Monday, 18 October 2021

30 Years of Minefield War Crime Commemorated in Lovas

ZAGREB, 18 Oct 2021 - The people of Lovas on Monday laid wreaths and lit candles at a monument to 21 locals forced into a minefield by Serb paramilitaries and the former Yugoslav Army 30 years ago today.

On 18 October 1991, a few days after entering Lovas, aggressor forces chose a group of 51 residents and forced them into a minefield, where 21 were killed and 14 wounded.

"I hope that those responsible will be brought to justice one day," said Vukovar-Srijem County head Damir Dekanić.

Lovas Municipality head Tanja Cirba said 89 Lovas residents were killed in the Homeland War and that one of the most horrific crimes took place in that minefield. "On that day, another 23 Lovas residents were killed in their houses, garages, and basements."

Justice for the Lovas crimes is far from being served because those who organized and ordered them have not been punished, said Staša Zajović of the Women in Black association from Belgrade.

"We are very worried because dealing with the past in Serbia has been stopped and strong propaganda glorifying war criminals is at work," she said.

In 2007, the Belgrade District Court opened an investigation into 14 people suspected of war crimes against 69 Lovas civilians and an indictment was filed.

In 2012, 14 were found guilty for the deaths of 41 civilians and sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 20 years. An appellate court quashed the sentence in 2013. A new indictment covered 32 civilian victims due to the deaths of five defendants and a lack of evidence.

In the retrial, the Belgrade Appellate Court acquitted Željko Krnjajić and Milan Devčić and reduced the sentences against Saša Stojanović, Darko Perić, Radovan Vlajković, Radisav Josipović, Jovan Dimitrijević, and Zoran Kosijer. The sentences were reduced to three to six years.

The victims' families and the Lovas municipal authorities are dissatisfied and bitter at such low sentences.

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

Thursday, 7 October 2021

PM Says Shelling of Gov't Building Was Crucial Moment for Croatia's Freedom

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday commemorated the 30th anniversary of the shelling of the government building by laying a wreath at the memorial plaque on it and saying that those had been fateful moments for Croatia's freedom.

"Today is 30 years since the shelling of the government building. At that time it was the headquarters of the first president of the republic, Franjo Tuđman. That afternoon, a Yugoslav Army MiG shelled the government building with the obvious goal to kill Croatia's leadership," the prime minister said.

He added that together with Tuđman at that moment were the chairman of the presidency of the former Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesić, and federal prime minister Ante Marković, who were talking about the Great Serbia military aggression against Croatia.

"Unfortunately, one person was killed then and several were wounded. Fortunately, president Tuđman and the other officials survived. Those were fateful moments for Croatia's freedom, for all that we have today, and the next day, in the night between 7 and 8 October, the Croatian parliament passed key decisions on independence," Plenković said.

He announced that parliament would mark its day tomorrow, saying they remembered that time with a lot of pride and with the important message that young generations should be informed of all the key events in the creation of present-day Croatia.

MP Zdravka Bušić was in the government building when it was targeted. "God wanted us to survive. It's almost impossible to imagine what it was like. I'm happy that an indictment has finally been filed against the pilot and commander of the military squadron that headed for the government building and Croatia. We know that the commander of that squadron was Ljubomir Bajić. I hope the light will be shed on everything."

Also present at today's commemoration were Interior Minister Davor Božinović, War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, and Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

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

Saturday, 25 September 2021

30th Anniversary of Varaždin’s Liberation Marked

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - The 30th anniversary of the liberation of Varaždin was marked on Saturday with a parade of veterans, soldiers, police and fire-fighters, and President Zoran Milanović saying that fighting for the rights and living standards of all citizens was the only way for Croatia to succeed.

Varaždin was liberated with the surrender of the Yugoslav People's Army's 32nd Corps on 22 September 1991. The seized weaponry increased the Croatian defenders' firepower seven times, marking a watershed in the Homeland War.

President Milanović said Croatia's task now was to ensure a decent life for every person and to make the most of its EU membership. "That's what we owe Croatian boys and girls, Croatian defenders... They would be happy if they saw that living here is safer, better, freer."

Varaždin Mayor Neven Bosilj said the liberation of the town in 1991 marked a watershed in the Homeland War, creating the prerequisites for the creation of the independent and free Croatia.

Varaždin County head Anđelko Stričak said Varaždin's war days in 1991 were as important for the Homeland War as the 1995 Operation Storm. He recalled that the first free area in Croatia was on the territory of present-day Međimurje and Varaždin counties and that 175 defenders from there were killed in the war.

The parliament speaker's envoy, MP Damir Habijan of the ruling HDZ, said Croatian defenders fought for an independent and free state and that now was the time to fight for a successful Croatia and for the Croatian future.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Mayor: It’s a Disgrace Nobody Has Answered for Vukovar Crimes

ZAGREB, 18 Sept, 2021 - Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava said after a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Vukovar on Saturday that the incumbent and all previous Croatian governments should be ashamed of the fact that nobody had answered for the city's destruction in 1991 and the thousands of people killed there.

"If we disregard the rulings of the international tribunal in The Hague and for the Ovčara atrocity, nobody has yet been brought to account for Vukovar and that is a big disgrace for this government and all previous governments," said Penava.

Asked by reporters if today was an appropriate day to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Vukovar, Penava said that everyone would have their own opinion on the matter but that he welcomed it as a day honouring Vukovar's defenders and the 204th Brigade.

He said that he had listened to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's speech today, in which, he said, Plenković spoke about positive examples of the government's care for Vukovar but failed to mention problems, such as those regarding the local economy and suspended investments in the local wood-processing sector and hotel industry, which, he said, the government led by Plenković was responsible for.

"What saddens one the most, and what the government led by Plenković has inherited from the previous governments, is the shameful fact that nobody has been brought to account for the fact that Vukovar was razed to the ground in 1991, while the parliamentary majority regularly votes confidence in both the Supreme Court and the Chief State Prosecutor, thus supporting the policy that has turned its back on the Vukovar victims," said Penava.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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.

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