It is tragic that many Croatians and Croatian-Americans such as Jeffrey Kuhner seem unable to understand that the Serbs had and still have legitimate grievances against a Croatian state that has glorified and resurrected the symbolism and rhetoric of a shameful Nazi-puppet and genocidal past (“The coming Balkan war,” Commentary, Wednesday).
The recent Hague Tribunal finding of Croatian generals guilty of war crimes during Operation Storm - the largest single act of ethnic cleansing during the recent civil wars in Yugoslavia - is a step in the right direction to bring all those who committed war crimes against innocent civilians, regardless of ethnicity, to justice. I’m only sorry that more of the guilty weren’t prosecuted for crimes ranging from bombing fleeing columns of refugees, raping and slaughtering elderly grandmothers, beating up Orthodox Christian nuns and trying to hide the grisly evidence after wiping out entire villages with the approval, aid and encouragement of Franjo Tudjman’s government.
The greatest unresolved problem in the Balkans pertains to the largely unreported and uncompensated genocide of Serbian Orthodox Christians, Jews and Roma in Croatia during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of innocents were slaughtered, ethnically cleansed from a “Greater Croatia” - which absorbed all of Bosnia and a large swath of Serbia - and forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism. Today’s Croatia differs little from the Croatia of that time in its hatred of anything Serbian since the country was never properly de-Nazi-fied. Croatia will never be considered a modern nation until its leaders come to terms with the past and accept what happened to Serbs both during World War II and recent wars, and make amends.
If Croatia is unable to accept responsibility for crimes committed by its citizens, Mr. Kuhner may be correct in asserting that there will be a far more vicious war between Croatia and Serbia.