In a small town in Srem, called Hrtkovci, on an even smaller town square, absolutely all villagers had to gather.
Most of them were scared. Soon afterwards, the one who had to be greeted and listened to arrived pompously with the armed companions. He told the villagers that a new era began, a time when the government would change state borders and allow everyone to live together in a single state territory.
He pulled some paper out of his trousers pocket and began to read the judgement.
Vojislav Šešelj read the names of families, the majority them of Croatian nationality, who had to immediately leave the town due to treason.
His speech was completely unambiguous and clear.
Croatian President Franjo Tuđman will expel 200,000 Serbs to whom we must provide help and home. However, we do not have the money to build new houses and apartments. Therefore, as he shouted, our government will give to each expelled Serb family the address of the home or apartment in which the Croatian families live. Then everything will take place very simply, Šešelj shouted, because Serb families will hand over to the Croatian families the addresses and keys of their places of residence in Zagreb or other Croatian cities, and we will take them to buses and take them to the borders of Serb territories from where they can walk to their new addresses.
It was May 6, 1992. One year earlier, an initiative to send European peacekeepers to the inner Yugoslav borders failed because of the impossibility of agreement between European states and the opposition of the US and Russia. Serbian state policy was also opposed. Slobodan Milošević said that he would never allow a foreign soldier to cross the Serbian border. The only thing left, but not quite clear, was what limits he had in mind. Šešelj, who did what Milošević did not dare, marked the Serbian western borders with the names of the Croatian towns of Ogulin, Virovitica, Karlovac, Karlobag.
He was not the first to set new borders and demand the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, he only repeated what was already said or politically agreed, however said more carefully and agreed in secret.
A few days ago, Šešelj was sentenced to 10 years in prison for crimes committed in the wars in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, among other things, because the same court released him of all charges in 2016.
We could now begin to wonder if it would be right for the court to accept the prosecution’s motion and impose a significantly higher sentence?
We could ask the question about the reasons for the judges of first convocation, Jean-Claude Antonetti, Mandiaye Niang and Flavia Lattanzi, to decide that there is no evidence of Šešelj’s guilt that would be out of “any reasonable doubt”.
We might even begin to wonder about the reasons for the excitement of Judge Flavia Lattanzi, who simply could not accept the arguments of her judicial colleagues proving that Šešelj called for war and ethnic cleansing, that is, he was a war criminal.
However, this would take us away from the key issue. If Šešelj was only a criminal-policy executor, the unanswered is whose executor he was and in whose name he spoke?
We could reply very quickly, that he was Milošević’s executor and cleanser. And we would not make a mistake; we just would not say enough.
In 1930, Vlatko Maček, the president of the Croatian Peasant Party, an influential Croatian and Yugoslav politician, wrote the letter to the English diplomat in charge of the region, Robert William Seton-Watson. It was not the only one, it was only one in a series of correspondence, however, it was most interesting. Maček wrote that in the middle of the Yugoslav state “there is a critical cultural and geopolitical line that once had a strong Roman Empire broken into two parts.” Just over fifty years later, this thesis became an important part of the political program of the Croatian disident Dr. Franjo Tuđman and tempting thought of then leading Serbian politician Slobodan Milošević. The political rise of both Milošević and Tuđman could only be based on the promotion of programs on the right to national unification of the state, the right of all Croats, and the right of all Serbs to live in a single independent state.
A part of this same program was also the project of resettlement of the population. Or, as Dobrica Cosic wrote later, that resettlement of the population will enable life in one state space, ethnically unique and spiritually comprehensive. In 1986, at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, a special programming document was established, the Memorandum on the Position of the Serbian People.
One thesis was that the Serbian nation never got the right to form its own state. Milošević read the document and remained silent. In fact, he said, that he needed time to think. It is precisely in the difference between the prevailing Serbian political thesis about a strong Serbia in Yugoslavia and the thesis about the break-up of Yugoslavia as a condition for the formation of a strong and big Serbia, where he saw the possibility of a final and complete embrace of the entire power with one pair of arms. His.
At the same time, Tuđman had already established a doctrine of two imperatives, the fall of communism and its Yugoslav variant, and the break-up of Yugoslavia as a condition of the formation of a greater Croatia. He estimated that the most critical for the history of the then Yugoslavia was the “division of the Roman Empire into the Western and Eastern Empire,” because the borders of that division were in the middle of the then Yugoslav territory, along the Danube-Sava-Drina River, which refers Tuđman to the claim that Croats and Serbs differ. They are different because they belong to two completely different civilizations. And that is precisely the reason that prevents and makes life impossible in the same country. Therefore, the eventual solution of the then Yugoslav issue could be not a reformatory re-establishment of the state, but its disintegration along the Danube-Sava-Drina line, that is, along the border of the Western and Eastern civilization.
Both, Milošević and Tuđman, knew that the disintegration of Yugoslavia was a historic opportunity to form a greater Serbia and a greater Croatia.
On March 25, 1991, they secretly met and reached an agreement on the division of the state and the formation of an ethnically pure state territory.
Vojislav Šešelj was the executor of this plan.