Greater Croatia

Greater Croatia (Croatian: Velika Hrvatska) is a term applied to certain currents within Croatian nationalism. In one sense, it refers to the territorial scope of the Croatian people, emphasising the ethnicity of those Croats living outside Croatia. In the political sense, though, the term refers to an irredentist belief in the equivalence between the territorial scope of the Croatian people and that of the Croatian state.

Greater Croatia 01
One of the visions of the borders of Greater Croatia as advocated by Dobroslav Paraga[1][2]


The concept of a Greater Croatian state has its modern origins with the Illyrian movement, a pan-South-Slavist cultural and political campaign with roots in the early modern period, and revived by a group of young Croatian intellectuals during the first half of the 19th century. Although this movement arose in the developing European nationalist context of the time, it particularly arose as a response to the more powerful nationalist stirrings in the then-Kingdom of Hungary, of which Croatia was a part.

Velika Hrvatska (Hrvatski Domobran)
Map of a Greater Croatia in a 1939 article of the Ustase Hrvatski Domobran newspaper associated with the Ustase organization of the same name, Hrvatski Domobran, that sought recruitment of Croat emigres in Argentina and other countries. This article rejects the Cvetković–Maček Agreement and the borders that it provided to Croatia as insufficient.

The foundations of the concept of Greater Croatia are laid in late 17th and early 18th century works of Pavao Ritter Vitezović.[3] He was the first ideologist of Croatian nation who proclaimed that all Slavs are Croats.[4] His works were used to legitimize expansionism of the Habsburg Empire to the east and south by asserting its historical rights to claim Illyria.[5][6] "Illyria" as Slavic territory projected by Vitezović would eventually incorporate not only most of the Southeastern Europe but also parts of Central Europe such as Hungary.[7] Vitezović defines territory of Croatia which, besides Illyria and all Slavic populated territory, includes all the territory between Adriatic, Black and Baltic seas.[8]

Because the Kingdom of Hungary was so large, Hungary attempted processes of Magyarisation on its constituent territories. As a reaction, Ljudevit Gaj led the creation of the Illyrian movement.[9] This movement aimed to establish Croatian national presence within Austria-Hungary through linguistic and ethnic unity among South Slavs. This was the first and most prominent Pan-Slavic movement in Croatian history.

An early proponent of Croatian-based Pan-Slavism was the politician, Count Janko Drašković. In 1832, he published his Dissertation to the joint Hungarian-Croatian Diet, in which he envisioned a “Great Illyria” consisting of all the South Slav provinces of the Habsburg Empire.

Likewise, the influential Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, although a supporter of the Habsburg Monarchy, nonetheless advocated merging the Kingdom of Dalmatia with Croatia.

The concept of a Greater Croatia was developed further[10][11] by Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik, who founded the nationalist Party of Rights (HSP) in 1861. Unlike Strossmayer and the proponents of the Illyrian movement, HSP advocated a united Croatia that stood independently of a Pan-Slavic umbrella state.[10][12] Starčević was an early opponent of Croatia's unification with Serbs and Slovenes (chiefly the Kingdom of Serbia); their ideologies gradually gained popularity during the interwar period as tensions grew in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia between the Croatian and the more influential Serbian political leaders. Ensuing events surrounding the ideology culminated in the World War II conflict between the Independent State of Croatia and its opponents including Chetnik Serbs and Communists of all ethnicities (including Croatian).

Cvetković–Maček Agreement

Amid rising ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs in the 1930s, an autonomous state within Yugoslavia, called the Banovina of Croatia was peacefully negotiated in the Yugoslav parliament in the Cvetković–Maček Agreement of 1939. Croatia was united into a single territorial unit and was provided territories of parts of present-day Vojvodina, and both Posavina and southern parts of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Independent State of Croatia

Districts of the Independent State of Croatia in 1943

The first modern development of a Greater Croatia came about with the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH). Following occupation of the country by Axis forces in 1941, Slavko Kvaternik, deputy leader of the Ustaše proclaimed the establishment of the NDH.

The Ustaša, an ultranationalist and fascist[13] movement founded in 1929 supported a Greater Croatia that would extend to the River Drina and to the edge of Belgrade.[14] Ante Pavelić, the Ustaše's Poglavnik (leader) had been in negotiations with Fascist Italy since 1927. These negotiations included Pavelić supporting Italy's annexation of its claimed territory in Dalmatia in exchange for Italy supporting an independent Croatia.[15] In addition, Mussolini offered Pavelić the right for Croatia to annex all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pavelić agreed to this exchange.

Bosnian War

The most recent expression of a Greater Croatia arose in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia. When the multiethnic Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in 1992, Bosnian Serb political representatives, who had boycotted the referendum, established their own government of Republika Srpska, whereupon their forces attacked the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the beginning of the Bosnian war, the Croats and Bosniaks formed an alliance against the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS). The main Croat army was the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), and the Bosniak was the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH).[16] In November 1991, the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia was established as an autonomous Croat territorial unit within Bosnia and Herzegovina.[17]

The leaders of Herzeg-Bosnia called it a temporary measure during the conflict with the Serb forces and claimed it had no secessionary goal.[18] The Croatian Defence Forces (HOS), a paramilitary wing of the Croatian Party of Rights, supported a confederation between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,[19] but on the basis of the NDH.[20] Over time, the relations between Croats and Bosniaks worsened, resulting in the Croat–Bosniak War,[21] which lasted until early 1994 and the signing of the Washington Agreement.[22]

Croatian President Franjo Tuđman was criticised for trying to expand the borders of Croatia, mostly by annexing Herzegovina and parts of Bosnia with Croat majorities.[23] In 2013, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled, by a majority, that the Croatian leadership had a goal to join the areas of Herzeg-Bosnia to a "Greater Croatia", in accordance with the borders of the Banovina of Croatia in 1939.[24] Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti, the presiding judge in the trial, issued a separate opinion in which he disputed the notion that Tuđman had a plan to divide Bosnia.[25] On 29 November 2017, the Appeals Chamber concluded that Tuđman shared the ultimate purpose of "setting up a Croatian entity that reconstituted earlier borders and that facilitated the reunification of the Croatian people".[26]

Lands of "Greater Croatia"[1][27]


  1. ^ a b Čanak, Nenad (1993). Ratovi tek dolaze. Nezavisno društvo novinara Vojvodine. p. 12.
  2. ^ Gow, James (2003). The Serbian Project and Its Adversaries: A Strategy of War Crimes. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 229.
  3. ^ John B. Allcock; Marko Milivojević; John Joseph Horton (1998). Conflict in the former Yugoslavia: an encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-87436-935-9. Retrieved 4 September 2013. The concept of Greater Croatia...It has its roots in the writings of Pavao Ritter Vitezovic,...
  4. ^ Ivo Banac (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-8014-9493-2. Retrieved 4 September 2013. ...was the first Croat national ideologist to extend the Croat name to all the Slavs, ...
  5. ^ Banac, Ivo (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. p. 73. ISBN 0-8014-9493-1.
  6. ^ V. A. Fine 2010, p. 486.
  7. ^ Trencsényi & Zászkaliczky 2010, p. 364

    By Slavic territories, Vitezović meant the Illyria of his dreams (Greater Croatia) which, in its boldest manifestation, would have incorporated Hungary itself.

  8. ^ V. A. Fine 2010, p. 487.
  9. ^ Elinor Murray Despalatović (1975). Ljudevit Gaj and the Illyrian Movement. East European Quarterly. ISBN 978-0-914710-05-9. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  10. ^ a b Charles Jelavich, Barbara Jelavich (2012). The Establishment of the Balkan National States, 1804-1920. University of Washington Press. p. 252. ISBN 9780295803609.
  11. ^ Robert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries (2007). The Balkans: A Post-Communist History. Routledge. p. 187. ISBN 9781134583287.
  12. ^ Biondich, Mark (2006). "Chapter 2. "We Were Defending the State": Nationalism, Myth, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Croatia". Open Edition Books.
  13. ^ "Ustasa (Croatian political movement)". Retrieved 2011-12-22.
  14. ^ Meier, Viktor (23 July 1999). Yugoslavia: a history of its demise. Psychology Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-415-18595-0. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  15. ^ Bernd Jürgen Fischer, ed. (March 2007). Balkan strongmen: dictators and authoritarian rulers of South Eastern Europe. Purdue University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-55753-455-2. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  16. ^ Christia 2012, p. 154.
  17. ^ Marijan 2004, p. 259.
  18. ^ Malcolm 1995, p. 318.
  19. ^ Hewitt 1998, p. 71.
  20. ^ Marijan 2004, p. 270.
  21. ^ Christia 2012, p. 157-158.
  22. ^ Tanner 2001, p. 292.
  23. ^ Goldstein 1999, p. 239.
  24. ^ Prlic et al. judgement vol.6 2013, p. 383.
  25. ^ Prlic et al. judgement vol.6 2013, p. 388.
  26. ^ "Summary of Judgement" (PDF). ICTY. 29 November 2017. p. 10.
  27. ^ Kolstø, Pål (2016). Strategies of Symbolic Nation-building in South Eastern Europe. Routledge. p. 45.


External links

Battle for Vozuća

Battle for Vozuća (Bosnian: Bitka za Vozuću) was an attack by the 3rd Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the foreign troops of the Bosnian mujahideen on 10 September 1995 against the strategically important Army of Republika Srpska-held village of Vozuća, in the municipality of Zavidovići during the Bosnian War.

Dobrinja mortar attack

The Dobrinja mortar attack was a massacre which occurred at 10:20 a.m. on 1 June 1993, in Dobrinja, a suburb west of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two mortar rounds were fired from Serb-held positions, hitting a football pitch where youths put on an impromptu game on the first day of the Muslim holiday Kurban Bajram. Approximately 200 people were in attendance to watch the game. The United Nations placed the official death toll stemming from the mortar attack at 13 (news reports at the time published numbers ranging from 11 to 15 deaths), with 133 wounded. At the time it was the deadliest event involving civilians since the imposition of sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the United Nations one year prior.

Dobroslav Paraga

Dobroslav Paraga (born 9 December 1960) is a Croatian right-wing politician. He was first president of the Croatian Party of Rights, after party was reestablished in 1991. In 1993 he founded the Croatian Party of Rights 1861 following a political split from Anto Đapić.

Expansionist nationalism

Expansionist nationalism, is an aggressive radical form of nationalism or ethnic nationalism (ethnonationalism) that incorporates autonomous, heightened ethnic consciousness and patriotic sentiments with atavistic fears and hatreds focused on "other" or foreign peoples, framing a belief in expansion or recovery of formerly owned territories through militaristic means.

Hrvatski Domobran

Hrvatski Domobran (Croatian Home Defenders) was a Croat political organization that advocated independence for Croatia from Yugoslavia, and became associated with the Ustaše. It was founded in 1928 and took part in demonstrations in Zagreb in which it engaged in violent battles with police. After being shut down and forced to flee with the establishment of royal dictatorship in Yugoslavia, it was refounded as an émigré organization in 1933 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A section was established in the United States to raise support for the Ustaše.

Mate Boban

Mate Boban (pronounced [mǎːte bǒban]; 12 February 1940 – 7 July 1997) was a Bosnian Croat politician and one of the founders of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, an unrecognized entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Boban was the 1st President of Herzeg-Bosnia from 1991 until 1994. From 1992 to 1994 he was the President of Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He died in 1997.

Mile Novaković

Mile Novaković (Serbian Cyrillic: Миле Новаковић; 29 April 1950 – 14 September 2015) was a major general active in the military of Serbian Krajina and in the Federal Yugoslav Army, during and after the Croatian War of Independence. He was tried in absentia by a Croatian court in 1995 for war crimes, being sentenced to 20 years in jail. In 2003, another Yugoslav Army official was apprehended by Macedonian officials citing an Interpol warrant, as he tried to cross into the country. This man was released after the mistaken identity was discovered. The real Novaković remained at large in Serbia.

In 2010, Novaković testified at the trial of Momčilo Perišić at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Perišić had previously promoted Novaković to the rank of Major-General in the Federal Yugoslav Army in 1993. Perišić was acquitted upon appeal of all charges on 28 February 2013. Novaković died on 14 September 2015, aged 65, from undisclosed causes.

Mirko Jović

Mirko Jović (Serbian Cyrillic: Мирко Јовић; born 13 August 1959 in Zemun) is a Serbian politician who stood for president of Serbia in the Serbian presidential election, 2004 for the Radical Party of People, Serbia, Diaspora and European Bloc. He lives in Nova Pazova.

Operation Amanda

Operation Amanda was a United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) mission conducted by Danish peacekeeping troops, with the aim of recovering an observation post, S01, belonging to 9th mech inf coy Nordbat 2 near Gradačac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on October 25, 1994.

Operation Spider

Operation Spider (Serbo-Croatian: Operacija Pauk, Операција Паук) was a combined effort by Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serb Krajina to recover the territory of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, which was a key ally of the Serbs. The Bosnian central government had previously overrun and seized the territory. The operation ended in a Serb victory and the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia remained in existence until the fall of its key ally the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the subsequent end of the war.

Partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina was discussed and attempted during the 20th century. The issue came to prominence during the Bosnian War, which also involved Bosnia and Herzegovina's largest neighbors, Croatia and Serbia. as of 2019, the country remains one state while internal political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the 1995 Dayton Agreement remain in place.

Persecution of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia

The Persecution of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia, also known as the Genocide of the Serbs (Serbian: Геноцид над Србима / Genocid nad Srbima) included the extermination, expulsion and forced religious conversion of hundreds of thousands ethnic Serbs by the genocidal policies of the Ustashe regime in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) between 1941 and 1945, during World War II. The Ustashe regime systematically murdered approximately 300,000 to 500,000 Serbs out of whom up to 52,000 died at the Jasenovac concentration camp, according to current estimates.

Red Croatia

Red Croatia (Latin: Croatia Rubea; Croatian: Crvena Hrvatska) is a historical term used for the southeastern parts of Roman Dalmatia and some other territories, including parts of present-day Montenegro, Albania, the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina and southeastern Croatia, stretching across the Adriatic Sea.

The term was first used in one version of the Chronicle of the Priest of Dioclea, which is as a whole dated to have been written in 1298–1300. It was in later years mentioned by a number of sources in various languages and by a number of people of different backgrounds. In the 19th century, during the Age of Romantic Nationalism, it became a central point of discussion and research, often a component part of Croatian nationalism, in which Red Croatia was sometimes popularized as a historical state of the Croatian people and thus should become part of a Greater Croatia.

Slavic nationalism

Slavic nationalisms





East Slavic

Russian nationalism/ Greater Russia


Ukrainian nationalism/ Greater Ukraine/ Little Russian identity

West Slavic,

Czech nationalism


Slovak nationalism

Polish nationalism

South Slavic, see rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire

Bosniak nationalism

Croatian nationalism/ Greater Croatia/ Illyrian movement

Macedonian nationalism/ United Macedonia

Montenegrin nationalism

Serbian nationalism/ Greater Serbia

Serbian–Montenegrin unionism

Slovenian nationalism/ United Slovenia/ Venetic theory

Bulgarian nationalism/ Greater Bulgaria

Yugoslavism/ Yugoslav irredentism/ Balkan Federation


The Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Movement (Croatian: Ustaša – Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret), commonly known as Ustaše (pronounced [ûstaʃe], Croatian: Ustaše), was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultranationalist and terrorist organization, active, as one organization, between 1929 and 1945. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.They are variously known in English as the Ustaše, Ustashe, Ustashi, Ustahis, or Ustashas; with the associated adjective sometimes being Ustashe or Ustasha, apart from Ustaše. This variance stems from the fact that Ustaše is the plural form of Ustaša in the Serbo-Croatian language.

The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Roman Catholicism and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span the Drina River and extend to the border of Belgrade. The movement emphasized the need for a racially "pure" Croatia and promoted genocide against Serbs, Jews and Romani people, and persecution of anti-fascist or dissident Croats and Bosniaks. The Ustaše viewed the Bosniaks as "Muslim Croats," and as a result, Bosniaks were not persecuted on the basis of race.Fiercely Roman Catholic, the Ustaše espoused Roman Catholicism and Islam as the religions of the Croats and Bosniaks and condemned Orthodox Christianity, which was the main religion of the Serbs. Roman Catholicism was identified with Croatian nationalism, while Islam, which had a large following in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was praised by the Ustaše as the religion that "keeps true the blood of Croats."When it was founded in 1930, it was a nationalist organization that sought to create an independent Croatian state. When the Ustaše came to power in the NDH, a quasi-protectorate established by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during World War II, its military wings became the Army of the Independent State of Croatia and the Ustaše militia (Croatian: Ustaška vojnica). However the Ustaše never received massive support.The movement functioned as a terrorist organization before World War II but in April 1941, they were appointed to rule a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which has been described as both an Italian-German quasi-protectorate, and as a puppet state of Nazi Germany.

Veljko Milanković

Veljko Milanković (Serbian: Вељко Миланковић; 5 January 1955 – 14 February 1993) was a Bosnian Serb war commander during the Yugoslav Wars with the rank of second lieutenant.Milanković was badly wounded on 4 February 1993 and later died of his wounds at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade on 14 February 1993.

Voćin massacre (1942)

The Voćin massacre was the killing of 350 Serb civilians in Voćin, Independent State of Croatia, by the Ustaše Croatian fascist organization on 14 January 1942, during World War Two. The massacre was carried out as retaliation for partisans' action in Papuk.

Yugoslav Wars

The Yugoslav Wars were a series of separate but related ethnic conflicts, wars of independence and insurgencies fought in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001, which led to the breakup of the Yugoslav state. Its constituent republics declared independence, despite unresolved tensions between ethnic minorities in the new countries, fueling the wars.

Most of the wars ended through peace accords, involving full international recognition of new states, but with a massive human cost and economic damage to the region. Initially the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) sought to preserve the unity of the whole of Yugoslavia by crushing the secessionist governments, but it increasingly came under the influence of the Serbian government of Slobodan Milošević, which evoked Serbian nationalist rhetoric and was willing to use the Yugoslav cause to preserve the unity of Serbs in one state. As a result, the JNA began to lose Slovenes, Croats, Kosovar Albanians, Bosniaks, and ethnic Macedonians, and effectively became a Serb army. According to a 1994 United Nations report, the Serb side did not aim to restore Yugoslavia, but to create a "Greater Serbia" from parts of Croatia and Bosnia. Other irredentist movements have also been brought into connection with the wars, such as "Greater Albania" (from Kosovo, though it was abandoned following international diplomacy) and "Greater Croatia" (from parts of Herzegovina, until 1994 when the Washington Agreement ended it).Often described as Europe's deadliest conflicts since World War II, the wars were marked by many war crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity and rape. The Bosnian genocide was the first European crime to be formally judged as genocidal in character since World War II, and many key individual participants were subsequently charged with war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established by the UN to prosecute these crimes.According to the International Center for Transitional Justice, the Yugoslav Wars resulted in the death of 140,000 people. The Humanitarian Law Center estimates that in the conflicts in the former Yugoslav republics at least 130,000 people were killed.

Yugoslav irredentism

Yugoslav irredentism refers to an irredentism that promotes a Yugoslavia that unites all South Slav-populated territories within it, comprising its historically united territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia including the disputed territory of Kosovo; merged with territories claimed by Yugoslavists that had not been incorporated within the state of Yugoslavia, including Bulgaria, Western Thrace and Greek Macedonia and in some proposals other territories. The government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia sought the union with Bulgaria or its incorporation into Yugoslavia. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito sought to create an integral Yugoslavia that would incorporate within Yugoslavia's borders: Greek Macedonia and Thrace, Albania, Bulgaria, at least a portion of Austrian Carinthia or all of it, and for a time beginning in November 1943 had claimed the entire Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

By Type
Related concepts

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.