Serbs in Croatia

In response to “Serbs Hide From Their Heritage,” Feb. 19:

Well, it is about time! I have been wondering how long it would take The Times to finally report the Serbian side. Croats and Nazis together under President Franjo Tudjman murdered tens of thousands of Serbians as well as Jews. Today, Croatian leaders are renaming streets after their heroes, Ustashi butchers. I would like to know why The Times has so faithfully failed to report the Serbian side. Both sides, as well as the Bosnians, have committed atrocities, yet The Times has chosen to demonize the Serbs.


Sun Valley


* As a specialist in Croatian studies of some 25 years, I was delighted to read your most insightful editorial (Feb. 17), which accurately puts the bulk of the blame for the current Balkan situation squarely at the feet of Serbia and Russia. Unfortunately the wisdom of your editorial was not filtered down to your Feb. 18 article.

Serbs in Croatia have the most extensive protection of any national minority in Europe, if not the world, including use of language, alphabet, political freedom, freedom of worship, and every other manifestation of Serbianism. Unlike the picture painted by the anonymous “Anna” in your article, an extensive study of the United States Information Agency released last month found that Croatians “are among the most tolerant of publics in Europe in their views of minorities,” especially toward urban Serbs.

The article laments that the Square of the Victims of Fascism lost its name, but does not mention that it only took that name in 1945 when the communists dynamited the minarets of the mosque at its center, killed the imams, and turned the mosque into a museum glorifying the communist victory. As for streets honoring “leaders of the Ustashi,” I challenge you to name one!

You quote only two Serbs by name as examples of the oppression they suffer. Veselin Pejnovic is a member of Parliament, an adviser to the Ministry of Defense (1989-91), adviser to the Croatian government (1991-92) and professor of political science at the University of Zagreb. Milorad Pupovac is not only a professor of linguistics and head of the Serbian Democratic Forum (an opposition political party), he is head of the department of applied linguistics at the University of Zagreb. You admit that a dozen seats in parliament are held by Serbs, but do not mention that Parliament Vice President Milan Djukic is one of them or that he is an adviser to the Tudjman government. You overlook the large number of Serbs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the media. Does it strike only me that these are odd posts for an oppressed minority in a country where Serbs cannot hold a job?




* Last summer I spent almost three months in Croatia, traveling throughout the country. From my personal experience I can tell you that I haven’t encountered hate and racism the way your article described it. There is animosity toward the Serbs that you would expect, considering the fact that they still occupy one-third of the Croatian territory, and started the aggression that took tens of thousands of lives and brought almost 4 million refugees, not to mention the cultural and sacral heritage being destroyed.


Van Nuys