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By Cathie Carmichael

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The resettlement of displaced Croatians has been one of the most difficult aspects of the post-war situation in Croatia, with many forced to take up residence in Krajina because they cannot return to their old homes in Bosnia. There were widespread rumours that the fate of the Serb areas of Croatia was decided in the spring of 1991 at a meeting between Tudjman and Milosevic at Karadjordjevo (Tito's hunting lodge in Vojvodina). Tudjman subsequently referred to Croatia's 'historical and natural borders', by which it was assumed that he meant the frontiers of 1939 after the Sporazum, which included a greater part of western and northern Bosnia (including Bihac and Banja Luka, as well as all of Hercegovina), but not Baranja in Eastern Slavonia.

The northern part of Croatia was assimilated into the Hungarian kingdom in the 12th century and subsequently into the Habsburg Monarchy. Dalmatia and Istria were part of the Venetian Empire until 1815, when they became part of the Habsburg domains. During the 19th century both Croatian and Illyrian ('Yugoslav') consciousness grew, in part as a reaction to Magyar cultural hegemony (in 1827, Hungarian was made a compulsory subject in higher education) but also as a response to growing cultural nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe as a whole.

On the international scene, Croatian independence was hard won. Recognition for Croatian independence came from Germany in December 1991 and the EU followed suit on 15 January 1992. By September, eighty-four countries had recognized the Republic's independence. The Croatian National Guard and the JNA signed a cease-fire agreement brokered by the United Nations on 2 January 1992. By late February, 14,000 UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) troops had been stationed to supervise the withdrawal of the JNA and to assist the demilitarization of the 'Republic of Serbian Krajina' (RSK) that had been formed in December 1991 to unite the rebel borderlands of Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia and Krajina, which had proclaimed themselves as Serb Autonomous Regions (SARs) in 1990.

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