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Yugoslavia: European Neighbors
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Policy > European Neighbors


The issue of Macedonian nationality caused friction between Yugoslavia and neighboring Bulgaria and Greece, which contained large Macedonian minorities. Throughout the postwar period, the Yugoslav press propagandized against Bulgarian expansionist policies toward Macedonia and the failure to recognize Macedonians as a separate nationality in Bulgaria. Although the Bulgarian press reciprocated much more strongly after the 1989 change of government in Bulgaria, the two governments showed little desire to magnify an issue that had been at the center of the Balkan Wars before World War I.

In the mid-1980s, as a way of stirring unrest in the Balkans, the Yugoslav press strongly criticized the Greek government for failing to recognize the Macedonian Orthodox Church. But relations with Greece were generally warm in the 1980s, and Yugoslavia backed the Greeks against the Turks on the Cyprus issue early in the decade. For diplomatic reasons, the Yugoslav government did not permit Macedonian nationalist writers to protest Greek discrimination against Macedonians until the 1980s. The other ethnic-based foreign policy dilemma was dealing with Albanian intervention in Kosovo. The enmity between Yugoslavia and Albania began with Tito's repudiation of Stalinism, and with the personal hatred Albanian president Enver Hoxha felt for Tito. Stalinist Albania and revisionist Yugoslavia remained hostile throughout the postwar period, with a brief thaw in the late 1960s. For Albania, economic discontent in adjoining Kosovo was a prime weapon throughout the postwar period in preventing penetration of Yugoslav influence into its closed society, and in discrediting Yugoslav economic and political innovations. Albania maintained strong cultural ties with Kosovo (which contained over half as many Albanians as Albania itself), while remaining isolated from the rest of Yugoslavia. Officially the Yugoslav government strongly condemned Albanian intervention in Kosovo, although the northeastern republics insisted that Serbian intransigence was the root of the Kosovo problem.

Relations with Hungary, the other neighbor with a substantial ethnic minority within Yugoslavia, continued without major complication. In light of Hungarian political reforms, new agreements in 1989 and 1990 demilitarized the common border and expanded economic ties, emphasizing regional cooperation that also included Austria.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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