Remembering Vukovar And The Smut Of Erdut Agreement

Ivo Lucic
Photo: screenshot

This is the week we remember the victims in the November 1991 fall of Croatia’s Vukovar (and all the victims of Serb aggression against Croatia), brutally attacked, destroyed, slaughtered and tortured by Serb rebel paramilitary as well as Serb-led Yugoslav Army forces. This is the week that in our mind the thoughts of forgiveness and reconciliation inevitably intrude upon those of profound sadness for the victims and the search for that light of justice due for all. Forgiveness, though, is only truly earned by those that repent. This, though, is not the case for the Serb who are, these days, on an accelerated and noisy rampage of trying to justify the crimes because of which Croatia was put into the situation of having to defend the self-preservation of its own people and land from the onslaught.

While the Erdut Agreement reached on 12 November 1995 for a peaceful reintegration into Croatia of its Serb-occupied territory in the vicinity of Vukovar, the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium established all transitional arrangements, including a transitional administration that would facilitate the return of refugees in the region, the protection of refugees and their property rights, and the deployment of an international force to maintain peace and security in the region, Croatian Serb leaders including member of parliament for Serb ethnic minority Milorad Pupovac, undoubtedly propped-up by Serbia’s support, are resurrecting these days the Erdut agreement as though it was a permanent fixture in the way independent Croatia should proceed to develop itself as a sovereign democratic state, and as though it gave the Serb aggressor absolution for its crimes and rights to go on with life as though no aggression, murder, ethnic cleansing of Croats from the region, torture – occurred back then! Pupovac said this week at the marking of the anniversary of the Erdut Agreement that the agreement would be satisfied in full when there is Serb representation in all municipal councils of Croatia, in all government ministries, in all institutions…!

Whether the Erdut Agreement had in fact clauses or addendums that stipulate any such representation or not, is beside the point as in fact and de jure agreements have a life span that cannot be extended or shortened without due legal processes. The Erdut Agreement had the life span of transitional nature and if anyone has issues with its implementation the world of judicial pursuits upon which any “complaints” should be adjudicated in democracy is open to all, including Serbs. But I somehow doubt Pupovac has a leg to stand on in the scheme of things that occurred with Serb aggression and their tremendously destructive consequences for the Croatian citizens and the development of the democratic state.

Erdut Agreement was largely a brainchild of Peter Galbraith, US Ambassador to Croatia, who along with Russian Ambassador Leonid Karestadjians and German diplomat Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, concocted in January 1995 the so-called Z-4 Plan for Croatia where autonomy (to Serbs) would be given on a significant part of the occupied Croatian territory! It actually planned for a legal Serb state within Croatia! There’s more than one way of succeeding in extending the borders of Greater Serbia, it seems – if Croatia’s leaders permit Pupovac and his followers the reign of drunken, hateful, disrespect for the victims of aggression and Croatia’s victory of independence as a sovereign state. There was not a single word of remorse for the genocide committed against Croatian people, across Croatia. Pupovac made the point of saying that Erdut Agreement brought peace to the region but failed to address why it was essential to bring peace and what was behind it (Serb aggression).

The fact that Pupovac rhetoric regarding infiltrating public administration and decision making with members of ethnic Serb minority brings about torrents of traumas to the Croatian public because, among other disquieting thrusts that suggest Serb victory within Croatia, it represents the notion that all crimes of aggression against Croatians and Croatia should perhaps be erased as acceptable and forgotten as if nothing happened! Pupovac move here is a clear example of attempting to solidify the equating of victim with the aggressor.

That which medical doctors did in Vukovar hospital in 1991, healing all patients, even those belonging to the enemy, is something that is rarely seen and we can be proud of that. With this book I wanted to tell that relatively unknown story because we know quite a bit about the battles for Vukovar and about defending it but the story about the heroic doctors has remained somewhat in the shadows,” said dr. Ivo Lucic in Zagreb, Croatia, on 14 November 2014 at the promotion of his book “Vukovar hospital, the lighthouse in the historic storms of Croatia’s East” (“Vukovarska bolnica svjetionik u povijesnim olujama hrvatskog istoka”).

The hospital was also a warning for those who approached, and who has destroyed Vukovar just before that. The hospital sent the message to watch how they approach the institution marked with a red cross and protected under international laws. However, they did not accept that message and ran aground the cliffs of crimes, did everything that is already known to us, in Ovcara and other places, murdered the wounded and civilians and that is something that will remain in their conscience forever,” dr. Lucic emphasised.

By the end of its three-month siege at the hands of Serb forces in November 1991, Vukovar had become utterly devastated and its Croatian and non-Serb population ethnically cleansed. The capture of the town was an important strategic objective for the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. It was designed to consolidate Serb control over the region of Croatia known as Eastern Slavonia.

When the Serb forces took control of Vukovar on 19 November 1991, several hundred people took refuge in the town’s hospital in the hope that they would be evacuated in the presence of neutral observers. But instead of the hoped-for evacuation, about 400 individuals – including wounded patients, soldiers, hospital staff and Croatian political activists – were removed from the hospital by Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitary forces and taken to Ovcara farm near Vukovar. The detainees were beaten up. Some died of their injuries and approximately 260 of them were executed and then buried in a mass grave.

Lest we forget!

Ina Vukic

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