According to former Croatian minister for development and reconstruction Jure Radic, the graffiti seen on a Knin wall, ‘Cedo, you won’t come back’ in August 1995 didn’t reflect any hostility towards Serbs who had fled during Operation Storm, but the ‘unity of the Croatian people’. He also spoke about Tudjman’s intention to ‘Croatize’ Muslims and bring them closer to the Western civilization

Jure Radic, witness at the Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac trialJure Radic, witness at the Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac trial

Prosecutor Gustafson today cross-examined former Croatian minister for development and reconstruction Jure Radic. She tried to prove that the witness was not quite frank yesterday when he replied to the presiding judge, claiming that after Operation Storm in 1995 the Croatian authorities ensured equal conditions for the return of all refugees, regardless of their ethnic background. The prosecution alleges that the transcripts of meetings of Croatian state leadership from that period clearly show their intention to prevent the return of Serbs and settle Croats in the liberated Krajina territory.

Radic was called to give evidence by the Trial Chamber hearing the case against the Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac, on trial for their role in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Serbs from Krajina in the summer of 1995.

Today the prosecutor showed the minutes of a meeting between President Tudjman and high-ranking military officers on 23 August 1995. Radic was invited to attend the meeting and explain the demographic situation in Krajina. Radic lamented the ‘unfavorable distribution of the population’ in Croatia; he suggested that Croats should be settled in parts of Krajina to ‘compensate for it’. When he was told that he spoke only about the return of Croats, not mentioning Serbs, the witness replied with a rhetoric question. Why should he talk about the return of Serbs to an auditorium of high-ranking military officers, the witness asked. He discussed that issue ‘at government meetings’. At this meeting, Radic explained, he merely tried to convince the military leadership to ‘settle’ a military unit or two in the liberated area. Since they were Croatian soldiers, it was logical to talk about ‘the return of Croats’, Radic argued.

Continuing his demographic presentation at the meeting, Radic said that Croats should also return to the Slunj area where ‘fortunately no Serbs used to live’. The former minister sees nothing wrong with that. He used a ‘colloquial’ expression: when he said Serbs he meant aggressors. According to Radic, the controversial statement should read ‘in Slunj fortunately, no aggressors used to live before’.

One day before his meeting with the military officers, Radic talked to President Tudjman and told him there ‘is nothing more beautiful’ than when Croats from Varazdin and Split arrive together in Knin. As part of his vision of beauty, Radic spoke about the graffiti from Knin, ‘Cedo /Chetniks/, you won’t come back’. In an effort to clarify why he was so taken by the graffiti, Radic said he liked the fact that a Kajkavian word was used, indicating that Croats from Zagorje had come to Knin: this was an example of the ‘unity of the Croatian people’. Also, Radic explained that Cedo was a term among the people for Chetniks. In other words, the author of the graffiti wanted to say ‘Chetniks, occupiers, you won’t come back’.

According to the prosecution, the transcript from another meeting corroborates the claim that the Croatian state leadership wanted to ethnically cleanse areas both in Croatia and in BH. At the meeting, President Tudjman says that Croats should ‘carry on their backs’ the Bosnian Muslims and ‘gradually Croatize’ them along the way. Radic unsurprisingly gave a different spin on these words of the former president. When Tudjman said ‘Croatize’, in fact he meant that Muslims should be ‘Europeanized’ to ‘become part of the Western civilization’ together with the Croats, Radic said.

As today’s hearing drew to a close, Gotovina’s defense began cross-examining the witness.