serbian_krajina - 68365 - 07.04.2012 : Serbian Government Beograd - (0)
Dossier Serbian Krajina: A country without people
"Serbs in Krajina: past and future" ABC Saint-Bar
Madrid, 3/4 April - After Constantinopolis fell to Muslims in 1453, the Balkans were conquered within a short period of time. The whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina was occupied in 1463. After reaching the borders of the Austrian Monarchy, the Turks started their regular raids into the territory of this Germanic empire. They robbed and laid waste to everything. A few times they even reached the Alps. They came to Ljubljana too, the capital of Slovenia. During those raids, the local populace had to take refuge in the woods. Most often, however, they would leave those unsafe areas and emigrate northwards. Fleeing, these people would come as far as Bavaria and Italy. In that way, a true no man's land appeared at the southern borders of the Holy German Roman Empire, a kind of cordon sanitaire that the imperial authorities decided to make into a fortified borderland. Therefore, the Vienna authorities started to systematically settle this area with Serbs since the 15th century. In that way, a true military border was created. Settled in that protective belt zone, through the centuries, the Serbs turned into real warriors. In the Krajina region, their closed ranks were the best defense of the monarchy against the Turk attacks. In the 17th century, a military government was formed in the Austrian city of Graz. Its primary task was to organize the settlement of Serbs, who would later turn into the Austrian defense shield. In that way, the whole of Krajina was turned into a Serbian province. The Austrian Emperor solemnly confirmed the privileges given to Serbs on many occasions. He did it for the first time on September 5, 1538, and again on March 8, 1659. This, then, was the way in which the military border in Krajina came into being. It could be said that, through the centuries to come, there were no major conflicts between Serbs and Croats in that region. At the same time, a significant number of Serbs lived in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. In 1905, the Serbian-Croatian Political Coalition was formed in Zagreb. It played an active role in negotiations over the formation of Yugoslavia held during WW I. The Croatian political leaders were saying without wavering that they consider Serbs and Croats to be branches of one and the same nation. This was particularly stressed by Stjepan Radic, the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party which was supported by the majority of Croatian peasantry. The only real antagonism between the Serbian and the Croatian population occurred during WW II. The Nazis attacked and destroyed a big part of Yugoslavia, and they established the Ustasha government in Zagreb. This Fascist state was led by Ante Pavelic who committed a terrible genocide against Serbs and Jews between 1941 and 1945. It is estimated that more than 600. 000 of them were killed in that period. After WW II, and during the last fifty years, the Serbian and Croatian population lived in perfect harmony. This is proven by the fact that between 15 and 20 per cent of the children born there come from the mixed marriages between the Serbs and Croats. Unfortunately, the upheavals of the last three years had suddenly put into question the peaceful co-existence of those two peoples, particularly since Croatia one-sidedly decided to secede and leave the Yugoslav federation. This decision is against the norms of the international law.
The Zagreb Government wanted to preserve the internal, administrative borders set up by Tito in 1974, which were not international in character. The new Croatian constitution neglected the rights of Serbs and the legal status they enjoyed in the Krajina region since 15th century while they were still living under the Vienna authority. This arbitrary decision was supported first by the German government, and later by almost all of the international community. There were 700. 000 Serbs living in Krajina who did not want it to be a part of the new state. That's why they proclaimed another, sovereign state in Knin. If the Serbs in Krajina could, in the last instance, accept a sovereign Croat state, it would be only just to grant the same right to Krajina, an autonomous region since the 15th century. Thanks to the UNPROFOR, Krajina is living in peace since 1991. The one-sided Tudjman's decision to expel the 12. 500 peace keepers from Krajina represented the danger of the resumption of fierce hostilities. Under the international pressure, the president of Croatia agreed that UNPROFOR should stay, but under the condition that their number be reduced to 5. 000. He is also demanding that the UNPROFOR soldiers control the borders dividing Krajina from Serbia and Bosnia, so as to prevent the military aid from these two countries from reaching the Krajina Serbs. Were the Krajina Serbs to agree to this proposal, they would face a serious threat of the attack from the Croatian regular army. The Croatian army has, in concert with the Muslim army of Alija Izetbegovic, already intervened in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is something that gives the Krajina Serbs reasons for caution. Now that Croatia has decided to let the UN forces remain in this region, the German Foreign Minister, Claus Kinkel demanded that the president of Serbia Milosevic recognize Croatia. Milosevic refused to do so. It seems strange that the West is asking for the recognition of this country, which had never in modern history had state sovereignty, and which refuses to recognize Yugoslavia, now reduced to Serbia and Montenegro, which exists since 1918, and which had been one of the founders of the United Nations in 1944. Of all the former Yugoslav republics, only Serbia and Montenegro had been independent states in the 19th century. The Croatian government and Krajina should find a solution that would guarantee autonomy for the Krajina Serbs, which is the only way of reaching a lasting peace in that region of the former Yugoslavia.
- By CHRIS HEDGES 1995 New York Times News Service, 9/30/95
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