Sunday, 17 June 2007

A Future Trip and a Review of the Past

As you may know if you have read this post by me from the end of May, I'll be going to my country Croatia soon.

(If you don't where that is, look here)

I was last there two years ago with both my parents and I liked being there, a lot; I have good memories of being there. I spent my time there between the small towns of Gračac in Lika (pronounce: "Gra-Chats", and you'll need Unicode or some Central European encoding to properly view one of the letters) and Kistanje in North Dalmatia ("Kiss-Tan-Yeah", and yes, Dalmatia is where those Dalmatian dogs come from, except you won't really find them in the Dalmatian hinterland, which is where Kistanje is).

This year I'll be going to Gračac with my mother and we'll be spending time with my grandmother, her mother, in a nearby village. She's very old - she turned 87 recently this month! - and she wants to see us. Last year, 2006, I didn't go down there and I wish I did. We'll be checking out our house in the town and from what I have been told, we'll have to do some cleaning up in there, which'll probably be fun! We will also be visiting Kistanje where my aunt and uncle live, and I hope to meet more of their neighbours there.

Now let's talk business - I mean, Politics. Sorry…! :-D

For those of you who don't know or who may have heard, Croatia was once part of a country called Yugoslavia (learn here). The once well-respected federation that it was broke up and in a couple of its federal units lead to appalling warfare, costing many many lives and resulting in huge material destruction, particularly in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina (that's one country, though divided politically).

The war in my country was characterised by the fighting between the short-lived Republika Srpska Krajina supported by Belgrade militarily and politically, against the newly independent Croatia lead by Franjo Tuđman (I know I'm using Wikipedia a lot!). The nationalist leaders of the Croatian Serbs founded their para-state with its capital in Knin - which is, by the way, near Kistanje! The para-state mostly fell by August of 1995, when the Croatian Army retook the largest portion of the territory including the above-mentioned capital. This operation was called Operation 'Storm' or in Serbo-Croatian Operacija 'Oluja', which lead to a great humanitarian catastrophe in which the Serbian population there - including many of my own relatives - fled those areas across Bosnia to Serbia.

Many of my relatives have returned at least to visit. A few of my relatives have returned to live, and they include my maternal grandmother whom I mentioned above, and from my father's side my aunt and uncle in Kistanje. Many of my relatives from my father's side still live in Serbia today, while a few of them live in Montenegro. Some of them have recently visited Croatia, which I'm very happy about and makes me a bit emotional thinking about it! Unfortunately, some of them still haven't been there since 1995, and that's depressing. But perhaps they will some time in the future. :-)

As you can see Anarchists, the war in Croatia was based on rival Ethnic Nationalisms, and also on conflicting Statism, though Statism, as a concept, is not mentioned in discourse. Nationalism, being a dominant force now as it was then in my part of the world, unfortunately, is much more noticeable and noticed. The war in Bosnia was also based - at least with two sides of the three or four-sided conflicted - on Ethnic Nationalisms. Serbia as part of the smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which it was part of with Montenegro - or rather the late president Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade was involved, as I have said above, in the wars in both Croatia (they call it the "Homeland War" there, or Domovinski Rat) and in Bosnia. This is one reason why the medias in both countries to this day claim they were fighting against "aggression". Mind you, Croatia itself was also involved in the war in Bosnia, but that's another story - well, all linked, of course.

The results of these two wars were: in Croatia, around 15,000, while in Bosnia, over a hundred thousand dead people (both civilian and armed); hundreds of thousands to over a million displaced people (Croatia and Bosnia, respectively); and in both countries, billions upon billions in money of material damage.

Many people were victims of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. The worst atrocity to have occurred was in Eastern Bosnia in and around a town called Srebrenica, in which around 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were murdered in cold blood by forces under the command of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić (this crime has been recognised as a Genocide).

There is still to this day widespread devastation caused by the fighting throughout Bosnia in particular, but also in many areas of Croatia. For instance, Vukovar. The devastation of that city can still be seen today. My own hometown of Gračac, the last time I was there, only had a small number of destroyed houses, along with two devastated factories with shattered windows and what looked like a bombed out coach in front of one of them. Hopefully, I will make some pictures soon.

This was a brief history of the wars and description the current situation in Croatia and Bosnia. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

All the best! Sve najbolje!


Mihajlo said...

Dear Alan,
this is the great and very realistic story about situation
on Balkan.
You should be a proud to be the
one of Jaksic family.
Regards to my long distance relative from Belgrade-Serbia.

Mihajlo Jaksic

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

I'm glad you think I've done our family proud! :-)

Ipak krv nije voda! ;-)

Bozidar said...

Dear Alan: Jan 11 2008

I just found your web site and found it very interesting.

My mother told me many stories of the new Kingdom (1918) and I would like to share such stories with you. I'm quite old now but I still remember some of them quite clearly.

Could you supply me wiyh your email address?


Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

Of course Bozidar.

I await your stories!