Croatia and Serbia to Focus on Missing Persons Issue

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 4, 2018 – Croatia and Serbia must do all they can to make progress in dealing with the issue of missing persons from the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, and that will be the basis for future good relations between the two nations, the Croatian president’s commissioner for missing persons and mayor of the eastern town of Osijek, Ivan Vrkić, said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the press after meeting with the Serbian president’s special representative for missing persons Veran Matić in Osijek, Vrkić said that he and Matić had been given the mandate to continue implementing the agreement between Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on tracing missing persons.

“We have agreed that the pain on both sides is the same and that both sides have the obligation to create a climate in which progress will be made so that the war can finally end, and to try to find all the missing or at least most of them so that their families can give them a proper burial,” Vrkić said.

Vrkić said that he and Matić “do not have a political mission but a humanitarian role” to find durable solutions to this problem. The two countries’ commissions on missing persons will continue their work because the two of them “are not a supervisory body” but persons responsible for making progress in this process in order to improve relations between the two nations.

Matić said that the fate of missing persons “is the last issue to resolve so that conditions can be created for normalisation of relations and reconciliation.” He said that the Croatian and Serbian commissions on missing persons had been affected by political relations between the two countries in recent time. “Our task is to depoliticise this work to ensure that this humanitarian effort does not stop in times of a chill in our relations,” Matić said.

Responding to questions from the press, Vrkić said that Croatia was still looking for 1,945 missing persons, while Matić said that Serbia was looking for about 1,500 people, including some 650 ethnic Serbs from Croatia.

There are 76 grave sites in Croatia believed to contain some of the people listed as missing. Asked if there were any such sites in Serbia, Matić said that, according to records from the two commissions, there was no such information. He added that a certain number of grave sites had been found in an area stretching along the Danube river from the Croatian border to Smederevo, Serbia, but he did not know if any of the bodies exhumed and identified were persons from Croatia.

“The Croatian commission has asked that the entire course of the Danube, as far as the cliffs of Đerdap, be examined, and that work is under way. The commissions are also working on questions concerning missing persons who were held in detention camps in Serbia or in health institutions, but I do not have exact information as to which documents the Croatian commission requested from the Serbian side,” Matić said.


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