NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS MEETS WITH LISA TEPPER OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL IN THE WHITE HOUSE
(Washington, D.C., May 24, 2004). On Friday, May 21, 2004, a delegation of the National Federation of Croatian Americans met with Lisa Tepper, the National Security Council Director for Southeastern European Affairs, to discuss Bush Administration policies toward Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The delegation, consisted of NFCA President John Kraljic, Past President Steve Rukavina, Vice President of Finance Frank Jerbich, Treasurer Zvonko Labas, Director of Development Erik Milman, Louise Birt and Dr. Judy Vogelsang of Missouri, Andrew and Susan Marcec of Illinois, Joseph Rukavina and John Balaich of Minnesota, Marie McGuckin of Illinois and Joseph Foley of Foley Government and Public Affairs.
During the meeting, NFCA representatives expressed their views regarding Croatia's status vis-a-vis NATO, the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The NFCA took the opportunity to express to Ms. Tepper its concern over the continued linkage by certain American and international officials of Croatia's membership in NATO with the surrender of General Gotovina. As was noted during the meeting, Croatia's continued integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions cannot be delayed on the basis of the failure of one person to surrender to an international tribunal.
Those present further noted that requiring General Gotovina's surrender as a sine qua non of NATO entry presented an unfair burden to Croatia, especially in light of the fact that the United States and its NATO allies have failed to capture Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic despite being in control of Bosnia and Herzegovina for close to ten years.
With respect to the ICTY, NFCA representatives expressed their frustration at the failure of the international community and especially the United States to enforce oversight over the Tribunal. They noted to Ms. Tepper the ICTY's clear attempts to draft indictments to balance guilt among the parties to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the ICTY's continued reliance on sources for evidence having questionable credibility, such as Savo Strbac, a former high-ranking official of the criminal "Republika Srpska Krajina," whose Belgrade-based organization has been instrumental in assisting the ICTY in drafting some of the more recent indictments against certain Croatian generals.
Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the NFCA spoke generally about their disappointment with the continuing state of limbo in which that country and especially its Croat population finds itself in. Several of those present expressed the fear that the failure to properly protect the rights of the Croatian community within Bosnia and Herzegovina together with the continued presence of extremist Serbian nationalism and the potential threat of increased Islamic fundamentalism placed Bosnia and Herzegovina in an especially precarious situation, reminiscent to some of the former Yugoslavia immediately prior to its collapse in the early 1990s.
Following the meeting, Mr. Kraljic noted that the NFCA was pleased to have had the opportunity to have met with an official of the National Security Council to express its position on these issues of vital importance to Croatian-Americans. "This meeting comes on the heels of meetings we held in early April with Ambassador Prosper and with State Department officials responsible for oversight of relations with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We come away from these meetings with a generally positive impression about the current state of relations between Croatia and the United States. However, a number of issues continue persist which need to be resolved in a manner beneficial to Croatia. Moreover, the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to haunt us and there seems to be little understanding in the international community for plight of the Croatian community in that country. We need to strengthen our focus on that issue in the coming months."
The NFCA is a national umbrella group of major Croatian-American organizations which collectively have 120,000 members.
For more information, please contact Mr. Joseph Foley via firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr. Erik Milman at NFCA headquarters at 202-331-2830.
1329 Connecticut Ave, NW Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 331-2830 Fax: (202) 331-0050