Saving Sarajevo: 'Croats are the main victims'

CROATIA'S Foreign Minister, Mate Granic, accused Muslim forces yesterday of expelling 120,000 Croats from their homes in central Bosnia and of trapping almost 200,000 others in four vulnerable enclaves.

In an interview with the Independent in London, where he briefed British officials on the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, he criticised Western countries for concentrating on the plight of the Muslims while ignoring the increasingly grim conditions facing Bosnia's Croats.

'The situation for the Croats in central Bosnia is really very difficult because for the last month they have had no help,' he said. 'I'm speaking about medicine and other humanitarian aid from Croatian-controlled parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Muslim forces are now engaged in a very strong offensive and have surrounded 190,000 Croats in four enclaves in central Bosnia.

'They have expelled 120,000 Croats from central Bosnia and have killed about 3,500 civilians. The Croats are actually the main victims of the war in Bosnia, and that is why we have the strongest interest in stopping the war.'

Croatian officials said the Muslim offensive had started in April and had led to the expulsion of 40,000 Croats from the Travnik area, 30,000 from Zenica, 16,000 from Kakanj, 12,000 from Konjic, 8,000 from Fojnica, 6,000 from parts of Mostar, 6,000 from parts of Novi Travnik and 2,000 from Jablanica. They said that the HVO, the Bosnian Croat armed forces, controlled only 9 per cent of Bosnian territory, compared with about 20 per cent before the Muslim offensive.

Although Muslim-led Bosnian government forces are fighting a rearguard action against the Serbs in Sarajevo and other parts of Bosnia, they have recently inflicted a string of defeats on the Croats, their former allies. In the past month they have captured Bugojno and Gornji Vakuf, two important towns in central Bosnia. Croatian officials said the Muslims had conquered about half of the territory that had been assigned to the Croats under the now abandoned Vance-Owen peace plan for Bosnia.

Mr Granic said the Muslim forces had achieved their successes because they were more numerous than the Croats and were able to manufacture weapons. He also accused the Muslims of enlisting the support of more than 6,000 volunteers from Islamic countries. He said Croats were trapped in four areas in central Bosnia: 70,000 in the Novi Travnik-Vitez-Busovaca region, 60,000 in Zepce and Usora, 30,000 in Vares, and 30,000 in Kiseljak and Kresevo.

Mr Granic said Croatia had no desire to annex south-western Bosnia-Herzegovina, where local Croats have set up a mini-state called Herzeg-Bosnia and use the Croatian flag and currency. He said Croatia had a strong interest in preserving Bosnia's external borders, not least because this strengthened its case for regaining control of those parts of Croatia that fell to Serbian forces in the war of 1991.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence