The early 1990s saw a series of fundamental political changes in Europe as the both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia dissolved and a number of new independent democracies came into being. On 1 January 1993 the federal state of Czechoslovakia split into two separate states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This split marked the end of a brief but peaceful process of divorce that came about as the political parties in both countries gradually drifted apart as a result of historical differences and economic disparities between the two constituent states. The break-up of the former Yugoslavia, which ceased to exist as a federal state in 1992, was far from peaceful, bringing about a series of ethnic wars as constituent republics – Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia – declared independence. The mixed ethnicity of the region meant that large ethnic minorities were left behind in the newly-formed states, and the violent process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ caused a series of wars. The Serbs, in particular, were expansionist, seeking to create a ‘Greater Serbia’ by annexing parts of Croatia and Bosnia. The conflict continued throughout the 1990s, only reaching a resolution in 1999.
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