Wonderful losers

If it were up to Vrkic and Matic, no one would have disappeared at all – this should be said in the first place regarding the fact that those two former opposition members had agreed, on behalf of nationalist presidents of Croatia and Serbia, to try to facilitate the search for the missing persons.

Boris PavelicSource: Novi list
(Photo: Zeljko Sepic/Glas Slavonije)
(Photo: Zeljko Sepic/Glas Slavonije)

If it were up to Vrkic and Matic, there would be no war, dead, crippled, wounded either, there would be no crimes, destruction, all that horror and suffering. However, it was not up to them, but it depended on those who see their role models even today, in their own way, personified in the presidents of Croatia and Serbia. Still, the two of them, Grabar-Kitarovic and Vucic, had asked Vrkic and Matic of all people, to continue search for the missing persons, dividing it from daily politics, and transforming it into what it should be all along: not, as Ivica Vrkic phrased it, “the search for the Serbs and Croats“, but, simply, “the search for the deceased“.

With this invitation to “wonderful losers“ – title of Leonard Cohen’s novel, which greatly describes all those who opposed war – Vucic and Grabar-Kitarovic had again confirmed the notorious, what seems to be persistently incomprehensible here on the Balkans: that nationalistic exclusiveness cannot resolve a single serious problem, on the contrary, it will arouse additional ones.

Ivica Vrkic and Veran Matic, therefore, are appointed envoys of Grabar-Kitarovic and Vucic for the missing persons. They have met for the first time in Osijek on Tuesday, and on that initial meeting, they had presented lots of facts and proposals that the public hasn’t heard for a while; some of them were heard for the first time. Nevertheless, it is good to remind ourselves for a start, who are actually Vrkic and Matic. Back in the nineties, they had almost lost their lives: Vrkic, then politician of the Croatian National Party in Osijek, was probably saved by the letter Savka Dabcevic-Kucar had addressed to Tudjman, from being killed on the front, after in July 1991, he got mobilized, together with several Osijek-based opposition members.

On the other side of the border, Veran Matic had launched an independent Radio B92 in Belgrade, which served during the nineties as the most trusted opposition-peacemaking strongpoint against Milosevic’s regime – and it should not be specially mentioned what this should mean for his personal safety. Despite all of this, both of them – Vrkic and Matic – in the forthcoming years developed a rare virtue to make the best out of the temporary cooperation with the notorious nationalists, so Matic turned to humanitarian work, while Vrkic successfully finished peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, while today, in his capacity as Mayor of Osijek, his beautiful city on Drava gradually but fruitfully heals from the post-traumatic disorder of lengthy years this city spent with Glavas and Djapic.

And someone might say that now again Matic and Vrkic agreed to conspire with the devil. Can you, for instance, imagine with what attitude would Veran Matic, pronounced "Soros man“ and "traitor“, be welcome in the General Staff of Serbian Armed Forces, when he asks for the dossiers to be opened, pertaining to those missing in Croatia? And how Vrkic would be welcome in Croatian Committee for the missing, when he comes to them with Serbian request to expedite exhumation of more than seventy non-exhumed mass graves, waiting to be taken care of in Croatia? So, the gesture of Vrkic and Matic is worth exactly as it seems so hopeless. Though deprived of any power except for the power of public word, and yet faced with most closed and evil structures of the former state, Vrkic and Matic can do a lot.

It was evident on Tuesday, on the press conference, after their first meeting. Both of them spoke openly, without any calculations; moreover, we heard the things that was never heard before: that the „grief is the same on both sides“, that the bodies were found in the Danube and that this rives is being searched further; that Serbia requests the exhumation of 76 graves in Croatia, and identification of 400 already exhumed bodies; that registering the sites of graves should become „an honorable act“, rather than "treason“; that the search of military archives in Serbia should be led by an independent commission; that the search should involve non-governmental organizations; and finally, recognition that the politics had so far only hindered the search, so we should put an end to it.

Those who are familiar with this issue are already more or less aware of this, but this is said for the first time now publicly, under the auspices of the authorities of both states, and from the people with personal integrity and moral right to speak about the search for the missing ones: as, to reiterate, if it were up to Matic and Vrkic, no one would have disappeared in the first place. So, we will commend those two wonderful losers, not those who appointed them; as, the fact that Grabar-Kitarovic and Vucic had appointed exactly Matic and Vrkic to try to find missing ones, is the least those two politicians should have done for the families of the missing persons.

Matic and Vrkic, still, despite the fact that they knew who they should cooperate with, agreed to pledge their personal moral integrity in order to help those people that are really in need of help. Let’s hope then that they will do this job successfully as Vrkic had succeeded in peaceful reintegration: fully, without a single victim and without a single newly missing, to the regret of all chauvinists, on both sides of the border line.

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