18:37 / 29.05.2022.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Galbraith: international community’s response to the break-up of Yugoslavia was wrong

Former US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith

Former US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith

Foto: Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Croatia will celebrate Statehood Day on Monday, a national holiday that occurs on May 30th every year to celebrate the constitution of the first modern multi-party Croatian Parliament in 1990.

In light of Statehood Day tomorrow and 30 years of Croatia's international recognition, a conference titled "The Heritage of Generations" was held in Zagreb on Sunday. Addressing the conference, then Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granić described the circumstances of Croatia's international recognition: “German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told me that in the night between the 16th and 17th of December 1991, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and he first broke through France's reservations, and then the United Kingdom's. He said that they received the most help in this from the Danish and Belgian foreign ministers. And on that night it was agreed that Croatian independence would be recognized. We didn't have many allies in the world at that time. We have excellent communication with the Vatican, Austrian Minister Mock was a great friend and ally, and obviously German led the way. The most important thing was to spread the truth about the Serbian aggression against Croatia.”

A diplomat active in the events of 1991, and then from 1993 to 1998 the US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, today feels that the west had taken the wrong approach in dealing with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia: “At the time, thirty years ago, the idea of countries breaking up was simply not accepted, and so when Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence there was a lot of opposition. I think the international community, including the United States at that time, really took the wrong approach. Because the problem was no the break-up of Yugoslavia or the independence of Croatia and Slovenia. My view is that if people want to have their own state, they should have it. The problem was the war. And so, instead of focusing on holding Yugoslavia together, the focus ought to have been on preventing the war. That was the great tragedy.”

In the end, however, Galbraith feels that from the horrors of war Croatia has succeeded in it goals of independence and democracy: “What I had always hoped was that from a diplomatic point of view, Croatia would become a very boring country. And I think that's a success, Croatia is diplomatically a kind of boring country, it's just a normal country, part of the European Union, part of NATO. It has its voice, not a big voice, but it's a peaceful, prosperous, democratic country. That's the success!”

Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, who began her career in politics in the Croatian Foreign Ministry, noted that at the height of the Serbian aggression, Croatia worked hard to establish diplomatic relations with countries around the world.

Source: HRT

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