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Destruction caused to Croatia and its population by these same
Subject ICG Summary on Croatia
Reading your Summary and Recommendations regarding Croatia and the return
of ethnic Serbs, we find the criticism of Croatia totally misplaced. It
is obvious that you are not taking into consideration the enormous
destruction caused to Croatia and its population by these same Serbs
whose return you now champion.
Take the example of Vukovar, where some 10,000 people have returned,
about half Croats and half Serbs.
Among the Serbs are persons well-known to the Croatian population there
as having committed war crimes as they "ethnically cleansed" the 63%
non-Serb population, massacring many and looting their homes. These
ethnic Serbs with the help of their paramilitary and the Yugoslav army
destroyed in Vukovar 14,000 dwellings out of 15,000 existing ones of
which only 3,500 houses and 1500 apartments have been rebuilt so far.
Donations from the West were for 1200 dwellings. While - as you recognize
in the Summary, Croatia is economically depressed, it is a fact that it
is financially not even in the position to help many of its own Croatian
refugees, who were the first to suffer ethnic cleansing in their own
country already in 1991. For the ICG to urge Croatia to see to the
rebuilding of Serb homes or evicting of Croatian refugees from them is a
totally unfair requirement at this time. Croatia has received very little
help from the West for the rebuilding of destroyed homes, not only in
Vukovar but in the entire region of Eastern and Western Slavonia and the
so-called Krajina which was occupied by the rebel Serbs, who destroyed
there all Croatian homes, churches and cultural sites.
Regarding equality, pressured by the West, Croatia is absurdly going so
far as employing some of the former rebels in police departments, while
the local Croatian population is horrified, knowing that some of these
Serbs committed war crimes against them. At the same time, Croatian
policemen are losing their jobs to accommodate the Serbs! We are certain
that you realize that the unemployment rate in Croatia hovers at 23%.
What country after a very recent violent war would be required to give
preference to its former (?) enemy, over its own unemployed population?
Such demands are simply unreasonable.
Contrary to your Summary on Bosnia-Herzegovina, the return of refugees is
paltry in the so-called Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb entity, which
should never have been established, as it rewarded massive ethnic
cleansing and killing). Very few Bosnian Croats have ben allowed to
return, and these are constantly harassed. The only larger returns are in
areas of the Federation in which the population has remained either a
Croatian or Muslim majority. Any other concept is a matter of glossing
over the facts by the Office of the High Representative and looking
through rosy glasses.
The truth is that Croatia is by far the only state in the region that
tries to adhere to the laws regarding the return of refugees but
obviously cannot perform wonders. Neither should the international
community ask for such. Every nation must have the right to first help
its own people, especially since Croats were the first to suffer by the
hundreds of thousands during the war, long before Serbs suffered any
Very truly yours,
Hilda M. Foley
National Federation of Croatian Americans
13272 Orange Knoll
Santa Ana, CA 92705-2258