Croats sweep back with a vengeance

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The Independent Online
History goes into reverse today, when Croatian authority is reimposed in an area of Croatia which just a few years ago many Serbs assumed would belong to them for the rest of time.

In November 1991, the siege and destruction of Vukovar symbolised the horror of the first war in Europe since 1945. The Yugoslav army shelled the town into ruins.

The inhabitants crawled from the cellars to find themselves at the heart of a Serb-occupied eastern Croatia.

But this has been yet another defeat for Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader who remains in power despite having lost everything that his army fought for. In 1995, the Croatian army re-occupied a large area of southern Croatia where Serbs had been living for hundreds of years. In the two years that followed, Croatia gradually, under the eye of the UN, re- established control over eastern Slavonia.

But the reintegration in Croatia has several times been postponed. The UN has insisted on guarantees that Serbs will not suffer when Croats move back in. But there are many who thirst for revenge. Serbs, too, are ready to hit back. Graffiti onhouses declare: "[Serb nationalists], do not fear: we are staying here."