I found Martic scoffing beans in a down at heel restaurant in Knin, full of grand plans about how much territory he intended to take. The Croats dont deserve a town like Zadar or Sibenik, he announced, chomping his beans.
There was nothing nice, brave or noble about the statelet that these two proceeded to erect with the help of the Yugoslav army under Veljko Kadijevic, and Slobodan Milosevic.
Had they confined their designs to Serb-majority areas they might have emerged with something from the conflict, for in the early days the Croats were far from united in their reaction to the secession of remote towns like Knin.
But this duo was unable to resist their own greed. After Knin (almost 90 per cent Serb) came Benkovac (60 per cent), Petrinja (50 per cent) and then towns like Drnis and Slunj, which were overwhelmingly Croatian but which Babic and Martic wanted in order to link their territories in Dalmatia with those to the north and east in Banija and Slavonia.
A state containing so much potentially hostile territory could only be governed by terror, violence and mass expulsions, which was what happened as more than 200,000 Croats were forced from their homes.
The fate of Kijevo, a tiny Croatian village near Knin was emblematic of the way the RSK proceeded. They could have surrounded it and let it be, for it was too small to pose much of a threat to their plans. Instead, Martic had it mostly flattened.
The RSK was a pioneer in the field of what later came to be called ethnic cleansing and boasted of the fact, for RSK officials began floating the idea to foreign journalists that their ethnically pure state was a model that might be usefully applied to the still ethnically muddled Republic of Serbia.