Mr. Martin Sletzinger Director East European Studies Woodrow Wilson Center Washington, D.C. 20523
It is rather appalling to see so much false information coming from a history professor. I am referring to the article "The Fear of Islam in Croatian Politics" by professor Marko Prelec.
He mentions the Balkan war of 1912-13 as "a war of South Slavs with the element of explicitly racial hatred of Islamic Albanians" and Islam in general. The war was not waged by "South Slavs", by which he would have to include Croats and Slovenes. The war was waged by Serbia and its ally Greece against Bulgaria, a Slav nation. They took and divided among them Macedonia which was part of Bulgaria. Croats and Slovenes were at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and had nothing to do with that war. In fact, Islam hating was not particularly long lasting in Croatia after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.
Professor Prelec seems to arrive at his opinions from strictly the Serb point of view, such as writing that "the Balkan wars taught the South Slavs the political technique used in 1990: the tarring of European Great Power perfidy". Croatians always considered themselves Central Europeans and putting them into the Balkans since they became part of Yugoslavia/Serbia was not to their liking, as can be seen even to this day. It should be pointed out here that on May 4th, 1919 at the Paris peace conference, the Croatian Parliament submitted a petition to President Wilson calling for an independent Croatia. It was relying on President Wilson's famed Fourteen Points, calling for "the freest opportunity of autonomous development for the nations of Austria Hungary and "international guarantees of independence and territorial integrity". The petition was ignored.
Furthermore, Croats never perceived themselves as identical parts of a single national community with the Serbs, as Mr. Prelec writes. Again, this view is strictly the Serb one, as Serbs tried to convince Croats that they and Serbs are one and the same. Serbs subjugated Croats by every means possible, even changing the name of the country from "The Kingdom of Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia" to "Yugoslavia" and the language to "Serbo-Croatian" which never existed before. Let me assure you that even after 72 years they never succeeded Serbianizing Croatia, but they did succeed advancing their point of view in the rest of the world, since they held all the power and with it all the strength of propaganda. I would hope that well-known Studies Centers such as yours would in the future contact Croatian historians for a Croatian point of view and a true picture of Croatia.
Hilda M. Foley Media relations National Federation of Croatian Americans
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