Serb President to lay wreaths at Croat mass grave
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 04, 2010, 20:23
Vukovar (Croatia): Serbia's President on Thursday became his country's first leader to visit the site of a Serb bombardment that levelled the Croatian town of Vukovar, left hundreds dead and forced even more to flee their homes during the region's 1991 ethnic war.

Boris Tadic is also expected to lay a wreath at a mass grave at Ovcara, a pig farm where the bodies of more than 200 Croats were dumped after Serb soldiers dragged them out of a local hospital and executed them -- a massacre that remains a painful symbol for Croats of Serb wartime brutality.

Tadic and his Croatian counterpart, Ivo Josipovic, will also lay wreaths for 18 Serbs killed by Croats in a nearby village.

The visits are the strongest condemnation yet of wartime crimes, offering a symbolic step of reconciliation between the two nations after years of mutual accusations over atrocities.

Serbia backed Croatian Serbs when they rebelled against the country's independence from Yugoslavia, which triggered the war. The rebels seized a third of the country. More than 10,000 people were killed and entire communities expelled.

Four years later, Zagreb took back the territory in a blitz offensive, followed by a period of killings and purges of Serbs by Croatians.

The two Balkan neighbors have since largely patched up relations, but tensions persist and each nation still sees itself as the chief victim of the war. They have sued each other for genocide before The Hague-based World Court and nearly 2,400 people remain missing.

Josipovic and Tadic, who belong to a younger generation of politicians not involved in the war, have each made steps to reconciliation.


First Published: Thursday, November 04, 2010, 20:23

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