Slobodan Praljak, in the second week of his testimony in his own defense at the trial of former Bosnian Croat leaders, claims Franjo Tudjman was the only person who didn’t want to divide BH. Praljak says he will prove that Western Herzegovina was first offered to Tudjman by Serbs and then by Alija Izetbegovic who said ‘here, you can have it, take it!’

Slobodan Praljak svjedoči u svoju odbranuSlobodan Praljak svjedoči u svoju odbranu

Former commander of the HVO Main Staff Slobodan Praljak continued his evidence with a series of articles published during the war in the magazine Croatian Soldier, the official journal of the Defense Ministry in the Republic of Croatia. The articles, Praljak believes, prove that Croatia didn’t have any aspirations towards the BH territory. Quite the opposite: without Croatia and Bosnian Croats there would be no BH.

Praljak blamed former president Alija Izetbegovic for the fact that BH was unprepared for the war; the war that, as Praljak claims, was certain after the JNA and other Serb forces attacked Croatia in 1991. ‘Every fool could see what was cooking’, Praljak said, adding that only Izetbegovic kept saying there would be no war. Croats in BH, Praljak noted, came to their senses sooner and were prepared in time. ‘Luckily, the accused added, ‘Herceg Bosna was established as a defense force of BH’; without it Serbs ‘would have wiped out everything’.

It is unjust, Praljak contends, for the prosecution to put Croatian president Franjo Tudjman at the head of the joint criminal enterprise which involved the accused Bosnian Croat leaders as he had no imperialistic aspirations towards BH. Praljak illustrated this claim by a series of quotes from the interviews with Franjo Tudjman and Gojko Susak in the Croatian Soldier. In their interviews, both Tudjman and Susak advocated peace and survival of BH in which all three constituent peoples would have equal rights.

Presiding judge Antonetti said that, according to the prosecution, Tudjman and Susak had been playing a ‘double’ game, publicly saying they respected the BH borders yet simultaneously scheming to annex Herceg Bosna to Croatia and taking steps to achieve that goal. Praljak rejected all such claims, saying that ‘only idiots’ could sign all the international agreements, thinking they would fool England, France and other countries. Praljak contends that Tudjman was in fact ‘too soft’ even when it came to the occupied territories in Croatia: at one point Tudjman agreed with the proposal granting Serbs in Croatia every right except their own army and foreign policy. ‘I was dismayed because Tudjman was lenient to such an extent’, Praljak said.

The accused says it is unreasonable to accuse Tudjman of some ‘behind-the-scenes games’, and has promised he will prove in the course of his evidence who and how wanted to divide BH. As the accused put it, first the Serbs offered Tudjman Western Herzegovina and then Izetbegovic did the same thing, allegedly telling the Croatian president ‘here, you can have it, take it!’ Jacques Klein, former head of the UN mission in BH, was present when Izetbegovic said that to Tudjman, Praljak claimed.