THE BULLY OF THE BALKANS Serbia needs to come out of the 19th century

Foto: Hina/Tanjug

An Attempt at De-legitimising Croatia.

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Foto: Hina/Tanjug

Author: Vice Batarelo

Note: I have written this piece in English so as to internationalise as much as possible the extreme nationalist overtones of the Serbian political elite towards Croatia at the present moment and to sound alarm bells in the west to the resurgence of Serbian imperialist policies. I personally have nothing against Serbia nor the Serbian people and after more than 20 years since the liberation of Croatia against Greater Serbian imperialism I would like to see Serbia as a modern European nation with friendly and normal relations with Croatia.

19th Century Greater Serbian Imperialism

A coordinated diplomatic offensive is on the way by high-level Serbian government officials. In the midst of the holiday season when most western Europeans, including Croatians, are winding down and enjoying an unusually warm and hot summer, Belgrade is treading down the well known path of intimidation of neighbouring countries, especially Croatia, reminiscent of an outdated and tragic 19th century imperialistic manner (reaching its pinnacle with Milosevic in the early 1990s) to bolster its overall international position as some kind of big brother or rather big bully of the so called Balkans.

Anti-Stepinac Sentiment

And the main lighting rod used in this Serbian government offensive has been Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, through the consistent hammering out of lies and slander regurgitated from old Yugoslav communist propaganda . Stepinac was and remains a beacon of freedom, morality and a light in the darkness of totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. He personally saved thousands of innocent lives regardless of ethnicity or religion, as has been attested to by innumerable witnesses. His canonisation process is completed and it is only a matter of time before he will be pronounced a saint of the universal Catholic Church. Pope Francis in an unprecedented move, to remove all controversy (created by 50 years of communist Yugoslav propaganda) even initiated a joint Catholic – Serbian Orthodox working group to look into all the details of Stepinac’s life.

Yet, instead of seeing this good will from the side of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church of a desire for real ecumenism and the establishment of good relations between two neighbouring countries based on historic truth, it has been manipulated to serve the ‘strengthening’ of some kind of (in essence banal) Serbian political position. It has yet to be seen how the Serbian Orthodox church will react in the joint Catholic – Orthodox commission.

Stop Meddling in Internal Affairs

Serbia needs to come out of the 19th century and throw off once and for all any underling or overt greater Serbian (imperialistic) tendencies and its intrusion and interference into the internal affairs of neighbouring countries.

As such it needs to work to develop good neighbourly relations. This is part and parcel of good post World War Two European relations enshrined more or less in the European Union and especially of NATO. If Serbia means one day to become an ally of Croatia in a military and political sense (which is desirable) it cannot continue down this aggressive approach.

Recent Military Aggressor

Serbia must not forget that it was the aggressor just over twenty years ago in the wars against Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. It must now play an upright role conscious of the fact at every moment that its imperialistic policies caused untold havoc and tragedy to millions of Croatians and Bosnians. At one stage in the early 90s a third of Croatia was occupied by Serbia. For its bully approach then it was resoundingly defeated in military terms by the Croatian army in Croatia and also in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Croatians who sacrificed much for their hard won independence from a Serb dominated Yugoslavia are not willing in the 21st century to put up once again with Serbian imperialist overtones.

Nor are they willing to have Croatian war veterans, many who spent time in Serbian concentration camps, maltreated by the Serbian government. This is tantamount to a post war German or Japanese government abusing US soldiers.

An Attempt at De-legitimising Croatia

And yet the current Serbian ruling political elite; Nikolić, Vučić, Dačić, Vulin and co. have the audacity and arrogance to call to order and directly intrude into the internal sovereign affairs of Croatia. The recent attempts of de-legitimising the Croatian state through the slander campaign against Stepinac and the preposterous insinuations of a resurgence of the Ustasha are but the ugly rearing of the still extent nationalist bully in Serbia and must not be condoned, but rather strenuously condemned as offensive and unacceptable in bilateral and wider international relations.

Just as there was a denazification process after WW2 in Germany, the de-imperialisation process (started by the Hague tribunal) must continue in Serbia and NATO and the EU should work to establish measurable milestones to make sure this is achieved, before coming closer to these western associations. If this is not achieved Croatia will not only have the moral right, but the moral responsibility to block any future Serbian membership in these international associations until Serbia shows a willingness to cooperate and mature as a political entity.


Izdanje br. 39

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Izdanje: 09.04.2014.


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