BELGRADE – Serbia is seeking 1,869 Serbs who went missing in Croatia, and Croatia -over 800 missing persons, said President of the Coalition of Refugee Associations in Serbia Miodrag Linta drawing on the data from the Serbian government’s commission on missing persons.
Linta told Tanjug that he expects that Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s recent visit to Zagreb would open a constant dialogue between the two states and create preconditions for resolving numerous open issues.
“What encouraged all the Serbs expelled from Croatia is that, in talks with (President of Croatia) Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Prime Minister Vucic raised the issue of refugees and the issue of treatment of Serbs in Croatia,” Linta said.
Commenting on the issue relating to the return of cultural heritage, on which Croatia keeps insisting, Linta underscored that most of that cultural heritage belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“We are advocating for the return of that cultural heritage, primarily to where it had been before the conflicts (of the 1990s), and these are Serb churches and Serb monasteries,” Linta said.
Serbia expects Croatia to “provide maximum assistance in the reconstruction of the damaged or destroyed Serb churches and monasteries”, and ensure that “the cultural heritage is returned where it belongs”, and “not in Croatian museums, Zagreb or other towns.”
“A part of the numerous problems facing hundreds of thousands of the expelled Serbs who now live in Serbia, Republika Srpska and abroad, is related to a large number of property and other rights, or the issues that the Croatian side has been skillfully ignoring for years, and they are not being discussed- the issue of 40,000 usurped tenancy rights, the issue of around 50,000 Serb pensioners, to whom 81 pensions on average have yet to be paid,” Linta underlined.
He also pointed to the problem of over 800,000 cadastral parcels of farmland that Croatia seized from the expelled Serbs, “through legal machinations via courts”.
“A large number of our people are seeking their savings in dinars and foreign currencies, thousands of the expelled Serbs have not been recognized part of their years of service that they had gained before the war, and the convalidation of the insured years of service (obtained in the areas of Croatia that were under UN protection in the period 1991-1995) has not been approved for most claimants. We have over 10,000 Serb families whose houses and apartments were torn down in classic terrorist actions during the war in Croatian towns which were not directly affected by the war,” he explained.
For 10 years, Croatia avoided the implementation of the Vienna agreement on succession issues, he said, noting that it “clearly states that all citizens and legal entities have to be given back the rights that they had on December 31, 1990, and all contracts concluded during the war must be declared null and void.”
“We expect that the Croatian side, which insists on the resolution of open issues, will accept the initiative coming from our side to set up an (Serbian-Croatian) interstate commission tasked to implement the Vienna agreement,” Linta said.