Monday, 18 February 2019

Vukovar Gets New Tourism Video Ad

ZAGREB, February 18, 2019 - Vukovar has a new tourism video advertisement presenting the attractions of that eastern Croatian town on the Danube River which, according to the town's tourism board, is attracting more and more tourists each year.

The video ad was shot under the auspices of the town's authorities and the local tourist board and was premiered to reporters this past Wednesday, with Mayor Ivan Penava saying that it was aimed at increasing the number of tourist arrivals to the town as part of the strategy to develop Vukovar's tourism potential.

"All this is in line with efforts to make Vukovar more attractive for tourists, which is a long-standing process. The tourist trade in Vukovar is on the rise and the town's potential in that regard is developing year in and year out," said Penava.

A total of 125,000 kuna was invested in shooting the video, 20,000 kuna of which came from the Tourism Ministry, while the remaining funds were provided by the town's authorities.

According to the director of the loca Tourist Board, Marina Sekulić, the number of bed nights in the town increased by 4% in 2018 compared to the year before, while the number of tourist arrivals remained at the same level.

"With all the visitors that come to Vukovar for one day to visit the Homeland War memorial centre, more than 120,000 people visit Vukovar each year," Sekulić said and added that the Vučedol Museum recorded more than 200,000 visitors since it opened two and a half years ago.

She also said that 231 cruise boats had visited the town with a total of 31,972 passengers and that the city expects 240 cruise boats this year.

More news about Vukovar can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

(VIDEO) In Dramatic Operation, Vukovar Firefighters Make a Rescue in Frozen River

“I wasn’t cold; there was no special danger, we know that part of the river well.” This is how Denis Kovačić, a humble firefighter from Vukovar, commented on the rescue of a dog from the Stara Vuka river in Vukovar, reports Večernji List on January 27, 2019.

He is a dog owner himself, and he asked his colleagues to let him save the dog. “I was not afraid to come close to her, it was enough for me to look into her eyes and everything was clear. She just needed to be rescued from cold water; she could not bark anymore...” Asked if he was thinking about whether something might go wrong, Denis said there is no room for such thoughts.

"We know the depth of the river. It is about a metre deep in that area. If the dog refused to stay on the mattress, I would have swum to get her. There are security procedures as you saw, we used three ropes, and four or five people were watching out for me. We do this kind of training. A dog can survive in cold water for about 15 minutes, and a child or an adult considerably less. After we were pulled to the shore, I immediately sent the owner home to warm up the dog.”

The Vukovar firefighters are well prepared for such situations, thanks to their commander Zdenko Jukić, who made sure they have expensive firefighting equipment for extreme conditions, which enables them to stay in the cold water for up to an hour. “Let the citizens know that we are well-trained for their security in extreme situations,” Denis added.

The owner of the dog, who released the video of the rescue on his Facebook profile, tried to pull the dog to the river bank himself. But the ice near the bank was too thin and was cracking. Fortunately, he called in the Vukovar firefighters.

The dog is named Lea, she weighs 24 kg and was found in the streets four years ago, when she was two months old. “We came just 3 to 4 minutes after receiving the call, but we do not know how long the dog was in cold water before that. We did not do anything heroic, we have been in much worse situations. We are happy for every happy outcome and a saved life," said Denis.

More news about Croatia’s firefighters can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Linda Draškić).

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Police Investigating Vukovar Mayor for Posting Controversial Video

ZAGREB, January 22, 2019 - The Vukovar-Srijem County police in cooperation with the local prosecutorial authorities are establishing all the circumstances in connection with the posting of video footage on the official website of the Town of Vukovar showing several students of a local high school sitting on the stands during the Croatian anthem, the police stated on Tuesday.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović confirmed today that the police were addressing the issue of the controversial posting of the video which grabbed media attention when Mayor Ivan Penava wondered why local ethnic Serb students refused to stand for the Croatian anthem.

The minister said that the authorities would inform the public of the findings of the investigation in a timely fashion. He said that the investigation should show of the posting of the video was controversial given that children were involved in the case. "Of course, children should not be put in any political context. However, I would not prejudge any outcome, having in mind that preliminary legal opinions that differ on that matter," said the minister.

The town's official website has posted the video of ethnic Serb secondary school students who did not stand up for the Croatian anthem at a football match played in Vukovar last year

The Croatian Serb leader, Milorad Pupovac, accused Mayor Ivan Penava of violating the Children's Wellbeing Act, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Personal Data Act and other laws, further inciting an atmosphere of violence by the posting of this video.

The ombudsperson for children's rights Helenca Pirnat Dragičević said that she had asked a police report on the same case, given that a boy from the video was recently assaulted at a bus station. The ombudwoman suspects that this was case of peer violence.

More news on the situation in Vukovar can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Serb Leader Accuses Vukovar Mayor of Inciting Violence

ZAGREB, January 18, 2019 - By posting a video of ethnic Serb secondary school students who did not stand up for the Croatian anthem at a football match played in Vukovar last year on the local government website, Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava violated the Children's Wellbeing Act, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Personal Data Act and other laws, further inciting an atmosphere of violence, Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Milorad Pupovac told a press conference in the Croatian parliament on Friday.

Commenting on the case of a student of a Serb-language technical school in Vukovar who had been beaten up by football hooligans, Pupovac said that the problem of violence targeting members of the Serb community and students was not new.

"There are groups, including the one that attacked this student, who resort to violence and who are tolerated in the town. This happened several times over the past year," Pupovac said.

This incident is the result of the behaviour of that group of football fans being tolerated and the fact that Penava has additionally incited such an atmosphere by marking the Serb students of Nikola Tesla Technical School as people who do not respect Croatia and who are viewed in the context of the SDSS policy of maintaining the continued and, as Penava put it, creeping aggression against Croatia, Pupovac said.

Police said on Thursday that one minor was slightly injured in a fight that broke out at a bus stop in Vukovar on Wednesday, apparently between two rival groups of football fans, one involving two minors and the other three. The person injured was a Serb student of Nikola Tesla Technical School.

Pupovac said he did not believe that the separated Croatian and Serb schools in Vukovar were the problem. "Why is this not happening in Istria where there are also minority schools? Why is this happening in Vukovar? Because there are people who are constantly stoking up an atmosphere of war and who treat and portray any demands by the Serb community for rights that belong to them under the constitution, law and international agreements as an attack on the constitutional order and aggression."

He said that the failure by the children in question to stand up for the Croatian national anthem could not be regarded as an attack on the constitutional order. "This requires working with those children. The way in which Mayor Penava acted is certainly not the way. As for football fans, national anthems and expectations of how fans should behave in such situations, we'd better not discuss that. When it comes to schools in which one group of children stands up for the national anthem and the other does not, that is a serious problem," Pupovac said.

Asked to comment on the demand by MP Hrvoje Zekanović that Croatia should block Serbia's EU accession negotiations, he said: "What if I, as a representative of the SDSS, had demanded that Croatia's accession to the EU be blocked until all issues concerning the Serbs were resolved, including the issue of Serbs gone missing during the war, prosecution of war crimes, unpaid pensions, demolished housing, Serbs who were driven out during the war and have not returned to their homes? Did I do that? I didn't. I was among the most active advocates of Croatia's entry into the EU, and my party and my other colleagues, minority MPs, helped Croatia become an EU member, otherwise Croatia would still be waiting on the EU's doorstep."

Pupovac said he would sue Hrvatski Tjednik weekly for running a cover showing him holding the severed head of Ivan Šreter, wartime head of the Western Slavonia crisis management committee who disappeared without a trace after being abducted by Serb rebels in 1991. "Only a twisted and sick mind can implicate me in a murder," he said.

More news on the status of Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Prime Minister Discusses Situation in Vukovar with Mayor

ZAGREB, January 16, 2019 - The Prime Minister and president of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Andrej Plenković, said on Tuesday that Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava understands that the party strategic interest was cooperation with the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSSS) and the Serb community, underscoring that the party policy was based on the policy of the first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman and the HDZ when it was led by Tuđman.

"He understood that and he should understand it even better. And he understands it because many of our fellow citizens, members of the Serb minority have supported him at the Vukovar mayoral elections," Plenković said after a session of the HDZ caucus, asked if at today's meeting Penava understood him and the fact that cooperation with the Serb community and the SDSS was HDZ's strategic interest.

The prime minister also said that Penava understands very well what is the HDZ's state policy and what is the policy of the local branches.

Plenković reiterated that the the HDZ policy was defined by the party leadership, while mayor Penava should deal with issues pertaining to the town of Vukovar.

Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava said on Tuesday he was not leaving the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party and that he had its support, adding that he could not be expected to renounce the values of the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Penava said they had not discussed the position of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) in the ruling coalition because he had not talked about that on Monday.

He explained that on Monday he had talked about the positive aspects of the peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia, which had been occupied by Serb insurgents during the war, and that he had thanked members of the Serb minority who had embraced that process and continued building Croatia. He also drew attention to negative aspects of this process, saying that local Serb-language students had refused to stand up for the Croatian national anthem.

"It is fascinating that from all this the media have come out with the idea that I'm leaving the HDZ and that tension has emerged between me and the prime minister," Penava said.

Asked if Plenković sympathised with his actions, Penava said they had similar views because they belonged to the same party. "As the HDZ mayor of Vukovar, I ask you never to expect of me to renounce the values of the Homeland War. As for the position of the HDZ and prime minister, he had a friendly conversation with me. I continue to be a member of the party, I promote the values of the Homeland War and for now I have support for that," he told the press.

More news on the events in Vukovar can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Vukovar Marking 21st Anniversary of Peaceful Reintegration

ZAGREB, January 14, 2019 - Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava said Monday, ahead of the 21st anniversary of the peaceful reintegration of Croatia's Danube region, that there was a continuity of the Great Serbia policy in Croatia, adding that Vukovar was "the epicentre of the creeping Great Serbia aggression."

He said an example of this was the fact that Independent Democratic Serb Party president and MP Milorad Pupovac had, in 2013, supported war crimes arrestees. "What should one say when that same person visited war criminals in jail in 2016 after their verdict became final and after they were given a combined sentence of 138 years?" Penava asked, adding that "this cannot be a coincidence."

Numerous delegations laid wreaths and lit candles at the memorial grave of Homeland War victims in Vukovar on Monday on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region, which was completed during the term of the United Nations Transitional Administration of Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) on 15 January 1998. Croatia is observing the 21st anniversary of the peaceful reintegration tomorrow.

It was the Erdut Agreement, which was signed on 12 November 1995, that enabled the peaceful restoration of Croatian sovereignty over the Croatian Danube region which was under the control of Serb paramilitaries and rebels since the launch of the Great Serbia aggression against that part of Croatia in 1991.

The Erdut Agreement on eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Srijem was signed on 12 November 1995 in Erdut and Zagreb. It was signed by the then presidential chief-of-staff, Hrvoje Šarinić, the head of the Serb negotiating team, Milan Milanović, and the then US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, and UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg as witnesses. The treaty marked the beginning of the UN's two-year transitional administration in the area during which Croatia restored its sovereignty over the temporarily occupied parts of Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties, which enabled reconstruction in the area ravaged in the Great Serbia aggression on Croatia and the return of refugees.

The Erdut agreement was reached by Croatian President Franjo Tuđman and Serbian President Slobodan Milošević at a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio. The 14-point document provided for a two-year transitional period under UN supervision, a transitional administration, formation of a multi-national police force, local elections, and demilitarisation 30 days after the deployment of international peacekeepers. Seven provisions of the agreement dealt with human rights, refugee return, and property restitution or compensation.

The UNTAES mission was created under UN Security Council Resolution 1037 of 15 January 1996 and ended on 15 January 1998.

Two Croatian military operations in 1995 – Operation Flash, which was conducted in May that year in western Slavonia, and Operation Storm, that liberated the largest portion of the occupied territories – paved the way for the Erdut agreement and subsequently for the UNTAES mission.

More news on Vukovar can be found in our Politics section.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Vukovar Company Code Consulting Remains Trusted American Partner

The Vukovar company Code Consulting was proclaimed the best small company this year in Croatia, the winner of the Golden Kuna from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK). They remain unprecedented in developing advanced IT solutions.

As Sergej Novosel Vuckovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of December, 2018, one of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to Deloitte's criteria, one Vukovar company stood out, and as it was voted as the best small company by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, it was recently awarded the prestigious Golden Kuna (Zlatna Kuna) award.

The Vukovar company in question is Code Consulting which deals with software development and mobile applications (apps). Despite the fact that that in terms of growth, this company ''exploded'' by 545 percent and now also has the primacy in the category of small Croatian companies, its founder and director Saša Solomon doesn't seem to be all that phased.

"I don't consider that as a crown of work, but more like recognition that we do what we do well, and that we're going in the right direction, we aren't bothered about lists and prizes, but we're delighted to be recognised by the big players. We're still too young to be given a crown,'' said Salamon.

Salamon is a young entrepreneur whose personal profile on the Code Consulting website says that his the favourite book is the classic Little Prince and his favourite fim is the Matrix. In addition, he has more than fifteen years of experience in software development and system administration under his belt, and he continues to get excited by all new technologies and challenges. Code Consulting was founded in Vukovar, which is otherwise Salamon's hometown, back in 2012. Salamon brought the company up to the status of a desirable and trusted partner working for the American market, where it mainly exports its program products.

The slogan for this Vukovar company is Let the computer do the job, which means that they are running technologically advanced solutions, just by applying the knowledge of people in Vukovar.

"We cover all stages of development, from planning and technical design with the client, UI/UX design, development, testing, and infrastructure, so that we can provide a full service to our customers, but I don't think we are specialists for a specific area, we mostly work on big, long-term projects, projects which are somehow related to medicine and regulated software, but we're not exclusive. What works well for us is to work on smaller projects for a long time, with customers who have a vision and are ready to accept suggestions and criticisms.

We're usually their extended team and we're involved in making technical decisions and consulting on ways of getting things done, team organisation, everything,'' explained Salamon when talking about the work methodology within this Vukovar company, which cooperates mainly with clients over in America.

The list this company cooperates with includes, among others, Varian Medical Systems, the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and cancer treatment software, Glocco, which develops modern anti-diabetes solutions, then the University of California in San Diego.

When asked about the company's earnings and whether or not it continues to grow, Salamon doesn't mention the actual figures, but notes that he's satisfied with the rate of growth. It's going at its own pace, revenue increases year after year, but growth itself is a bit slow because they are somewhat limited by the number of people who can work in the team. 

According to the Poslovna.hr portal, this computer consultancy business had revenues of 11,693,874 kuna last year, and it has been operating with a profit over the last two years (in 2017, revenues amounted to 2.99 million kuna), which is on a very steady upward path.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more on Croatian companies, products and services, doing business in Croatia, and the overall business and investment climate.

 

Click here for the original article by Sergej Novosel Vuckovic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 21 December 2018

Plenković Rejects Proposals to Ban Serb Minority Political Party

ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Croatia was not a country where freedom of speech or political parties were banned, stressing that anything that raised tensions between Croats and the Serb minority was not good.

"It is my duty as Prime Minister and president of the HDZ to see to it that such situations are avoided, to nip them in the bud and work on promoting coexistence between all people who live in Croatia. I will insist on that, regardless of any local initiatives," Plenković told the press after a session of the HDZ's Presidency, National Council and Main Committee.

The HDZ deputies in the Vukovar Town Council on Tuesday strongly reacted to statements by Serb Deputy Mayor Srđan Milaković of the Democratic Alliance of Serbs (DSS) and DSS councillor Borislav Nikolić, saying that they would take the necessary legal steps to have the DSS banned because Milaković and Nikolić had tried to equate the victim and the Great Serbian aggressor, humiliated Homeland War victims and manipulated historical facts about the war.

Plenković reiterated that war crimes prosecution and work on determining the truth was what had to be done. Those in charge of that job, the police and the prosecutorial authorities, are working more intensively than before, he said. "That task should be dealt with by them and the courts."

Stressing that the peaceful reintegration of the eastern Danube region was the key legacy of Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman, Plenković said that it was a unique endeavour that should be promoted and that reconciliation and coexistence should be built on the truth, while victims should be respected and war criminals punished.

Asked if he would call on HDZ deputy leader Milijan Brikić to explain to the public details of the fake text messages affair, Plenković reiterated that their goal was to have this affair fully clarified, which he said was the task of the law enforcement authorities and not a political party.

"We as a political party can discuss this matter only if we know for sure that something unlawful was done. I think it would be irresponsible of us to act otherwise before we have a clear situation," the prime minister said, recalling that he had discussed the matter with Brkić after the scandal broke out and now the relevant authorities were investigating.

Commenting on the case of Darko Kovačević, who had brutally beaten up a young girl in Zadar and was released from investigative detention a few days ago, Plenković said that some of the provisions of the Istanbul Convention could help in cases like this and could provide guidance in aligning Croatia's procedural law with the Convention.

Plenković said that the HDZ's approval rating was at about 29 percent. "After two years in office, we can be more than pleased, compared with some others. We feel good, we are consolidated and on the right track."

Speaking of today's meeting of the HDZ's leadership, Plenković said that a report on the party's activities, a financial report and key documents for next year's work plan had been submitted at the meeting. He said that the HDZ was financially consolidated and had no credit obligations or obligations towards suppliers.

More news on the tensions in Vukovar can be found in our Politics section.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Tensions Rising in Vukovar

ZAGREB, December 20, 2018 - Vukovar Deputy Mayor Srđan Milaković on Wednesday produced a list with the names of 42 "Vukovar Serbs killed or gone missing in June, July and August 1991," thus responding to mayor Ivan Penava's claims that all civilian wartime victims in Vukovar had been a consequence of the Great Serbia aggression.

He refuted claims that Serb civilian war victims had been executed by Serbs, producing a list of Serb victims from the time of the military aggression on the town and reading out the names of persons he claimed had been arrested at home or at work. He said some remained unaccounted for, the bodies of some were found in the Danube, and some were killed at home.

Milaković also commented on the announcement by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party's branch in the Vukovar Town Council that it would take every legal step to ban Milaković's Democratic Alliance of Serbs (DSS) and extremists who, the HDZ said, tried to equate the victim and the Great Serbia aggressor, from participating in government.

"When someone doesn't like what we say, they call for bans," he said, wondering what message is being sent if elected representatives of the Serb community are banned from speaking publicly or if their political activity is determined by certain views, for example on the Homeland War or Operation Storm.

Milaković said the DSS would not be banned. As for his own safety in the wake of his statements, he said he did not "know what to expect, but there's always danger."

As for the Town Council session at which sparks flew between the HDZ and the DSS because of an initiative to erect a monument to Vukovar's Serb civilian victims, he said it was a consequence of a recent protest against the authorities' inefficiency in prosecuting the war crimes committed in Vukovar, the marking of Vukovar Remembrance Day, and recent arrests of Serbs.

"Tensions have been raised and the political scene in Vukovar seems extreme, which is reflected on the functioning of the Serb community's representatives," Milaković said, adding that he was a legally elected representative of the Serb community. He said a Serb who expressed his identity "isn't accepted in Croatian society" and that his legitimacy was disputed even by some Serb councillors elected on the HDZ-HKS slate.

Milaković said his views on 1995's Operation Storm were seen as problematic, whereas the statement by Predrag Mišić, a Serb councillor from the HKS (Croatian Conservative Party), that it was a pity "Storm didn't happen in Vukovar too" were not. He said Serbs in Vukovar were faced with many problems on a daily basis and discriminated against, and that Mayor Penava did not want to cooperate with him or deal with those problems.

Asked why he refused to participate in the observation of national holidays or the commemoration of Vukovar's war past, Milaković said it was "because of how war events are depicted in Croatia, and there are only monuments according to which all the victims were a consequence of the Serbian aggression."

"Once Serb representatives are included in the planning of Vukovar remembrance ceremonies and Serb civilian victims are commemorated too, then we can observe everything related to Vukovar together," he added.

He said this year's visit by Independent Democratic Serb Party leader Milorad Pupovac for Vukovar Remembrance Day was, "to a certain extent, harmful for the interest of the Serb community."

Reacting to the events, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that it was important to establish the truth about what happened during the war, especially in 1991, and that it was clear to the Croatian political scene that the Great Serbian aggression launched by the regime of Slobodan Milošević caused the worst suffering and atrocities in Vukovar.

"Today, 27 years after that tragedy, we are in the position that we are supposed to honour one of the most important messages of the legacy of President Franjo Tuđman – peaceful reintegration of Croatia's Danube region," Plenković said when asked about the latest tensions in the Vukovar Town Council after a Serb councillor of the DSS party inquired about the possibility of erecting a monument to Vukovar's Serb civilian victims.

Asked by the press today about the latest developments in the Vukovar Town Council, Plenković said that he was not yet familiar with all the details.

We must create an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect instead of raising tensions, Plenković said, adding: "We must solve war crimes. Those responsible for them should be held to account".

"This is my message as the prime minister and the leader of the party (HDZ). I have explained that to members of the HDZ and I am going to explain that to the (HDZ) main committee tomorrow," Plenković said.

"The 13 October protest in Vukovar was focused on the prosecution of war crimes that had not been prosecuted. To raise further tensions between Croats and Serbs in Vukovar is not good, I will oppose that. Any act of raising tensions can have a spiralling effect which is not easily manageable, as we know from the past, and it should be thwarted immediately," Plenković said.

More news on the Vukovar can be found in our Politics section.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Proposal for Monument to Serb Victims in Vukovar Causes Debate

ZAGREB, December 18, 2018 - During a session of the Vukovar Town Council on Tuesday, a representative of the Democratic Serb Party (DSS), Borislav Nikolić, asked Mayor Ivan Penava about a possibility to raise a monument to Serb victims in Vukovar, and Penava replied that he would have nothing against such an idea, provided that the DSS admitted that Croatia's Homeland War was a consequence of aggression which the protagonists of the Great Serbia policy launched against Croatia.

During the session, Nikolić wondered about the reaction to a possible initiative of the Serb NGO called "Protiv Zaborava" (Against Oblivion) that a monument be erected in Vukovar to local Serb civilian victims.

Penava said that he would have nothing against that if the DSS party was ready to acknowledge that the war of independence was a consequence of the Great Serbia aggression.

After the council's heated debate on that issue involving DSS leader Srđan Milaković, who said that he believed that the 1995 Operation Storm was ethnic cleansing, Mayor Penava told a news conference that Milaković was actually manipulating the public and showing disrespect for history and the Croatian Constitution as well as for judgements of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that "expose the Great Serbian regime led by Slobodan Milošević."

Penava recalled that the relevant verdicts of that UN tribunal also rejected the thesis about Operation Storm as a criminal enterprise.

"Milaković is implementing the Great Serbia programme also known in public as SANU's memorandum 2," Penava said, alluding to the continuation of a policy based on ideas promoted in a document known as the SANU memorandum.

The first memorandum of Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU), drawn up by a group of Serbian academicians in the 1980s, is perceived in the public as a document that lay the ground for inciting Serb nationalism and the tenets of Milošević's Great Serbia policy.

Penava went on to say that Milaković falsified history by claiming that "the alleged killings of Serb civilians" paved the way for the wars in the 1990s. The Vukovar mayor said that he had asked Milaković to give him the names of such victims.

The mayor said Serb civilian victims had been a result of the aggression to which Vukovar had been exposed and shelling by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). "Milaković seems to forget the well-known plans of the JNA in the mid-1980s, the delivery of arms to Serb extremists, road blockades, the massacre in Borovo Selo on 2 May 1991," said Penava.

"We in Vukovar will, of course, call on all citizens who love this country to be with us, who defend the right of each Serb who has decided with their families to live and work here and help develop this city and society."

"We won't let the defeated forces from the past whom Milaković is obviously promoting to strike against the foundations of this country," Penava said.

He also called on the DSS to show publicly its platform and on its officials to say publicly what they think about the developments in Vukovar and about Serb victims who died in the shelling by the JNA and Serb rebels.

Milaković, who is Vukovar's deputy mayor from the Serb electorate, said at a news conference that a half of the overall Serb population in Croatia used to live in the area where Operation Storm was conducted in August 1995. "Operation Storm could be described in various ways, including ethnic cleansing," he said, adding that 200,000 Serbs who left that area did not do so voluntarily.

Operation Storm was launched at 5am on August 4, 1995 and within the next 84 hours 10,400 square kilometres or 18.4 per cent of Croatia's territory, which used to be under control of Serb rebels since 1991, was liberated.

Operation Storm marked the end of the war in Croatia, created conditions for the peaceful reintegration of the eastern Danube River region, spared the north-western Bosnian town of Bihać the fate of Srebrenica, 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 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 Markač, 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, Gračac, Obrovac and Benkovac.

More news on Vukovar can be found in our Politics section.

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