Tudjman's Bunker Appeal
BBC Radio News & The Evening Standard 07-11-1991
Filed to BBC Radio News and The London Evening Standard on the night of 07-11-1991.
The final item in this report, regarding the formation of a Serbian parliament in Bosnia-Hercegovina, was of immense significance, being the first formal indication that war might spread into Bosnia-Hercegovina. It appeared to be almost an irrelevance compared with so much else that was happening at the time and it has to be said that its implications were not immediately appreciated by the author when he reported it.
Nevertheless, this soon convinced him that a far worse conflict was on its way a view discounted by the BBC's Foreign News desk. Only ITN's Channel 4 News in London was prepared to take the author's prediction seriously, agreeing to devote a long item to this on 17-12-1991.
Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman appealed to Londoners for help from his bunker in Zagreb as the country was attacked by fighter jets.
He made his appeal in halting English, ignoring his interpreter, saying: "Dear English, dear London, force your government to recognise Croatia and to stop the war in Croatia".
The President, speaking last night from the 45ft deep atomic shelter beneath former President Tito's state residence, added: "Croatia is now in the same situation as London in 1940".
He said that Zagreb and the whole of Croatia was under attack by what was once the Yugoslav People's Army. "But it doesn't now belong to Yugoslavia or its people," he added. Outside, Zagreb's population was torn from its sleep by howling air-raid sirens, the pounding of anti-aircraft guns and explosions.
The Serbian-controlled Yugoslav air force launched air raids during the night on several Zagreb suburbs.
Sixteen people were reported killed and many injured in the raids on Zagreb, Karlovac, Osijek and other Croatian towns and villages.
Fighting today was reported to be the fiercest since the Yugoslav conflict erupted into violence in Croatia in August.
Croatian National Guard spokesman Davor Domazet said 100 federal jets flew missions against targets from Croatia's Adriatic coast to its eastern border with Serbia.
"This is the biggest single air attack on Croatia," he said.
EC observers reported that an Italian working as a driver for their mission was hurt in a raid on Bizovac during which their hotel was blasted.
The raids came as European Community foreign ministers met in Rome to decide whether to hit Serbia with sanctions.
For the past 24 hours Serbian politicians have been issuing statements saying that they will not capitulate to any pressure until "all those who want to remain in Yugoslavia have the right to do so".
During the night another large group of Serbians living outside Serbia, in Bosnia-Hercegovina, announced the formation of their own parliament.
© (1991) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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