News 15 Aug 13

Serbian City Rejects Croatia War Monument

The mayor of Novi Sad rejected the proposal to build a memorial, as a row continued over the legacy of Zagreb’s military operation to end Serb rule in parts of Croatia in 1995.

Marija Ristic

The mayor of Serbia’s Novi Sad, Milos Vucevic, said on Thursday that there was no possibility that a monument dedicated to defenders of the Croatian town of Vukovar, which was besieged by Serb forces in the 1990s war, could be built in his city.

“At this moment we cannot allow such a memorial,” Vucevic told Serbia’s TV Pink.

“We respect good neighbourly relations, but we should bear in mind that a large number of the current citizens of Novi Sad actually came from that area,” he said, referring to the fact that many Serb refugees fled from Croatia to the city during the conflict.

The proposal to build the monument was a result of a row between Serbian and Croatian veterans’ associations over 1995’s Operation Storm, which saw Croatian forces take back swathes of Croatia’s territory which had been controlled by Serbs since 1991.

About 20 Serbian war veterans and relatives of victims attended an Orthodox mass on Saturday in the central Croatian village of Zirovac to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the deaths of Serbs who were killed during Operation Storm. They also demanded that a memorial plaque be installed there.

A Croatian war veterans’ association from Koprivnica then hit back on Monday by demanding that Novi Sad erect a memorial to Croatian civilians killed by Serbs when Vukovar fell in 1991.

A total of about 700 Serbs are believed to have been killed during Operation Storm and about 200,000 forced from their homes.

On the 18th anniversary of the military push on August 5, Croatian human rights associations warned in an open letter to the authorities in Zagreb that “even 18 years after the Storm operation, we still lack detailed analysis of all victims and all crimes perpetrated during and after the operation”.

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