Thursday, 18 November 2021

I Would Like Us to Think Only About Vukovar These Days, Mayor Says

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - The Mayor of Vukovar, Ivan Penava, said on Thursday that Vukovar and the sacrifice of its defenders in the Homeland War 30 years ago should dominate media reports in Croatia today.

"I would like us to think only about Vukovar these days, for our thoughts to be with those who are no longer with us, and to pay respects to everyone who helped in the defense of Vukovar and Croatia," Penava told reporters before a commemorative gathering outside the Vukovar hospital.

"We should also recall that the city was razed to the ground, that thousands of its residents were killed, that the JNA General Staff were never brought to justice as those who issued orders. This is a huge shame, which only shows what kind of people we are and how we respect the people who were killed in this city. This sends an ugly message about us because we are all responsible for this situation," he added.

"I hope that those who were killed still have their families to remember them, and if not, we are here for them," the mayor said in an emotional statement.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

30th Anniversary Commemoration of Škabrnja Massacre Begins

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - The 30th anniversary of the massacre committed in Škabrnja by the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary forces on 18 November 1991 began at 10 am on Thursday morning with a memorial procession.

The procession headed towards the monument built on the site of a mass grave where the victims of the massacre were buried.

Ministers Oleg Butković, Ivan Malenica, Marija Vučković, Vili Beroš, and Nina Obuljen Koržinek are attending this year's commemoration on behalf of the government. Also present are Deputy Parliament Speaker Ante Sanader, representing the Sabor, and the president's special envoy Dragan Lozančić.

Škabrnja fell into the hands of occupying Serb forces on 18 November 1991 following air and artillery bombardments by the Yugoslav People's Army under the command of Ratko Mladić. The village, located 25 kilometers east of the coastal city of Zadar, was completely destroyed in the attack, and 48 Croatian civilians and 15 soldiers were killed on that day.

During its subsequent occupation and until its liberation in the August 1995 Operation Storm, the number of Skabrnja victims rose to 86. Another six villagers were killed by leftover mines after the war. Two thousand people were forced to leave their homes during the occupation.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Remembrance Day Being Commemorated on 30th Anniversary of Fall of Vukovar

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - On Remembrance Day, Vukovar commemorates the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the city's heroic defense and the aggression by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary groups, in which 2,717 Croatian defenders and civilians were killed or went missing, while the city was nearly razed to the ground.

The city on the River Danube was under siege for 87 days, and the battle for Vukovar ended on 18 November 1991 with its occupation, which lasted until 15 January 1998, and the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region, after which the people of Vukovar finally returned to their homes.

Although the fighting in Vukovar and its environs had started even before that, the date usually cited as the day when the battle began is 25 August 1991, when the JNA and Serb paramilitary groups launched an all-out artillery and infantry attack with the intention of overrunning the city in a week at most.

However, the city's defenders, although ten times weaker in terms of numbers and weaponry, managed to resist the attack for nearly three months. Residents were without electricity and regular water and food supply while hundreds of shells fell on the city every day, in addition to tank and air attacks.

The Vukovar hospital sustained severe damage, although it had the symbol of the International Red Cross on its roof, and the wounded were provided with aid in the basement, where surgeries and other complex medical procedures were performed in dire conditions. On 19 October 1991 a humanitarian aid convoy of Doctors Without Borders managed to enter the besieged city and evacuate about a hundred of the wounded defenders.

Vukovar was defended by about 1,800 Croatian soldiers, including many volunteers from all over Croatia, while on the opposite side there were about 30,000 enemy soldiers, supported by more than 600 tanks, hundreds of mortars, and cannons, as well as the air force.

The heroic resistance was broken on 18 November 1991. Some of the defenders tried to get out of the city, those who remained were taken to Serb concentration camps, and many were killed.

On 19 November 1991, the wounded, both defenders and civilians, were taken from the Vukovar hospital by the JNA and killed at the Ovčara farm outside the city in the night between 20 and 21 November. Two hundred bodies were exhumed from a mass grave at Ovčara, with the youngest victim aged 16 and the oldest 84.

About 22,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were expelled from the city, and the search for 386 persons who disappeared without a trace in Vukovar in 1991 is still ongoing.

On 29 October 1999, the Croatian parliament passed a resolution declaring Vukovar Remembrance Day in tribute to the people who had participated in the defense of the city -- the symbol of Croatian freedom. A government decision of 2019 declared 18 November a public holiday and a non-working day, which is marked as Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Homeland War and Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja.

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Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Model of the Vukovar Water Tower Placed in Vukovarska Avenue, Split

November 17, 2021 - These days, numerous tributes have been carried out throughout the country to remember the victims in Vukovar and Škabrnja in 1991 during the Homeland War. In Split, school students have built an impressive model of the Vukovar water tower, which has been placed on the city's Vukovar avenue.

In memory of all the victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja, students and professors of the Craft and Technical School Split made a model of the Vukovar water tower, a symbol of suffering and resistance of the city during the Homeland War, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

On the occasion of tomorrow's anniversary of the fall of Vukovar, a model of the Vukovar water tower was placed today at the beginning of the street named after that city. The Split-Dalmatia County also helped make this model.

''This is an example of how students who do practical things can be involved in this initiative, which marks one of the most significant events in our history, and that is the sacrifice and suffering of Vukovar. We strive for all schools to be involved in such activities, in order to pay tribute to all victims of the Homeland War, and especially the victims of Vukovar who are most responsible for the establishment of our independent and sovereign Croatia'', said the head of the Administrative Department for Education, Culture, Technical Culture Tomislav Đonlić.

Students of carpentry and electrical engineering participated in the creation of this model, while a group of designers conceived and designed the model. This school has been similarly participating in the celebration of this important date for several years. This year they decided to build a water tower and light it up.

''Fifteen students participated, and we made an electrical and wooden installation. It seems good to us and the idea is to do something every year to combine work and what should be celebrated in our country'', said the director of the Craft Technical School from Split Milivoj Kalebić.

The idea is a month old, and it took them two weeks to implement the draft. Students in the field of carpentry technicians and designers conceived a model, carpenters made a tower out of waterproof plywood, while electricians designed and made lighting. The water tower will take on its full splendor as soon as night falls.

This work of Split high school students is another reason to visit Vukovarska Street and light a candle on the eve of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja. The Split School of Crafts and Technology has been participating in a similar way in the celebration of this important date for several years. This year, they decided to build the Vukovar water tower, and one of the works that they did not do in previous years in memory of tomorrow is the bench in the school building.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


Saturday, 6 November 2021

HND: Journalist Subjected to Institutional Lynching Over Article on Vukovar

ZAGREB, 6 Nov 2021 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Saturday strongly condemned "the public and institutional lynching" of journalist Boris Dežulović over his article published on the website of N1 television in which he criticized the abuse of the plight of Vukovar in the 1991-1995 Homeland War for political purposes.

The HND said in a statement it was particularly worrying that public condemnations of the journalist were made by the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs, thus "institutionalizing the lynching of a journalist and eradication of freedom of speech."

"Our colleague Dežulović has received over a hundred serious threats and death threats over the last few days, some of which he has reported to the police," the HND said, calling on the state institutions to protect Dežulović from any form of intimidation, threat or persecution like any other journalist who encourages important public discussions such as this one.

"Dežulović's persecutors persistently and deliberately insinuate that his article was a gross insult to the sacrifice of Vukovar and its citizens. It is clear to anyone who read the article from beginning to end that the author's intention was only to criticize how state and local authorities treat Vukovar and how various political groups have been carefully mummifying it for decades to keep it in a state that suits their political interest, how its existence has been reduced to a site of special respect, rather than a city fit for living," the HND said.

Dežulović rightfully drew attention to the ongoing exodus of its residents because of neglect for the city and the absence of any political strategy other than a commemorative one, and he did so in the public interest, notably in the interest of its residents, the statement said.

The HND noted that Dežulović has been writing about this matter continually, recalling that he had received the prestigious European Press Prize for an article published on 19 November 2013 under the title "Vukovar - A Life-Size Monument to the Dead City".

The HND said that a topic such as the treatment of Vukovar 30 years after its destruction at the start of the war in 1991 must be open to public discussion. "Otherwise, we will allow multiple victimization of this city, which will not only remain captured in its commemorative role but will also be deprived of any discussion on the purpose and effects of such a role," the statement said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Exhibition "Freedom is Called by Its Name" Opens in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday opened the exhibition "Freedom is Called by Its Name", staged by the National and University Library (NSK) in Zagreb to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar.

Plenković said that every time that emotions and events from 30 years ago are mentioned there is no better word that embodies the idea of Vukovar than the word 'freedom', which the authors of the exhibition pointed out well in its title.

The exhibition reminds us of the city that suffered the most unimaginable and cruel destruction after the Second World War in Europe, the prime minister said, adding that for every Croatian citizen, Vukovar is a place of identification with the suffering of all victims, with the courage and sacrifice of Croatian defenders and the process of gaining Croatian independence and sovereignty.

He said that the exhibition was a contribution to the numerous activities marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar.

We will try, he said, to pass, through support and patronage, the meaning, value, and symbolism of Vukovar on to young generations.

The exhibition "Freedom is Called by Its Name" pays tribute to the hero city of Vukovar on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar in the Homeland War, said NSK director Ivanka Stričević.

Stričević stressed that in addition to offering insight into the materials about the Homeland War in Vukovar, the exhibition also offers insight into the materials of all library collections.

The exhibition features photographs, books, manuscripts, newspaper articles, and other materials that the NSK and partner institutions keep in their collections -- materials that testify to the suffering of Vukovar, as well as to its rich culture.

The central part of the exhibition consists of texts by historian and curator of the exhibition, Vlatka Filipčić Maligec, which provide insight into the battle for Vukovar, especially the events at the Vukovar hospital, Ovčara, the barracks, Borovo Selo, and Borovo Naselje in 1991.

The texts are accompanied by photographs by Croatian photojournalists and covers of Večernji List daily, which are testimonies of the war in Vukovar and the fate of Vukovar citizens during the Homeland War, as well as by library materials on the war in Vukovar from the NSK collection on Homeland War.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Miso Mihocevic Discusses War Memories, Dubrovnik, Potential for Book

November the 5th, 2021 - Dubrovnik, known today (at least before the pandemic) as Croatia's tourism Mecca plagued by crowds and cruise ships, was once under threat by something much more sinister - Serbian-Montenegrin aggression. Back in the 90s, it wasn't the flashes of cameras striking the famous UNESCO protected city, but hundreds of grenades. Miso Mihocevic is often referred to as a war hero, and this former translator/interpreter and negotiator's emotions towards those difficult times haven't dulled even 30 years on.

As Dubrovniknet/Lidija Crncevic writes, not for one second did Miso Mihocevic consider packing his bags, abandoning his city and removing his life from danger as Dubrovnik began being attacked, even though the smell of war was very much lingering in the air.

He could have quite easily left the city, he had his connections and ties. He could have gone anywhere and continued living a safe and quite normal life. He didn't. He stayed. He got involved in defending the country and city from the marauding Serbs in the best possible way he knew how. He was a negotiator, a translator, an interpreter... he often had to store away his emotions and wrap them tightly in a thick proverbial piece of rope in order to retain composure and behave in a diplomatic way when dealing with various representatives of the aggressor army.

''You know what you need to say'' Commander Nojko would tell him when they were heading towards occupied Cavtat, the southernmost town in the country. When the Croatian team of negotiators went down to Cavtat to engage in negotiations, they could never know for sure whether they would return to the City of Dubrovnik or whether the Serbs would "redirect" them to the infamous Morinj. We look back 30 years ago in Dubrovnik's history with Miso Mihocevic, going back to the beginnings.

You made your choice to stay in the city, although, objectively speaking, you could have gone elsewhere, perhaps abroad, and continued with life as you'd known it...

Actually, I'd returned to Dubrovnik a few years before any of these dark times began. after a dozen or so very easy years spent abroad in high fashion and of course mingling among fashion circles. I was young, I had my health, and I was good looking. Could it be better?! Well, actually... Yes, it could! What was missing? Something was... something very big. An invisible piece of me. A piece of a more complete and fulfilled version of myself where I'm not a stranger, not foreign... in a place where despite all the good times, you'll never really fully integrate, not completely.

"The sun of another's sky" is a terribly thorough and precise conclusion and description of that feeling. It's a well-known ''condition'' for which we have a very nice and accurate word: homesickness. I mean, I lived quite well, but the sun still didn't warm my bones up like the one which beats down on Banje beach does, allegorically and in reality. Being complete, fulfilled, recognising and understanding your society and its forces is the true kind of most often totally unconscious type of love. It's immeasurable. It was easy for me because I had the most beautiful lover - Dubrovnik.

A career or love? I was lucky as I had both, I expressed myself relatively quickly through the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (where I spent all my summers from the age of fifteen). That's how much love there was. With another extremely important element, I'm the type of person you can say anything to, but to insinuate that I'm not a Croat or, even worse, that I must be ashamed of being one... I'd never been able to stand that, even from a very young age. The reaction in me when I hear something like that is instant rage.

To escape meant only an escape from oneself, not from those toothless Chetniks. Not only to be left without everything, but also to be left with some eternally unhappy room under someone else’s sun that doesn’t warm me up in the same way.

Today, 30 years after the start of the war in Dubrovnik, you're not in the city, where are you now, what are you doing, why did you decide to go?

I'm in Zagreb, quite happily and comfortably retired, I work in translation on my own watch when I feel like it, I recently finished translating a very interesting book into English, I write articles from time to time for Total Croatia News, I haven't been in any commercials lately as was the norm until the world changed, coronavirus isn't really allowing for any of that. But what's the most important thing of all - I'm the master of my time. I read, I browse the web, I like to be sarcastic on Facebook… Of course, there's always briskula (briscola). The days are short but never tiring or boring, because after so long, there's no dictation.

Why did I move out of the city? That's a good question. Back in 2010, Vlahusic, when he had freshly become Dubrovnik's mayor, kicked me out of the theatre (literally!) overnight (literally!) and left me on the street, so to speak, which I only found out about when reading a local portal the next day. Now, when hearing that, you'll surely think I'm furious, right? Quite on the contrary. I'd like to thank him because he saved me from the type of city it had become to allow such a mayor to ''take the throne''.

And a theatre, and I honestly do have to say this, for whom the first play after my removal - was a fantastic piece called ''Orchestra'' located in a Bosnian turbo cafe... Well, it isn't worth talking about. The worst sacrilege Bond experienced from 1862 to the present day. So... off I went to Zagreb, and I got a big role in a film, then in some commercials, etc.

So, Mr. Vlahusic, thanks again! I had been trying to do something in Dubrovnik as well, of course. For example, my friends and I raised about 2 million kuna over in England to return the opera to the Summer Festival after years - which they dropped the following season, and not because it was bad... There is an ever-present shitty ego, that shitty Croatian jealousy that many have come into contact with. It is all actively manifested through malice and meanness. Unfortunately, I had the opportunity to experience all of that even after Vlahusic. An employee of his, with all his internal issues and malice concluded that I'm angry and offended because I'm no longer the main cultural face of the city. The problem isn't in any kind of insult, but in the desperate fact that there's no other ''first person'' after me.

Behind you is a respectable war record… you were a negotiator, you were a translator, you had a lot of contact with foreign envoys in Dubrovnik. When it became clear to the international community what was happening in Croatia, that it wasn't merely a civil war, but the aggression of one country against another, was it difficult for you to deal with your nerves and emotions, to stay calm in the negotiations with the Yugoslav Army? What was the most demanding part of it all?

''There were certainly plenty of demanding tasks and demanding moments. Translation wasn't a problem, in fact, I asked a few of ''theirs'' to please step aside because I'd corrected them and asked them to please translate accurately, so I never saw some of them in those meetings again. At the legendary meeting on the ''Avenger'', the Serbian translator got something completely wrong, I insisted on a correction, he, logically, totally lost his mind about it, so one of their generals asked me to translate for them as well. The job of a liaison officer, on the other hand, often requires the need to try to cope in a very complicated situation on the spot. My dear Commander Nojko always said goodbye to me with ''you know what you’re going to say'', which sometimes made my head spin, from the effort and the awareness of the responsibility there was. It's a war, not a theatrical play.

The negotiations, almost until the recognition of the Republic of Croatia as an independent country, were the ultimate tests of the nerves, amplified by external factors such as burned down houses in Konavle, contorted faces and local Croatian people's eyes full of hope, waiting to see if they were allowed to be out on the waterfront in Cavtat when we came, and possibly then again when we left. You had to wrap your emotions up in a tight rope even when you felt like you were going to explode, then, self-control must be at its strongest. It doesn't come out of fear, when you're angry you aren't afraid, but out of the pure awareness that you have to be controlled in order to possibly get some result. Those first few months when they were quick, unstoppable and unruly, used to be just a ''test''- with the objective possibility that you would end up in Morinj that day instead of going back home.

What is your most traumatic experience from the war?

Overall, and at its core, everything is a huge trauma. It was a terrible school of life in which, however and despite all of the awful things, one can learn a lot about empathy and love for others. War is a struggle for life and death is built into its basic settings. Death was in the air when that psychopath, Captain Milan Zec, wanted to kill us in Cilipi near the airport runway, the upper edge of which was surrounded by with bearded, toothless Chetniks.

One's first encounter with what might come to be their own death is certainly not an empathic experience. Everything else I experienced from them would fall mostly into the "service life" and nothing more would be thought about it. By all accounts, I am an anti-Rambo guy who surprised himself when he realised, in the first days of the spread of Serbian culture, that the Chetniks weren't something he was afraid of at all, because of the reasons mentioned above, because I was furious. So, one cloudy day, some ununiformed people, who this time had a few more teeth between them, took us to the Hotel Epidaurus (Cavtat). And there in some big hallway, or some form of storage room for beach equipment, were our grandmothers, aunts, local Konavle women in costumes, lined up like logs next to each other on summer deckchairs. I ran outside, and I cried and cried. "They" must have rejoiced over the crying ''Ustasha''. No one had shot at me, but I had been hit in the heart.

How did you experience the recent departure of the representatives of the Dubrovnik and Konavle authorities to Morinj, and what are your feelings about the memorial plaque to Milan Milisic in Zupska street?

This visit to Morinj does make sense as a memorial and a little attention comes with it, perhaps as a small hope that a true historical memory could come to life there. We need to wait another generation, then we'll see. The memorial plaque to my friend Milan Milisic is, according to the Serbs, the worst monument of Serbian fascism.

The news from Croatia's surrounding countries is becoming more and more concerning and more and more aggressive - Montenegro and the swimming pool named after one of the villains from Morinj... Dodik wants to separate Republika Srpska, in nearby Trebinje Serbia is building an airport with Bosnia and Herzegovina…. where is all of this going to lead and are there any answers Croatia can provide in response to that?

I have the same impression I had from the census carried out back in 1991 when it seemed that there were at least 40 percent of ethnic Serbs in Croatia, as loud as they were, so it seems to me that this is the case in Montenegro today, that it is as dangerous as it was for us back then. I don't see a way out for them, even if they remember that they were ''brothers'' back in the 1990s, or even if they forget about it.

The Serbian obsession with their celestiality is of a genetic nature. They're much more alone than they seem and are constantly advancing in this. Because almost every day they have something for the public that in its essence serves to keep the government in power, all of them, including that irritated peasant from Banja Luka. The Serbian world, while the major of the Greater Serbia celestial armed detachments has a salary of a mere 400 euros, is busy building an airport in another country. The question is, what is this other country doing? Croatia can do a great deal if it gets rid of crime, corruption and other local phenomena, in order to become a respected EU member state, as well as one of NATO, and not be considered a ''poor Balkan territory''.

When you look back, what do you see as Croatia's biggest missed opportunity? Given the current situation…

''There perhaps hasn't even been a ''biggest missed opportunity'' because the people have never been offered one. The repeal of the Property Origin Act in 1990 was the last, not the first nail in the coffin, though.

Did you perhaps stay in touch with people, foreign envoys, friends of Croatia during the war?

Not too much, there are a few '‘Merry Christmas’' greetings here and there and mostly, some are no longer among us, as in everything, time changes us, opportunities take us away. And the war itself, as a factor of our acquaintances and friendships, is fading in active memory.

Have you ever told or revealed everything you saw or heard during the war in Dubrovnik, during the negotiations? Have you succumbed to the "temptation" that you might write a book. If you did write one, what genre would it be?

If I were to reveal literally everything, I'd need some very extensive format. I tell my friends when something reminds me of something from the war, without hesitation, it’s been harmless to me emotionally now for a long time. As for the book, I have a few people in my closest circle who keep nagging me to write a book. One of them would even sponsor a typist. I guess it’s worth it, that experience of war from that little-known standpoint, one from a non-combat angle. Maybe in some way I'm obliged to leave a mark in such a way and I do think about it here and there. I should enjoy this retirement-induced freedom a little less, it seems, and maybe start that famous "one day" project.

For more from Miso Mihocevic, you can follow him here and watch an interview between him and Borna Sor here.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Defence Ministry Says It Prevented Int'l Scandal Involving Battalion in March

ZAGREB, 1 Nov 2021 - The Defence Ministry said on Monday that in March it prevented an international scandal involving the participation of the Honorary and Protection Battalion in a commemoration in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ministry said in a press release that on 17 March President Zoran Milanović's office informed the military Chief-Of-Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj, that the president's advisor Marijan Mareković would be his envoy at an event marking the 27th anniversary of the exchange of prisoners of war in Bugojno, BiH.

The president's office also made it known that, under the president's decision, members of the Honorary and Protection Battalion would also attend the event, the ministry added.

Under the Defence Act, a decision on platoons and smaller units attending ceremonial activities abroad is made by the defence minister, the ministry said, adding that according to its information, members of the Honorary and Protection Battalion were sent to BiH before the minister made a decision to that effect.

However, the ministry said, it was realized that they would not be able to cross the Croatian border without the minister's decision and an order for official travel abroad, which is within the ministry's remit. 

By such course of action, the president's office "unnecessarily exposed the Croatian Army," the ministry added.

Upon the realization that the request from the president's office could not be carried out without the minister's decision, the ministry said, Hranj wrote to the minister on 18 March to ask that the request from the head of the president's office, to engage members of the Honorary and Protection Battalion abroad, be authorized.

In line with his powers, the ministry said, the minister gave his authorization the same day for the battalion to accompany Mareković to the commemoration in BiH.

The ministry said the battalion's participation in the commemoration was not contentious, but the president's office should have respected the procedure as envisaged by the Defence Act.

"The Ministry of Defence, by adopting the decision, prevented an international scandal," the press release said, adding that the course of action by the president's office was inappropriate and that it should have forwarded the request to the minister.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Delegation of Ministries and County Lays Wreath at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery

ZAGREB, 31 Oct, 2021 - A joint delegation of the Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the War Veterans Ministry and the Vukovar-Srijem County on Sunday laid a wreath and lit candles at the Memorial Cemetery of Homeland War Victims in Vukovar on the occasion of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

The delegation was led by Defence Minister Mario Banožić and included Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanić, who called for unity.

"With a joint wreath we send a message of unity, a message that no one can joke with or belittle those who gave their lives for Vukovar, Vinkovci, the entire Slavonia, a message to all authorities in Croatia that we must keep together if we want to resist challenges which await us in the coming period, especially in terms of keeping people in this area," said Dekanić.

Asked by reporters why there were no representatives of the City of Vukovar in the delegation, Dekanić said that "it is simply a joint agreement and a joint message from the ministries and the county" and that he, as well as other county representatives, would attend protocol celebrations of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day wherever they manage to.

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Monday, 25 October 2021

PM Says Croatia Owes Rudolf Perešin Eternal Gratitude and Respect

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday received Ljerka Perešin, the widow of the legendary Croatian pilot, Brigadier Rudolf Perešin, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his flight with a Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) MiG-21 fighter jet from Bihać to Austria.

On 25 October 1991, Perešin, a Croat, defected from the JNA from Bihać to Klagenfurt and joined the Croatian Army. His plane was returned from Austria to Croatia in 2019 owing to the efforts of former defense minister Damir Krstičević and Croatia's diplomacy.

Perešin is known for his statement in Klagenfurt: "I'm a Croat and I cannot shoot at Croats!" which reflected the feeling of unity and strength among the Croatian people who were doing their best to make the dream of a free and independent Croatia come true.

Eternal thanks to Perešin for his heroism and sacrifice for the homeland

Prime Minister Plenković thanked the Perešin family for their courage, strength, and patriotism and for Rudolf's sacrifice. Perešin lost his life during the 1995 Flash military and police operation when Croatia's forces liberated areas in Western Slavonia.

Plenković said that it is up to all of us to nurture the lasting memory of Homeland War heroes and to ensure dignity for Croatian veterans and their families. It is particularly important for younger generations to foster the memory of Homeland War heroes like Rudolf Perešin was.

"We owe our eternal gratitude and respect to Rudolf Perešin, who showed courage, love, and loyalty towards the homeland and made the greatest sacrifice for its freedom," said the Prime Minister.

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