It’s difficult to conclude that the renewed aggression against Croatia coming out of Serbia since the indicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj burned the Croatian flag last week is not politically connected to the announcement by Milorad Dodik, the president of the Serbian Republic (entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina/B&H, which has the 1995 massacre and genocide of Srebrenica as its cornerstone) regarding his plan to bring about at the end of April 2015 the declaration of the independence (from B&H) of the Serbian Republic. All this tells me, and I’m sure, many, that the Greater Serbia plan has not been shelved and sovereign nations affected by it (e.g. Croatia, B&H) must continue vigilance, as possibilities of renewed armed Serb-aggression, such as the one in early 1990’s, do seem to pose a risk.
Serbia did not succeed in its aggressive bid to try and stop secession from communist Yugoslavia of Croatia and B&H into independent states. However, in B&H, Serbs managed to hive off a part of that sovereign country as their enclave with their own local government. In Croatia, they lost completely – Croatian forces in 1995 “Operation Storm” liberated most of the Serb occupied and ethnically cleansed region (Krajina), and the rest was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia by the end of 1998. And everything they do politically points to the conclusion that Serbs cannot accept that; they cannot accept being a minority where they are a minority within a country.
Even though the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) appellate judges had just over a week ago, 30 March 2015, ruled that the indicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj had violated the terms of his release and ordered him to return to ICTY custody, Vojislav Seselj and Serbia’s leaders (Seselj’s political mates during the 1990’s aggression against Croatia and B&H, Serbian ultranatiolists) seem unperturbed and have raised their hate speech and aggressive disposition to almost the levels that existed during the 1990’s war of Serb-aggression against Croatia and B&H .
While the sinister Milorad Dodik is announcing a declaration of Serbian Republic independence in B&H (in defiance of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, which had as its foundation a goal to keep B&H in one piece as a sovereign and independent state) Vojislav Seselj is burning the Croatian flag in Serbia’s capital Belgrade, in front of Serbia’s government house, and threatening that he will only come to Croatia in a tank, and armed! Meanwhile, Serbia’s minister for work Aleksandar Vulin has obviously in the name of Serbia’s government intensified his anti-Croat hate speech, calling Croatia’s 1990’s war hero and general, Ante Gotovina, an Ustashe General and promoting still the lie that some 200,000 Serbs were deported forcefully from Croatia in 1995, ignoring the ICTY Appeals court ruling that there was no forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia. (Ustashe were members of the Croatian Revolutionary movement in the period 1929-1945 and are considered an ultra-nationalist and fascist formation.A similar group in Serbia, during the same historic period, was the Chetniks.)
As one might expect, Milorad Pupovac, a member of Croatian parliament representing the Croatian Serb National Council support this Greater Serbia “warrior” and continues equating the 1990’s Croatian War of Independence with the WWII efforts towards Croatian independence. Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolic had said that stringent measures under the law would be taken out against the person burning Croatia’s flag in Belgrade – but guess what – it’s been over a week and Vojislav Seselj still walks the streets of Serbia instead of being rounded up by Serbia’s authorities to prevent any further criminal actions while the burning of the flag is processed, and, to ensure Seselj returns to the ICTY to face judgment on charges of war crimes perpetrated against Croats and Bosniaks in Croatia, Vojvodina and B&H. Tomislav Nikolic sees the ICTY order to have Seselj returned to Hague as pressure against Serbia! The fact that Seselj stands accused of most heinous crimes against humanity does not seem to factor one iota in Nikolic’s thinking on due justice!
Furthermore, Serbia’s foreign minister and another of Seselj’s political “mates”, Ivica Dacic, said that the ICTY decision to seek Seselj’s return was “perfidious and scandalous” and jeopardised the stability of Serbia and the entire region. Never mind the fact that victims of Seselj’s war crimes spree deserve justice!
The ICTY Trial Chamber has last week ordered the ICTY Secretariat to contact the medical team of Vojislav Seselj (in Serbia) as soon as possible and furnish the Chamber with the latest information about the health condition of the accused. Meanwhile, Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic states that his government has no proof that Seselj is well again! I would have thought that organising public hate speeches, threatening Croatia, burning Croatia’s flag was proof enough that Seselj was quite well physically to be treated at medical facilities in the Hague for any physical ailment he may have and when it comes to his mental state – there’s ample proof that he needs to be behind bars as he is a danger to many innocent people!
To throw another element into the factor where Serbia will try everything and anything to avoid acceptance of its guilt for the horrible wars that ensued during the breakup of communist Yugoslavia, Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolic has a few days ago announced that Serbia’s military forces would be marching in Moscow at the May celebrations of WWII victory! One may indeed raise ones eyebrows and ask: Why? This are the times when Serbia says it wants to join the EU and the EU is not in good terms with Russia, over Ukraine! Is Serbia giving up its plan to join the EU (its leaders’ political idol war criminal Vojislav Seslj says Serbia should not join the EU) or is Serbia, once again, intimidating the international community (EU) in order to, somewhat surreptitiously, “bag” new acreage for Serbia – Serbian Republic in B&H – and get away with its denial of war crimes perpetrated during 1990’s?
As to Serbian plans to march in Moscow, Serbia’s political scientist Aleksander Pavic said that he believes that Serbia’s participation in the parade has a tremendous symbolic significance. “We are definitely part of the coalition [of victors], considering how many Serbs were killed in the Second World War. We had not one, but two anti-fascist projects, and we have the right to say that we were the first to rebel in a Europe enslaved by Nazism.” Pavic, like all Serbia’s leaders, have conveniently forgotten that Serbia’s WWII “rebellion” against Nazi enslavement came after Serbia under Milan Nedic exterminated, by May 1942, 94% of its Jews and became one of the first European countries to declare itself “Judenfrei” (Jew-free)! Serbia was like Russia during WWII: shouting to be anti-Nazi while murdering multitudes of innocent people! What a disgrace for humanity!
Although, last week Croatia had, after Seselj’s burning of the Croatian flag, called its Ambassador to Serbia back to Croatia for consultations it is of utmost importance that, within Croatia, some serious measures are put in place to protect the Croatian people and Croatia’s war veterans from Serb nationalist lies and the undermining of the sovereignty of Croatian state. Pressure might be on from the EU (and other parts of the world) to see neighbourly relations between Croatia and Serbia become more normal and moving towards reconciliation but this latest outpouring of hatred and lies against Croatia and the 1990’s War of Independence coming out of Serbia vividly demonstrate that Serbian and Serbs still do not see themselves as Croatia’s neighbours nor do they want to be neighbours – they still want a piece of Croatia for Serbia just as they want the same in Bosnia and Herzegovina! That is the ugly bottom line and the sooner the Croatian leadership acknowledge this truth publicly the better it will be for Croatia and its people; for democracy and freedom far and wide. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A. Ps. (Syd)