Amid Summer Scents, Talk Is Of Bloodshed
GLINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ The lazy summer air was heavy with flower scents Friday in this Serb- populated town in Croatia, but under the gaily colored cafe umbrellas, talk was of bloodshed.
″Here you see only one kind of people, angry people,″ said Boris Martinovic, a balding and bearded Serbian lawyer. ″We will have complete ethnic civil war.″
Glina, 40 miles south of the Croatian capital of Zagreb, typifies the conflict facing Yugoslavia. Beneath a calm surface, people await flames from smoldering fires set before they were born.
In a lazy park, Yugoslav army soldiers lounge on Soviet-made T-72 tanks, nestled among statues of old heroes, incongruous among the heavy aroma of roses and clover. Some joke with passers-by.
But a ranking officer, who identified himself only by saying, ″My name is my name,″ double-checked to see that an ambulance was full of gas.
″We are afraid,″ he said, nodding toward the bullet-pocked remains of a police station stormed by Serbs on June 26, after Croatia proclaimed independence. Two Croatian policemen were killed.
In the aftermath, three Serbian townsfolk were shot dead near a monument to 1,564 Serbs killed 50 years ago in the Orthodox church by Croatians under a government sympathetic to the Nazis.
The federal army moved in afterward, part of a discrete deployment across regions of Croatia inhabited largely by Serbs. Most of Glina’s 7,000 inhabitants fled last week and only 1,000 have returned.
Although much attention is focused on Slovenia, to the north, many Yugoslavs worry that the greatest potential for violence is in the heartland between Belgrade and Zagreb, where Serbs meet Croats.
On the surface, life is normal among rich meadows and forested hills. A farmer riding an antique tractor is a relic from the past, except for his Batman cap. Widows in black drive fat cows to market.
At a bridge north of Glina, a Croatian guard was less menacing than comical, with handcuffs dangling from an outsize flak vest and the banana- shaped clip of his AK-47 held together with electric blue tape.
But, deep in the trees, motorists catch glimpses of near war: tanks and ambulances, aging militiamen with rifles only slightly younger than they are.
The war so far has been fought with symbols, while the guns are silent. In Glina, someone blotted out the name of Zagreb on a road sign. Near Zagreb, tape covers a sign for Sisak, a Serb-populated town near here.
Flags are the main symbols. Huge Croatian banners - red, blue and white, with a chessboard at the center - fly from roadside stores in the breakaway republic.
In Glina, hastily painted Serbian standards - 4 Cs on a grid - have appeared on walls.
In a confrontation where no side is right or wrong, Martinovic, the Serbian lawyer, gave the Serbian point of view, insisting that the present was only the logical consequence of the past.
″The (Glina) attack was a spontaneous action by Serbs. The Croatian flag looks very much like the flag from the Nazi time, and they didn’t like it. Glina is a colony of Croatia, and we have to free ourselves,″ he said.
Gojko Loncar, a schoolteacher, and Carlo Ivancevic, a computer programmer, nodded assent. They recited the names of Jewish and gypsy families they said were killed by Croatian fascists in World War II.
Croatians argue that Serbian rights are protected today, whatever happened in the past. They point to more recent events in their republic to show their aversion to a Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia.
Two months ago, Serbian villagers massacred 12 Croatian guardsmen when they showed up at night to investigate a disturbance. Other such incidents followed.
″How can they do this?″ one Croatian officer asked two reporters on Thursday at a roadblock near Zagreb after he confirmed a fresh attack farther east, where Serbian villagers killed two guardsmen on patrol.
Across Yugoslavia, other conflicts have different origins and singularities. In Bosnia-Hercegovina, with Muslims as well as Serbs, the issue touches on religion. In Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians have settled on land the Serbs regard as sacred, it is turf.
Few analysts risk a guess about what might happen in most of the troubled nation, but many believe that if there is a flashpoint which might light the powder keg, it is along the Serbia-Croatia border.
In Glina, Martinovic and his friends agreed that the hatreds were too old, too deep to be resolved by negotiation.
″Yugoslavia as it is, is finished,″ he said. Repeating his earlier judgment, he added: ″We will have complete ethnic civil war. I am sorry, but that is our destiny.″