovisual content of the narrative are supplemented by a list of documents related to the said events, as well as links to full testimony transcripts of select witnesses.

“The Last Tango in The Hague” does not aim to provide a definitive answer to the questions about the causes and culprits of the crisis, and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The purpose of this narrative is to highlight the unique and invaluable material that can help further research on Yugoslavia's demise – materials that would not be available were it not for the ICTY war crimes proceedings, including that of Slobodan Milošević.