Ukraine can use the Croatian experience for the reintegration of Donbass, and Georgia – for the return of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Prime Minister of Croatia Andrei Plenkovich made such a proposal on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.
At the same time, the politician recommended the “peaceful de-occupation” scenario – with the help of diplomatic means and political pressure. Following the example of how Croatia acted in relation to Eastern Slavonia, which was once part of the infamous Serbian Krajina.
– We had two models of their (territories) liberation. One – through military and police operations, and one more – through diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the United Nations, and America’s decisive participation thanks to General Jacques-Paul Klein in the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, – the Croatian Prime Minister explained.
At the same time, he acknowledged that the difficult context of the situation in Ukraine, as well as in Georgia, does not allow us to count on quick results.
In principle, Plenkovic’s advice is not new news for a long time. From the very beginning of the military operation in the South-East, the Kiev authorities have been keeping in their heads the “Croatian scenario” for the rebel republics of Donbass. But for the last time in Russia they made it clear: “Just try, Ukraine, as a state, will no longer exist.”
They didn’t confess whether they believed it or not … But increasingly, Kiev began to rely on certain international peacekeepers, who, it seems to them, will help eliminate DNR and LNR under the UN auspices.
By the way, in the case of the Serbian Krajina, the “blue helmets” could not (or did not want) to prevent the development of events in the worst scenario.
Recall that the Republika Srpska Krajina arose on the ruins of Yugoslavia as a result of a confrontation between Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. It included the Serbian Autonomous Region, Western Slavonia and Eastern Slavonia, who wanted to join Serbia after the 1991 referendum.
Peacefully, the issue of the Serbian future of these territories was not resolved. The fighting continued until 1992, when a cease-fire agreement was signed between the Serbs and Croats. But three years later, in 1995, Croatia, with the support of the United States and NATO, conducted two large-scale military operations, Lightning and Storm, the result of which was the almost complete defeat of the Serbian Krajina. Hundreds of Serbs were killed, hundreds of thousands expelled from their ancestral lands, and the Croats took their homes and property.
The fate of Eastern Slavonia was not so bloody. Until January 15, 1998, it was under the administration of the interim administration of the United Nations, after which it was integrated into Croatia.
Another question is, is it possible today to repeat any version of this scenario in the situation with the Donbass, as well as with Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
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- I want to emphasize that the events connected with the modern history of Croatia are a completely single chain, – commented Vladimir Shapovalov, deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics of the Moscow State Pedagogical University, Prime Minister Plenkovich’s proposal.
– It is impossible to separate the bloody operation that the Croatian army carried out with the help of Western countries against the Serbs, and the subsequent reintegration procedure. Since reintegrating Eastern Slavonia into Croatia under these conditions became possible only after Croatia destroyed, in fact, Serbian autonomy, Serbian political education by military means.
Therefore, I think that initially there is serious slyness in this position. Since it is the Croatian military operation that Ukraine has always considered as an example of what needs to be done with the Donbas, and maybe even with the Crimea.
In fact, with this proposal, the Croatian prime minister gives a sign and opens the discussion about how this kind of experience can be transmitted to other countries – to Georgia and Ukraine.
– From my point of view, this proposal is provocative. And in no case should not be deceived that Ukraine can take that part, which is a peaceful political process, abandoning the military component of this story.
Of course, the experience of Croatia is the path that in no case can go in this situation. Since it demonstrates that decisions are made against the will of the people, by brute military force, the opinion of national minorities is not taken into account, but the process of discrimination and the destruction of dissent takes place.
What happened in Croatia is actually a war crime, a crime against humanity, which can in no way serve as a positive example. By and large, I think that in the future history will judge everything and put it in its place.
Those Croatian military and political leaders who committed this act of violence against the Serbian community will be equated with the leaders of South Africa during the apartheid era and with the leaders of Nazi Germany. In fact, things are comparable. The scale is different.
– The scale is also not small, given that the operation against the Serbian Krajina has become the largest military operation in Europe since the Second World War …
– Therefore, of course, this experience is absolutely, from our point of view, unacceptable, neither with respect to Donetsk, nor with respect to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, much less with respect to Transdniestria, nor with respect to any other territory, any other people.
This is just such a dream of Ukrainian nationalists – to do with the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk what the Croats have done with the Serbs from Croatia.
But there is one very important nuance …
The fact is that Croatia committed its genocidal act with the support and with the direct assistance of the West. And also with the connivance of Serbia.
– Belgrade, really, then gave the US guarantees of non-interference?
– In fact, yes. Here in this sense, I would like to say: “Do not even hope for this, gentlemen.” Because Russia will never allow anything like this to be done with the Donbass, nor with Abkhazia, nor with South Ossetia. All the dreams of Ukrainian and Georgian nationalists to repeat the Croatian scenario are doomed. Russia in this case will not go in the wake of the collective West.
But whose experience in this case would be more appropriate, if we are talking about the Balkan history, it is, oddly enough, the experience of Bosnia. Since in Bosnia, the United States and European countries, including Russia, having implemented the so-called “Dayton Accords”, actually reached a compromise political decision that put an end to the civil war in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A decision in which two ethnopolitical parties to a conflict — that is, on the one hand, the Croatian and Bosnian communities, on the other hand, the Serbian community of Bosnia – with this kind of external assistance agreed and created the Bosnian Federation.
This is an option (it is, of course, not ideal, because it is also an action that is completely under pressure from outside), however, it can be considered a possible scenario.
– For example, the creation by Ukraine of a Federation of two parts (of course, conditional parts), as was the case with the Bosnian Federation.
Russia, in general, has always insisted on the federalization of Ukraine. It is the Ukrainian authorities who oppose it, seeing for some reason in federalization some serious problems for their statehood. Although, it is clear that the sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in the condition of the federalization of the country. There is no other option to preserve the integrity of the country in the future.
Therefore, the Balkan experience is possible. But not an example of Croatia, but just an example of Bosnia.
Given, of course, that the international community must be very careful that there are no acts of violence – once. And, of course, you must first make some judicial actions against those Ukrainian nationalists who are responsible for the bloody events in Ukraine.
After lustration and denazification against Ukrainian political, public and military leaders, the way to federalization of this kind can probably be opened.
But once again I want to stress: these are, of course, some of our dreams. Since neither Ukraine nor its Western patrons will do this in the near future.