People hold candles during a commemoration service for the victims of the Croatian "Storm" offensive at St. Marko church in downtown Belgrade on Aug. 5, 2016. / AFP / ALEXA STANKOVIC
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Croatia, which joined the European Union in 2013, and Serbia, which is negotiating accession to the bloc, both claim to be attached to European values, cooperation and good neighborly relations.While Slovenia faced only a 10-day battle for sovereignty, Croats fought Belgrade-backed Serbs for more than three years in a conflict that claimed 20,000 lives and left hundreds of thousands homeless.Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic even referred to a "criminal final solution" during a commemoration for Serb victims of the operation Thursday.He lamented to a crowd of tens of thousands that in the space of just 70 years, the number of Serbs in Croatia had shrunk dramatically in what he called "the greatest ethnic cleansing in the history of Europe". Before the war Serbs in Croatia accounted for about 12 percent of the population compared with four percent today of the country's 4.3 million people.In overwhelmingly Catholic Croatia, many see Stepinac as a hero, saying he saved thousands of lives – including many Serbs – as well as showing attachment to an independent Croatia and unwavering faith in the face of communist persecution.
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