Croatia: Free elections, but for whom? 

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 22 – April 24, 1997 – originally published here.

Important actors have considered the recent Croatian election free and fair in spite of the fact that some 250,000 Serb-Croat citizens could not vote in their home country.

These Serbs fled from Croatia during its military operations in 1995 – the largest single case of ethnic cleansing during the wars. They are refugees in Bosnia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, sometimes called “expellees,” but are legitimate citizens of Croatia.

The U.S., EU governments, OSCE, the Council of Europe and human rights organisations could have done politically in Croatia what they did in Bosnia, namely insist on refugees abroad being given an opportunity to influence the future of their homeland to which they want to return.

The quite young state of Croatia had hardly just brushed off such a good advise from president Clinton (or the very active, human rights-concerned U.S. ambassa-dor to Croatia, Peter Galbraith), from president Chirac, prime minister Major or chancellor Kohl and neither from, for instance, World Bank president Wolfensohn.

If the international community had required this of Croatia it could have been credited for having, for once, a constructive and principled policy.

If Croatia had provided such an opportunity – under pressure or, better, by its own initiative – it would have proved its commitment to a future of social peace, multi-ethnicity and democracy. Now both missed that major opportunity. One may also wonder how these voters could have changed the election result,” says TFF director Jan Øberg. [Read more…]

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