ACTA SLAVICA IAPONICA
The Regional Problem and the Break-Up of the
The Case of Yugoslavia*
Copyright © 1998 by the Slavic Research Center.
) All rights reserved.
The Nature and the Scope of the Regional Problem
The regional problem in the second Yugoslavia (1945-1990) was never
a question of economic disparities only: it was interrelated with the
national question and the question of the organization of the state. It
also reflected various historical influences and the resultant mixture
of different cultural patterns.1
In Yugoslavia, official definition of the magnitude of the regional
problem resulted from the interaction of the regional power
configuration, economic interests, political will and the ruling
ideological postulates. Thus the status of underdevelopment and the
volume of transfers were determined by (unlimited) aspirations, on the
one hand, and (limited) possibilities, on the other.
"Official"proportions of the regional problem in Yugoslavia (in
terms of the underdevelopment status received by some republics and
provinces) did not reflect the real situation since the boundaries of
underdevelopment did not coincide with the boundaries of the republics
and the provinces.2
Nevertheless, Yugoslav regional policy stubbornly persisted with the
simplified dichotomy of economically developed and underdeveloped
republics and provinces (which was never based on the real situation).
The consequence was that the share of the Yugoslav population living in
the regions which almost throughout the postwar period were classified
as underdeveloped (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and
Kosovo-Metohia) grew from 30.57% in 1948, to 33.84% in 1965, to 40.23%
Judging from these facts only, Yugoslav regional policy -which
disregarding the interdependent development of all regions
(particularly after 1965) was confined to one specific aspect of
regional development, to the development of less developed regions -
was unsuccessful because it did not help decrease the number of people
living in the conditions of underdevelopment but led to its increase.
The point is that regions of underdevelopment had been rigidly and
roughly defined: regional policy clashed with the real proportions of
the regional problem, which is clearly shown by the above data on the
population dynamics in such imprecisely defined underdeveloped regions.
A more realistic approach with municipalities as units of observation
shows that development was spatially dispersed, namely that in reality
there were no large compact underdeveloped regions, quite contrary to
the basic premise of the official regional policy.
from 1945 to 1974, at regionalizing Yugoslavia in order to promote both
its overall and regional development did not bear fruit. With the
exception of the 1961-1965 period, republics and provinces or, to be
precise, the underdeveloped republics and provinces, were the focus of
attention on the Yugoslav level.