continuing from Wlodimir Ledochowski to Peter Hans Kolvenbach
via the Georgetown University Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service
"WAR OF WORDS" Washington Takes on the Yugoslav Conflict
To gain support for Croatia's independence, the Tudjman government solicited help from old religious and political allies for support. The Croats were in far better position than the Serbs in seeking allies to back up their cause. The Serbs looked to traditional allies, the Russians, who were not in a powerful position to influence Western policy. Russia'a military structures were weak, and its economy was increasingly dependent on U.S. economic aid and German investments. On the other hand, Germany, which viewed Croatia to be within its traditional zone of influence, had a significent say on behalf of Croatia as a part of a larger, global trend based on religious alliances. This explains why Western Christian [sic- Roman Catholic] civilizations rallied behind the "coreligionists" of Croatias' Catholic regine early in the conflict, and why Europe and the United States would eventually follow the German lead.
As Croatia sought to internationalize theYugoslav problem, global trends were moving in ther favor. Germany was eager to demonstrate its political prowess in Europe - a trend that suited Croat aims. Increasing German support for Croatia and German influence over EC policy made the Serbs skeptical of the EC's neutral role as an arbiter in the crisis. Many EC actions seemed to confirm the Serb's suspicians. In early August 1991, when western European-brokered talks on defusing the Yugoslav crisis were abuot to begin, Croatian special forces launched a secret and brutal raid on Knin, headquarters of the Krajina Sernb government. During the raid, Croatian comandos killed 60 Serbian resistence fighters. The next day, EC's representative, Dutch foreign minister Hans van den Broek, requested a meeting of Yugoslav contending patries. No repriemnad were issued against the Croatian attack. Milosevic was furious and refused to attend EC negotiations. Far from sympathizing with the Serbs, however, the Dutch foreign minister blaimed Milosevic for scuttling the talks. The next day, Germany's foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Gensher, threatened Serbia with economic sanctions. Again, no reprimand was issued against Croatia for its role in the dispute. Germany's close ally, Austria, put additional pressure on Serbia by announcing it was considernig recognizing Croatia.
The Vatican was also making its view clear on the issue. In an August 17, 1991 Mass in the Hunagrian city of Pecs, less then 20 miles from Croatia, Pope John Paul II stated that Croatian actions to break away from Yugoslavia were "legitimate aspirations". The Pope's comments were eagerly welcomed by Cardinal Franjo Kuharac of Zagreb and thousands of Croatians who cheered and waved Craotian national flags throughout the Pope's speech. Alhough support from Croatia's traditonal allies, Germany and the Vatcan, may have been expected, surprisingly strong support that would come from Washington was a result of Croatia's efforts on the public relations front.