Dayton Peace Accords

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The Dayton Peace Accords, negotiated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio in 1995, paved the way toward ending years of ethnic warfare in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, numerous communist countries experienced upheavals. The United States had emerged from the Cold War victorious, and people who had lived under communism for decades rose up and overthrew their communist governments. Struggles ensued, sometimes violent ones, as different factions tried to gain control of the new governments.

This was the case for Yugoslavia. In 1991, the communist government in this country collapsed. Various ethnic factions warred against each other to gain political power over their respective enemies. Yugoslavia quickly dissolved into several new political regions, including Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. For four years, bloodshed occurred in these areas, as various groups tried to gain control. Approximately 250,000 people, many of them innocent civilians, died in the fighting, and another two million people fled for their lives. Soldiers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization entered the former Yugoslavia and struggled to establish peace.

In October 1995, the presidents of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia agreed to come to Dayton, Ohio, to discuss ending the violence. The talks, known as the Dayton Peace Talks, occurred at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The parties made an agreement known as the Dayton Peace Accords, which created two new sovereign states, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hoping to eliminate further ethnic conflicts, Muslim Croats would control one country, while Bosnian-Serbs would rule over the other.

The Dayton Peace Accords established relative peace in the region, although some ethnic conflicts continued to occur, especially in Kosovo. In 2000, the president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was removed from office. Since his removal, violence has declined in the region. NATO forces remain in the area, trying to maintain peace.

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