By Jon Lawrence
At 12 noon Belgrade time on Tuesday (30th March), the .yu ccTLD domain space was due to be deactivated, finally laying to rest one of the last vestiges of the former state of Yugoslavia.
The .yu ccTLD was originally assigned to the University of Maribor and the Jozef Stefan Institute, both in Ljubljana, Slovenia. When the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke apart in the early 1990s, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia* and finally Bosnia-Herzegovina seceded from the union, and were subsequently assigned their own ccTLDs – .si for Slovenia, .hr for Croatia (Hrvatska), .mk for Macedonia* in 1993, and .ba for Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996.
Meanwhile, in 1994, the .yu ccTLD was transferred to the University of Belgrade, reflecting the reality of the new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which now comprised only Serbia and Montenegro. This state renamed itself Serbia and Montenegro in 2003 and a new ccTLD (.cs) was reserved, to replace .yu. The .cs ccTLD was never delegated though and in 2006 Montenegro became independent, leading to the separate countries being assigned the .rs (Serbia) and .me (Montenegro) ccTLDs.
The .rs and .me ccTLDs both went live in late 2007. At the same time, .yu was reassigned to the Serbian National Register of Internet Domain Names (RNIDS), the new ccTLD Manager for Serbia’s .rs ccTLD.
RNIDS has been working hard to migrate the remaining .yu domain name holders across to .rs (or to .me, as appropriate) to enable the deactivation of .yu. This was originally scheduled for 30th September 2009, however RNIDS successfully appealed to ICANN for a six-month stay of execution as there were still a few thousand active .yu sites at that point.
Last month, the 55,555th .rs domain name was registered. The launch of .me has been even more successful, as it has been marketed as a global personal domain space. To date, over 250,000 .me domain names have been registered.
There may be one chapter remaining in the story of ccTLDs of the former Yugoslavia. The Republic of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008, though this is disputed by Serbia and it has yet to be recognised by a majority of United Nations member states. Should Kosovo gain widespread acceptance as an independent state, then a new country-code will need to be assigned. The obvious ones – .ks, .ko and .kv are all currently available.
RNIDS also recently announced that they will be applying for a Cyrillic script IDN ccTLD as part of ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track program. It remains to be seen whether any of the other former Yugoslav republics in which Cyrillic is widely used will follow suit.
*Known officially as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to differentiate it from the adjoining Greek province also known as Macedonia.