23 years since Croatia expelled more than 200,000 Serbs
The Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration has marked 23 years since Croatia's military-police operation "Storm."Source: srbija.gov.rs
The operation resulted in more than 200,000 Krajina (ethnic) Serbs expelled from their homes in Croatia.
More than 2,000 people were killed or went missing, and the memory of a dozen kilometers long column of refugees who arrived in Serbia through Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) testifies to one of the most massive exoduses ever in this region.
Since the beginning of the wars in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in 1991, 610,000 Serbs from Croatia and BiH took refuge in Serbia, of whom approximately 18,000 still have the status of a refugee from Croatia.
Although more than two decades have passed, numerous attempts to establish a climate of trust in the region have not yielded much result.
Croatia will celebrate 4 August as a victory day, while Serbs will light candles crying for the victims and grieving for lost homes.
Despite the progress made through the process of regional cooperation and the implementation of the Regional Housing Program, there are still many outstanding issues, like unpaid pensions, dinar and foreign currency savings, people who were stripped off of their tenancy rights, the lack of reconstruction of more than 10,000 Serb houses that were destroyed in the areas where there were no war conflicts, and the return of the seized agricultural land.
What is particularly worrying is the lack of an adequate response from competent institutions of the Republic of Croatia to the growing number of ethnically-motivated attacks arising from hate speech, as well as absence of the protection of the Serbian language and script.
Such moves clearly show that refugees are directed exclusively at integration in the Republic of Serbia, because the return process has almost been stopped.
The return of the Serbs to Krajina is sporadic, and the Croatian state is doing everything so that it never happens in a large number by creating an atmosphere that brings the region back into the nineties.
The Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia thanks international organizations, bilateral donors and the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia on all the funds invested in resolving the housing needs of refugees, but we should not forget the outstanding open issues that make it difficult to reach a lasting solution for the refugee population.
The Republic of Serbia considers that the continuation of the implementation of Annexes E and G of the Succession Agreement has a high priority, as well as other activities that lead to the resolution of refugee problems.
In that sense, further support from the international community is expected, and the Republic of Serbia is ready to cooperate and will continue to fulfill all its obligations.
A commemoration to the victims will be held on Sunday, 5 August at 11.00 at St. Mark's Church in Belgrade, as well as in many municipalities throughout Serbia, according to the statement.