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From Indifference to Entrapment

From Indifference to Entrapment: The Netherlands and the Yugoslav Crisis, 1990-1995

Norbert Both
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    From Indifference to Entrapment
    Book Description:

    A detailed analysis of the response to the Yugoslav crisis by one of America's key allies in NATO. The author focuses on the question of how a Western bureaucracy faced up to the most complex foreign policy challenge of the 1990s. The Netherlands, as a 'pocket-sized medium power', is an interesting case study. While the margins for Dutch foreign policy are limited, fate had it that the Netherlands occupied the European presidency during the second half of 1991, when the recognition issue divided the West and the parameters for the subsequent international intervention in the Balkans were set. By July 1995, the involvement of the Netherlands had deepened to the extent that Dutch troops who found themselves trapped in the UN safe area of Srebrenica together with the local Muslim population were unable to prevent the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War. This study is based on interviews with all the major players, including two former Defence Ministers and two former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and on documents from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made available under the country's own 'freedom of information act'. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0501-2
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 9-12)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. 13-14)
  5. Chronology
    (pp. 15-21)
  6. [Maps]
    (pp. 22-24)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 25-44)

    ‘Srebrenica’ will long remain a symbol for the mismatch between the great ambitions and limited margins of Dutch foreign policy with regard to the Yugoslav crisis between July 1990 and July 1995. In July 1995 (Bosnian) Serb forces attacked the enclave which had been declared a ‘safe area’ by the United Nations Security Council and overran the Dutch peacekeepers who had been stationed there precisely to deter such attacks. Subsequently, Serb soldiers and paramilitaries murdered some seven thousand Muslim men. For the Netherlands, the fall of Srebrenica and the subsequent massacre and, in particular, the feeling of impotence that had...

  8. 1 The Netherlands and its Foreign Policy System
    (pp. 45-68)

    Located in Northwestern Europe, the Netherlands has a population of around 16 million people, squeezed into a territory of only 41,526 square kilometres. The country’s origins as a political entity can be found in the sixteenth century. In 1568 a revolt led by William of Orange started in the ‘Low Countries’ against Habsburg Spain, which, after an eighty year war resulted in the recognition of the independence of the Northern part as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands at the Treaty ofWestphalia. The Southern part (presentday Belgium) remained under Habsburg rule. These seven provinces, with Holland and Zeeland as...

  9. 2 An Emerging Challenge, July 1990 - June 1991
    (pp. 69-100)

    By July 1990, Yugoslavia was in deep crisis, although most European governments did not notice it. In the various elections that had taken place in the individual Yugoslav republics during the second half of 1990, communists-turned-nationalists, or anti-communist nationalists had won overwhelming victories. ‘Yugoslavia no longer exists’, declared Slovene Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel in July 1990, having just been voted into power as part of the pro-independence coalition DEMOS.¹ In the Serbian province of Kosovo, ethnic Albanians declared that Kosovo would no longer be a province in Serbia but one of the federation’s constituent republics. Kosovo’s autonomy had already been...

  10. 3 From ‘Even-Handedness’ to ‘Selectiveness’ The Dutch EC Presidency, July-December 1991
    (pp. 101-142)

    The Yugoslav crisis was escalating into armed conflict. TV images of skirmishes in Slovenia in late June 1991 brought home to European and American families the incredible message that war had returned to Europe. In Slovenia hostilities ended quickly, due to the combination of an effective defence on the part of the Slovenes and the absence of a Serb minority question. Croatia was not so lucky. Fierce fighting erupted there, which lasted until the end of the year. By the end of 1991, the combined Serb/Yugoslav forces controlled large swaths of territory in the Croatian border areas. The vicious siege...

  11. 4 Moral and Political Entrapment The Netherlands and International Peace Plans for Bosnia, 1992-1994.
    (pp. 143-180)

    In 1992 Bosnia-Herzegovina became the scene of the next, most violent phase in the Yugoslav crisis. In late March of that year, the Serbian campaign began in earnest. Within the space of little more than two weeks all the cities commanding the roads between Bosnia and Serbia as well as between Bosnia and Serb-held Croatia were taken by Serb forces and emptied of its Bosnian Muslim or Croat population. Subsequently, the roads between these towns were opened up. By May, some six weeks after the start of the campaign, Serb forces controlled some 60 per cent (ultimately 70 per cent)...

  12. 5 Military Entrapment The Commitment to Srebrenica, 1993-1995
    (pp. 181-224)

    On July 11, 1995, the safe area of Srebrenica was taken by (Bosnian) Serb forces. In the immediate aftermath the Serbs killed over seventhousand Muslim men. The great majority of these men were not killed in battle but murdered after having been taken prisoner.¹ It had taken the Serbs a week to conquer and ethnically cleanse the safe area and it had proved to be a relatively easy task. There had been little resistance from the four-thousand Muslim soldiers in the enclave, the fourhundred Dutch peace-keepers deployed there, or from UNPROFOR as a whole.

    Dutch military entrapment in the Bosnian...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 225-242)

    This book has provided an analysis of Dutch foreign policy regarding the Yugoslav crisis from 1990 until 1995. Its main conclusion is that the Netherlands was an important and influential player in the international community’s intervention in the former Yugoslavia during this period. This is a significant conclusion if one bears in mind that the Netherlands is a smaller state, or ‘pocket-sized medium power’, and that mainstream Realist International Relations theory assumes that smaller states have no serious role of their own to play in international affairs. A second conclusion is that the Netherlands was particularly influential during its term...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-256)
  15. Index of Names
    (pp. 257-267)