Sunday, 8 August 2021

Milanović Calls Bosnian Prosecution’s Letter of Request Sabotage

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Sunday that a conclusion on non-cooperation in proceedings against Croatian military commanders adopted six years ago was still in force and that a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office was sabotage and a poisoning of relations.

The Croatian Justice Ministry has confirmed receiving the letter 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.

Speaking to the press in Sinj ahead of the 306th Sinjska Alka lancing tournament, Milanović said the technical problem of "will we cooperate or not" was much smaller than the fact that such indictments were arriving and that such investigations were being conducted.

He said he had known about the indictments for some time and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković did too, but would not say why he had communicated that in public instead of the government.

Milanović said the no-cooperation conclusion he adopted as prime minister at a cabinet meeting in 2015 was valid until the incumbent government revoked or changed it. "Perhaps the prime minister, keeping that in mind, didn't think it necessary to comment on it, but I find it necessary, because it's a sort of sabotage."

"It's a poisoning of relations between two states," he added.

Milanović also commented on the national COVID crisis management team's rejection of Sinj Mayor Miro Bulj's request for a relaxation of COVID rules on the day of the Alka tournament.

"The fact is that there are 500 of us here without any supervision. On the other hand, it's not bad for the measures to last a few more weeks for the sake of the impression Croatia leaves because of the tourist season. There are many illogical and silly things about this in all of Europe and we have to fit in a little. I'd be patient a while longer."

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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.

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Saturday, 1 May 2021

Milanović: Eternal Praises to Croatian Heroes!

ZAGREB, 1 May 2021 - President Zoran Milanović laid a wreath in the eastern town of Okučani on Saturday in tribute to Croatian soldiers and police officers killed in Operation Flash during the Homeland War 26 years ago.

On this day in 1995, "with their knowledge, patience and courage, Croatian heroes liberated this part of Croatia," Milanović said, adding that Operation Flash, and 1993's Operation Maslenica, had paved the way for Operation Storm in August 1995 that ended the four-year Serb armed insurgency in the country.

"While we others were in Zagreb, Geneva, in administrative services, a small number of men fought here. Eternal praises and glory to the Croatian heroes!" the president said.

Milanović's delegation included the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Admiral Robert Hranj, presidential adviser on defence and national security Dragan Lozančić, presidential adviser on Homeland War veterans Marijan Mareković and high-level military commanders.

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Saturday, 1 May 2021

Croatia Commemorates 26th Anniversary of Operation Flash

ZAGREB, 1 May 2021 - Croatia today commemorates a combined military and police operation, dubbed Operation Flash, by which it regained control of the Serb-occupied Western Slavonia region during the Homeland War 26 years ago.

In a lightning offensive launched on 1 May 1995, in less than 32 hours about 7,200 Croatian soldiers and police officers liberated about 600 square kilometers of the Croatian territory that had been under occupation for four years.

The commemoration began in the morning at the monument in Okučani, about 130 kilometers southeast of Zagreb, with the reading of the names of those killed in the operation.

Wreaths were laid by President Zoran Milanović, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and their delegations as well as by delegations of veterans' associations and families of those killed.

For more about the homeland war in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: "I'm Considering Not Having Army Attend Operation Flash Commemoration"

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he was considering not having the army participate in the coming commemoration of the 1995 military and police operation "Flash" in Okučani, to protect it from politicking, and that he would discuss the matter with Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

"A situation where soldiers have to stand for hours while politicians and government officials successively lay wreaths to comply with epidemiological measures puts in an awkward position the Army Chief of Staff as well as the commander of the land army who, if they do not want to offend anyone, have to be on duty... after arriving with me, they have to wait for (PM Andrej) Plenković, then, I guess, also for (Parliament Speaker Gordan) Jandroković," said Milanović, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

"So I'm thinking about telling them to stay home, to simply protect them from any politicking... I will talk with the minister," said Milanović while visiting the Gašinci military grounds.

Milanović said that he did not see anything contentious about the fact that on Monday, at a reception he gave for retired officers and wartime commanders of the Croatian Defence Force (HVO) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he also met with retired HVO general Tihomir Blaškić, who was in the HVO delegation. 

Blaškić was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and served a nine-year prison sentence for the cruel and inhumane treatment of Bosniak civilians and POWs from 1992 to 1994.

"Had Blaškić been responsible for something that, let's say Ratko Mladić was responsible for, I would not have received him," he said.

He announced that he would also receive General Milivoj Petković when he is released from prison "because he isn't a war criminal."

The convictions against Blaškić and Petković were political convictions, he added.

The ICTY convicted Petković of crimes committed in 1993 against Bosniaks in the territory that was under the control of the Croat authorities of Herceg-Bosna

Asked if he would attend a ceremony marking the anniversary of the establishment of the 4th Guards Brigade in Split, Milanović said that he would attend the ceremony in Knin.

"I'm going to Knin, not Split, that brigade is in Knin and the army will conduct such events in barracks," the president said.

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Friday, 1 May 2020

Plenković Criticises Milanović for Okučani Incident

ZAGREB, May 1, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday dismissed the president's claims that the appearance of a few men wearing T-shirts with the salute "For the homeland ready" at the Okučani celebration was intentional provocation, adding that it is Milanović's right to leave, and the obligation of others to stay.

President Zoran Milanović abruptly left the central commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Operation Flash in protest against the salute "For the homeland ready" on T-shirts of some of war veterans who arrived in the town of Okučani on Friday morning to participate in the commemoration. The salute concerned, which was used during the Ustasha regime in the Second World War, was also used by the HOS volunteers during the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

"I have understood. We have held a brief conversation, for a minute. He was obviously informed by someone that some of the participants in the commemorative event had T-shirts with the HOS insignia. It is his decision (to leave). It is his right to leave, and it is our obligation to stay," Plenković said in his comment to Milanovic's behaviour at the Okučani celebration.

Plenković dismissed Milanović's claims that those T-shirts were an intentional act of provocation.

Asked by the press whether such T-shirts bothered him, Plenković answered that "all who gave their lives for Croatia, including the fallen HOS members, have deserved my respect."

"Making differences and what the president has done is not good. We have come here to pay tribute to the fallen defenders. You can see these 51 cubes here (as part of the Okučani monument to the fallen soldiers), we have come here because of those people. There is no place for provocation, we are here also on behalf of the institutions," the premier said.

As for the said salute, the premier recalled that his cabinet had made a clear position.

"The council for dealing with the past, which we have established, has adopted a document which very clearly identifies the moments in which some insignia, used during the Homeland War, can be used and those are commemorations and times when we remember our victims," Plenković said. "We pay our deepest respects to Croatian defenders," said the premier.

Plenković recalled that during the recent commemoration in Jasenovac, Milanović said that a memorial plaque with the names of the fallen HOS soldiers which contains the "For the homeland ready" salute should be thrown away.

"You will never hear any of us saying that a plaque with the names of the fallen soldiers who defended Croatia should be thrown away," he explained.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Jasenovac, Operation Flash Commemorations to Be Held

ZAGREB, April 16, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that victims of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp would be commemorated appropriately in Jasenovac on April 22, and that the anniversary of the 1-3 May 1995 Operation Flash would be commemorated as well.

Plenković said at the beginning of his cabinet's meeting that the culture minister and other ministers were working on the organisation of the Jasenovac commemoration while the ministers of the interior, war veterans and defence were working on organising the commemoration of the military and police operation that liberated the areas of western Slavonia held by Croatian Serb rebel forces.

Plenković noted that the commemorations would be held in line with restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Victims of Operation Flash on Both Sides Commemorated

ZAGREB, May 2, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović told reporters on Wednesday in Okučani at a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of a combined military and police offensive, known as Operation Flash, which ended nearly four years of Serb occupation of the Western Slavonia region, that Operation Flash had finally liberated Croatian territory and enabled the reintegration of the entire Croatia.

"Today with special reverence and dignity we are marking the military and police Operation Flash which launched the final liberation of Croatian territory and reintegration of the entire Croatia," said the president. She expressed deep sympathy for the families of those killed and missing.

Asked to comment on the 22 Serb victims who were killed in Medari during Operation Flash, the president said: "We mourn every victim and all victims deserve commemoration, regardless of their nationality."

Also present was Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković who said Croatia commemorated all those who died during Operation Storm.

The ceremony in Okučani was also attended Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, Interior Minister Dražen Božinović, Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and other top officials.

The operation was launched on May 1 and ended on May 3, 1995. During less than 32 hours, Croatian troops and police regained control of 500 square kilometres of land, including the main west-east motorway and the railway line leading to Eastern Slavonia.

About 7,200 troops and police officers took part in the liberation of Western Slavonia, of whom 42 were killed and 162 wounded. It was the first time during the 1991-1995 Homeland War that the Croatian Air Force had used airstrikes on a larger scale, and the enemy was further surprised by tanks that were brought in by rail and deployed in combat.

Okučani is located about 130 kilometres southeast of Zagreb. During the war it was the centre of the Serb rebellion and a staging area for terrorist attacks in Western Slavonia.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited Okučani on Tuesday on the eve of the 24th anniversary of Operation Flash.

Serb Orthodox priest Dragan Antonić officiated a religious ceremony in Okučani on Wednesday after which Independent Democratic Serb Party vice president Boris Milošević told the press he had come to Okučani to remember the victims and senselessness of the war.

Although announced, SDSS president Milorad Pupovac did not attend the event.

Asked about the message from Okušani, Milošević said this was exclusively a religious event.

After the religious ceremony, a prayer was held in Medari to commemorate the 22 Serb civilians killed in Operation Flash.

More news about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Croatia Marks 24th Anniversary of Operation Flash

ZAGREB, May 1, 2019 - Croatia is marking the 24th anniversary of a combined military and police offensive, known as Operation Flash, which ended nearly four years of Serb occupation of the Western Slavonia region.

The operation was launched on May 1 and ended on May 3, 1995. During less than 32 hours Croatian troops and police regained control of 500 square kilometres of land, including the main west-east motorway and the railway line leading to Eastern Slavonia.

About 7,200 troops and police officers took part in the liberation of Western Slavonia, of whom 42 were killed and 162 wounded. It was the first time during the 1991-1995 Homeland War that the Croatian Air Force had used airstrikes on a larger scale, and the enemy was further surprised by tanks that were brought in by rail and deployed in combat.

Okučani is located about 130 kilometres southeast of Zagreb. During the war it was the centre of the Serb rebellion and a staging area for terrorist attacks in Western Slavonia.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited Okučani on Tuesday on the eve of the 24th anniversary of Operation Flash. Plenković, accompanied by Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac and Minister of Veterans' Affairs Tomo Medved, laid a wreath and lit candles in tribute to 51 Croatian soldiers killed in the operation.

After the ceremony, he met with the mayors of Western Slavonia towns and municipalities, and Minister Žalac presented them with agreements aimed at promoting the development of social, economic and municipal infrastructure and entrepreneurship.

Top Croatian state officials attended a ceremony in Okučani on Wednesday. The ceremony in Okucani was attended by President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, Interior Minister Dražen Božinović, Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and other top officials.

More news about Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Anniversary of Operation Flash Marked in Okučani

ZAGREB, May 1, 2018 - The state leadership, led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, as well as numerous veterans and citizens laid wreaths and lit candles in Okučani on Tuesday to pay their respects to the defenders killed in Operation Flash, in which the army and the police liberated the western Slavonia region 23 years ago.

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