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LETTER : When partition may be the only solution

From Mrs S. E. Tomlinson

Sir: May I say a few words in support of Croatia? This maligned country needs a champion in England where the media seem determined to label Croatians as the "bad boys of the Balkans".

Can you really accuse the Croats of "cleansing" (8 August) where all through so-called "Krajina", the Serbs are being given the choice of staying or leaving? They may choose to leave but they are taking their cars, personal possessions - even their cattle. This luxury was not afforded the Croats four years ago when the Serbs swept through that part of Croatia and drove them out, burning their houses around them if they tried to stay.

When I left Zagreb in early June, having survived the Serb shelling of that city in May, Serb families were living peacefully with Croat; and Roman Catholic with Muslin and Greek Orthodox. I went out with "mixed" parties of friends and enjoyed the atmosphere of this brave city, swollen to twice its pre-war size by the influx of refugees from Bosnia, "Krajina" and Serbia but trying valiantly to cope.

Can you imagine this mixture being allowed in Belgrade? But then perhaps the Croats are not as vengeful and aggressive as their Serb counterparts in former Yugoslavia.

Can one blame the Croats for at last taking a hand in the shaping of their own destiny? After watching 25-30 per cent of their country being eaten up by the acquisitive Serbs, they have finally reclaimed some of their occupied territory without the catastrophic loss of life predicted by the pessimistic observers. Perhaps they have even brought closer a final settlement and saved the UN from an embarrassing withdrawal.

Shouldn't we offer a little encouragement instead of the usual barrage of criticism? In every battle, there are casualties. Why dwell on the very few when much wider-scale carnage has been avoided?

Yours faithfully,

S. E. Tomlinson

Hove, East Sussex

8 August