by Milivoj Dilas
But while the domestic public and the international community were busy monitoring the behavior of the Croatian authorities in the territories liberated in the operations "Flash" and "Storm", those very same Croatian authorities in the thick shade of the presidential residency in Pantovcak, under the strict control of Franjo Tudman, devised and implemented the idea of the creation of the desirable ethnic composition of the population in Vukovar, the town that used to be referred to as hero, and is today a problem. Two persons had chief roles in that ethnic engineering business: the president of the state Franjo Tudman and his Minister for Reconstruction and Development, Dr. Jure Radic. No one else but the two of them decided how many Serbs should stay in Vukovar, how many Croats should return and, if they do not want to return, how they should be replaced by Croats brought from the neighboring Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Two years after the UNTAES pulled out of eastern Slavonija, Tudman and Radic were not satisfied with the results and national situation in the field. A part of the transcript of the conversation led by Tudman and Radic in the presidential residence on March 31, 1999, obtained by Feral clearly confirms that.
President: They do not want, Croats do not want to return. We have to settle Bosnians.
Radic: We are working on that, and all the neighboring villages will be put together. We are now putting Bosnians in the apartments, but step by step. The phrase about the reconstruction of economy in Vukovar... For whom? So that those who are now there, Serbs, can stay, so that we can provide jobs for them. All our people who are returning to Vukovar have excellent pensions, too good. All those who should return to Vukovar have excellent income, or a re employed in state services, military, this or that, and are making calculations. They do not want to return, there are no factories, but for those who are now there. So that in that sense they are building themselves. To a certain extent. A small brake is needed, and all other villages... he proposed there that about Bogdanovci. He is obviously totally misinformed, he hadn't been there. Bogdanovci have been fully reconstructed. That is one example. Now we are going ahead with the canal and the canal is ready for the start of work, a feasibility study, April, these are new jobs. But the goal of all this is to somewhat change the ethnic composition. Today in Vukovar we have about 9,000 to 10,000 Serbs and less than a thousand of Croats.
President: We must settle between 15,000 and 20,000 Bosnians.
Radic: I think that in the first phase we can achieve that, to end up with 5,000 Serbs and 7 to 8 thousands of Croats. But 15,000 definitely, in the villages. Croats are returning to the villages, exactly to their homes, but with much difficulty to the town, and they are resisting.
President: Because of this, and otherwise, they will keep pressuring us for the return of Serbs, to keep them...
Radic: That is true, and Croats are concentrating in Zagreb and a couple of other cities. It is certain that our basic goal is to provide assistance so that our people stay and survive. I am now starting with Kistanje. We are going to start construction, as early as January, even in those several villages. We shall do that. But Vukovar is a special problem. In my opinion, it will never, in the next 50 years, have 40,000 inhabitants as before the war. Let it be a town with 15,000 inhabitants, but of those 15,000 let two thirds be... that is the goal. So that the ethnic composition of the population in Vukovar cannot be changed overnight. If I were to now quickly build a thousand apartments in the town, instead of in the villages, Serbs would move into those apartments.
President: You shouldn't do that, but here, this...
Radic: Yes, and that is why I am rebuilding these apartments extremely slowly. That is the reason.
President: Therefore we should plan in advance, those Croats...
Radic: Yes, true. Another example. I've been disappointed by Mato Simic. He decided not to return. This is between the two of us. The president of the Association of Expelled Persons decided not to return. The mayor of Vukovar still hasn't returned to Vukovar. It is one thing to sell political platitudes, and another when you talk to these men, and how are they, when their wives and children are in Zagreb. Therefore, that is when you get to the family level...
President: It's a lack of awareness that we should sacrifice for the sake of national interests.
Radic: Indeed, instead they only keep looking at their own interests; you have to give him interests, an apartment, a house, so that they actually own it, and then he... We have to allocate in that town people to the apartments, write down that they are there, so that they can vote there tomorrow, even if they continue living elsewhere. Now we have almost 600 apartments, that I should finish in about a month. But I have the experience from two months ago, when we finished 200 apartments and all sorts of people entered illegally.
President: You must not allow that. You should place guards, give them names and that is that.
Radic: Yes. I give them to the town, counting, etc... Therefore, now I've started the reconstruction in family homes in the town and that is going pretty, where there are families, and the villages, the ring around Vukovar. Ceric is going extremely well, Nustar is magnificent, everyone has returned. Bogdanovci, almost all of them are back. I've started again, found a job for the mayor of Bogdanovci in my office in the Ministry, so that she can sit in Vukovar and attract her people. Out of 250 houses in Bogdanovci, we have 235 under roof, finished, the school, children, everything is going well. One family, that used to live in Vukovar, has a job in Borovo, a state-owned apartment, and now they have an apartment in Zagreb, a job in Koncar, so that they find it better here and nothing is drawing them to Vukovar. He was never in Vukovar because, to be from Vukovar is not the same as to be from Nustar, because he does not have land. We shall have a lot of that with Vukovar...
President: Do you have something else? (No.) Good. Who instead of Porges?
Radic: No, I do not know. I said in the past, to connect Kovac and Porges, those two ministries...
President: Yes, good. Good bye.
From this transcript it is possible to conclude why Mato Simic is not anymore the president of the Association of the Expelled Persons, and why even more radical Josip Kompanovic was appointed instead of him to the same position. Furthermore it is obvious that the cooperation on the ethnic engineering was on the inter-state level and that distinguished sons of Hercegovina also participated in the creation of the desirable ethnic composition. When it was impossible to settle Croats from Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croats from Kosovo were settled instead. This smaller part of the transcript now reveals the true mission of Jure Radic, who was in the media many times accused of implementing Tudman's crazy ideas about the desirable number (percentage) of Serbs in Croatia. The late president and the former authorities did not find it hard to sacrifice Croats for the implementation of that idea, pompously called "national interests".