Letter: Mythical cause of Balkan wars

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The Independent Online
From Mr Bob Deed

Sir: The Independent's coverage of Croatia's liberation of Sector West was a disappointment after its past treatment of the conflict in former Yugoslavia.

Michael Sheridan and Christopher Bellamy's News Analysis ("Hunkering down for a long, long war", 2 May) repeated the misleading clichs of "warring sides" and "ethnic warlords". It failed to put the Croatian and Bosnian wars in the context of legitimate governments defending their national territory against occupation and aggression.

In both Croatia and Bosnia, the Serbian militias were used by Slobodan Milosevic in his Greater Serbia project. The way in which these proxy forces have acquired their own dynamic and agenda cannot disguise the fact that they were established and armed by Serbia. These facts were obscured rather than highlighted in the articles.

The myth that recognition of Croatia and Bosnia destabilised former Yugoslavia was treated as fact by Mr Sheridan. This fiction is proven wrong by the chronology of the Croatian war.

Serbian forces attacked Croatia in August 1991; the EU recognised Croatian independence in January 1992. In fact, Western recognition helped end the Croatian war rather than start it. While the West was swifter to recognise Bosnia's vote for independence, it was the failure of the international community to defend the Bosnian people and let them defend themselves that prolonged and continues to prolong, their agony.

Yours faithfully,



2 May