As the Milan Martic trial continues, the current information minister in the RSK cabinet in exile sums up in two words the defense argument about the threat to the Serb people before the war in Croatia. For the umpteenth time at the trial, the defense reminded the court about Franjo Tudjman describing the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) as “the historical aspiration of the Croatian people”

Although Martic’s defense lawyers had indicated before the summer recess that the first witness it would call would be the former Montenegrin president Momir Bulatovic, today they called Ratko Licina, without any explanation. In his rich political career, since 1990, Ratko Licina has been a member of the Croatian Parliament and of the RSK Assembly, a member of the Main Board and the Executive Board of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). Today he said he was the current “information minister in the RSK Government in exile”. As Slobodan Jarcevic said in his testimony as the last defense witness before the summer recess, the accused Milan Martic has been the head of the Krajina government in exile since last February, from the UN Detention Unit in Scheveningen. Jarcevic is a former Krajina foreign minister.

In his testimony today, Licina summed up in two words the defense argument about the threat to the Serb people in Croatia in the early nineties in Croatia. As he said. “Croatocentrism and Serbophobia” reigned in Croatia at that time. He claims that in their election campaign speeches in the spring of 1990, Franjo Tudjman, who headed the HDZ, and Stipe Mesic , a high-ranking official in the party, upset the Serbs, bringing back the memories of their suffering in the 2nd World War, when they said that “the Independent State of Croatia was the expression of the age-old historical aspirations of the Croatian people” and that all the Serbs in Croatia “will fit under a single umbrella”.

Talking about the developments in Croatia in the early nineties, Licina shifted all the blame for the outbreak of the hostilities on the Croatian authorities and their “Croatocentrism and Serbophobia”. The Krajina Serbs, Licina claims, advocated only their autonomy within Croatia: “cultural” if the SFRY continued to exist or “territorial”, if Croatia seceded from the federal state.

On the first day of his testimony, Licina described events up until December 1990. Two important events happened in that time, he said: Croatia passed its new Constitution, from which “Serbs were deleted”, and the Serb people in Krajina responded by declaring its Serbian Autonomous Region (SAO) in Krajina. SAO Krajina was, truth to be told, declared a week before the adoption of the new Croatian Constitution; Licina’s explanation was that the Krajina Serbs had wanted to “preempt” the constitutional coup underway in Zagreb.

Ratko Licina’s testimony will continue tomorrow.