The families of Croatian soldiers gone missing in the 1991-95 Homeland War on Saturday gathered at the Vukovar Memorial Cemetery to lay flowers and light candles, ahead of the 27th anniversary of the fall of that eastern Croatian town into the hands of Serb paramilitaries and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and its subsequent occupation.
“I am very sad because we came to light candles and lay flowers at the graves of those killed while defending Vukovar and because we still cannot do so for the numerous missing whose fate is still not known, including my husband,” said the president of the Mothers of Vukovar association, Manda Patko.
She said that for years there had been no new burials at the Memorial Cemetery, that that did not mean that the missing were not being looked for, but that there were no results.
“We are aware that a lot is being done. Every report is checked and investigated, but unfortunately, there are still no results. The question of why that is so should be put to Serbia,” Patko said.
Asked to comment on Serb National Council (SNV) president Milorad Pupovac’s visit to Vukovar, scheduled for today, she said that Pupovac had visited Vukovar in the past as well and that his visit did not mean anything to her.
“Milorad Pupovac visited Vukovar, he participated in the previous memorial processions and this is not the first time he is here,” she added.
Serbia has information on the missing
Assistant War Veterans Minister Stjepan Sucic said that of the 1,770 Croatian soldiers and civilians killed in the defence of Vukovar, 386 were still unaccounted for.
“We have done a lot during the term of this government. We have changed the work methodology, we have sent a proposal to Serbia to have the existing agreement that dates back to 1995 revised, and we have been working on the first law on missing persons,” said Sucic.
He confirmed that there was some progress in the search for the missing.
“But the biggest obstacle to the process is the lack of information, which is in Serbia’s possession. Earlier this month we signed a framework plan in The Hague that should result in progress in the cooperation between Croatia and Serbia and in multilateral cooperation in the area of the former Yugoslavia.”