Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is a pragmatist who embraced war and peace, communism and nationalism, when they seemed the surest routes to power.
1984: Slobodan Milosevic enters politics as a protégé of Ivan Stambolic, the head of the League of Communists of Serbia. He becomes the head of the local Communist party organization in Belgrade.
1987: Riding on a wave of popularity, Milosevic ousts Stambolic as leader of the League of Communists of Serbia. He demands that the federal government restore full control of Vojvodina and Kosovo to Serbia.
While the federal government tries to introduce free-market reforms to save the weak Yugoslav economy, Milosevic plays on people fears, defending the socialist tradition of state economic intervention.
1988: Milosevic replaces party leaderships in Kosovo and Vojvodina provinces with his own supporters.
1989: The Serbian assembly ousts Stambolic as the republic’s president, replacing him with Milosevic.
1990: Milosevic changes the Serbian constitution to curtail provinces’ autonomy. He rallies the Serbian people and resists a growing movement in favor of multiparty elections. Serbia’s continuing resistance to political and economic reform accelerates the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.
Mulitparty elections bring noncommunist governments to power in Croatia and Slovenia. Milosevic transforms the League of Communists of Serbia into the Socialist Party of Serbia and is returned to office.
1991: While there is movement to transform Yugoslavia into a confederation, negotiations fail. Serbs in the federal government prevent a Croat candidate from assuming the collective presidency and Croatia and Slovenia secede from the union, citing discrimination.
Milosevic orders federal troops and Serbian militias to take over regions of Croatia. This begins three years of civil war. Macedonia declares independence.
1992: The Muslims and Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina vote to secede. The United Nations pushes severe trade sanctions on Yugoslavia. Milosevic’s "Greater Serbia" doctrine calls for the conquest of land in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the war spreads. Serb forces expel hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Moslems and Croats from their homes, kill thousands of civilians, and detain more in concentration camps.
1993: Milosevic begins to distance himself politically from the Bosnian Serbs.
1995: The Croatian army pushes the Serbs out of Croatia. As Serbia suffers under the UN trade embargo, Milosevic agrees to sign a peace treaty on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, ending the civil war in Bosnia.
1998 : Milosevic launches a military campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group seeking independence for the province. NATO threatens air strikes.
1999: After several tries at negotiation, NATO forces launch a massive aerial bombardment campaign against Yugoslavia. An international war-crimes tribunal indicts Milosevic for — crimes against humanity.
After 10 weeks of the allied bombing campaign, Milosevic and the Serbian parliament sign an agreement to end the fighting.
2000: In October, Milosevic is ousted from power by popular uprising after he annuls election results that show he lost to democratic candidate Vojislav Kostunica.