Now it is perfect time to remember this summer tour of Croatian human rights activists around the U.S. as it was orchestrated by the USIA. Only, one of the five Croatian activists was actually a Serb judge from then Serbian held Krajina region in Croatia. Richard Holtzapple with USIA, who put that unlikely group together, wanted a minority (Serb) representative, and that was supposed to be Pero Ladjevic. Pero Ladjevic (member of Serbian Democratic Forum and based in Zagreb, Croatia) recommended Radovan Jovic. Radovan Jovic had no favorable opinion on Pero Ladjevic at that time, however.

Jovic traveled from Glina over Belgrade and Budapest to Frankfurt where he joined the rest of the crew. He had no association with any human rights group either in Croatia or in Serbia at that time. His presence made others in the group quite uneasy - particularly Vjeko Magas of HHO (Croatian Helsinki Committee) and Ivan Ozic of DA (Dalmatian Action), whose credibility was crippled by subsequent derogatory articles in Croatian regime dailies (Vecernji List and Nedjeljna Dalmacija). Magas and Ozic were asinine in their futile efforts to disassociate themselves from Jovic in their letters to Congressmen and to powerful Croatian emigree lobby CAA (who pestered them in Phoenix, AZ), creating just a worse situation for themselves (that must have pleased Croatian government).

Croatian human rights activists returned to Croatia. But Jovic, with his infamous notebook in which he openly fastidiously kept notes of each meeting that group had, never returned to Krajina. Anticipating the Croatian offensive, which followed in three weeks after their return, he remained in Belgrade, where he supposedly joined Belgrade's chapter of HCA (Helsinki Citizens Assembly, which was never established). His sister meanwhile remained living in Zagreb.

In October HCA organized an international meeting in Tuzla, probably to prove that Bosnia is safe now. However, while HCA dignitaries like Mary Caldor and Ian Mint Faber "choppered" to Tuzla by U.N. helicopters, other mere mortals took excruciating days-long bus rides. Belgrade delegation, for example, needed almost four days to reach Tuzla, although Tuzla is just a four hours bus ride away from Belgrade. Methodical HCA organization required what I would call a "centripetal travel": they created a large circle from Belgrade to Tuzla, and participants from other cities were supposed to join the convoy creating a pretty sight of a convoy of buses full of human rights activists traveling straight through Bosnia - again, proving that Bosnia is now safe for travel (damned be the bad backs of participants constrained to their bus seats for four days).

Radovan Jovic was in the Belgrade delegation. He traveled on invitation by Peter Galbraith, the American envoy in Croatia. Journey lead from Belgrade through Vojvodina to Hungary, then they were joined by buses coming from Prague in Mohacs, and crossed Croatian-Hungarian border at its northernmost part (they were held there for ten hours at their return). Bunch of Serbs then enjoyed a travel through freshly "liberated" Krajina. In the middle of the night. No leaving buses! I guess Jovic could hoped even to see the place where his house once stood. Around Split the big convoy was formed traveling to Metkovic and then turning towards Bosnia and Tuzla. Guards were curious and annoyed because one of participants had an American passport and a Serbian last name (and he spoke English better than Serbian), but no other problems were detected.

The actual session in Tuzla, I'd describe later. Because the return is what is so captivating: again, buses were allowed in Croatia. Radovan Jovic was at that time already having a severe back pain. However, in a motel in Tucepi (who said that Serbs would not see the Adriatic sea again?) he was taken away not by EMS but by POLICE. Police promised to take him to a hospital. He was in too much pain to have a choice not to believe them.

The next day Tudjman's TV announced that 15 spies had been arrested. One of the names on the list was - Radovan Jovic. His friends checked on Split hospitals - he was never checked in any of them. There is no further information available at this time (only that his sister was interrogated, too).


A Serb from occupied parts of Croatia was invited by a U.S. government official as a part of Croatian human rights activists delegation to visit the States, ruining reputation of other activists. The same Serb, now a Serbian human rights activists, is invited by yet another U.S. government official to attend a human rights meeting in Bosnia, only to be arrested by Croatian police as a spy on his return (that had to go through Croatia?!). Did he change sides untimely? Any other bright ideas?

Tuzla meeting - as it was reported to me by several participants - was indeed a breakthrough in the way how people feel about Bosnia. HCA managed to bring enough celebrities to prove that Bosnia is now safe and cool place to be: Peter Galbraith came, Suzanne Sontag came, Ian Miazoweczki came. Yet, the meeting then became overshadowed by HCA's leadership trying to please and accommodate those dignitaries, which alienated other activists and obstructed the actual work that had to be done. Consequently, the meeting had more symbolic meaning. However, it was poorly reported in the media (particularly American), which diminished its potential value as a symbolic event. The real success of this meeting would be if it opened the way for other, more actual-work oriented, meetings in Tuzla in the future. This is not to say that there was not a lot of useful work done in workshops where Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian activist met in person (they communicated for past several years only by e-mail and saw each other infrequently in western capitals), which they were eager to do.

Meanwhile their leaders confined to Wright-Patterson air base in Dayton, Ohio tried to minimize their contact as much as possible. Warren Christopher got Tudjman and Izetbegovic to basically resign the Washington agreement from the year and a half ago and then he presented it as a great breakthrough in the negotiations. The U.S. government also convinced Russians to serve under an American general. Not only that - they also train together in Kansas, fighting the imaginary Kanzans. I bet that makes local militia types happy. President Clinton seems to be ready to live up to his pledge and send American troops there regardless of Congressional approval - if there is a peace agreement. But, there is none so far. I mean, Serbs are still recalcitrant. Why would they agree upon peace if that means 20,000 American troops policing them? Back to the drawing table. Maybe some more bombing is due, huh? But then Russians may drop out of the deal (and send more arms to Serbs). Plus this is a bad time for Clinton to gamble, with the imminent government shut-down and all that.

That's probably why American independent, free press missed the opportunity to hear what Peter Galbraith had to say in Tuzla. In an impromptu session he said: "All Western democracies treat their citizens equally." That one got a ripple of laughter from the audience. Most of the time he just slipped around people's questions and evaded them, just like US foreign policy does: friendly and liberal on the surface, but underneath, evasive and arrogant and completely wrapped up in his own self-interest. Furthermore he claimed that the US played no role in helping the Croatians in Operation Storm (except, perhaps, lending to it its name). One woman from Danish Parliament asked him who in the Dayton meeting would be representing the perspective of a multi-ethnic Bosnia: Milosevic? Tudjman? Izetbegovic? His answer: "The Americans will. Because we are the most multi-ethnic country in the world and we understand the importance of this." I guess that means that Bosnia outperformed Puerto Rico in becoming the 51st state.