Brian Gallagher & Jasna Celic
The following letter was handed this afternoon to 10
Downing Street. Photograph of the handing above.
5 August 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
10 Downing Street,
Dear Prime Minister
We are writing to you on behalf of ourselves and
concerned members of the Croatian community in London
as well as friends of our community.
We are concerned over the indictment of Croatian
General Ante Gotovina and other Croatian Generals by
the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia in the Hague as well as British policy
towards Croatia. Today is the tenth anniversary of the
commencement of Croatia’s Operation Storm, effectively
controlled by the United States in 1995, which
liberated large amounts of territory and was
instrumental in saving Bosnia-Herzegovina. It
stopped Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko
Mladic and brought about the Dayton Peace Accords.
As you are aware, the British government has prevented
Croatia from starting negotiations to join the
European Union due to Croatia failing to hand over
General Gotovina. However, no evidence has been made
public suggesting that the Croatian Government is
deliberately not trying to find General Gotovina.
We wish to bring to your attention a number of
troubling aspects of the indictment against General
Gotovina. As is evident from the indictment, the
Tribunal is characterising Operation Storm as a
Firstly, the Tribunal itself has contradicted the
charges against General Gotovina in their evidence at
the Milosevic trial. In particular, we refer to Peter
Galbraith’s testimony for the prosecutors in which he
explicitly stated that no ethnic cleansing took place
- charges that are at the heart of the indictment. If
the ICTY prosecutors are unconvinced by their own
charges, why should anyone else be?
Furthermore, it is well known that Operation Storm was
in effect controlled by the United States in order to
stop the Greater Serbia project and to bring peace.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was in Srebrenica
recently as part of the commemoration of the atrocity
that occurred there ten years ago. He spoke of the
failure of the international community. It is worth
noting that the UN safe haven of Bihac in
Bosnia-Herzegovina was besieged was by Serbian forces;
had it fallen a Srebrenica style massacre would have
followed. Operation Storm saved Bihac from that fate.
Without the Croatian action, thousands would have
perished at Bihac.
President Bill Clinton in his autobiography points out
that the United States had authorised a private
military company to improve and train the Croatian
military. He points out that he was “rooting” for the
Croats during Operation Storm and quotes a Western
diplomat as saying that the United States used Croatia
as a proxy. As the ICTY is saying that a criminal
enterprise took place, it would also be appearing to
suggest that President Clinton “rooted” for that. This
is not true, and I am sure you would agree that
President Clinton acted properly to save the lives of
thousands and to bring a terrible war to an end. His
actions should not be smeared by the ICTY.
There are many other concerns regarding the
indictments, such as the fact that Croat General
Blaskic was convicted of many crimes he did not
commit, as his appeal showed. This does not inspire
confidence in the ability of ICTY judges to throw out
bad indictments such as the Gotovina one. Further,
there are concerns over the use by the ICTY of
questionable evidence from Serbian officials who took
part in the occupation of Croatia.
Characterising the liberation of Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina as a criminal act could well lead
to territorial claims against Croatia by Greater
Serbia proponents. The charges against Operation
Storm, if they are upheld by a court that has already
made serious mistakes in the past, could lead to
instability in the region.
For that reason, and the other concerns over the
Operation Storm indictments, we believe the United
Kingdom should press for a review of these charges
with a view to dropping them. We also believe that
the United Kingdom should drop its objections to
Croatia joining the EU for the same reasons; the
indictment of General Gotovina cannot be considered
Further information is available from us should you
want it. We hope you take our concerns seriously.
In closing, we recommend Croatia to you personally as
a holiday destination. Dubrovnik, Istria and Dalmatia
are considered some of the most beautiful parts of
Europe, indeed the world. We are sure you would enjoy
visiting Croatia with your family.