Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Lika Anniversary #1

Croats and Serbs have one thing in common – they tend to celebrate historic defeats.

In Summer 1493 some 8,000 Ottoman soldiers, led by Jakub Pasha of Bosnia raided territories of Slovenia and Northern Croatia. Huge number of prisoners and large booty slowed their return to their strongholds in Bosnia. That represented opportunity for the 15,000 strong army, led by Croatian Ban (Viceroy) Emerik Derenčin (Emerik Derencin). However, Croatian knights and feudal warlords proved to be inferior to Ottoman tactics; they chose the worst possible place for battle – the plains of Krbava Field, near today's city of Udbina. Instead of bushwhacking Ottomans, Croatians were bushwhacked and some 10,000 men died – most of Croatian nobility at that time. Thankfully for Croatia, Ottomans, unlike in case of Kosovo Battle, weren't interested in further conquests and the catastrophic defeat didn't erase Croatia from the world's map.

The area of Krbava was in 1993 occupied by Krajina Serb forces so Croatian nationalists couldn't properly mark 500th anniversary of the event. 510th anniversary was completely different matter – it was very public event, attended by Sabor speaker Zlatko Tomčić and organised by Catholic Church. Municipal authorities of Udbina, where majority of population happens to be Serb and where the power is held by Serb nationalist party SNS, have publicly snubbed the event. SABH, organisation of Croatian anti-fascist WW2 veterans, questioned the proposed name of the church at the memorial site – Croatian Martyrs – claiming that the name itself could only stir ethnic tensions.


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