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Croatia: War Veterans, Rightist Groups To Protest Balkans Summit

Zagreb, Croatia, 24 November 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of protesters are expected to march today to the hotel in Zagreb where leaders of the European Union and five Balkan countries will meet for a summit. The protesters include war veterans and members of right-wing groups. The protesters are demanding Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica apologize for atrocities committed by Croatian Serbs during Croatia's 1991 war for independence from Yugoslavia.

The Serbs were loyal to Kostunica's predecessor, ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Croatian authorities have said the veterans will be free to demonstrate as long as they stay outside a security zone around the meeting site. Some 6,500 police will be on duty.

Even though Kostunica was not in power during the war, Croatia's veterans and rightist groups want a public apology from him as well as war reparations.

Croatia's President Stipe Mesic has called the protesters "minority splinter groups," and "provocateurs." He accused the nationalist party of Croatia's late authoritarian president, Franjo Tudjman, of orchestrating the rallies.