Croatia: 'No Strategic Mistake' 5634-croatia-no-strategic-mistakeCroatia: 'No Strategic Mistake'15 February 1999 Addressing a group of Croatian army generals on the occasion of the opening of the Ban Josip Jelacic military graduate school on 14 December, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman urged the military to maintain the unity of the army and the people. He also made clear that his two major war aims had been to ethnically cleanse Croatia of Serbs and to annex half of Bosnia. The strong talk was widely seen as an attempt to drum up support among his demoralized followers. A recent poll commissioned by Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) showed that only 17 percent of the electorate supported the ruling party. Excerpts follow.

From day one of our struggle for an independent, sovereign Croatia, we have made no strategic mistake. ... No other country in the world is covered by spy rings as much as Croatia. All those representatives of Europe and America, all sorts of humanitarian, news, and nongovernmental organizations--all of them monitor the situation in Croatia. ... They had an explicit plan to destabilize HDZ, the party that brought Croatia into being. We forced all of them to give up their decision to destabilize Croatia. Recently, they have officially told us that both the United States and Europe count on this stable Croatia. ... It doesn't mean that these international forces have given up their policy--they only want to realize it now by subtle and long-term methods.

We achieved the most we could under the given international circumstances. We secured our southern borders and tied half of Bosnia to Croatia. ... Regarding the international pressure on [Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic and our relations with Yugoslavia, we must not interfere in the internal affairs of that state; we must be rational in that regard. We solved the Serbian question in Croatia, therefore we don't have to strain relations with an adversary we defeated. ... We solved the Serbian question inasmuch as there won't be 12 percent of Serbs or 9 percent of Yugoslavs [in Croatia], like there used to be. It doesn't matter if there are 3 or 5 percent; that won't endanger the Croatian state. ...

They are preparing to indict you--and all of us!--[at the International War Crimes Tribunal] in The Hague! They have a list of five or six generals from Croatia--not only from Bosnia. We need the army's unity for this reason too--no straying from the state policy!--and we need the unity of the army and the people. Only if we maintain that will we be able to say no to them. We were liberating our country from an aggressor, and we won't let you try our people!

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Translated by Sanja Bosak. 5634-croatia-no-strategic-mistake

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