In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Yugoslavia did not seem like the communist countries found elsewhere in Eastern Europe. This appearance was misleading. In reality, Yugoslavia was a police state where people could be imprisoned for their beliefs. The communist party was
the only one allowed as all other political parties were banned. Yugoslavia seemed to be achieving economically because of the money the Yugoslavian government was able to borrow.
The people of Yugoslavia were divided. Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Muslims, Montenegrins, Albanians, and Macedonians, all who made up the population of Yugoslavia were suspicious and resentful of one another. Feelings of hatred began to escalate during the late 1980’s that suddenly exploded into violence in 1991. Almost instantly the world’s view of Yugoslavia changed. From being a peaceful and stable country, Yugoslavia was suddenly altered into a land of murder and refugees. On May 25 1993, “resolution 827” was adopted, which set forth NATO’s Tribunal’s mandate to prosecute individuals responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
In Bosnia hostilities were put on hold with a cease-
fire among the three warring factions in October 1995. In December 1995 parties to the Bosnia conflict, including Croatia and Serbia, signed the Dayton Agreement. This rejects the current widespread argument that Yugoslavia fell apart because of domestic struggles and militant activities, but more to the impact the Western powers had on Yugoslavia. Countries like the United States and Germany offered support to their favored ethnic groups to help them advance their own national policy agendas. Many attempts to help keep peace in Yugoslavia have been put forth. Through all the killing and destruction caused by the wars, Canada is still one of the only countries helping to correct this disaster. Perhaps slower out of the gate, Canada has spent billions towards this cause, Canada has sent thousands of troops to keep peace, and Canada has also put forth an effort worth boasting about.
When this problem became apparent to the rest of the world, few countries stepped in to help stop it. After countries like Britain, France, United States, and Germany started to land in Bosnia and Croatia, Canada was still undecided whether to help or not in this peacekeeping mission. Being the 30th and last of the countries that agreed to go help, Canada joined and was part of the peacekeeping project. The federal cabinet gave its final approval to the deployment of Canadian soldiers just two days after a debate on the issue in the House of Commons. An exercise that opposition parties labeled as a sham, arguing that the government had already made up its mind on what it was going to do. The Defense Minister was David Collenette at the time. Mr. Collenette made his views clear at the debate saying, “It is fine for us Canadians to pound on our chests and yell from the hill tops about world peace. But unless we’re prepared to do something about it, to commit our own resources, to commit our own people, then I think our words ring hallow.” Although these words were very persuasive some still believed that Canada should not join. Alliance pressures being what they were, Canada felt that they had to join and be involved. When it came time to vote, Canada pulled together enough votes to officially make Canada involved in the peacekeeping mission led by NATO. Other allies involved in this were France, Britain, The United States, Germany, and even non-NATO nations like Bangladesh. In the UN headquarters in New York, UN members were questioning whether Canada was pulling its own weight. Canada had slipped to 25th in terms of the number of troops, police and observers it sends to do UN peacekeeping. As the Balkan experience was showing, Canada was putting forth more and taking greater action for peace, Canadians realize that it does not come cheap.
Now that Canadians were finally showing how much it can do to fight for peace, they were realizing that money might slow them down. The department of national defense revealed that Canada spent $4.9 billion on peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia in the past ten years. That total includes $1.4 billion in incremental costs. Money that would have been saved if the troops had stayed home. Heavy spending in the Balkans is a subject for heated behind-closed-doors debate in Canada’s foreign policy community. In 2000-2001 Canada expected to spend $222 million on peacekeeping, and just $47 million on other “aid” programs on the rest of the world. Helping out third world countries hit by famine, floods, and other disasters like earthquakes. The latest figures available state that in 1999-2000 the Canadian government spent $385 million helping certain regions hit by floods, earthquakes, and famine. Canada has spent $340 million on Yugoslavia, almost spending as much as it did on the rest of the world with aid money.
Along with all the money spent Canada has also sent many soldiers. Canada agreed to send 1, 000 troops to start. Britain sent 14, 000 troops, France sent 10, 000, and Germany sent 4, 000 troops. The Canadian troops were split up into different areas. 500 Canadians were to be responsible for running one of three headquarters in the British sector, along with 400 infantrymen and 100 communications and logistics troops. With the infantry to be used for defensive purposes, Canadians were expected to patrol potentially dangerous zones dividing Bosnia, Croats, and Serbs. In Bosnia alone, 10 Canadians have died, more than 100 others wounded and many others suffering from psychological stress. As the war continued more troops were sent. After two years of war approximately 100, 000 people in total have died. Canadian troops still remain in Bosnia therefore, adding to the already high cost of this peacekeeping mission.
Bringing an end to this essay on Canada’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia we can conclude that Canada was not all talk about bringing this world to peace but showed action as well. At the beginning of this situation authorities were questioning if Canada could hold their own in this peacekeeping battle. In the end Canada showed that they were serious about ending this problem by spending billions towards it, sending thousands of troops to fight against it, as this was an effort definitely worth boasting about for Canada. Even though Canada had put this much effort into stopping this war, it still goes on today. Canadian Defense says that approximately 1, 650 troops are still in Bosnia because this Balkan armed conflict is far from over. Beyond stopping the fighting between Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, the mission was intended to reverse the ethnic cleansing that had forced minorities to flee their homes under threat of death. Refugee officials are hopeful that returns will pick up this year, but say that whoever has not yet returned home in two years time will probably never do so. Frustrated in their desire to secede and join their mother countries, the hard-line Serbs and Croats who hold power in their regions “say ‘no’ to anything that looks like Bosnia.” Even though it seems very slim for a possibility for this war to end in peace right now, the NATO led group has not given up on looking for ways to end this battle calmly and pleasant so that these ethnic groups can live in peace.