Croatia: Vicariously Reliving 1990’s Nightmares Through Ukraine’s Suffering of Today

With the brutal Russian attack against Ukraine many Croatians are reliving their own nightmares from early 1990’s. Serb and Yugoslav Army brutal attacks and senseless destruction against Croatia followed a similar pattern as is occurring now in Ukraine. God save the Ukrainian people from such bestial cruelty.

So, in Croatia it was in simple words like this: rebel Serbs living in Croatia who did not want Croatian independence from communist Yugoslavia decided to take over around 25% of Croatian territory known as Krajina, declaring it Serbian Republic of Krajina. The so-called Log revolution on that territory of Croatia is probably one of the most consistent events in contemporary Croatian history. This common colloquial name implies the beginning of the armed uprising of a part of Croatian Serbs, which took place on August 17, 1990, by blocking a part of the roads around Knin and Benkovac. Just as Russia has come to “aid” the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist republics in Ukraine, Serbia and Communist Yugoslavia Army forced their way into Croatia’s territory in their intent to preserve communist Yugoslavia and/or the creation of Greater Serbia state that would include areas of Croatia (and Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The war in Croatia was brutal but it was victorious for Croatia that fought as David in the proverbial David and Goliath War, as what Ukraine is fighting at this moment. But the European Union and the rest of the free world had punished Croatia for wanting to secede from communist Yugoslavia and imposed arms embargo! Ukraine appears to be receiving more aid than what it may need, and God bless today’s world for standing up for Ukraine and its sovereignty. It suited, I guess, the EU and the free world for whatever political agenda to label the attack against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a civil war even though it was not. Such political treachery somehow justified in their own eyes the arms embargo against Croatia, to disable it from successful defence of its people’s lives. And then, when Croatia together with the massive financial and material help from its diaspora managed to defend itself and secure a magnificent victory over its attackers, suddenly as far as EU and the rest of the free world decided there was no civil war in Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina; they now decided it was an international conflict between member states of former Yugoslavia. This political treachery was manoeuvred so that the EU and the Western powers wagging their self-important tails through the United Nations corridors could indict people for war crimes! In the case of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac the indictments were false and it took years for them to prove their innocence at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague.

It is good to see that Ukrainians have such a strong backing for their fight to stay independent and free and this help could shorten the nightmare they are currently experiencing.

The Croatian Parliament, by a majority of 133 votes in favour and one abstention, accepted on Friday 25 February 2022 the Declaration on Ukraine, which strongly condemns Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. During the debate, the ruling and the opposition showed a rarely seen harmony, with a message to Ukraine: “Croatia is firmly with you.”

The Declaration states that the Croatian Parliament strongly condemns the unprovoked aggression against Ukraine and its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence, and calls on Russia to immediately stop the military attack and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

The Croatian Parliament condemns the Russian recognition of the self-proclaimed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk because this act represents a gross violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and undermines the foundations of the international order.

It is also stated that the Croatian Parliament gives full support to the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, which is a fundamental determinant in relations and cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and Ukraine.

The Croatian Parliament expresses its full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and calls on the Government of the Republic of Croatia to provide humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine in this difficult time for them and for the whole peaceful world.

Among other things, the Declaration emphasises that in the context of the security situation in Eastern Europe, maintaining dialogue between all relevant international actors, calming tensions and aggressive rhetoric while respecting the international legal order and inviolability of international borders are key to preserving peace and stability in the region.

In ten points of the Declaration, the Croatian Parliament concludes that it is a secure, stable, and prosperous Ukraine in the strategic interest of all citizens of Ukraine, the European Union, the entire European continent, world peace and the international order.

Few people expected a war on the European continent in the 21st century, the war could have unforeseeable consequences for security and the economy, the world order has been called into question, what is happening is not just Ukraine, but all of us, said MP’s debate on the Declaration.

They strongly supported the sending of humanitarian and technical assistance to Ukraine and the expressed readiness to accept refugees from that country.

It was during the Serb attacks and aggression against Croatia that the world had become bitterly and sadly familiar with the term “ethnic cleansing”. Croats and other non-Serbs were driven from their homes in the Serb-occupied regions in Croatia; many forcefully taken to concentration camps for torture and death within Serbia itself and many murdered on their home doorstep. It is this dark reality from thirty years ago in particular that would seem to encourage Serbia of today and those Serbs in Croatia who sided with the 1990’s aggression to stand on Russia’s side and support Russia in what it is doing in Ukraine. Russia is doing to Ukraine today what Serbia did to Croatia in 1990’s and so it would be “handy” for Serbs if Russia wins in Ukraine and her victory acknowledged.

Evidence provides that Serbia has for several years been drifting away from the West, including the European Union which evidently it wants to join, and expanding its political, economic, and security ties with Russia as well as with China; both made up of strong and repulsive communist flavour. On Ukraine, Serbia has strayed even more dramatically from the European consensus, which is increasingly embracing a harder line against the Kremlin.  It is time that the West and the EU take a hard look at their accommodating approach toward Belgrade and show it that there are serious consequences for continuing this path, including potential sanctions. It is time for Croatia to take a hard look at its accommodating within its government the part of Serb ethnic minority that was directly and indirectly associated with the 1990’s aggression against Croatia and dissolve that association while maintaining the rights and needs of minorities in their daily living.  Ina Vukic

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