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Vasilije Krestic

Essential Disputes between the Serbs and the Croats in the course of History

Source: The Serbian Questions in The Balkans, University of Belgrade, publisher - Faculty of Geography, Belgrade 1995.


The disputes that have occurred between the Serbs and the Croats in different periods of time are various in their content. However, there are those matters in dispute which have not at all changed then essence for more than hundred years. The former disputes, which occurred during the settling of the Serbs in the regions of Lika, Kordun, Banija and Slavonija in the 16th and 17th centuries, cannot be treated as the disputes of the Serbs and the Croats. At that time, misunderstandings and disputes occurred between the immigrant population of Orthodox religion and the Croatian feudal lords, spiritual and secular, who were the owners of the land settled by the Serbs. These were the disputes between the Serbs, on the one hand, and the ruling stratum of the society of Croatia and Slavonija, on the other, and not those ones between these two peoples. The court and military authorities of Austria accepted the Serbs as a cheap military force. They settled them on barely settled or barren areas which they gradually excluded from the authority of the Croatian parliament and Croatian ban (governor) and changed into a special territory known as Military Border or Military Border area.

The inhabitants of the Military Border area, both Orthodox and Catholic, who were included in the military border system with the task to prevent further penetration of the Turks towards Central and Western Europe, had certain privileges, but also considerable military and other duties. In any case, their legal status was more satisfactory than the status of feudally dependent serfs. They were personally free, while this was not the case with the serfs. Protected with privileges, having a task of fulfilling numerous and not at all easy military obligations, the border guards were under a great pressure of secular and spiritual feudal lords. The lords could not accept the idea that the border guards settled and used their land, while, in return, they had obligations only towards the Court and military authorities. With all their might they tried to force the feudal obligations of the serfs on the borderers. That is why open, sometimes smaller and sometimes bigger, often violent disputes and conflicts took place. In the arbitration in these disputes the Court and military authorities would support the borderers, whose help was indispensable to them. Unable to impose their authority and feudal obligations on the borderers, the Croatian lords hated these border-area inhabitants to such an extent that they would rather destroy them than let them settle the land, which formally and legally belonged to them and factually to the Court and military circles. These borderers, to whom they could not impose the obligations of the serfs, as well as the obligations that the Catholics had towards the Catholic Church in the provincial parts of Croatia and Slavonic, were considered uninvited guests and intruders. They actually treated them as if they were intruders. Such a relation towards the borderers, primarily towards the Serbs of Orthodox religion, continued from generation to generation and remained until our days. A crucial role in encouraging this relation was played by the Croatian and Slavonijan lords, both spiritual and secular, who had a great influence, even after the dissolution of Feudalism in 1848, upon the civil and capitalistic society to which they transmitted their standpoints and their prejudices from the previous period of history. Owing to this, these old misunderstandings neither ceased nor disappeared with the fall of the old social system. On the contrary, they were transmitted into the new social and political system which they continued to harm, disturb, and ruin enormously.

In studying the effects of the past and of the past events upon those that followed, the historian cannot overlook some analogies concerning social and political development of the Croatian people and its relation to the Serbs, especially those ones in Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonija, but also in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is well known that the Habsburgs, particularly Maria Theresa and Joseph II, spent enormous energy to create, from a multilingual, multinational and a complex community of several states, with various reforms, willy-nilly, a greater and a unitary Austrian State which would be ruled by the Germans and in which everyone would speak German.

Such attempts of the Habsburgs and the Germans of Austria were strongly opposed by all non-German peoples. In this resistance excelled the well organized and nationally aware Hungarians. By resisting the Habsburgs and the Germans of Austria, the Hungarians created a real movement with clear state and national-political ideas. Resisting Germanization and fighting against drowning Hungary into a unitary German Empire, the Hungarians put forward as the main objective of their state and national policy the formation of a greater and ethnically homogeneous Hungarian State, which would extend from the Carpathians to the Adriatic. So, it happened that the aim which the Habsburgs and the Germans of Austria intended to acquire provoked the Hungarian movement, which had equal objectives in Hungary to those ones within the Monarchy. The only difference was that the former were subordinated to the interests of the Germans and Germanization and the latter to the interests of the Hungarians and Hungarization.

Writing about German and Hungarian intentions, I would like to emphasize that this is the question of the processes which have been going on for entire two centuries. Even when they formally disappear from the political scene, their ideas stay and are being transmitted, in this or that way, to new political trends. This is necessary to emphasize, because the process of forcible Germanization did not stop when, in methods and objectives, similar forcible Hungarization also took place. The Croats were against Hungarization in the same way as the Hungarians rose up against Germanization. Incarnated in the Illyrian Movement, which in its essence was entirely subordinated to the Croatian political and national interests, the Croatian resistance was finished with the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution in 1848/49. However, the series of forcible Germanization, then Hungarization, continued with forcible Croatization of the Serbs from the beginning of the sixties of the 19th century, which, with the occasional rises and falls, lasted until our days.

When the relapses of feudal society concerning the disputes of the Serbs and the Croats are discussed, it is necessary to emphasize that the Croatian policy is very significant. For a long time, and to a great extent even today, it has been based on the Croatian state and historical law. This law is of feudal-class origin, and as a residue of the past it very much burdened and completely disturbed the relations of the Serbs and the Croats. It has served, and it is still used, as the basis for developing a theory and political ideologies which start from the assumptions that on the Croatian state territory exists only one - the Croatian "political", i.e. "diplomatic", or, as one would say today, constitutive people. The Croatian state and historical law has always been, and it is still now, the starting point of any greater Croatian policy whose objective is to create greater, ethnically pure and religiously - Catholic - homogeneous Croatia. Lengthy, firm, and persistent insisting on an archaic state and historical law, besides mole modem and progressive understanding of the relations in society, especially in a multinational one, which are developed and accepted in liberal and democratic civil systems, is only one of many proofs that the Croatian social environment has not only been deeply conservative in this respect but it has also been reactionary for a long time, and has stayed far from true democratic trends.

The institution of the "political" people is based upon the medieval feudal principle according to which the governing stratum of the society makes the "political" people. This institution has been taken over from the Hungarian class society and it is not in any case of Croatian origin. It appeared during feudalism, it was cherished in the Hungarian social environment until the fall of Austria - Hungary in 1918, and it is still in effect in Croatia representing a permanent: part of the Croatian national policy. The sense and aim of the policy which is based on the "political" people is to create from a multinational state, as Hungary was until 1918, and as Croatia, Slavonija and Dalmatia were until our days, a nationally homogeneous - only Hungarian, i.e. only Croatian state. In other words, the institution of the "political" people has been accepted, and in Croatia it is present even today, with an intention that the majority people should assimilate minority peoples. That is why the relations between the Croats and the Serbs started to deteriorate from the moment when Croatian politicians, at the beginning of the sixties of the 19th century, expressed their viewpoints that there was only one people, i.e. the Croatian "political" people. It was immediately clear to the Serbs that the Croats, who did not hide this, with the institution of the "political" people wanted to develop, regarding the territory, much greater and ethnically still purer Croatian state. Their intention to assimilate the Serbian population and to expand Croatia on those territories which the Serbs considered theirs, not only on account of history but also because of the prevalence of their population on these territories, could not pass without disputes and sharp confrontations.

On account of the already mentioned objectives of the Croatian policy (making greater, ethnically pure and religiously - Catholic - homogeneous Croatia) which are based on the Croatian state and historical law and on the institution of the Croatian "political" people, there has been a constant dispute between the Croats and the Serbs about recognizing the political individuality of the Serbs in Croatia, Slavonija, and Dalmatia. Croatian politicians and Croatian political parties recognized physical existence of the Serbs in Croatia, Slavonija, and Dalmatia, but they refused to recognize their political individuality, their constitutiveness, and so they regarded them as "Orthodox Croats". With the intention to assimilate them, so that they could make a greater and ethnically pure Croatian state, they wiped our their Serbian name everywhere, wherever they could and whenever they could, not only when they designated their nation or their language but also when they designated their institutions, particularly the Serbian Orthodox Church. That is why the official language in Croatia was not designated as "Serbo-Croatian", "Croatian or Serbian", but as "our language", "people's language", "Croatian", and at one time "Yugoslav". The situation was also similar with the signification of people, where, again, the modifier: Serbian was avoided. This adjective was not even used for the name of the Serbian Orthodox Church, thus the official title was "Greek-Eastern", "Greek-non-Uniate" and "Croatian Orthodox Church".

So was in the past to which the present is similar in everything. The case with the representative in the Croatian Parliament who proposed an amendment in 1990 concerning the name of the language, which then was changed from "Croatian or Serbian" into "Croatian", was only the repetition of those events which had happened in this highest state institution of Croatia, with the same intentions and goals, many times before. This can be also said for the Croatian Constitution of December 1990 by which the Serbs from Croatia lost the characteristic of a constitutive people, and by which they were transformed into a national minority.

On the basis of all that happened in the past and which is also happening nowadays, it is clear that the Croats and the Serbs will not be able to find the language of understanding as long as the Croatian state and national policy is based on the Croatian state and historical law and on the institution of the Croatian "political" people. History has shown that those social and political forces of Croatia that were able to abandon the postulates of the feudal society could negotiate and come to an agreement with the Serbs, and even avoid all, otherwise inevitable, confrontations. The best examples for this statement could be found in the joint declarations of the Croatian and Serbian politicians of the time when the Croatian-Serbian coalition existed and acted from 1905 to 1918. Those social groups and political parties of the Croats that abandoned the fiction that on the Croatian state territory existed only one - the Croatian "political" people not only became reconciled with the Serbs but they also starred with them a joint national - political action, which led to the formation of the common state in 1918. Contrary to these, there were groups of the Croatian society and the political parties that steadily, even rigidly, followed the Croatian state and historical law, they were persistent in their attitude that there was only the Croatian "political" people in Croatia and that the Serbs, i.e. "Orthodox Croats", were only the part of that "political" people. They were in permanent dispute and confrontation, almost in war with the Serbs, prepared, even with the most brutal means, to impose on them the policy which they were supporting. Such were the Party of Rights of Ante Starcevic and Eugen Kvaternik, the "Francofurtimash" Party of Joseph Franco, and the Ustashi of Ante Pavelic. Such are the members of Franjo Tudjman's Party (HDZ) and many other politicians of Croatia today.

Wishing to materialize the centuries' long dream about greater and ethnically pure Croatian state based on the Croatian state and historical law and on the Croatian "political" people, the entire school system in Croatia and Slavonija was subordinated to Croatization in the second half of the 19th century, particularly during Ban Ivan Mazuranic's rule. The more Croatization of the Serbs was a well thought-out plan and the more it was developed acquiring bigger success from year to year, the Croatian side spread the news more and more that the matter was about the laicization and reforms of schools undertaken in the sense of the liberal ideas of Europe of the time. In any case, the school reforms introduced by Mazuranic had a disastrous impact on the further development of the school system designed by the Serbs within the Serbian national - church autonomy. That is why Mazuranic and his government, with their clear anti-Serbian and greater-Croatian aims designed in their educational policy, made an unbridgeable gap between the Serbs and the Croats. In the eyes of the Serbs, Mazuranic with his policy was, and still is, the personification of the policy of Greater Croatia. Until his rule relatively tolerable, the relations between the Serbs and the Croats were so much disturbed during his governing that many later generations could not establish and restore confidence. On the other hand, for all those Croats who considered that the Serbs in Croatia, Slavonija, and Dalmatia were disturbance, who regarded them as a disturbing and betraying factor of the Croatian national and state idea, Mazuranic's educational policy served as an example which should be followed if one wished, through assimilation and Croatization, to get rid of the Serbs, that "breed" of Orthodox Christian religion, as it was written by Eugen Kvaternik; that "slavish breed" ripe for the hatchet, as it was spoken by the father of the homeland Ante Starcevic; that "bramble" which should be plucked up from the garden of Croatia, as it was emphasized by Josip Misarkovic.

Not recognized by the Croatian opposition, stigmatized in various and even the worst ways, under permanent assimilation pressure, even under the threat of destruction, resisting evil and looking for the way of survival, a considerable part of the Serbs had to collaborate with the Hungarian exponent Ban Khuen Hedervari (1883-1903) during his governing. That is why they were accused of betrayal of the Croatian State, of treason of the national and political idea. Treason was imputed to them considerably, openly and permanently, with the only aim to make them accept greater-Croatian policy or to disappear in front of it. Not ready for accepting it, and also for disappearing, they would accept the struggle which they were not able to avoid and which always had the aim to achieve equality. Thus, misunderstandings, differences and conflicts endlessly appealed and merged, and the outcome was hate followed by a wish that the Serbs should forever disappear from the territory which history gave them.

The greatest disseminators of hatred, those who included hatred into the state, national and political programmes, who gave it the characteristics of the struggle between the two different races, Eugen Kvaternik and Ante Starcevic, were accepted as the greatest patriots by the Croatian society. With this ace the discord between the Croats and the Serbs was deeply rooted into their beings; while the former were ready to celebrate and follow the mentioned leaders, the latter avoided them with a good reason, for they felt heavy consequences of their destructive actions.

When the essential matters in dispute between the Croats and the Serbs are under research, many abuses of the Serbs by the Croats should be mentioned, such as deceiving of agreements, contracts, and decisions, even those ones passed by the Croatian Parliament. Prepared for mutual activities with the Croats in defending Croatian state interests, under the condition to share both rights and duties with them equally, the Serbs never deceived the Croats, and were often ahead in battles. This happened during the revolution and war with the Hungarians (1848/49), during a forcible imposing of the compromise and dualism in 1867/68, during the deposing of Ban Levin Rauh and the struggle for the revision of the compromise in 1869-1873, during the years of national movements in 1883 and in 1903, and many times later up to our days. Whenever they needed the Serbs, and as long as they needed them, the Croats were on good terms with them, they gave them promises and not only that they did not question equality and recognition of the Serbian political individuality but the Parliament also solemnly stated that "...the triune Kingdom recognizes the Serbian people living in it as the same and equal people with the Croatian people." When danger would stop, after the task had been successfully done, those who were generously giving promises to the Serbs turned against them and continued in the same old way, as if nothing had happened in the meantime, as if they had not had any obligations towards the Serbs. Many times abused and then betrayed and rudely deserted, the Serbs very well noticed disloyalty of the Croats. That is why they hardly trusted and respected them, but, in spire of this bitter knowledge, forced under life circumstances, they let them continue to deceive them, to abuse them and to cheat them, hoping in vain that these deceits would not happen again.

In this a century long game the Serbs, in political sense, were always losers and the Croats winners. However, in moral sense the Serbs won these struggles and the Croats lost them. Such a relation of the defeated and conquered had another consequence: mutual despite, intolerance, and hatred, even pathological hatred, equally unrestrained and equally dangerous from both sides and for both peoples.

Great misunderstandings between the Croats and the Serbs, ruining their relations for decades and preventing them from mutual national and political path, occurred owing to different, mutually opposite views towards Austria- Hungary, the Habsburg dynasty and their role in the solution to the Eastern and Southern Slav question. While the majority of the Serbs saw enemies in these factors and did not expect help from them, but, in addition, they felt a premonition of danger and were preparing for defense, the majority of the Croats were expecting help from Vienna and the Dynasty not only for making territorial integrity of the Croatian lands but also for expanding the triune Kingdom on the territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on those areas which, supposedly, on the basis of the "historical and state law" should belong to Croatia. The objective of such pro-Austrian and pro-Habsburg view of a considerable part of the Croats and their political parties was a territorial expansion of Croatia within the federation of the Habsburg Monarchy. As this expansion should have been done at the expense of the Serbian ethnic area and on account of the Serbian aspirations for the same territories towards which the Croats also had aspirations, the conflict of the two different in their objectives policies was inevitable, all the more so as it was being stirred by the Vienna Ballplaz, to which the pro-Austrian and pro-Habsburg greater-Croatian ambitions were welcomed for many reasons, for they perfectly fitted in the state policy of the Monarchy towards the Balkans. When mentioning the pro-Austrian and pro-Habsburg policy of the Croats it is necessary to emphasize that it is considered as a phenomenon of long duration. Having occurred in the middle of the 16th century, it changed with time, became stronger and weaker, but it always persevered, getting during the last hundred years more clear, more open, and more aggressive anti-Serbian characteristics.

Besides constant aspirations towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was the stumbling block between the Croats and the Serbs, the Srem also became the apple of discoid after the Revolution in 1848/49, especially after 1860. Not raking into consideration that the population of the Srem in national and religious sense was mostly Serbian and Orthodox, the Croats emphasized their historical law towards this region intending to include it into a greater and ethnically pure, religiously - Catholic - homogeneous Croatian state, which even during that time, as well as much later, was getting its distinct outlines on geographical maps. In the dispute about the Srem, i.e. where it belonged, two principles, two laws were confronted. The Serbs insisted upon more modern - natural and ethnic law, proving that the Srem was theirs. The Croats opposed to this, less agreeable with time, in feudal society originated, historical law. As much as these two principles were mutually contradicted and not acceptable - so, with regard to the Srem, were the relations between the Serbs and the Croats disputable and hardly solvable in the past and stayed so up to the present time.

When the Eastern and in connection with it the Southern Slav question imposed itself with all its strength in the middle of the last century, the new problems in the relations between the Serbs and the Croats also occurred. Although on both sides there were those who expressed views that so important questions should be treated in accord and with joint efforts, those forces that starred mutual rival struggle prevailed. Convinced that in many things, particularly in culture, they have advantages over the Serbs and that as such - more cultured - they can be more attractive for all South Slavs, the Croats thought that they should have the leading role in the national-liberation and uniting actions and that Zagreb, not Belgrade, should be the center of gathering. In these and such plans the Croats, as it has been mentioned before, always counted on getting help from Vienna and the Dynasty, that also aroused their hopes in this respect. Starting from the face that they had two states, at first semi-independent and since 1878 completely independent, that they had the army and all other significant advantages for carrying out an independent national and state policy, which the Croats did not have, the Serbs did not pay attention to their conceit about high culture, but thought that they, and not the Croats, were to play the role of Piedmont among the South Slavs and that Belgrade, not Zagreb, should be the centre of gathering.

This rival struggle about the leading role of the one side or the other continued to smoulder and changed into the struggle of the two enemy policies, into the struggle of the two centers, out of which one had to succumb. After the successfully finished Balkan Wars, Belgrade, Serbia and the Serbs imposed themselves as the real leading factors in the gathering of the South Slavs. After World War I the union was carried out under the leadership of the Serbs, with Belgrade as its centre. This victory of the Serbian view in solving the Southern Slav question was accepted painfully in many circles of the Croats, particularly in those nationally exclusive that did not disappear from the scene either after World War I or after World War II. They experienced it as a heavy defeat which deserved even heavier revenge. Not only establishing but also the way of establishing a common State in 1918 to the mentioned circles of Croatia served as an inexhaustible source of dissatisfaction, plotting and destruction of the State, which was not made according to the model they were longing for. Due to this, its real creators, the Serbs, became even more disliked and even more than before found themselves under the attack of those who experienced the appearance of Yugoslavia as the defeat of the Croatian state and political idea.

The fact that during the 19th century the Serbs at first acquired two semi-independent and then independent states gave a special feature to the relations of the Serbs and the Croats. Convinced that they are on a higher degree of culture and civilization than the Serbs are, that they are, as it has been said before, predestined to be at the head of the liberation and uniting action of the South Slavs, and in fact, except their great ambitions, they did not even have basic presuppositions for leadership, the Croats tried hard with all their strength to acquire the goal which they were missing. Since they were considering the Serbs only as their immediate and most dangerous rivals, they experienced each success of the Serbs as their own defeat, and each defeat of the Serbs as their own victory. The face that the Serbs had two states and the Croats none, or, it is better to say, a kind of state - more on paper than in reality, made them feel inferior, envious, but also aggressive. With an enormous aggression they wanted, at the expense of the Serbs, to make up for that which they did not have. That is why mutual conflicts were inevitable, and their results were variously disastrous for both sides.

In these strained inter-ethnic and political relations at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th centuries, ac the time when the Croatian Catholic Church accepted the Croatian nationalist programmed advocated by Joseph Franco and his Pure Party of Rights, when Catholic clericalism started to permeate every pore of life getting more recognizable anti-Serbian and anti-Orthodox features, the Serbs in Croatia and Slavonija achieved a number of distinguished results. They succeeded in organizing their economy in the best way, particularly their finances; in creating a strong political party; in gathering and uniting the Serbian society in various walks of life; and in making a considerable progress in culture. The achieved results were so great that Zagreb gradually started to overtake the role of Novi Sad, the former "Serbian Athens". Petit bourgeois, nationally exclusive and ultra-Catholic circles of Croatia, Slavonija, and Dalmatia, striving to make greater, ethnically pure and religiously - Catholic - homogeneous Croatian State, could not bear the fact that the Serbs in Croatia were developing economically and politically and that they were becoming stronger in culture. Unable to start a healthy competition with the Serbs, to confront them with their own success, the middle class "Francofurtimash" circles of Croatia, Slavonija, and Dalmatia compensated their incapability with destructive hatred, which, on several occasions, was expressed in the anti-Serbian demonstrations which took place in Zagreb and other towns of Croatia. Thus, even in the field of merciless capitalist competition, which acquired the aspect of the struggle between two nations, the Serbs were experienced as a disturbing factor which stood in the way of the development of the Croatian economy, society, and politics, and, what is particularly important, in the way of the realization of the centuries' long aspiration about establishing an independent Croatian State.

Economically strengthened, socially well organized, in the essential political objectives in accord and united, relied upon Serbia, whose reputation was in constant increase from 1903, the Serbs on the whole were attractive for one part of the Croats ready for real reconciliation, harmony, and cooperation. In such a situation, the Serbs in Croatia, Slavonija, and Dalmatia, that were striving for reconciliation and cooperation on an entirely equal basis, were dangerous in the eyes of the "Francofurtimash" extremists. They found this danger in the fact that the Serbs on the whole, especially the so called Croatian Serbs, were offering different ways and means for the solution to the Croatian and Serbian question from those ones offered by the Croatian chauvinists supported by the official circles of Vienna and Budapest. Instead of greater, ethnically pure and religiously - Catholic - homogeneous Croatia, the Croats and the Serbs inclined to reconciliation, harmony, and cooperation expressed their readiness to live together and in equality in a new and independent state. Croatian extremists did not want to live with the Serbs in the common state. In addition to this, they had a view that the Yugoslav orientation of the Croats and the Serbs was not only negation of their national and state understanding, but also a source of dangerous destruction of the unity of the Croatian people. That is why, from the first years of the 20th century, when the Yugoslav idea started to take deeper roots, both the Serbs and the Croats of Yugoslav orientation, as well as the Yugoslav idea itself, were under a constant attack of all kinds of representatives of the Croatian nationalist policy.

With an intention to point to the essential controversial matters between the Serbs and the Croats, I cannot avoid some great differences which existed between them in regard to the attitude toward Yugoslavia. Having lost their State early and having fallen under the rule of Hungary and later Austria, the Croats lived under the foreign rule for more than eight hundred years and had dreams about restoring their statehood. Having been unable to realize these dreams in practice, they tried hard and used enormous energy, which deserves respect, to preserve any kind of continuity of their statehood in formally legal documents, in various treaties, sanctions, compromises, charters, patents, King's vows, parliamentary decisions, and other papers. Eight hundred years of these constitutional legal compromise struggles left a deep trace on the mentality of the Croats. In the same way as they behaved within Hungary and Austria, and later Austro - Hungary, they also behaved within the first and the second Yugoslavia. Both the first and the second Yugoslavia were temporary for them. Their ideal, as it has been stated before, was the independent greater Croatia. Thus, Yugoslavia, in which they found themselves by a mere historical occasion, was not accepted and felt as if it were also their own. After all, they invested into its formation just as much as they were ready to defend it and to accept it as their own.

This compromise prone behavior of the Croats toward Hungary and Austria was less harmful for these states and the peoples in these states than toward Yugoslavia. Within Hungary and Austria, with regard to their- number, strength and influence, the Croats were -without greater importance. However, within Yugoslavia they were a partner without whom that kind of State was hardly possible. Knowing this, and being aware of the fact that the Serbs cared for Yugoslavia, in order to be together in it, the Croats were using their settlement-like excellence to perfection, selfishly and inconsiderately extorting concessions of one kind or the other, and all this was with an aim to achieve greater advantages for themselves. Thus, it became obvious that Yugoslavs could exist only if and as long as the requirements of the Croats were being fulfilled, as long as it suited them to live in the community to which they were ready to contribute as little as possible and to take out of it as much as possible Considering this fact, it is clear then why heavy crises troubled both the first and the second Yugoslavia and why they disintegrated according to the scenarios in which the main role, that of a destroyer, was played by the Croats.

Since the Serbs and the Croats have not had wars between themselves so far, although they were on the opposite sides in the two World Wars, it is to be expected that the bloodshed in 1991-1993, regardless of the outcome, will finally stop the forcible and cunningly designed Croatization of the Serbs and thus cut the chain whose beginnings were found in Maria Theresa's time, more than two hundred years far from our time. If Maria Theresa's and Joseph's plans about forming greater Germany from a multinational Austria failed, if the Hungarian endeavors to make greater Sentishtvanian Hungary from the Carpathians to the Adriatic were defeated, then it is even more certain that it is impossible to realize the objectives of assimilation, expelling, and destroying the Serbs from the Drina to the Adriatic, where greater, ethnically pure and religiously - Catholic - homogeneous Croatian state would expand. I am of the opinion that an objective evaluation of the past and the necessary conclusions derived from all the events that happened to us, how they happened, and why they happened could contribute to and shed some light upon this problem.

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Dr Vasilije Krestic is Professor of Modern National History and Head of the Department for Modem History of the Yugoslav Peoples at the faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. He is the member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Belgrade and Director of the Archives of the Academy. He has published about two hundred studies, articles, essays, reviews, etc. and is one of the authors of Istorija srpskog naroda /The History of the Serbian People/ Professor Krestic has also published the following books: Hrvatsko-ugarska nagodba 1868 /Croatian-Hungarian Settlement in 1868/ (1969); Protokol kneza Milosa Obrenovica 1824-1825 /Thc Protocol of Prince Milos Obrenovic from 1824 to 1825/ (1973, co-author with Dr Nikola Petrovic); Istorija srpske stampe u Ugarskoj 1791-1914 /History of the Serbian Press in Hungary from 1791 to 1914/ (1980); Srpsko-hrvatski odnosi i jugoslovenska ideja 1860-1873 /Serbo-Croatian Relations and the Yugoslav Idea from 1860 to 1873/ (1983); Srpsko-hrvatski odnosi i jugoslovenska ideja u drugoj polovini XIX veka /Serbo-Croatian Relations and the Yugoslav Idea in the Second Half of the 19th century/ (1988), Srbija i oslobodilacki pokreti na Balkanu od Pariskog mira do Berlinskog kongresa (1856-1878) /Serbia and the Liberation Movements in the Balkans from the Pans Peace to the Congress of Berlin [1856 - 1878]/ (1983, co-author with Dr Rados Ljusic); Uspomene Vladimira Jovanovica /Memories of Vladimir Jovanovic/ (1988); Programi i statuti Srpskih polickih stranaka do 1918 /Programs and Statutes of the Serbian Political Parties until 1918/ (1991, co-author with Dr Rados Ljusic), Istorija Srba u Hrvatskoj i Slavoniji 1848-1914 /History of the Serbs in Croatia and Slavonia from 1848 to 1914/ (1991); Iz istorije Srba i srpsko-hrvatskih odnosa /From the History of the Serbs and Serbo-Croatian Relations/ (1994).


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