ZAGREB, August 6, 2018 – President of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV) Tomislav Žigmanov said on Monday that anti-Croatian sentiment in Serbia had once again been rekindled following the celebrations of Operation Storm in Croatia and that this is causing unrest among local Croats, who too were innocent victims of the war.
Several events were organised in Serbia over the weekend by state, regional and local institutions at which harsh rhetoric could be heard condemning Croatia’s 1995 military-police Operation Storm, Žigmanov said.
“We are waiting for the time when Croats in Vojvodina will be able to publicly commemorate their suffering during the 1990s. We are still prisoners of fear and without any public memorials,” Žigmanov, who is a member in Serbia’s parliament, tweeted.
In a statement to Croatian media in Vojvodina, he added that over the past few days in Serbia, when the 23rd anniversary of Operation Storm was being commemorated in Croatia, we were all “witnesses of unusually unison and strong anti-Croat sentiment coming from the highest government officials, which hadn’t occurred here to such an extent for some time now.”
“Apart from that, the expanse of anti-Croat stances, negative descriptions of all those events in August 1995 and interpretations of contemporary political events and processes in Croatia have virtually uniformly covered all areas of the public sphere and any differing opinion, a more reconciling or more rational stance could not be heard, which is evident too in the fact that all Croatian television channels were blocked,” Žigmanov said.
What is particularly concerning, he added, is that the stances expressed lacked any mention of the responsibility of the then Serbian and Yugoslav authorities for the events in Croatia in the 1990s in Croatia, and that there was no mention of the calamities of Croats in Vojvodina, particularly in Srijem, who too were innocent victims.
“It is no wonder then that former fears among Croats in Serbia are being revived, with additional unease, which has led to them withdrawing from public life and unwillingness to participate in processes that affect their future. It is also concerning that after repeated grave anti-Croat statements, the process of normalisation between the two countries is once again being questioned as is the prospect of the development of the Croat community in Serbia,” Žigmanov underscored.
He added that he fears that the current climate in Serbia could dissuade members of the Croat minority to participate at the coming election for the Croatian National Council.