The Serbs Have Taken Glina, But Bitterness and Hardship Remain With PM-Yugoslavia, Bjt
GLINA, Croatia (AP) _ The Serbs have won their war in this living ghost town near the Bosnia border, but peace is hell.
″Go away,″ ordered an old man in the only open cafe, his eyes red from plum brandy or too much crying, when approached by a visitor. ″I have nothing left, nothing to say. You won’t believe me, anyway.″
Yugoslavia’s nightmare began two years ago in places like this, among fertile farms and medieval mindsets where Serbs overlap into land claimed by a free Croatia. Today, Glina reflects the wider war.
At the Corzo cafe, three young Serbs on leave from the nearby front sat morosely in front of their orange sodas, each fiddling with car keys as though they were worry beads.
″They started this, and we are finishing it for them,″ declared Matija, a 23-year-old weekend warrior too nervous to give his full name, ″but it just goes on and on.″
Croats say the Serbs started it. But, in a blaze that has engulfed much of Croatia, most of Bosnia, and threatens to leap across new borders, the origins are all but lost in the ashes.
The visitor had stopped in Glina, 40 miles south of Zagreb, after the first skirmish two years ago. Then, the Corzo terrace was abuzz with Serbs exhilerated by a mixture of hope and dread.
″Here you see only one kind of people, angry people,″ said a bearded lawyer named Boris Martinovic. ″We will have complete ethnic civil war.″
Soon after, Serb irregulars seized control, backed by the Yugoslav army sent from Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Glina, though Croatian on world maps, joined the serpent-shaped, self-declared Serbian Republic of Krajina.
But the spoils are empty streets of broken windows and closed steel shutters, a town with no jobs and destitute refugees squatting in homes abandoned by many of the 7,000 pre-war inhabitants.
Now, where a Soviet-made tank stood guard at the lush town park, the visitor found a child’s tricycle, strangely abandoned in a place short on such luxuries.
The flowers were gone, left in dense undergrowth by people with more to do than cut the grass. Along streets, trees bear a macabre fungus, black-bordered cardboard with names of the newly dead.
One building emerged unmarked: a memorial on the spot where local Croatian fascists burned hundreds of Serbs in a church in 1941. This, Serb zealots maintain, is what would await them under Croats.
Matija said that Croats were not bothered in the fight for Glina, and some still lived here. ″The Catholic church was damaged a little by shells because Croat soldiers were hiding inside,″ he said.
Kata Gvozdic knows better. She was asleep next door with her two tiny daughters when the Croats’ church was dynamited, a gigantic blast throwing its red brick walls outward in an irreparable mess.
″I was terrified then, and I still am,″ she said, timid and gentle despite her Day-Glo T-shirt emblazoned, ″Punk Invasion.″
Gvozdic is a Croat, and her husband is a Serb, and they know all of the horrors such a mix could trigger in a Yugoslavia gone mad.
″Of course, we’ve thought of leaving,″ she said. ″A lot. But my husband is Serb. Where would we go?″ She is from a nearby village still settled by Croats but seldom leaves her dank apartment.
She said an old woman and her son were mysteriously put to death last week by Serbs. Such reports are hard to confirm, but, true or not, they circulate as gospel.
About 900 Nigerian U.N. peacekeepers are in Glina, but their mandate is limited, and their means are meager. Soldiers said they were near mutiny because allowances had not been paid in five months.
Lt. Col. Luke Apresi, the commander, said he was powerless to stop a Serb assault in April which seized Muslim land near Bihac, over the border in Bosnia.
Earlier this year, Serbs murdered two Nigerians at a guardpost near here, known as Checkpoint Cheerful, U.N. officials said.
U.N. civilian police help keep order, but theft is rampant.
Gas can be found at prices near $10 a gallon. A few shops offer pasta, pickles, soap powder and canned meat of dubious origin on empty shelves that once were full.
Things may not change for years, Matija said, and the bitterness may never subside.
″We must live as separated neighbors, because we have proven that we cannot live together,″ he insisted. ″We will fight as long as that takes. Clinton does not need another Vietnam, a worse Vietnam.″
But, he said, he did not feel much like a victor. His 20-month-old daughter was born in the midst of it all. He doesn’t know what awaits her. Drago, on his right, added, ″I’m only happy I’m not married.″
When asked whether he was really better off than before the war, Matija gazed off into the trees for an answer. He replied, ″Yes,″ then shook his head, ″No.″