Croatia commemorates 1991 Vukovar massacre

Tension with Serbia remains

18 November, 17:32

    (ANSAmed) - ZAGREB, NOVEMBER 18 - Croatia on Monday commemorated the 18th anniversary of a massacre in Vukovar, a city on the Danube River. The city serves as a symbol of the fight for national independence and was razed to the ground on November 18, 1991 by Serb militias after a two-month siege. The Vukovar battle is one of the most violent incidents of the armed conflict between Serbs and Croats (1991-1995), which broke out after Croatia declared independence in 1991.

    The declaration marked the beginning of the breaking apart of the Yugoslav Socialist Federation. The central commemoration, in which the country's high-ranking government and political figures took part, was held in Vukovar with a long 'Memory March' in which about 20,000 people took part including veterans of the fight to defend the city. The new calendar of national holidays, which was passed by the parliament last week, introduces November 18 starting next year as a Day of Memory for All Victims of War for the Fatherland and the Vukovar Martyrdom. This choice, which was backed by conservative Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, had sparked heated debate. Many thought that a holiday should not be declared for a tragic event commemorating the killing of hundreds of people. Croatian politicians have criticised Serbia for not cooperating in the identification of the approximately 300 people who are still officially considered missing after the 1991 Vukovar massacre. Questioned on the possibility that Zagreb may slow down or block Serbia's journey towards becoming a member of the EU, Plenkovic said that the issue of those still missing can be seen as part of the negotiations chapter covering fundamental rights.

    He added that Serbia's path towards the EU would take a long time. In the autumn of 1991, Vukovar was the scene of very violent battles between the Croatian forces on one side and the Yugoslav federal army under the command of Slobodan Milosevic and local Serb militias on the other. When the city fell into Serb hands 28 years ago, 15,000 civilians including 2,000 children and about 500 injured were hiding among the ruins of the destroyed homes. The most tragic incident was of a mass killing at the Vukovar hospital, where 264 Croatian civilians who had sought shelter there were killed by Sea forces after being tortured.(ANSAmed).

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