Still No Equality for Croats in Balkans, Says Cardinal

Requests International Support

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ROME, JUNE 7, 2005 ( Nearly 10 years since the Dayton agreement ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, «still, no justice has been achieved,» says the archbishop of Sarajevo.

Cardinal Vinko Puljic spoke last week to Aid to the Church in Need about the situation of Croatian refugees following the war that devastated the region from 1992-1995.

«The international community has not set up any programs to facilitate the return of Croatian refugees to their regions of origin,» and «there is no equality among the ethnic groups of Serbs, Muslims and Croats.»

The cardinal explained that Serbs and Muslims have been supported from the international community, while Catholic Croats have been discriminated against. «There cannot be a solution of a conflict between two ethnic groups at the expense of a third one,» he said.

Cardinal Puljic stressed the need for justice and non-discrimination for the many Catholics that once resided in the region.

Of the more than 220,000 Catholics who once resided in what is now the Serb Republic, only 10,000 have returned. Also, before the war, more than 528,000 Catholics resided in the Sarajevo Archdiocese, now the number has shrunk to less than half — 215,000.

«It is impossible to establish a democracy based on non-democratic principles. And there is no other way than dialogue, because the alternative would be war,» said the cardinal.

«What Catholics in my country need, is political support in order to create equality for all citizens,» he said. «The Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina cannot survive without help from abroad.»

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