War Veterans in Croatia
War veterans (branitelji) and their associations continue to be the most influential part of Croatian civil society. This chapter looks at their position in society: how they are viewed by others and how they view themselves. The narrative surrounding war veterans, their sacrifice and the problems they face is unifying. They embody the spirit of the war narrative. War veterans themselves remain preoccupied with the war and see a need to defend Croatia, the values of the Homeland War and their own rights in society. This makes it easy for political actors to manipulate them. While war veterans remain respected by the Croatian public, their associations are distrusted. This paradoxical position highlights the need for transitional justice institutions to take into account social justice and structural inequalities that are the result of different war narratives and memories. If neglected, they risk causing social division.
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