Croatia: Reparations For War Damages – A Priority In Relating To Serbia


Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

This month, the Croatian government announced its backing for legislation, set to be voted in May, entitling rape war crime victims to a one-time compensation payment of up to 20,000 euros ($21,500), a 320 euro ($340) monthly allowance, health care, psychological counseling and legal aid.
The focus of the law is on the victim, without the need to detail or emphasise the person who committed the war crime of rape, however, it’s necessary to emphasise the perpetrator’s military characteristics in order to make a distinction from a civil perpetrator,” said Vesna Nadj, deputy veterans’ minister.


Marija Sliskovic

Marija Sliskovic

Until now, victims have had to deal with their own trauma privately. Now, they will finally be seen by society,” says Marija Sliskovic, who runs Women in the Homeland, an NGO that has been advocating for rape victims’ rights since 2010, and helping them to heal.






Ruzica Erdelji - Barbaric

Ruzica Erdelji – Barbaric

Raped by some 20 men in Vukovar, Ruzica Erdelji-Barbaric fled her hometown during the war and returned in 1998. She lives off a 200 euro ($215) pension, and hopes the new compensation will help her live “a decent old age”. Barbaric, 63, insists other perpetrators must face justice. “I was raped and I want the people who did it to be punished,” she said. “Our wounds will never heal.”




War veterans’ minister Predrag Matic told the Croatian media recently that the compensation envisaged by the proposed law will be granted “based on trust”.
A victim of sexual violence comes before the committee and tells what happened to her or him and gives accompanying documentation, if there is any. The commission will then decide whether they will get the status of a victim or not,” he said.
Minister Matic has emphasised that his government is the first to do anything about the war crime of rape and that they have shown a “political good will” to address compensation to victims of rape!

While compensation to victims of rape war crime is, in itself, a positive and needed move one cannot but scorn such statements by the veterans’ affairs minister. Such statements do strongly suggest that there is no substantial will to deal with the gravity of such crimes and their perpetrators. Furthermore, given that the grant of compensation will depend on “trust” the process announced for decision-making on compensation via a committee tied to the veterans’ ministry is fraught with likelihoods of political influences and subjective interpretations on committee members.

This law would seem to fit into the concept of “victims of crime compensation” known to societies throughout the democratic developed world. The only difference is, that in the democratically developed world there’s genuine pursuit of justice against the perpetrator and in this case there seems to be no efforts by the Croatian authorities to seek reparations from Serbia whose citizens, at its instigation, committed these war crimes!

Franjo Tudjman visits Vukovar 8 June 1997 during the process of peaceful reintegration of the Serb-occupied Croatian Danube region into the Croatian constitutional and legal system

Franjo Tudjman visits Vukovar
8 June 1997 during the process
of peaceful reintegration of
the Serb-occupied Croatian
Danube region into the
Croatian constitutional and legal system

This brings me to a pertinent issue: Serbia is desirous of becoming an EU member and as such it would be required to respect the democratic standards inherent to EU membership. One of these standards is respecting and complying with agreements signed with other countries. One of such agreements is the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Croatia, 23rd August 1996.
The joint committee (Croatia – Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia & Montenegro) met a few times (last time in 1999) after the signing of the said agreement, without any progress being made as to reparations for war damages. Serbian members rejected Croatia’s draft on compensation for damages submitted in July 1998 under the false guise that the 1990’s war was a civil war and, therefore, each state should sustain/compensate for damages arisen on its own territory! Not an inch of Serbia’s territory was under attack, of course. Croatia could not agree to such a legally and factually unfounded premise and considered that its responsibility lay in compensation for war damages that occurred on the territory under the control of the Croatian authorities and not for those that occurred in its occupied territories under the control of the Yugoslav army, i.e. Serbia and Montenegro, and the rebel Serbs in the Krajina region.


Armed Serb rebels  commenced aggression  in Croatia with barricades 1990

Armed Serb rebels
commenced aggression
in Croatia with barricades

War damages to Croatia sustained between 1990 and 1999 are estimated to be in the vicinity of 32,5 Billion Euro. At the end of 1999 Croatia filed a lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (later changed to Serbia as Montenegro left the union with Serbia) at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for genocide and seeking compensation for war damages. When Social Democrats won government in Croatia, in 2000, Prime Minister Ivica Racan suspended all activities to do with the abovesaid 1996 Agreement, pending ICJ verdict. Despite that, Serbia had continued to raised the question of restoring the property to Serb minority that had fled Croatia during the war years, criticising Croatia that not enough is being done on that front even though Croatia had, to September 2014, spent 5.5 Billion Euro from its budget in the implementation of the national program securing the return of refugees and their housing.
In its February 2015 verdict the ICJ had decided that while acts of genocide were committed in various areas of Croatia there was no genocide committed by either side (Croatia or Serbia) as a whole but there was no doubt as to the fact that Serb aggression against Croatia, on Croatia’s sovereign territory, so to speak, did occur.

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 Serb Chetnik and Serb-led Yugoslav army march into Vukovar singing: "Slobo, Slobo (as in Slobodan Milosevic) send us some salad, there will be meat, we'll slaughter the Croats" (BBC newsreel screenshot)

Vukovar, Croatia 1991
Serb Chetnik and Serb-led Yugoslav army
march into Vukovar singing:
“Slobo, Slobo (as in Slobodan Milosevic) send
us some salad, there will be meat, we’ll slaughter
the Croats” (BBC newsreel screenshot)

Croatian parliament had on 21st October 2011 upheld the Declaration on promoting European values in South-East Europe and it has been heard on several occasions that Croatia will not, as an EU member state, use that position in obstructing Serbia’s negotiations for EU membership. However this Declaration does not mean that Croatia should renounce its rights and national interests.
It’s high time to put a stop to political juggling and “political good will” (as minister Matic put it in the case of war crime of rape) and bring the matter of compensation for war damages to Croatia to the table, along with other open questions such as the missing, the Vukovar medical archives, the processing of war criminals, the return of stolen art treasure, the landmines’ plan etc.). An official meeting between Croatia’s new President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Serbia’s Tomislav Nikolic would seem to be an ideal opportunity to start “the ball rolling” in the right and practical direction. There’s been enough politicisation on the issue of compensation for war damages and the tide needs to turn towards actual and concrete demands to Serbia for payment. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Serbia should not be granted entry into the EU until it has addressed the issue of Compensation to Croatia itself and to individual Croatians properly and in a meaningful way. If an aggressor is allowed to get away with this current conduct then it will always continue o get away with it. I’m sure there will be individual Serbs who were horrified at the actions taken by their country and who will agree that Croatia was not the aggressor and did not commit acts of aggression on Serbian soil. The reverse cannot be said of Serbia.
    If they want meaningful discussions over entry into the EU then they must take responsibility for the acts committed and be prepared to pay reparations in order to show good faith for the future.
    xxx Huge Hugs Ina xxx

    • I think so too, David and now seems a good time to press the issue of compensation from Serbian side. One frets, though, that Serbia will continue with its politics of blaming everything and anything except itself. Croatia needs to be bolder on this front, enough is enough – comes a time! Hugs back XX

  2. What dreadful mess and complications result from war.

  3. Revisionism and nationalism is extremely prevalent in Croatia.

    Just an observation from a non-Serb/non-Croat outsider.

    • Well, Jeff, if reparation for war damages and justice for victims of crimes means revisionism and nationalism to you – so be it.

  4. Michael Silovic says:

    Nothing wrong with being a nationalist. I think it makes for a stronger country.We should all be proud of who we are and owe no one an apology! In america it is called Patriotism not nationalism because america is a mutt country with no pure breeds.. While I agree with the compensation it in no way even begins to compensate for the trauma and pain inflicted on a people and the life long physiological damage caused to these people. It is easy to restore a house ,replace a car or other property but not so easy to repair psychological damage to anyone especially when they see the person that abused them walking the same streets. These scumbags should be dealt with and with out mercy. Serbia needs to be financially held accountable for the damages they have caused during the war along with other countries involved that murdered our people.As for me I forgive no one until justice is dealt with in the proper manner.

  5. War and women’s rape are two often connected. The man who did are and should be if possible bring to justice. That allie had done that too as some commentator suggest is not absolving the perpetrator of another war or region! Serbia and other who did should be severely punished. My pass away father had o serve in the Italian army during the WW2 in Croatia and had a girlfriend killed because probably some one was jealous or other excuse. The sister visit my family in Italy close to Croatia for a few day. I had never heard of such bad think of raping from my father a love captain from soldier that were under him. Rape is cause by depravity of people that take advantage of the time.

    • And the sad thing, 7luigitau, is that many get away with more horrible crimes than the ones they convict and condemn others for! Tragic story about your father’s WWII love in Croatia

  6. SerbbeingHonest says:

    To be honest a lot of serbs felt that croats and muslims were betraying the Yugoslavia we had build together we gave so much for that country….. Serbs were going to be minorities in Croatia/Bosnia not that it is any excuse for the terrible war crimes that happened in the war. Also we could avoided the war if the Serbs in Southern Croatia were allowed to stay in Yugoslavia and the rest of Ethnic Croatia could secede. Often in many provinces there were only Serb living.

    • Oh dear, SerbbeingHonest – the Yugoslavia that was built as you say ended up to be a disgrace that is why most states within it wanted out. How could Serbs even think of claiming a piece of land for themselves, what about people of other ethnicity that live there – would they ethnically cleanse them “peacefully”or forcefully as they did in 1991/1992. Everyone needs to learn to respect sovereign borders and laws of the state they live in, so do Serbs

  7. SerbbeingHonest says:

    Remember myself living in Sarajevo and getting angry seeing our beautiful Yugoslav unity flag being changed to a bosniak tribal flag.

    • There were those like you, SerbbeingHonest but the point of democracy is that majority wins and that’s something that you need to learn it seems

  8. Reblogged this on IdealisticRebel's Daily View of Favorites and commented:
    This should help some victims to heal or to forgive. May Justice surround all victims.

  9. Thank you Ina for bringing this post ..I hope those women will find some sort of justice for the trauma they have carried for so so long..
    I pray they may come to find more peace within from what horrors so many suffered from through war.. It sends me cold to think it is still on going.. And so much more besides around the world..

    Love and Blessings … Sue x

  10. …despite all of the lies that Serbian and her friends around the world spread about Croatia, the Croatian military NEVER committed rapes in WW2 nor in the Homeland war! The Serbian policy was as such during the Balkan wars, WW1 & 2, the Homeland War, Bosnia and Kosovo! That is how you can prove that the lies the Serbs spread were just that….LIES!
    Another way you can tell how stupid many Croatian politicians are is to see how incompetent Mesic, Milanovic and girly man Josipovic really are! They are so stupid, that they don’t even know how to be communists! The serbs, give them credit, are the classic liars and manipulators!

    • There’s no doubt about it in my mind, Tempus Fugit, Serbia will get away with lies and coverups as long as it has support of people for whom I would not say are stupid but cunning and mean spirited

  11. It’s good that they are doing something to aid those poor women… especially the counselling and healthcare, but no doubt the pennies will help with other things. 🙂


  1. […] deal in ensuring housing etc for those Serbs who had returned to live in Croatia after the war, Serbia and Serbs have done absolutely nothing in paying for damages to properties belonging to non-S…. It’s time Croatia does more on this with view to demanding compensation from […]

  2. […] deal in ensuring housing etc for those Serbs who had returned to live in Croatia after the war, Serbia and Serbs have done absolutely nothing in paying for damages to properties belonging to non-S…. It’s time Croatia does more on this with view to demanding compensation from […]

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