"Operation Storm was joint criminal enterprise"
Croatia's Operation Storm was a joint criminal enterprise whose goal was to expel the Serb people in Croatia from the areas they lived in for centuries.Source: Tanjug
This has been stated by the head of the Coalition of Refugee Associations Miodrag Linta. He spoke for Serbia's state broadcaster RTS on the occasion of the upcoming 20th anniversary of Croatia's military and police campaign.
Linta said that over 220,000 Serbs were expelled from Croatia during Operation Storm, while around 2,000 were killed - 1,200 of them civilians. At the same time more than 40,000 residential and business premises owned by Serbs were set on fire, looted, and destroyed.
He also noted that the Croatian authorities afterward passed a number of laws to prevent the return of those driven out of their homes, and that the primary goal of the regime of then Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was to create an ethnically cleansed Croatian state.
According to Linta, Croatia has for the past 20 years conducted a policy of intimidation of the expelled Serbs, issuing indictments and launching investigations that are "to a large extent not based on concrete, valid evidence."
There are now in all about 300,000 Serbs expelled from Croatia living in Serbia, and about 100,000 more in third countries, as well as about 50,000 more in the Serb Republic (RS) in Bosnia, Linta said. About 50,000 Serbs, mostly the elderly, returned to their homes since 1995 - mostly since 2000, he specified.
Of the 300,000 who now reside in Serbia, only about ten percent have the formal and legal status of refugees, while a huge majority have not solved key problems relating to their property rights in Croatia - namely, the 40,000 cases where their right of occupancy has been revoked. Linta also said that some 50,000 people are owned pensions, while 800,000 farming land cadastral plots have been taken away.
"We have several thousand people who are owned dinar and hard currency savings, and thousands of people with holes in their service years," he said.
Linta stressed that Croatia - now an EU member - has no political will for dialogue with Serbia, while "a strong, respected and powerful Serbia could initiate the launch of dialogue and the finding of just and lasting solutions before international organizations - the EU, the CoE, the UN."
He added that the goal of a letter sent to European Parliament President Martin Schulz was to urge the EP to passs a resolution on Operation Storm that would condemn the crime and the ethnic cleansing perpetrated against Serbs during and after it.
"The EP would with this resolution ask Croatia to at long last start prosecuting the many crimes committed against Serb civilians," said Linta, and added that "there are plenty of Srebrenica in the area of the former Yugoslavia, and we are in favor of European institutions applying the same yardstick to all crimes and all victims."
Linta also announced that his Coalition will on Wednesday at 14:00 hours CET organize a memorial gathering in the Sava Center conference hall in Belgrade.
Earlier the same day, at 11:00 hours, SPC Patriarch Irinej will lead a service for the victims in St. Marko's Church, after which wreaths will be laid at a memorial plaque in Tasmajdan Park.
At noon the same day, a walk will be organized from the church, past the National Assembly and the Moskva Hotel, down Prizrenska Street and Branko's Bridge, with participants arriving at the Sava Center.