Friday, November 19, 2004

City Under Shadow

November 18th is the day when Croatia marks the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar. For Croatia this day is equivalent of Veterans Day in other countries –anniversary of the most tragic single event for Croatia in 1991-95 is opportunity for people to remember the fallen soldiers and civilians.

Once bombed-out city, which used to be the symbol of bloody dissolution of former Yugoslavia, has recovered on the surface. The debris has been cleared, exiled Croats have returned and the multi-ethnic political institutions, established by peace treaties, operate without significant problems. But deep down among the regular people, the wounds are far from being healed and the city is state of virtual apartheid which affects any aspect of social life.

But the longest shadow of the bloody past is created by river Danube, which separates Vukovar from neighbouring Serbia. It reminds everyone of its bloody past and unenviable border town present.

And yesterday another reminder came in the form of Serbo-Montenegrin patrol boat which appeared on the river during memorial services. Croatian authorities protested, claiming that the boat entered Croatian waters. Serbo-Montenegrin defence minister quickly reacted in order to defuse the situation – he denied that the demarcation line was breached, but he also admitted that yesterday was "less than fortunate day for Serbo-Montenegrin military forces to conduct such sort of activities".

Perhaps some lessons have been learned, after all.


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