Bay Area's Reaction to Sanctions on Serbs
by Stephen Schwartz
Bay Area representatives of the ethnic groups that once made up Yugoslavia reacted with mixed feelings yesterday to the news that Yugoslav diplomatic facilities in the United States, including the consulate in San Francisco, would be closed by order of the Bush administration.
Comments broke down along the lines of the war that has sundered the state.
Croatian Americans and Slovenian Americans expressed a reserved enthusiasm at the latest blow to the prestige of the Belgrade regime.
Boris Petrovchich, chairman of the American Committee to Support Democracy in Croatia, called the action insufficient.
"The American reaction is a minimal response to the criminal aggression there and comes a year too late," he said. "Whole cities have been destroyed and thousands have been killed by the Belgrade army."
John Ravnik, a prominent Slovenian American advocate, noted that the action comes almost a full year after Slovenia declared its independence.
"We feel this is no more than a token act at this point," he said. "It's great, but it is much too late and much too little. Stronger reaction is needed, or the bloodshed will continue indefinitely."
Serbian American advocates condemned the closure.
"We are surprised," said the Rev. Rade Stokich of St. Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church in Campbell. "I feel this will hurt Serbian people here emotionally."