With the collapse of
Yugoslavia during the 1990s, only the republics of
Montenegro agreed to maintain the Yugoslav state, and established a new constitution for a new Yugoslavia in 1992. With the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe, the new state followed the wave of democratic change. It abandoned communist symbolism: the
red star was removed from the national flag, and the communist coat of arms was replaced by a white double-headed eagle with the arms of both Serbia and Montenegro within it. The new state also established the office of the
president, held by a single person, initially appointed with the consent of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro until 1997 after which the president was democratically elected.
With the collapse of Yugoslavia and its institutions from 1991 to 1992, the issue of unity of the two republics remaining in the collapsing federation, Serbia, Montenegro, as well as Serb-majority territories in Croatia and Bosnia that wished to remain united, became an issue. In 1991 diplomatic talks chaired by Lord Carrington with the leaders of the six republics of the collapsing federation, resulted in all the republics except for Serbia agreeing that Yugoslavia had collapsed and that each republic should become an independent state. The Serbian government was surprised and outraged by Montenegro's decision in favour of terminating Yugoslavia, as the Bulatovic government had previously been closely allied with Milosevic's government in Serbia.Slovenia,
Croatia, and the
Republic of Macedonia declared independence.
Yugoslavia's collapse began in 1991 when
On 26 December 1991, Serbia, Montenegro, and the Serb rebel-held territories in Croatia agreed that they would form a new "third Yugoslavia".
 Efforts were also made in 1991 to include
SR Bosnia and Herzegovina within the federation, with negotiations between Miloševic, Bosnia's
Serbian Democratic Party, and the Bosniak proponent of union – Bosnia's Vice-President
Adil Zulfikarpašić taking place on this matter.
 Zulfikarpašić believed that Bosnia could benefit from a union with Serbia, Montenegro, and Krajina, thus he supported a union which would secure the unity of Serbs and Bosniaks.
 Miloševic continued negotiations with Zulfikarpašić to include Bosnia within a new Yugoslavia, however efforts to include the whole of Bosnia within a new Yugoslavia effectively terminated by late 1991 as Izetbegović planned to hold a referendum on independence while the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats formed autonomous territories.
The FRY was suspended from a number of international institutions. This was due to the ongoing
Yugoslav wars during the 1990s, which had prevented agreement being reached on the disposition of federal assets and liabilities, particularly the national debt. The Government of Yugoslavia supported Croatian and Bosnian Serbs in the
wars from 1992 to 1995. Because of that, the country was under economic and political sanctions, which resulted in economic disaster that forced thousands of its young citizens to emigrate from the country.
BBC documentary, called
The Death of Yugoslavia, and later in his testimony before the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia during the
trial of Slobodan Milošević, Yugoslav official
Borisav Jović revealed that the Bosnian Serb army arose from the Yugoslav army forces in
Bosnia and Herzegovina. He claimed that he had realized that Bosnia and Herzegovina was about to be recognized by the international community, and since
Yugoslav People's Army troops were still located there at that point, their presence on Bosnian territory could have led to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia being accused of aggression. To avoid this, he and Milošević decided to move all JNA soldiers originating from Serbia and Montenegro back into Serbia and Montenegro, and to move all JNA soldiers of Bosnian Serb descent to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 In this way, every Bosnian Serb was transferred from the Yugoslav army to what became the newly created Bosnian Serb Army. Through this, the Bosnian Serb army also received extensive military equipment and full funding from the FRY, as the Bosnian Serb faction alone could not pay for the costs.
Serbian Radical Party founder and paramilitary
Vojislav Šešelj claimed that President Milošević personally asked him to send paramilitaries into Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 1995, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević represented the FRY and Bosnian Serbs at peace talks in
Dayton, Ohio, US, which negotiated the end of war in Bosnia with the
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From 1996, the first public signs of political discord between parts of Montenegrin leadership and the Serbian leadership began to appear. By 1998, simultaneously with Montenegrin Prime Minister
Milo Đukanović coming out on top in the power struggle with Montenegrin President
Momir Bulatović, the republic undertook a different
economic policy by adopting the
Deutsche Mark as its currency. During autumn 1999, following the Kosovo War and the NATO bombing campaign, Đukanović (who by now firmly held power in Montenegro as Bulatović was completely squeezed out) drafted a document called Platforma za redefiniciju odnosa Crne Gore i Srbije (A platform for redefinition of relations within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) calling for major changes in the division of governing responsibilities within FR Yugoslavia though still officially seeing Montenegro within a joint state with Serbia. Milošević did not respond to the platform, considering it unconstitutional. Political relations within the federal state became more and more strained, especially against the backdrop of the wave of assassinations against top figures from political, criminal, and state business circles in both republics (
Željko "Arkan" Ražnatović,
Žika Petrović, and
Goran Žugić as well as two attempts on the life of opposition politician
Vuk Drašković). By October 2000 Milošević had lost power in Serbia. Contrary to expectation, Đukanović's response to the power change in Belgrade was not to further push the agenda outlined in his platform, but instead to suddenly start pushing for full independence, thus completely dropping the platform in the process. Subsequent governments of Montenegro carried out pro-independence policies, and political tensions with Serbia simmered despite political changes in Belgrade.
("Why?") Monument, dedicated to the employees of the Radio Television of Serbia (
) who were killed during NATO bombing of the RTS building in 1999.
With Milošević's second and last legal term as Serbian President expiring in 1997, he ran for, and was elected President of Yugoslavia in 1997. Upon taking office, Milošević gained direct control of the Yugoslav military and security forces, and directed them to engage Kosovo separatists. The conflict escalated from 1998 to 1999 and became known as the
Yugoslav forces committed a series of atrocities in Kosovo. To prevent ethnic cleansing, the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) under the leadership of the United States began an air campaign called
Operation Allied Force against Yugoslav military forces and positions and suspected Serbian paramilitaries.
 The air attacks against Belgrade by NATO were the first attacks on the city since
World War II. Some of the worst massacres against civilian Albanians by Serbian forces occurred after NATO started its bombing of Yugoslavia. The Serbian police and paramilitaries also committed massacres during the war, including the
 and the
 NATO promised to end its bombings of Yugoslavia, when Milošević agreed to withdraw all Yugoslav and Serb security forces from Kosovo. After an array of bombings, Milošević submitted and recalled all forces, and NATO peacekeepers entered Kosovo.
In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro came to a new agreement regarding continued co-operation, which, among other changes, promised the end of the name Yugoslavia, since they were part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 4 February 2003, the
federal assembly of Yugoslavia created a loose
state union—the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. A new
constitutional charter was agreed to provide a framework for the governance of the country.
On Sunday, 21 May 2006,
Montenegrins voted in an
independence referendum, with 55.5% supporting independence. Fifty-five percent or more of affirmative votes were needed to dissolve the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. The turnout was 86.3% and 99.73% of the more than 477,000 votes cast were deemed valid.
The subsequent Montenegrin proclamation of independence on June 2006 and the Serbian proclamation of independence on 5 June ended the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and thus the last remaining vestiges of the former