Thursday, 5 August 2021

Prime Minister: We Will Not Allow Anyone to Question Legitimacy of Operation Storm

Zagreb, 5 Aug 2021 - Magnanimity in victory does not mean that Croatia will ever allow anyone to question the legitimacy of Operation Storm or the defensive nature of the Homeland War, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told a ceremony in Knin on Thursday marking the 26th anniversary of the operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in 1995.

"It is always a special feeling to come to Knin on this day because it is an opportunity for us to remember the days of pride and victory which are deeply impressed on the hearts of all Croats, but which are also an expression of lasting gratitude to all those who gave their lives so that Croatia could live and be free," Plenković said in his speech, extending his best wishes for Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day.

Today we pay tribute to the victorious Croatian army and police who, under the leadership of President Franjo Tuđman, defeated in battle the criminal policy of the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević, which secured Croatia's survival, ended the war, and established lasting peace.

"That victory and our legitimate right to live as free people in our own country were, unfortunately, paid in the lives of the bravest of Croatian sons to whom we are forever grateful, as we are to many members of the ethnic minorities who also defended Croatia," Plenković said. 

"Today we are in thoughts with the families of the defenders who were killed, Croatian disabled war veterans and many civilian casualties," he said, stressing that the Homeland War and the victories won in Operation Storm, as well as in Operation Flash and other military operations that preceded it, were the foundations of the present Croatian state.

"That's why shedding light on the truth about missing persons, the prosecution of war crimes, and the attainment of justice for everyone who was caused pain remains our lasting duty," the prime minister said, adding that "we will always celebrate Operation Storm indignity so that future generations would also foster the values of the Homeland War."

He said that after symbolic gestures made at last year's anniversary, his government would continue to pursue the policy of reconciliation, co-existence, and understanding, respecting the historical truth and paying respects to all innocent victims.

"But magnanimity in victory does not mean that we will ever allow anyone to question the legitimacy of Operation Storm and the defensive nature of the Homeland War. This is also a message to our neighbor, Serbia, which in my opinion should abandon the futile rhetoric of the past, face up to its own responsibility, pursue a policy of reconciliation and look to the future", Plenković said.

He said that the sacrifices made oblige us to strengthen the Croatian state in political, economic, defense and security aspects and to respond to the challenges facing us, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery after the economic crisis, the imperative of demographic survival, post-earthquake reconstruction, climate change, and natural disasters.

He said that Croatia would continue to act in its national interests by pursuing the policy of modern sovereignty based on its membership of NATO and the European Union. Here he cited the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, which will provide a direct road link between southern Croatia and the rest of the country, the completion of the motorway in Istria County, forthcoming membership of the Schengen Area and the euro area, and the purchase of fighter jets.

"We are doing all this while strengthening our international position and using the benefits of EU membership and at the same time taking care of Croatian war veterans and their families," the prime minister said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Croatia Celebrates Victory Day and Homeland Thanksgiving Day

ZAGREB, 5 Aug 2021 - Croatia marks Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Veterans Day on August 5 to remember Operation Storm, a joint military and police operation that ended a Serb armed rebellion in August 1995, and restored Croatian sovereignty over occupied central and southern parts of the country.

The central ceremony will be held on Thursday in Knin and the celebration program was drawn up in cooperation with the Croatian Public Health Institute, given the specific circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with no more than 1,000 people attending.

The entire state leadership is expected to attend the ceremony in Knin, without representatives of the Serb minority who announced earlier they would not attend the event. 

Operation Storm was a combined military and police operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in August 1995 and restored Croatian sovereignty over occupied central and southern parts of the country, paving the way for the peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia in January 1998.

The offensive was launched at 5 am on August 4 along the line running from Bosansko Grahovo to the south to Jasenovac to the east, the front line being more than 630 kilometers long. Within the next 84 hours slightly less than 10,500 square kilometers of territory, almost a fifth of the country was liberated.

The operation culminated on August 5, when the Croatian Army's 4th and 7th Guard Brigades liberated Knin, the heart of the Serb rebellion, displaying a 20-meter-long Croatian flag on the town's fortress at noon.

About 200,000 Croatian soldiers and police took part in the biggest operation of the Homeland War. According to the Homeland War Memorial and Documentation Centre, 196 Croatian personnel were killed, at least 1,100 were wounded and 15 went missing, while losses among Serb forces were several times higher.

Operation Storm marked the end of the war in Croatia, created conditions for the peaceful reintegration of the eastern Danube River region, helped break the siege of the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihać, and enabled the return of refugees and displaced persons.

The legitimacy of Operation Storm has been proved before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. On November 16, 2012, the Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber's convictions of General Ante Gotovina, commander of the Split Military District, and General Mladen Markac, special police commander, and ordered their immediate release. The generals were in the ICTY's custody on charges of involvement in a joint criminal enterprise and excessive shelling of Knin, Gracac, Obrovac, and Benkovac.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Croatia Remembers 1991 Referendum When Overwhelming Majority Voted for Independence

ZAGREB, May 19, 2020 - On this day 29 years ago, Croatia, which was at the time one of federal republics in the Socialist Yugoslav Federation, held a referendum on its independence in which the lion's share of voters supported plans for the country's independence and sovereignty.

The outcome of the 19 May 1991 referendum paved the way for the parliamentary decisions on severing ties with the communist Yugoslav Federation and on gaining the country's independence and sovereignty.

Several weeks after the referendum, that is, on 25 June 1991, the Sabor adopted the constitutional decision on the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Croatia.

A decision to hold the referendum had been made by President Franjo Tudjman during negotiations on solving the crisis in relations between the republics that made up the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

The referendum offered two options. The first asked voters if they were in favour of Croatia becoming a sovereign and independent state, guaranteeing cultural autonomy and civil rights to Serbs and other minorities in Croatia, free to form an association of sovereign states with other former Yugoslav republics. The second option asked voters whether they would prefer for Croatia to remain in Yugoslavia.

The electoral roll included 3,652,225 eligible voters who could go to the polls in 7,691 polling stations.

The question for the independence was answered in the affirmative by 2,845,521 voters, that is 93.24% of the 3,051,881 voters who went to the polls. There were 126,630 people who voted against independence (4.15%). And, there were 1.18% invalid ballots.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Museum of Croatian Independence

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