First of all it should be mentioned that the JNA (Yugoslav People's Army) occupied regions of the Republic of Croatia, which were not populated by the majority of the Serbs in those places (11 counties). Already in 1991 JNA seized Baranja, county Beli Manastir, in which only 25.5% Serbs lived and abolished the legally chosen political authorities. In August 1991 a military action began in the region and in counties and city of Vukovar (with 37.4% of Serbs) and in parts of the counties Osijek and Vinkovci. Apart from the seized 11 counties with the majority of Serbian population JNA occupied also a greater part of county of Petrinja (44.6% Serbs), almost half of the county of Pakrac (46.4% Serbs) and Podravska Slatina (35.8% Serbs), also part of the county Nova Gradiska (21.8% Serbs), and whole of the county Slunj (29.8% Serbs) and more than two thirds of county Drnis (including the city of Drnis) with 21.3% of Serbian population, part of the county Otocac with 32.2% Serbs, county Gospic and almost half of county Karlovac with 26.6% Serbian population, and smaller parts of counties of Sisak, Zadar, Biograd, Sibenik and Sinj, on which territories before the war also lived in majority Croatian population. The city of Vukovar together with the settlement Borovo are totally destroyed, and many other places, inhabited by Croatians and Hungarians. All regions occupied by JNA came due to the intervention of the international community under the protection of UNPROFOR, and the Serbs called it "Republic of Serb Krajina" (RSK) which was not recognized by anyone. JNA left the weapons and the commanding staff for "RSK", and later Republic of Serbia was supplying them with arms. United Nations recognized Croatia as its full member on 22 June 1992 in the borders it had as the Socialist Republic from the former Yugoslavia, with the remark that all temporarily occupied regions belong to it.
The military forces of the so called "RSK" did not rest, but continued to shell regions of the free territory, along the whole border from Osijek, over Vinkovci, Nova Gradiska, Sisak, Kutina, Karlovac, Gospic, Otocac, Zadar, Vodice, Sibenik and Sinj. In 1992 the important Maslenica bridge was destroyed, which was the only connection between the northern and southern part of Croatia, and in 1993 when the Croatian army liberated the territory around the former bridge - in order to build a new one, Serbs from the "RSK" shelled and destroyed the damn on the largest Croatian waterplant Peruca (in a region north of the city of Sinj), jeopardizing in that way tens of thousands people living downstream of the waterplant and threatening to cause an ecological catastrophe. The targets were settlements, factories, churches, schools, and hospitals. On the occupied region and in the vicinity of the border in the free regions, totally or partially, over 140 thousand housing objects were destroyed, 120 factories, 1023 sacral buildings (churches, chapels, friaries and parishes), about 50 schools and 20 hospitals. More than 60 bridges on roads and railways were destroyed, electric and phone cables. In occupied regions from all Croatians all their agricultural equipment, cars, trucks and buses were confiscated. The overall damage is estimated to some 27,1 billions of dollars. From the occupied regions and from the destroyed houses along the border more than 180 thousand people became refugees. From B&H more than 200 thousand Muslims and 160 thousand Croatians, 45 thousand Croatians from Vojvodina, 15 thousand from Serbia and 7 thousand from Kosovo turned refugees. There was a period when Croatia had more than 600 thousand refugees. Of course, one cannot forget the huge figure of lost lives, invalids of war and suffering families from both sides.
After 4 years of negotiations and unsuccessful peaceful reintegration the situation with the occupied of Croatia had become unbearable and something had to be undertaken to change it. Communications going over Pakrac and with the highway towards Brod, Vinkovci and Osijek were blocked, about which no deal could be made with the chiefs of the so called "RSK", and 1 May 1995 with the action "Flash" the territories around Pakrac, Novska and Jasenovac were liberated. Since there was no agreement reached concerning the peaceful reintegration, and the shelling continued, even on Zagreb even during the negotiations in Geneva 1 to 3 August, on Sisak, Kutina, Karlovac, Gospic and other places along the line of fire, so 4 August began the liberation of the remaining at that time occupied region from Sinj to Petrinja and Una, which was finished 8 August 1995. Despite the appeal of president Tudjman to all of those that did not commit any war crimes, to stay, the majority chose to flee with all available vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, tractors and other) full with belongings and personal equipment (which was in great deal stolen from Croatians from those regions between 1991 and 1995), and headed for Belgrade and Serbian parts of B&H. It is assumed that on that occasion around 80 thousand Serbs ran away (including soldiers of the defeated Serbian army). Earlier, due to very bad living conditions more than 60 thousand went away. On those regions today new housings are being built and the damaged are being repaired into which gradually the refugees (Croatians from those same regions and those that were exiled from B&H, and more and more Serbs that ran away in 1995 together with the Serbian army, either as its members or just following it) are returning as soon as the work is completed.
An example of how the integration could have been achieved by means of peaceful way is UNTAES in the Croatian Danube region. After a year of preparations on 13 and 14 April 1997 local elections were held, and the Croatian government is gradually taking over control of the region, and soon will make possible for all the refugees, either Croatians or other non-Serbs, to return to their places they had to leave 1991. On the territory of the Danube region, especially in the Vukovar County, a large number of housing objects, factories, churches, schools and health organizations has been destroyed and robbed. The largest transmission station in Croatia and other electric and water supply installations have been demolished. Apart from that in the region that used to be under Serb control and that in the Danube region about 3 million mines have been laid, which need to be deactivated before the construction of new buildings and agricultural works start. Only the expenses of sweeping the mines are estimated to several hundred million dollars.
According to the plan, the Serbs from the regions liberated in actions "Flash" and "Storm", who temporarily took refuge in the Danube region can, if they want so, gradually return to their earlier settlements. The problem begins due to the lack of possibility of return of Croatians to the region of Banja Luka in B&H, from where about 65 thousand have been expelled, because most of them took shelter in houses that were left behind when the Serbs fled. Apart from this the return of 100 thousand Croatians into Bosnian Posavina region hasn't been established yet, which is held under Serbs and on the Brcko territory whose situation is not yet settled.
In the last two years Croatia has invested over 8 billion Kunas into the building of new and reparation of damaged houses and total infrastructure which were destroyed not only during war operations, but also during cease fire, in large part by robbing, taking away of windows, doors, roofs and all installations, electrical, water, sanitary and other installations, equipment from factories, which were then taken away from Croatian territory. Without considerable help from the international community the issue of final settlement and making living conditions for all the refugees to their regions will hardly come true.
At the end one should ask the question why all this evil, that the Croatian and Serb people had to go through in Croatia, and even worse in Bosnia and Hercegovina, had to happen? The initiative came from the MEMORANDUM OF SANU (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and was continued with the plans of Slobodan Milosevic to create a greater Serbia. He announced that 28 June 1989 on Gazimestan on occasion of the celebration of the 600th Anniversary of battle at Kosovo, stating that "the Serbian people will be united into one state, either with institutionalized or non-institutionalized means, and if necessary with arms". In all of that in great deal manipulations with the victims of WWII helped, serving as one of the main basis for the preparation and justification of the evil plans! Therefore, the manipulants in former state institutions, literary figures, politicians and diplomats such as Dr. Milan Bulajic, bear their share of responsibility!
Zagreb, 30th, July 1997
Zagreb, 30th, July 1997 Vladimir Zerjavic
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