Monday, 5 November 2018

Veterans Outraged by Zagreb Mayor's Meeting with Serbian Politician

ZAGREB, November 5, 2018 - The Association of Zagreb war veterans who defended Vukovar sent an open letter on Monday to Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić expressing outrage and disappointment at Bandić's reception for the head of the town council of the Serbian town of Jagodina, Dragan Marković Palma, who together with Serbian paramilitary leader and war crimes indictee Željko Raznatović a.k.a. Arkan established the Party of Serb Unity in 1993.

The war veterans association criticised Bandić for receiving the Serbian politician whom they described as "a proven Chetnik" and "Arkan's errand boy". They also pointed out the fact that the reception in Zagreb on 2 November coincided with the observation of the 27th anniversary of the fall of the village of Lužac near Vukovar into the hands of Serb paramilitary forces led by Arkan in 1991.

On Sunday, the Split-Dalmatia County association of war veterans who were detained in Serb-run concentration camps described Bandić's decision to receive the Serb politician as abominable. That association said that the reception in Zagreb was an act of rubbing salt into the wounds of war victims.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Meved said on Monday that officials have to take account with whom they meet. “If indeed this is the same person, from what we can see on social media, that is absolutely unacceptable and I am personally very critical toward relations of that kind. We are aware that we have to normalise relations with Serbia. I am an advocate of cooperation, particularly in finding missing persons. We, however, have to take account with whom we meet and who those people are. If they participated in the armed aggression against Croatia, then it should be dealt with by some other authorities," Medved said.

Asked what message that meeting was sending, Medved said that he couldn't say as he wasn't familiar with the circumstances that led to the meeting or with the contents of the talks. "I was in Vukovar that day and I don't know the circumstances that led to the visit. I don't know the contents of the talks. I truly cannot comment in any greater detail. I am in contact with veterans' associations. In fact, those who have some knowledge of this event are reacting in an appropriate manner," he said.

The HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans on Monday criticised Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić for receiving Palma, whom they described as "a self-confessed Chetnik", saying that this was an affront to all veterans and victims of the Homeland War.

It is particularly incomprehensible that he came to Zagreb at the invitation of Mayor Bandić himself. "In doing so, Mayor Bandić humiliated the Croatian defenders and their families, Croatian institutions and our country, at a time of preparations to commemorate the sacrifices of Vukovar and Škabrnja," HVIDR said, calling on Bandić to apologise "to all those who sacrificed for the freedom of our country."

For more on Croatia-Serbia relations, click here.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Vukovar Remembrance Day Programme Presented

ZAGREB, November 4, 2018 - The central commemorative event marking the 27th anniversary of the fall of the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar into the hands of Serb rebels supported by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) will be held on 18 November, mayor Ivan Penava has said.

The main commemoration will start outside the city hospital where 3,500 wounded people had been treated during a siege by the JNA and Serb paramilitary troops in 1991. Participants in the commemoration, including war veterans and families of the war victims, will march through the town and stop at the Memorial Cemetery where wreath-laying ceremonies will be held by top state officials.

On 19 November, the town will remember the victims killed in Vukovar's suburb of Borovo Naselje and on 20 November commemorations will be held in tribute to the victims tortured and killed in the Velepromet prisoner-of-war camp and at Ovčara.

The Velepromet camp was set up by the JNA and paramilitaries in the Velepromet company's compound in Vukovar's Sajmište district in mid-September 1991. About 10,000 prisoners passed through it and over 700 were killed, according Danijel Rehak, head of the association of former inmates of Serb-run concentration camps.

Ovčara was another site of atrocities committed by the occupying forces on 20 and 21 November 1991. The exact number of the people killed at Ovčara is unknown, but 194 cases have been documented before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The youngest victim was 16 years old and the oldest 77. The majority of victims were patients transported from the Vukovar general hospital to that farm, several kilometres away from the town.

Croatia's parliament decided in 1999 that Vukovar Remembrance Day would be observed on November 18, the day of the town's fall. Vukovar Remembrance Day is observed in memory of 18 November 1991 when the city's defence lines were broken after a three-month siege. The besieged town was defended by around 1,800 members of the National Guard Corps, police and volunteers of the self-organised Croatian Defence Force (HOS), organised into the 204th Croatian Army Brigade.

After the ravaged city fell into the hands of the JNA and Serb paramilitaries, around 22,000 local Croats and members of other ethnic groups were expelled and several thousand Croatian soldiers and civilians were taken to Serb-run prison camps. Numerous crimes were committed against the defence forces and civilians. According to data from the Vukovar Hospital, 1,624 Croatian soldiers and civilians were killed and 1,219 were wounded during the siege of the city. Around 3,600 Croatian soldiers and civilians were killed in the aggression on and subsequent occupation of the city.

Vukovar was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia in January 1998. The peaceful reintegration began in January 1996 with the assistance of the UNTAES (UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium).

To read more about the Homeland War, click here.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

HDZ War Veterans Meet, Comment on Incidents and Scandals

ZAGREB, September 30, 2018 - War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved condemned on Saturday an attack on MPs Milorad Pupovac and Boris Milošević of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), saying veterans knew best what suffering was.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Pupovac Calls for War Crimes Prosecution

ZAGREB, September 29, 2018 - Speaking at a commemoration for Serb civilians killed during and in the aftermath of the military Operation Storm in the Knin area in 1995, Serb National Council (SNV) president and Serb minority MP Milorad Pupovac said that all criminals have to be punished and denied accusations that he or his Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) were working so that war crimes committed against Croat civilians in Vukovar aren't prosecuted.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Serb Leader in Croatia Defends His Actions

ZAGREB, September 24, 2018 - In response to the question of a Croatian Television talk show host why he has not clearly and unequivocally expressed his position on Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's claim that the present-day Croatia is like Nazi Germany, Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac has countered with the statement that nobody has ever heard him (Pupovac) saying that Croatia is an Ustasha state or likening the modern Croatia to any Nazi or Fascist structure.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Battle for Šibenik Began 27 Years Ago Today

Commemorations and pride as the 27th anniversary of the battle for Šibenik is marked.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

War Criminal Serving Prison Term in Spa

ZAGREB, September 12, 2018 - Minister for Veterans' Affairs Tomo Medved said on Wednesday that convicted war criminal Tomislav Merčep was serving his prison sentence in the Krapinske Toplice spa on doctor's recommendation.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

“Medak Pocket” Operation Anniversary Marked with Convicted War Criminal in Attendance

ZAGREB, September 9, 2018 - A ceremony was held in the central town of Gospić on Sunday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Croatian military and police operation in the Medak area.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Ministers Respond to Vukovar Mayor's Criticism

ZAGREB, September 9, 2018 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković on Saturday responded to criticism from Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava over unsolved war crimes and the war missing, saying his ministry neither prosecuted nor made decisions but created conditions so the justice system could do a better job.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Vukovar Mayor to Organise Protest against Lack of War Crimes Prosecution

ZAGREB, September 8, 2018 - Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava called on Saturday on all the residents of the easternmost town and the whole Croatian public to take part in a peaceful protest in Vukovar on October 13, against what he called the shameful silence of Croatian institutions. "I want the protest to be peaceful, apolitical, without party insignia, for the affirmation of fundamental human rights," he told reporters.

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