Gotovina now "wants Serbs to return"

BELGRADE -- The Belgrade-based tabloid Kurir ran an interview on Monday with Ante Gotovina, who stated that "displaced (ethnic) Serbs should return to Croatia".

The former Croatian army general also noted that "Serbs are Croatian citizens, and Croatia is their homeland just as it is his own because their countries are there, and the territory is no less theirs than it is his".

He added that "the future lies ahead and depends on everyone".

Asked to "directly invite Serbs to return", however, he said:

"Well, yes. Come back... Hm. How can I invite someone to return to their home? That's their home."

The daily ran the story along with a photograph of Serb refugees leaving Croatia in 1995, explaining that Gotovina headed the military operation that saw 1,960 Serbs murdered and 220,000 more driven out of their homes.

In a comment issued regarding the acquittal in connection to Operation Storm and the question as to whether he would advocate persecution of the cases of victims, Gotovina replied that "it was a war and it is now a matter of the past".

"Everyone should now turn toward the future and leave the past in the past because there are institutions in charge of such matters," he said.

Gotovina noted that he "cannot insist on persecution of those who may have committed crimes".

“Who am I to give advice to the institutions when it comes to doing their job,” Gotovina said and added that "every institution is doing its job in keeping with the law".

Gotovina was a fugitive from justice for four years until he was apprehended in Spain and extradited to the Hague in 2005.

In 2011, the UN court found him guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to 24 years in prison, but the Appeals Chamber voted 3-2 last week to set him and Mladen Markač free.