Yugoslav Army’s Role in 1990s War in Croatia in Focus

By 16 June 2018

ZAGREB, June 16, 2018 - The Serbian Humanitarian Law Centre (FHP) nongovernmental organisation on Friday launched a publication in Belgrade entitled "JNA in the Wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina", which accuses the then Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) of crimes or complicity in their commission, mostly on the basis of documents collected by the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The idea behind the publication, which has about 100 pages, is "to save the responsibility from oblivion of the perpetrators and the names of the victims of the crimes" and "to show how the JNA turned into a Serb army and sided with one side in the conflict," FHP representative Nemanja Stjepanović said.

He went on to say that, "in the alleged defence of the Serb people, numerous crimes were committed", some of which "were committed by the JNA and some with its aid."

Stjepanović also said that the JNA handed over "the other side's" prisoners of war and civilians to members of Serb military units without caring about what would happen to them.

Speaking at the launch of the book, Dejan Jović, a professor at the Zagreb and Belgrade faculties of political science, said that in all former Yugoslav countries there were "very selective interpretations" of the 1990s events.

The introductory part of the publication presents facts about the development of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia and steps taken by Serbia's then leadership, with Slobodan Milošević at its helm, to assume control of the JNA.

The first part of the book is dedicated to the JNA's role in the war in Croatia, and it presents evidence of two phases of its operation – the first, in which the common Yugoslav army separated the conflicting sides and acted as a buffer between them, and the second, in which the JNA openly sided with the Serb side, shelling Croatian towns and taking part, together with rebel Serb police forces and paramilitaries, in battles against the Croatian army and in attacks on poorly defended or undefended villages.

After its withdrawal from Croatia in the first months of 1992, the JNA shifted the focus of its military activity to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The second part of the book describes how at the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the JNA took part in the seizure of Bosnia and Herzegovina municipalities, again on the side of local Serbs and in cooperation with the local Serb Democratic Party.

The publication "JNA in the Wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina" also brings data on the transformation of JNA units into the Army of Republika Srpska and the JNA's ceding arms, equipment and personnel to the Bosnian Serb army in the spring of 1992.