From the personal archive of a Russianist, installment thirty-five

Travel notes, Yugoslavia, Wednesday 20 November  –  Friday, 22 November 1991

This is my first trip back to Slovenia since the start of the civil war this summer. In the meantime, six weeks previously I was in Belgrade for a meeting with Dragan Brscic to spin off the Serbian and south Yugoslav operations from control of Intereuropa. Brscic had spoken like a true Serbian nationalist, though in fact he is a Croat with a father in the Yugoslav foreign service.

Now I meet with old friends Tanya Filipovic, Rihard Baznik and Alojz Pozar. The last, most conservative, finally agrees there can be no restoration of the Yugoslav household, that the idea of living under one roof is unthinkable. Still, for business purposes, he does have hopes that realism will prevail and that Intereuropa can once again serve us in the non-Serb southern republics.

Tanya is no longer looking like a freedom fighter. She is a mother who is hoping that peace will break out. I say that there will be peace only when the Croats start doing war: that the issue of the day is not the EEC peace-keeping mission of Lord Carrington, which has merely been a smokescreen used by the Serbs to wage their war of aggression against Croat civilian populations, nor is it the follow-up peace mission of Cyrus Vance, which served involuntarily the same function. Rather, the issue is as soon as possible to achieve recognition of Slovenian and Croat independence and supply of real arms from outside so that they can properly defend themselves and repulse the Serbs. Tanya is frightened by my talk. Rihard is in agreement. Here the Croats have been wishy-washy, to their great loss whereas the Slovenes have stood fast and put their backs to the wall.

What is incomprehensible to me is why the Croats have not simply blasted some of the Yugoslav Army barracks into cinders. That would get some attention. Here I see criminal lack of leadership by F. Tudjman which is paid for in the blood of Slavonia and which may bring him the bullet he so richly deserves.

Otherwise the Slovene Istrian towns are unchanged. We get new Slovene currency and we see that a real international frontier will come down now between Slovenia and Croatia. Slovenes are probably safe: Serbs need an independent Slovenia as a buffer state between themselves and the Italians/Austrians. But Croatia is going to suffer a terrible devastation while the Serbs exact their vengeance.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2020

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