CROWN - Croatian World Network -
Letters to Amnesty International and the Financial Times
By Hilda Marija Foley
Published on 05/1/2008
 Croatia seems to always be looked through a microscope while others are treated with kid gloves in the media and in the political world. Hilda Foley (left) has written two letters addressing these concerns, to both the Financial Times and Amnesty International.   

A "Siege mentality"

Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2008

Subject: article "Siege mentality"

Letters to the Editor
Financial Times
London, UK

Dear Editor:

The author of the article "Siege mentality" (April 26, 08) Norman di Giovanni, writing about Croatia's Hvar island is one of those Italians who cannot  reconcile with the historic truth that Italy does not own the Croatian coast nor its Adriatic islands. He minimizes Croatians by writing that "Slavs" came to that area in the 7th century, refusing to acknowledge the fact that these Slavs were Croats, not Serbs, not Slovenes, Czechs or Bulgarians. They were Croatians who in the 8th century became Western Christians and formed their dukedom and later kingdom from the 9th to the 11th century, recognized by the then powerful Papal state.

Yes, the Venetian Republic acquired from time to time parts of Croatia's Dalmatia but it became by no means a permanent part of Italy. Venetians were defeated by Croatia's Prince Branimir in 887 and had to pay tribute to Croatia for free navigation. Pope John VIII recognized him as ruler and Croatia received international recognition as an independent state. Byzantine emperor Porphyrogenitus wrote that during King Tomislav's (925) reign Croatia was an important military power on land and sea, stretching from Istria to Drina in Bosnia, Drava and Danube in the north and the Adriatic sea along the coast to Kotor. 

In the 15th century Venetians conquered parts of Dalmatia and islands while the Croatians, then part of  Hungary by the Pacta Conventa agreement, were fighting the Ottoman Turks' invasion, saving the West from disaster.

Mr. di Giovanni tries to drag Croatia's name in the mud by bringing up politics, writing about Croatian generals now being tried in The Hague, while not  mentioning that Croatia was attacked by Serbia and defended itself, not  occupying other people's lands. On the other hand, Italy and its fascist Axis allies in WWII occupied the whole Croatian Adriatic coast and islands, brutally killing and imprisoning many. The idea of course was keeping it permanently. His words of "Croatia's deluded quest and wallowing in the culture of  victimization and politics of hatred does not apply to Croatians at all, but rather to the kind of Italians like Mr. di Giovanni. And yes, finally, when he writes that Croatian "propaganda" makes the absurd statement that "Throughout history, until most recent times, foreign invaders and aggressors have reached for this land..." he states the obvious, Croatia is a beautiful country and too many have wanted a piece of it.


Hilda Marija Foley

A missed window of opportunity
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008
Subject: Croatian press release

I just recently sent my membership dues to Amnesty International, but after reading your report of 11.04.08 "Croatia: A window of opportunity", I regret to have done so.

You badly misrepresent the facts when writing that "serious human rights violations were perpetrated by both sides". Even reports from the CIA mention that 90% of the war crimes were committed by the Serbs. While no war crimes should be overlooked, the huge difference between Croatia and Serbia should not be swept aside. I would hope you realize that Croatia was attacked - brutally - by Serbia in 1991, when Croatians voted for independence and democracy - a right they had under the Yugoslav constitution of 1974. Yugoslavia's army, the third largest in Europe, attacked Croatia, while Croatians only had guns and rifles to defend their homes. (Not as you state "armed conflict between the Croatian and Yugoslav army"!) It was an outrage, yet no country in the West blinked an eye. Where was Amnesty International? All communist countries were disintegrating, but Croatia was not allowed to separate from communist Yugoslavia, dominated by Serbia. Strange indeed! Obviously geopolitics had their fingers in it. God forbid that Germany might become influential in the area, against the wishes of England and France - and after all, who cares what happens to little Croatia! But Amnesty International should have cared.

Where was it when Vukovar was totally destroyed and Dubrovnik, a world heritage site, repeatedly severely attacked, as well as Zadar, Sibenik and many other towns, while whole villages were leveled, people massacred, their homes burned and hundreds of thousands of  Croatians ethnically cleansed to become refugees in their own country? There were no protests to be heard from Amnesty International. Now you accuse Croatia of human rights violations, as the ICTY is also trying to "equalize" the war crimes by trying General Gotovina and two other Croatian generals, with false charges being supplied by no other but the Serb Veritas foundation and their leader Strbac. He is one of the top officials of the illegal "Republic of Serb Krajina" carved out of Croatia in 1991, that shelled Croatian towns throughout the war, even after the cease fire of 1992 when Croatia was recognized as an independent state. Strbac should be tried as a war criminal for these attacks instead of being a welcome collaborator of  the ICTY. Why don't you question why besides war criminals Mladic and Karadzic, who are still not in The Hague, the Serb generals Kadijevic and Adzic, who plotted the war against Croatia with Milosevic, are not even indicted?

Do you know that there are still about one thousand Croatians missing, there are over 40 mass graves, and that Serb rebels who committed crimes have been given general amnesty? Yes, you write that "victims waiting for justice - some more than 15 years, expect and deserve no less." True, but the number of Serb victims in Croatia is small compared to the Croatian numbers and this should make a difference when applying timely justice. The difference should be between the aggressor and the victim. Serbia, the aggressor, is being handled with kid gloves, while Croatia is
examined with a microscope.  


Hilda M. Foley

Formatted for CROWN by   Marko Puljiĉ
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