Re: “Why do Serbs mourn while Croats celebrate?” (The Hill Times, Aug. 11, p. 8). In response to the letter of Serbian Ambassador Dejan Ralević, it is unsurprising that arguments used contain conspicuously little context with regard to the wars that broke up former Yugoslavia, or that this is done for one overriding reason—to whitewash Serb responsibility and complicity. Let’s go back a little. When Croatia (and Slovenia) overwhelmingly voted “yes” in referendums for independence, after calls for greater democratization for Yugoslavia’s constitutive republics were rejected, Serbia’s response was armed violence and insurrection in both republics. In Croatia, Serb paramilitaries aided by a Serb-led Yugoslav Army, under the justification of “all Serbs in one state,” attacked and later occupied a quarter of Croatia’s territory, and effectively ethnically cleansed or murdered most Croat and other non-Serbs in those areas. To say that the areas attacked or occupied were mainly Serb-populated areas in Croatia belies the fact that places like Zagreb, Croatia’s capital; Osijek; Vukovar, the town of martyrs; Vinkovci; Slavonski Brod; Sisak; Zadar; Šibenik; Split; and Dubrovnik, amongst others, were all without Serb majorities, but were ruthlessly bombarded for more than four years. It also overlooks the fact that the Serb war machine was responsible for more than 15,000 deaths in Croatia, with tens of thousands injured. Scores of Croat civilians who did not flee were murdered in the occupied areas, often near United Nations peacekeepers. Let me reiterate that the Serb community in Croatia, under international brokerage, was offered numerous proposals for the exercise of local self-government and autonomy. They rejected all these offers. The same justification used to spur insurrection and violence in Croatia was later used by Serbs to justify the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Hercegovina, and later in Kosovo. While we in Croatia mourn the loss of life during the homeland war of 1991-1995, the reason we celebrate Victory Day is because it brought an end to the occupation and suffering. Also, in the summer of 1995, the Bihać area of Bosnia was near collapse due to Serb attacks also directed from Croatia, prompting fears of another Srebrenica-like massacre. This, for us, was unacceptable and in itself enough to force our hand. Yes, war is not pleasant. And we in Croatia recognize that not everything in our Homeland War was done admirably. But I would like to remind our Serbian neighbours that it was not us who attacked Serbia, it was the other way around. Once there is a recognition of this fact reconciliation will proceed much more efficaciously. For their part, the Serb community in Croatia is once again finding its rightful place, and are fully protected under law. Tens of thousands who fled in the mid 1990s, at the urging of their own leadership, have returned to Croatia, positively contributing to our joint future as members of the EU. And not for the first time, the Independent Democratic Serbian Party of Croatia has joined the government, with DSP member Boris Milošević serving as Deputy Prime Minister, sharing the privileges and burdens of leadership. Vice Skračić Ambassador of Croatia to Canada Ottawa, Ont.