Mr. Martin Sletzinger
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
National Federation of Croatian Americans
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