Saturday, 18 September 2021

30th Anniversary of Battle of Vukovar Marked

ZAGREB, 18 Sept, 2021 - The Battle of Vukovar was a turning point in the war for Croatia's freedom and independence, and its participants were heroes who deserve admiration, it was said at an event marking the 30th anniversary of the battle in Vukovar on Saturday. 

Vukovar was heroically defended in the 1991 battle for three months, after which its defence lines were penetrated and the city fell into the hands of Serb paramilitaries and the Yugoslav People's Army.

The ceremony in Vukovar was attended by numerous defenders and wartime commanders, led by the last commander of the city's defence forces, Branko Borković, President Zoran Milanović and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković's envoys, the heads of Vukovar-Srijem and Osijek-Baranja counties, Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava, and government members, led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

"More than 30,000 troops, armed with 600 tanks, 500 armoured vehicles and 180 howitzers were deployed to seize Vukovar which was defended by some 6,000 defenders and volunteers. In that 'David and Goliath' battle, by keeping the enemy engaged in the area of Vukovar, Croatian defenders gave an additional three months to the rest of Croatia to consolidate its armed forces," Plenković said at the commemoration.

Battle was of crucial importance for maturing of Croatian democracy

Thanking defenders for what they did in 1991 by defending Vukovar and Croatia, Plenković said the Battle of Vukovar was a decisive battle of the Homeland War that also had a crucial role in the maturing of the Croatian democracy.

"Even though the suffering in the Homeland War is still a painful memory, notably the fate of 1,858 people gone missing, the victorious Croatia extended a hand of reconciliation and trust, respecting the rights of ethnic minorities, including the Serb minority. Croatia remains committed to the values which helped defend Croatia's freedom and democracy in the Homeland War," said Plenković, underlining the need to continue with efforts to shed light on the fate of all missing persons, punish war criminals, secure adequate satisfaction for former inmates of prison camps, and promote the truth about the Homeland War, notably among children and young people.

Speaking of the government's responsibility for the revitalisation of Vukovar and the entire eastern Slavonia, Plenković said that Vukovar had been named a place of special respect, the Vukovar Hospital had become a national memorial hospital, 18 November, the day of the city's fall, had been declared a national holiday, and the Croatian Army had returned to Vukovar while the prospect of bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes had improved.

Borković: Croatia not owing anyone anything, on everyone's conscience 

The last commander of Vukovar's defence forces and commander of the 204th Vukovar Brigade, Branko Borković, said that Croatia today was a member of NATO and the European Union and that "it does not owe anything to anyone and is on everyone's conscience."

He said that Croatia is not an accidental state, is not "a successor either to the Ustasha or to Partisans" and was not created in World War II.

Borković noted that in recent years many political and social organisations as well as various office-holders at local and national levels and public figures had knowingly or unknowingly acted below the high standards set by Vukovar's struggle and sacrifice.

As part of today's commemoration, held outside the city's Eltz Castle, Croatian Air Force jets and its Wings of Storm aerobatic team flew over the event. Earlier in the day, state and other delegations laid wreaths and lit candles at the Homeland War Memorial Cemetery.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Croatian Roma History: Dr. Danijel Vojak Warns on Lack of Systematic Research

September 15, 2021 -Croatian Roma history still lacks a systematic approach and more immense scientific interest, as was warned about by Dr. Daniel Vojak from the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute when he presented his research at a conference held at Karlova University in Prague.

The Romani population has lived in the lands that are today part of the Republic of Croatia for over six centuries, which makes them one of the oldest minority groups – says the research by Dr. Danijel Vojak, a historian who, after getting his Ph.D. in history from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, now works as a researcher for the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Being a member of The Gypsy Lore Society (USA), the European Academic Network on Romani Studies (EU), and the Croatian National Board for Historical Sciences (HNOPZ), with 45 domestic and 53 international participations in scientific discussions, he has become very well respected in the field of researching the history of Roma people and Croatian Roma history.

The Croatian public may remember an article about his work in the Nacional publication where he explained his research on how the fascist affiliate Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska/NDH) killed around 15,000 Roma people, leaving a very dark stain on the pages of Croatian Roma history.

''The document shows how Roma people weren't poor even though they lived on an economic margin. They legally acquired properties until their belongings were taken by the state,'' stated Vojak for Nacional in 2019.

As the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute recently informed people, last week, from September 8-10, Vojak participated in an annual conference by the Gypsy Lore Society that took place in Karlova University in Prague.

The topic of Vojak's latest scientific lecture was titled ''Marginals on the Sidelines of the Education System or on Education About the Roma Genocide in Croatia, 1945-2020,'' which explores how the genocide over the Roma people in Croatia during World War Two has sadly escaped the memory of the past.

''Even today, very little is known about the extent of this genocide committed against the Roma during the reign of the Independent State of Croatia (ISC/NDH). The marginalisation of scholarly interest in researching the genocide committed against the Roma people was one of the characteristics of the communist ideological model of the authorities in socialist Croatia (Yugoslavia), which prohibited the highlighting of ethnic identities among victim groups, and instead incorporated them into the common discourse of ''victims of fascist terror''.

With such ideological control, the memories of the Romani war victims were joined by those of other victims of the Ustasha authorities and its fascist and Nazi allies, which made it impossible to hold separate commemorations or to erect monuments for the Romani victims,'' said Vojak during his presentation, as explained by the Ivo Pilar Social Research website.

As Vojak warns, the effect of Yugoslavian policies still has consequences today as scholars take on Roma suffering during WW2, and what is uncovered remains insufficient and unsystematic.

Founded in the UK in 1888, moving its headquarters across the Atlantic to the USA in 1989, the Gypsy Lore Society takes an interest in Roma people but also in other communities and cultures that are commonly known as gypsies in the English language.

''The research field of the Gypsy Lore Society has traditionally included many different communities which, regardless of their origins and self-appellations in various languages, have been referred to in English as gypsies. These communities include the descendants of migrants from the Indian subcontinent, which have been considered as falling into three large subdivisions, Dom, Lom, and Rom. The field has also included communities of other origins that practice, or in the past have practiced, a specific type of service nomadism. The breadth of society's interests is reflected in the articles published in its journal and papers presented at its conferences,'' explains the Gypsy Lore Society.

The promotion of studies on said communities (their history and culture in a worldwide sense), the dissemination of accurate information in the hope of increasing the general understanding of their diversity, as well as establishing closer contacts with the researchers of the same interest; are all goals the society aims to promote.   

''The society sponsors programmes and conferences and publishes the twice-yearly Romani Studies (continuing Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society), a quarterly newsletter and other occasional publications,'' the Gypsy Lore Society summarised when stating its activities.

Along with Croatian Roma history throughout WW2, as TCN previously wrote, there is also a lack of historical memory on Roma people in the Homeland War in the 90's.

Things moved in a positive direction in 2019 when Borna Marinić presented his book, “We defended Croatia Too: Roma People in the Homeland War“.

But, as Vojak warns when talking about the unsystematic and insufficient take on the history of Roma people, Croatian scientists have a lot more digging to do in order to properly tell the story about the oldest minority in Croatia.

Learn more about Croatian politics and history from the 1990s on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Truth About Homeland War Indisputable

ZAGREB, 15 Sept, 2021 - Answering Homeland Movement MP Stipe Mlinarić's question when he would seek war reparations from Serbia, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said during Question Time on Wednesday that the government was "working on this matter" and that the truth about the Homeland War was indisputable.

"The issue of war reparations and possible lawsuits against Serbia has been raised to the bilateral level, ministries and experts are involved in the process, we have not forgotten about it," he said, adding, "It is important that the truth about the Homeland War is beyond dispute in Croatia and internationally."

Plenković noted that people gone missing in the 1991-95 war and those who had been detained in prison camps had not been forgotten.

Serb minority MP Dragana Jeckov wanted to know about potential demographic measures, noting that there were fewer than 10 pupils each in 405 local schools and that those schools could soon be closed.

Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović said that Croatia was faced with challenging times in terms of demography, but that the government had been adopting a number of horizontal policies and that by the end of 2021 it would adopt a strategy for the country's demographic revitalisation and that favourable economic prospects would contribute to that.

"I am confident that in the period to come demographic indicators will be much better," he said.

Answering a question from Bridge MP Zvonimir Troskot, Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that after a recent accident, clear instructions had been issued in coordination with Karlovac County to establish an early warning system for residents living downstream the hydroelectric power plant "Lešće" on the river Donja Dobra to inform them when the plant releases water from its reservoir.

Answering a question from Hungarian minority and independent MP Robert Jankovics about the border with Serbia on the Danube, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said that talks to finally determine the Croatian-Serbian border were ongoing and that at the last meeting of the joint border commission in Belgrade in June 2019 it had been concluded that current inconsistencies regarding the cadastral border were not that big so as to prevent an attempt to regulate the matter by a bilateral agreement.

"Should that not be possible, there is the International Court of Justice," the minister said.

Speaking of EU funds, EU Funds and Regional Development Minister Nataša Tramišak said that the new statistical division into regions had increased grants for all businesses in Croatia and in all regions.

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

Thursday, 9 September 2021

28th Anniversary of Grabovica Massacre Commemorated

ZAGREB, 9 Sept 2021 - The 28th anniversary of the massacre committed by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina against 33 local Croats in Grabovica was commemorated in that village north of Mostar on Thursday.

The families of the victims and other participants in today's commemorative events underscored that the remains of 17 victims, including a four-year-old girl, had not yet been found even after 28 years since the atrocities were committed.

So far, partial remains of 16 of the 33 victims have been identified, while the remains of the other 17 victims have not still been found.

The families also point out the command responsibility of senior officers of the B-H army.

To date, five members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been sentenced for the murders of the Zadro and the Mandić families, however, although we have presented plenty of evidence, no one has been held responsible for this massacre, based on command responsibility, said a representative of the families of the Grabovica victims.

Thus, Nihad Vlahovljak, Sead Karagić, and Haris Rajkić were given 13 years each for the Grabovica atrocities, whereas Enes Šakrak was sentenced to ten years and Mustafa Hota to nine years.

In 2007, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia acquitted General Safer Halilovic, former Deputy Commander and Chief of the Main Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of charges pertaining to his alleged command responsibility for murders committed by Bosnian Army troops in the villages of Grabovica and Uzdol in the Jablanica and Prozor areas of Herzegovina in September 1993.

In July 2014, the Bosnian State Prosecutor's Office indicted two former members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) -- Rasema Handanović and Elmedin Čaušević- who were members of the Zulfikar special unit, for torturing a Bosnian Croat married couple in the village of Grabovica in 1993.

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

Thursday, 26 August 2021

President Says Reciprocity Important for Reconciliation and Forgiveness

ZAGREB, 26 Aug 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said at a ceremony commemorating civilian victims of the war who died 30 years ago in Kijevo, outside Knin, that reconciliation and forgiveness required reciprocity and not arrogance and haughtiness.

Speaking of Karst areas where residents of Kijevo live and where the early medieval Croatian state hails from, Milanović said "our first churches were built here, our identity is here, our roots are here, this is stone."

"Hardly anything grows in stone, and those who survive, who are strong, who resist, those have a worth and those cannot be rooted out. Those are the people of the Dalmatian hinterland, the people of Herzegovina. They suffered during the war but I don't see them as victims or those who need charity, I see them as winners. Winners who are dignified and at the same time those who forgive and have mercy," Milanović said.

The European Union is founded on the culture of forgiveness, self-reflection, faith into a better future and the right to a new beginning, the president said adding that reconciliation and forgiveness require reciprocity and not arrogance and haughtiness. He recalled that brave soldiers had died in Kijevo, but that defenceless civilians had also been killed there.

"When I visit Grubori, the place where atrocities were committed, I come as president, as a Croat, as a citizen of this country and as a common human being. I have no ultimate expectations, but as a human being it would make me happy if the other side, and I say 'the other side' with caution because I am not a fan of such divisions, would be reciprocal. This is the only way the European civilization, good neighborly relations, and unity survive," the president said.

Milanović took part in ceremonies, marking the suffering of civilian victims from Kijevo during the Homeland War.

At the beginning of the Homeland War, the Croat-populated village of Kijevo was besieged by the local Serb rebels supported by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) units under the command of Ratko Mladić.

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

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

30th Anniversary of Military Police Marked

ZAGREB, 24 Aug, 2021 - The 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first Croatian military police unit was commemorated in Odra near Sisak on Tuesday.

A memorial plaque was unveiled on that occasion at the Odra Community Centre by the head of the Croatian Armed Forces Military Police Directorate, Lieutenant General Mate Laušić, and Brigadier Ivica Kranjčević, an envoy for President and Armed Forces Commander in Chief Zoran Milanović.

Addressing the event, Laušić recalled that military police had a special role in the 1991-95 war and that their work had been characterised by professionalism, education and resolve.

Kranjčević said that the first military police unit comprised a small group of honourable men with a strong feeling of patriotism, great resolve and professionalism, who knew how to act appropriately at any time during the Homeland War.

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

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Bosnia Wants Croatia To Prosecute Operation Flash Commanders

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - The Croatian Justice Ministry has confirmed receiving a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office to take over the prosecution of 14 Croatian Army generals suspected by Bosnia and Herzegovina of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1995 Operation Flash.

This was confirmed by the ministry's state-secretary, Josip Salapić, to Nova TV on Saturday evening.

He said the ministry would forward the cases to the State Attorney's Office, which would decide in an independent investigation what to do about them.

"We are confident that in the next few days, the State Attorney's Office, in line with the law, will inform the public as to what exactly this is about," he added.

"The historical facts about the Homeland War, all our liberation operations, all our soldiers, the army, are under special protection and a special national interest. As a responsible state and government, we can't allow the Homeland War to be criminalised nor bringing into question any legal, constitutional and internationally legal Croatian Armed Forces military operation in the liberation of Croatian territory," said Salapić.

According to Nova TV, the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office list names 14 senior Croatian officers, including wartime commander generals Pavao Miljavac, Mladen Markač, Marijan Mareković, Davor Domazet Lošo and Luka Džanko, as well as deceased generals Petar Stipetić, Imra Agotić and Ivan Basarac.

"I heard it's about Flash, but I have no idea what the war crime would be. In Flash, we didn't cross the Croatian border," said retired general Vinko Vrbanac.

Miljavac said Flash "was a legitimate Croatian Army operation and there were no special intentions to endanger BiH."

"They are getting into what they shouldn't be. We helped them a lot and when they needed it most, and they should be grateful for everything the Croatian Army did to help the neighbouring BiH," said Džanko, adding that this "is all orchestrated."

"This is all hear-say. In my opinion, it's even politically motivated given Croatia's initiative to help Croats in BiH a little. Even the Pelješac Bridge," Miljavac said, adding, "I know about these indictments, they are 15 years old. Why now?"

President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday those were unproven acts and that Croatia would protect its wartime commanders.

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Roma in the Homeland War: More Research on Defending Croatia Needed

August 5, 2021 - When talking about the fight for Croatian independence, the public often tends to forget about the contributions of minorities such as Roma in the Homeland War. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac reminds us of a 2019 book that researched Roma participation in defending Croatia, which is a great starting point for further research today.   

Croatia is marking the 26th Anniversary of Operation Storm, a military action that, on August 5, 1995, marked the liberation of occupied territory (apart from Eastern Slavonia, which was returned to Croatia later on during peaceful reintegration).

Victory Day is filled with pride, but for some, there is a shade of bitterness as a result of the questionable treatment of civilians and prisoners of war that to this day continues to divide the opinion of the Croatian public and remains a topic of numerous historical debates.

As noticed by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), things changed significantly in 2020. This came as a result of moves made by Croatian politicians, not only with words but also by their honouring of Serbian civilian victims in Varivode and Gruber.

''Last year's anniversary was marked by changes in the official policy towards Operation Storm (Oluja), known in Croatia as Victory Day (Dan Pobjede) and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Dan Domovinske Zahvalnosti). August 2020 saw the public space filled with messages about reconciliation, dialogue, the importance of facts, condolences for war crime victims, and appeals for a conversation about different views on Operation Storm in both Croatia and Serbia,'' said YIHR.

With 2020 evoking feelings of sympathy for all victims of the Homeland War, a significant step was also made back in 2019 to recognise that not only ethnic Croats fought for the freedom and independence of their country. 

We defended Croatia Too: Roma People in the Homeland War“, is a monography by Borna Marinić which was presented in 2019. It was the first publication to gather info on the contribution made in the war by the often discriminated against and socially isolated minority in Croatia. The presentation was held in the "Zvonimir Home" of the Croatian military in Zagreb. The publication was the first to really delve into the contribution of Roma in the Homeland War.

The promotion gathered many VIP attendees of political and military Croatian authorities at the time. Marinić, a historian and the editor of the website ''Dogodilo se na Današnji Dan'' (It Happened on This Day), pointed out that not a lot is known about the actions of the Roma in the Homeland War, and this lack of documentation was the biggest problem he had to tackle when it came to verbal storytelling from witnesses.

''I visited Roma veterans and their commanders as well as other relevant people across Croatia, recording their statements and testimonies about the Homeland War,'' said Marinić. His research saw more than 50 people interviewed, but the total count of Roma people who participated in the war still remains unknown.

Dr. Martin Previšić pointed out while reviewing the book that it doesn't provide readers with a linear story of the war's history, but rather an authentic view on the hell of wartime and the solidarity which trumped very many differences. 

''Vukovar, Baranja, Pakrac, Novska, and Karlovac were places in which Croatia was defended, but they were also places where Roma people gave their tribute to that same defense,'' said Previšić.

Veljko Kajtazi, a member of the Croatian Parliament, elected as a representative of the Roma community, attended the representation, delighted to see that this important but unexplored subject was finally being tackled by a researcher in the first-ever book published on the topic. He pointed out, however, that this book cannot be viewed as an encyclopedia as it didn't record the experiences of all Roma people, nor does it have all of the information from all fronts, but it is a terrific base for further research.

''I'm grateful to my fellow Roma people who shared their stories and whose faith is the cornerstone of this book. I felt the obligation for Roma people to come forward and present themselves in a different light. Roma people, in large numbers, defended Croatia and gave their contribution to the defense in key moments,'' concluded Kajtazi.

Kajtazi talked about the need for Roma people to begin presenting themselves in a different light and stated that there are definitely numerous issues caused by stereotypes that Roma people are involved in crime and as such can't be trusted. 

As TCN previously wrote, The Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview report by Human Rights House Zagreb noticed how Roma people in Croatia still face very many obstacles in achieving their rights, which include employment, access to services, and adequate living standards, and there is still segregation in the Croatian education system too.

Additionally, the global issue of COVID-19 brought new problems for Roma people in regard to vaccination against COVID-19, a topic both Kajtazi and the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) spoke about for TCN.

Roma people helped Croatia during the darkest of its days as a new and young country. Respecting and working on actively including Roma people in our society as equals is the very least Croatia can do in return.

Learn more about Croatian politics and history from the 1990s on our TC page.

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

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.

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