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Beginning crisis signs
Economic liberalization also had political consequences. With greater financial freedom for the republics, there was also a better opportunity to express the ethnic contradictions that were still great. During the first 10 years after the economic reform, both Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian groups within the party went further in their assertion than the party would allow. It created extensive contradictions between larger groups in the party. Theoretical criticism of political everyday life – on a Marxist basis – was expressed in journals such as Praxis, Gledista and Knizevne Novine. Yugoslavia received continuous, if not officially vaunted, criticism of its own system. But any attempt to create an independent political grouping outside the party was turned down.
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In the various republics, strong demands for greater national independence were raised. For the Serbs, the situation was different. A greater part of the Serbs lived outside “their” republic, and therefore did not want to give greater independence to the republics at the expense of the federation. In 1968 and 1969, there were severe unrest in Kosova. The Kosova Albanians wanted the province and western Macedonia portrayed as an independent republic.
In 1968, some hitherto purely federal affairs became the subject of decentralization: the republics were given their own foreign committees, 20% of conscripts were allowed to serve in their own region, and in the federal administration all positions were occupied by an ethnic “key”. The rising self-government ambitions in the republics were simultaneously exploited by anti-communist emigrant groups of different ethnic backgrounds.
When the Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, Yugoslavia felt threatened. Yugoslavia had supported the reform movement under Dubcek. Tito condemned the inmate as an attack on socialism. The defense was strengthened and special attention was paid to the local defense. The country developed its own defense industry, reaching 80% of its own weapons.
Economic growth rates gradually declined in the late 1960’s, but even in the late 70’s, annual growth exceeded 5%. President Tito was aware of the tensions between the ethnic groups and the strong economic inequality between the industrialized north and the underdeveloped south of ancient Yugoslavia. In 1971-72, the ethnic conflicts worsened – especially between Serbs and Croats. Croatia brought the case before the federation. At the same time, the separatist efforts in Kosovo began in 1974. Against this background, Tito declared in 1970 that when he resigned, the country should be headed by a body representing both the federal republics and the autonomous provinces.