Controversy over cooperation in search for people gone missing in war

The chairman of the Serbian government commission for missing persons, Veljko Odalovic, said on Tuesday that the fate of 4,086 Serbs gone missing during the wars in the former Yugoslavia still remains unknown and that regional cooperation in this regard is increasingly weak, including that with Croatia.

"We don't want the other sides' victims to be less important, however, we will not allow Serb victims to be considered the least important either. Communication and cooperation in joint activities with Croatia has been at a very low level recently, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has characteristics specific to that country while Kosovo is a separate issue because the international community there is not working as we expect it to," Odalovic said addressing a gathering on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, marked on August 30.

Serbia has faced the search for missing persons in a responsible manner, he said.

"There is no request for information Serbia did not respond to. There is no location of alleged mass graves that we did not check. We expect others in the region to have the same approach too," Odalovic said, adding that shedding light on the fate of the disappeared "is exceptionally important for the overall normalisation of the situation in the region."

The head of the Coordinating body of Serb associations of the families of persons gone missing or killed in the former Yugoslavia, Dragan Pjevac, recalled that according to data from the International Committee of the Red Cross, a total of 10,653 people from the former Yugoslavia were still unaccounted for, including more than 4,000 Serbs.

Earlier in the day, Croatian Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved said in Vukovar said that two decades after the war, Serbia was still not giving a sufficient contribution to the search for the missing persons' remains and that Croatia was still searching for 1,990 people.

After laying a wreath at the Homeland War memorial cemetery in Vukovar, Medved underscored that the search for the missing was one of the obligations Serbia had accepted in its pre-accession agreement with the EU.

"We ask Serbia to do its best particularly with regard to that issue," Medved told reporters, recalling that there was a number of ways for Croatia to set conditions to Serbia to make it meet its obligations from its pre-accession agreement.

Last update: Tue, 30/08/2016 - 21:24
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