serbia, operation storm.jpg
The bells of all Serb Orthodox churches in Belgrade tolled at noon and sirens sounded for one minute in memory of Serbs killed during Operation Storm.
Photograph: HINA/ TANJUG/ RADE PRELIC/ ua

ZAGREB, Aug 5 (Hina) - About 650,000 people from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia came to Serbia during the 1990s wars and many, mainly displaced from Croatia, still cannot exercise their acquired rights, Serbian Refugees Commissioner Vladimir Cucic said in Belgrade on Friday.

The refugees and the displaced were accommodated in over 700 collection centres and 112 still remain there, until they are provided with flats, he told Serbian Radio-Television.

"Croatia is the biggest loser in the war" because many of its regions remained deserted after the persecution and exodus of Serbs in 1995, Cucic said on the occasion of Remembrance Day for Serbs persecuted during the Croatian military and police operation Storm in 1995.

"Someone who squares accounts with their citizens like that is left with deserted regions. Lika, Dalmatia, Banija and Kordun are empty. Such a result will be fatal in the distant future for those who organised that cleansing," Cucic said.

He said that the 650,000 people who came to Serbia in the 1990s had no citizenship. As for those who came from Croatia, he said "they lack their rights. They are smart, they would know what to do if they were given back their tenancy rights in Croatia, if they were paid the overdue pensions, if they were given back the usurped farmland and if they received any compensation for the past 20 years."

Commenting on current events in Croatia and Serbian-Croatian disputes over Ustashism, the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia, fascism and the rehabilitation of those convicted of war crimes, Cucic said "the messages coming from Zagreb are horrible."

"Rehabilitating (Branimir) Glavas, for procedural reasons, is something normal people can't understand. A criminal is a criminal, neither a Serb nor a Croat, but a criminal," he said, adding that those responsible for war crimes "can't be national heroes and models."

The bells of all Serb Orthodox churches in Belgrade tolled at noon and sirens sounded for one minute in memory of Serbs killed during Operation Storm. Before that, mass was said in St. Mark's Church for Serbs killed in Croatia and Bosnia. It was attended by Serbian Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin.

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