Zagreb in a war delirium

A pathetic speech delivered by President Tudjman of Croatia opened up a new, very gloomy chapter in the chronicles of the secessionist and civil war crisis in the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Like the earlier moves marking in these chronicles the crucial, tragic turning points for the fate of the country and its people, Tudjman's decision broadcast by the Croatian radio and TV network in the evening of 12 January 1995 had all characteristics of a onesided chauvinist policy of accomplished fact, with poorly disguised militant overtones and an obvious substitution of basic theses.

To be more frank: counting on the ignorance of important legal and political facts, on their propaganda prompted elimination from the general public's memory, the Croatian president resorted to the distortion of facts, slandering of the UN, and stepping up of the harangue against the Serbs living in Croatia and against the FR of Yugoslavia.

Uttering hypocritical slogans about patriotism and love for peace, Franjo Tudjman placed on his increasingly criticized and challenged statesman's head a battle helmet. By its form and essence, the latter is very much akin to that under which the programmes of the same kind were being imposed onto the Serbs and the world from 1941 to 1945.

The world has generally understood the message. Tudjman's camouflage veils were too thin to hide the gravity of the war threat coming from the Balkans to which a fire has already been set by the forcible secessionist ventures and the unreasonable premature recognition of the outcomes of such ventures.

Nevertheless, in view of their role in guiding the Zagreb leadership, some of the very influential factors of the socalled Maastricht Europe did not want to and probably could not say anything else but that his decision is a wrong one.

However, even an ordinary analysis of Tudjman's decision to drive UNPROFOR out, as well as the responses to such an ominous option, show that not just a mistake is involved, but so far the most dangerous manoeuvre towards destabilizing the whole South East Europe instead, for the purpose of cementing more strongly and moving further the limits of the interest domination of the nonBalkan factors in this "insufficiently covered and loosely controlled link between Europe and Asia".

Substitution and fabrication of theses

President Tudjman said in the first place that three years ago he had agreed to the deployment of the UN peace forces in Croatia so that it could "meet the requirements for its recognition as an independent state", and acquire in the eyes of the international public the reputation of a peaceable state. That was also the precondition for the withdrawal of the "YugoCommunist occupying forces" from Croatia, which did happen eventually. That is why the decision to accept UNPROFOR was a right and useful one said Tudjman while issuing the order for UNPROFOR to be driven out.

One might say that the manoeuvre was a successful one and that the play could be brought to its end. The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) withdrew from Croatia three years ago, international recognition was also quickly obtained ("Danke Deutschland"), and thanks to the violation of the arms embargo applicable to all parts of the former Yugoslavia (UN Security Council Resolution 713 of 25 September 1991), Croatia's military capability has increased over the last three years considerably.

President Tudjman is certainly worried by the fact that over the same period, the peaceful attitude and positive influence of the FR of Yugoslavia on the situation in the former Yugoslavia earned it an increasing appreciation in the world; that the Croat-Muslim federation is sinking irrepressibly; and that the reputation of the "young Croatian democracy" is crumbling under the weight of the facts relating to the maltreatment of the citizens of nonCroat descent and suppression of the opposition press.

The foreign support to the Croatian regime is failing to live up to the euphoric expectations and unrealistic promises, politically and economically alike. Hence the euphemistic cry to the people: "Bravely to battle, to battle all Croats!" which is the best known refrain from a patriotic opera by SubicZrinjski.

Having thus explained his reasons for accepting the Vance plan and UNPROFOR deployment, Dr Tudjman vehemently condemned the latter for "not fulfilling its further tasks" and immediately extended the list of those who carry the blame for such a failure.

F.Tudjman claims that the latter include also "the rebel leaders in the occupied Croatian regions, and even more so, the greater Serbian circles in Belgrade which wanted to include such regions in greater Serbia".

Such a system of "interconnected vessel" responsibility, or to be more exact, the claims about UNPROFOR's proSerbian activity, disregards also the basic provisions of the Vance plan and Croatia's behaviour in relation to the Serb Krajina. What is UNPROFOR to be blamed for? It is blamed for not disarming the Serb paramilitary units, even by force if necessary, for not seeing to the return of the driven away Croats to their homes in the "occupied regions", for not controlling the Croatian borders effectively... In other words, the UNPROFOR units are standing passively between regular Croatian forces and the "occupying paramilitary Chetnik units", giving protection to the ones they were supposed to rout.

UNPROFOR, a peacekeeping force, is being accused of not establishing peace by force for the benefit of one side, and applying armed force onto the other. What is ignored in the process is the fact that the Croat military offensives against UNPAs, which were critically debated by the Security Council on several occasions (though without doing anything else about them!), were precisely the riskiest testing of the UNPROFOR's true mandate, and that in the event of that mandate being turned into a "peacemaking" one, its units would have to clash with Tudjman's armed forces. The substitution of theses and the fabrication of UNPROFOR's nonexistent mandate were supplemented in the Croatian leader's speech also by crudely disguised wellknown faults, as well as by fabricated ones.

Definition twisting

The Vance plan, which underlies the whole system of provisional arrangements between the Krajina Serbs and Croatian authorities pending a lasting political settlement of the situation created by the onesided secession, does not recognize the category of "occupied areas" and it refers consistently and always to "UNprotected areas" or UNPAs. In this plan, there are no expressions such as "occupiers" or "SerbChetnik" or "YugoCommunist aggression", and reference is made only to the "protection of the population in the mentioned areas". Therefore, what is involved is the local native population in need of international protection. This was reiterated many times in the first three sections of the Vance plan (Basic Concept, UNProtected Areas, and UNPROFOR Deployment and Functions).

Provisions were made for the protection of the population to be taken over by UNPROFOR infantry units, after which the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) units were to withdraw from the whole territory of Croatia, the protected areas were to be demilitarized and zones of separation were to be established between the Serb and Croatian territories, while refugees were to return everywhere in the circumstances of a stable armistice, and enjoy UNguaranteed protection and normal life.

Since at the outbreak of the secessionist crisis, the Yugoslav People's Army was not an outside occupying force, but a regular, multinational armed force of a still existent and internationally recognized Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the Collective Presidency of which had accepted the Vance plan on 31 December 1991 and contributed quite a lot to the plan being accepted also by the Krajina Serbs, who were suspicious of foul play, not without reason), as all units of the National Guard Corps (ZNG) and similar Croatian groups which were posing a threat to the areas for the protection of which UNPROFOR troops were actually deployed around Krajina ware to be regarded as irregular paramilitary units under international law and domestic constitution.

Zagreb didn't even think about the reasons for disarming or disbanding such units, which included also some overtly proFascist genocidal Ustashe detachments. On the contrary, they were being equipped and reinforced illegally, and large quantities of armaments and equipment were seized from the blocked JNA barracks, storage facilities and camps. The regular JNA personnel of Croat descent or born in Croatia, though outside Krajina, were recruited voluntarily or forced to join their ranks.

Since because of its composition, size, equipment and mandate itself, UNPROFOR was incapable of giving an adequate protection to the Krajina Serb population, and as the ZNG and Ustashe launched attacks or provoked clashes almost daily, the only way the Krajina Serbs could survive and avoid being subjected to a genocide akin to that conducted in 1941, was to resort to selfdefense.

The Croat offensives against UNPAs and "pink zones", in the course of which UNPROFOR stepped aside, showed that the Krajina Serbs did the right thing in preserving their self-defense capability. Croatia ignored the warnings and condemnations addressed to it by the Security Council in connection with such assaults. Moreover, Mrs.Albright nonchalantly said on one of such occasions that "they are Croatian territories", making it clear to the Krajina Serbs that they can expect no aid from the "big world", even in the event of mortal danger.

Milutin Milenkovic