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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Croatia’s ethnic cleansing of Serbs

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I would like to thank The Washington Times for publishing Yugo Kovach's April 19 letter, "Croatia owes Serbs an apology." However, in order to fully understand why the Serbian people deserve an apology from the government of Croatia, consider several facts.

It is a fact that 14,000 Serbian men, women and children were killed in August 1995 by Croatian forces during Operation Storm in the Krajina region of Croatia. Commanding the operation with massive U.S. support was Brig. Gen. Agim Ceku, an ethnic Kosovo Albanian warlord who was later arrested for war crimes. In 1999, journalist Charles Krauthammer described Operation Storm in Newsweek as "the largest ethnic cleansing of the entire Balkan wars. Investigators with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague have concluded that this campaign was carried out with brutality, wanton murder and indiscriminate shelling of civilians."

As The Washington Times reported on Sept. 5, 1995, Croatian soldiers were given heroin or cocaine twice daily in order to help them face the expulsion of Croatian Serbs from Krajina. A Croatian soldier, identified only as Davor, stated in news reports, "To attack villages, to cut throats and to kill in cold blood you need a strong anesthetic - a shot of heroin or cocaine was ideal." This report was also substantiated in the Guardian on Sept. 1, 1995.

According to a June 1997 Washington Times story: "A German tank rolls through a small village, and the peasants rush out, lining the road with their right arm raised in a Nazi salute as they chant 'Heil Hitler!' Mobs chase [Serb] minorities from their homes, kicking them and pelting them with eggs as they flee into the woods."

As his loyal ally, Adolf Hitler declared Croatia an independent state in 1941. Today Croatia, through Operation Storm, achieved the pure ethnic Croatian state that Hitler could only promise.

Unfortunately, I don't think Mr. Kovach nor any other Serb can expect an apology from the government of Croatia any more than we can expect an apology from Turkey for the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in Asia Minor during the World War I era.

STELLA L. JATRAS

Camp Hill, Pa.

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