After the end of the Cold War and the fell of communism in 1989/1990 the Republic of Yugoslavia began to fall apart as well. First Croatia, then Slovenia declared independence from the federation which had been held together only by agressive suppression of its constituent ethnicities. The root cause of the conflict was a referendum (29 February 1992) declaring the independence of Bosnia. Following this action the Bosnian Serbs set up a shadow republic – called Republika Srpska – and supported by the Serbian government of Slobodan Milošević and the Yugoslav People’s Army, attacked the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to secure Serbian territory. The war was characterized by ethnic cleansing, systematic mass rape and genocide. Events such as the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre became iconic scenes of the conflict. Following several unsuccessful peace efforts and arrangements supported by the international community, the incident was concluded with the Dayton Accords
which put an end to the three and a half year long armed conflict.