Thursday, 25 November 2021

Remains of Homeland War Victims Found in Eastern Croatia

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - The remains of at least five persons which, according to preliminary findings, dating back to the Homeland War, were found in the Bobota area in Vukovar-Srijem County on Thursday as part of the tracing of those who disappeared in the 1991-95 war.

The war veterans ministry said it had organized the exhumation of the remains and further search of the site.

The remains will be taken to the Forensic Medicine Institute in Zagreb for processing and identification.

Croatia is still looking for 1,853 persons gone missing in the Homeland War, including 520 from Vukovar-Srijem County.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2021

The Realities of Life as a Vukovar Tour Guide (Interview)

November 24, 2021 - As the annual November 18 interest in Vukovar subsides, TCN's interest in this majestic city on the Danube is only just beginning. In the first of a series of interviews with the people of Vukovar, new CROMADS recruit Katarina Anđelković on life as a Vukovar tour guide, and tourism and the future.

Vukovar lives 365 days a year, not just on November 18, and there is plenty to see and do apart from doing a war tour, as Katarina explains in our first interview in an occasional series on the people of Vukovar. 

Vukovar is globally known for the horrendous events of 1991, which brought tremendous suffering to Vukovar's residents. What is it like to do war tours with something which has affected you and your family so personally and recently?

It’s never easy. I don’t mind talking about it at all and I am of the opinion that history definitely needs to be taught. However, sharing stories feels very different to me than doing a whole war tour. That should be just a part of your visit to Vukovar.


What are the general reactions of tourists who come, and how much do people from other parts of Croatia know about what actually happened?

It’s very hard to generalize, as we get different reactions from different groups. The one thing that our visitors have in common is that they are touched by the bravery and humanity of those who helped Vukovar.

As for the history, foreigners will usually not know that much and will react in an empathetic way, genuinely wanting to learn about the events. Croatian tourists are more likely to come here with assumptions, attitudes, opinions and tend to be more interested in politics and the way things are now. Which is not necessarily a bad thing when we get to focus on the future.

All in all, however, I would say that people are interested in learning, and that is quite encouraging.


30 years later, Vukovar is still known mostly for the war and not about its tourism offer. How do you feel about that?

I am on a mission to change that. Even though war tourism will always be a part of our offer, it should not be our identity. We are the cradle of civilization in Europe, we offer the finest dining, the purest nature and the warmest people. Come and check that out.


The water tower has reopened and is now in use again as a museum and viewing point, while keeping its damaged exterior. What are the opinions about the project locally? 

Just like with anything, opinions vary. There is a lot of pride in calling the water tower our symbol of perseverance and unity. For some, it’s a painful reminder, for others it stood even though it was beaten. It’s all about perspective. For me, the views from the top are undeniably magnificent.


November 18 is obviously a very emotional day each year. How do you spend it, and how do you feel about the influx of tens of thousands who come?

I am touched by the rivers of people who flood in to show support and walk the walk, and I am especially moved by those who do so by walking, running, cycling. What I don’t like (and many will tell you this) is that the next time you will hear about Vukovar in the media is around the same time next year.

As for how I spend the day – it depends. Some years I walk and some years I do something else in an attempt to distract those who lived it all. The same thing does not always feel right.

Now let's talk about tourism of the future. What incredible things do you have to show us? Give us a flavour with your top 5 things to see and experience.


Vučedol, Vučedol, Vučedol! When was the last time you visited a museum that was built on the very site where an ancient civilization lived? Completely blended into nature as well, with a number of awards for its architecture! Everyone will tell you about Egypt and Mesopotamia, but not many know about their contemporaries who lived right here. It never fails to leave our guests speechless,


The Austro-Hungarian legacy and the Eltz castle. With our city museum displaying historical as well as contemporary artifacts in a wonderful area right next to the Danube, an afternoon spent learning and sipping coffee with a view will surely leave you feeling fulfilled. Can you tell I kinda like museums?


The baroque city centre. With its architecture completely reconstructed to showcase the decorative style of the era, today it houses traditional artisan shops as well as some modern endeavours to tickle your senses. I’ll keep that one as a little secret to share with those who visit around lunchtime.


Cruising the Danube with a glass of wine. Take the Vukovar WaterBus into the sunset, witness the beauty of this powerful river and forget about worry for this truly relaxing experience. 

Its people! Wherever you go you will be met with a smile, a shot of rakija and some kulen just to start you off. What follows is stories, experiences, places, just incredible things. I especially love talking to our older residents who will happily tell you about the times of glory in Vukovar.


I have not even scratched the surface there. The fabulous food, wine and craft beer, our parks and forests, our river island, the murals done by some amazingly talented artists, the tradition, the future in the form of VR and AR, so so much to discover.


You are the tourist board director of Vukovar for the day. How would you brand Vukovar for tourism, and what are its key strengths? 

As much as it pains me as a tourist guide, the key strengths of Vukovar might lie in what’s been hidden for so long. It is so rewarding watching people react to all that we show them which they had absolutely no idea about. And the magic behind that. You will find something in the east that is quite unique in Croatian tourism – we try so hard. We don’t see others as competition but rather as allies in bringing people here and showing them what is there to see, experience and taste. All chased down by some unbelievable stories.


Tell us a little about the energy of the small but fabulous eco-system of tourism businesses and offers which are emerging in Vukovar. 

As I said in my previous answer, the uniqueness of Vukovar’s tourist offer lies in the fact that all the businesses work together rather than against each other. The quality of their products is just outstanding, everything works so well together and choosing just one thing to take home sometimes seems impossible.

For more news and features from Vukovar, follow the dedicated TCN Vukovar section.

Do you have a business or social initiative in Vukovar that you would like to have featured on TCN? If yes, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Vukovar. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Vukovar Card: Support Local Economy Rather than Temporary Facebook Status

November 23, 2021 - 30 years after the fall of Vukovar, the global Croatian community commemorates the horrendous event, but is it time to support the Vukovar community with something more concrete than an annual Facebook status update? A practical suggestion to introduce the Vukovar Card.

For many, many years, I avoided writing about the topic of Vukovar, and with good reason. 

I am not Croatian, I was not there, and how could a foreigner have an opinion worth having about one of the most painful periods and events in Croatian history? And not only that, but how could he possibly understand? 

Having spent a year as an emergency aid worker in Rwanda, arriving two weeks after the genocide that killed 800,000 people in just 100 days in 1994, I had an understanding of suffering, but the complexities of the Vukovar situation and my lack of knowledge meant that I avoided writing about the topic. Instead, I limited my involvement to accompanying my kids to light the annual candle, and also delegating the topic to a native writer to cover.


Years passed. The November 18 remembrance parade took place each year, every Vukovar Street in the country was lined with red candle holders on each side of the street, Facebook became a sea of images with messages such as Never Forget and City of Heroes. 

It was powerful stuff. As I wrote after the World Cup which was followed by the death of Oliver Dragojevic, which led to In Life and In Death, Croatia are World Champions at Celebration.

And they really are. It is amazing to watch the passion of Croats in times of extreme joy and extreme pain. 

But as the years went by, I realised that by the time November 19 came round, Vukovar was forgotten for another 364 days. And while the Facebook statuses and candles were no doubt appreciated, Vukovar was forgotten for another year as soon as the candles went out. 

Two years ago, I realised that while the November 18 remembrance parade takes place each year, there was nothing online about the actual experience in English. I decided to go and document the whole event as a foreign neutral, to at least give some perspective for TCN foreign readers. 


It was one of the most harrowing, but also one of the most educational days in all my 18 years in this country - Vukovar Remembrance Day Through the Eyes of a Foreign Resident.


These two photos - taken with permission - killed me. The look of joy on the young boy's face as he ran in to see everyone marching past was pure innocence and happiness. Finally, something was happening in the city, even if he perhaps did not appreciate what. That face, that innocence, and that joy has stayed with me ever since. The innocence will not last long in the Vukovar of today, but what can we do to keep the smile on his face and give him a future that will keep him? 

Temporary Facebook statuses and extinguished candles were not going to be enough. 

Back then, inspired by that smile, I wrote Vukovar: How to Honour the Fallen and Assist the Survivors? It was not so widely read as I had hoped, but after returning from Vukovar and this year's event, I feel compelled to try again. 

The 2021 Vukovar Day was a much different experience for me. The initial shock was no longer there, as I knew what to expect. But there were other differences. The water tower was open, and the experience became more one of joy, celebration, and national pride than looking at a national scar. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the 30th anniversary, as well as comrades being reunited after the more muted, pandemic-affected 2020 Vukovar Day, but there was a much more positive atmosphere overall. There was respect and remembrance of course, but a notable toning down of the politics, lots of hugs, and sharing of rakija. 


As we filmed, I was struck by how many people asked us to take their photos. And many begged us to take one of their flags. These guys wanted to tell me about Travnik (I already knew about it from previous visits to Bosnia). They wanted the world to know they were in Vukovar. And the selfies. For every person grieving by an individual grave, there were ten talking selfies in the cemetery with friends reunited. 

It didn't feel wrong. 

But the main difference to me this time was the time I spent with local people from Vukovar, as they observed this mass invasion with a mixture of emotions. I heard stories over wine and rakija that brought tears to my eyes, and stories of resilience and survival that had me welling up again. And LOTS of stories about the great new things happening in Vukovar. Of new opportunities, of local people having a go. The conversation that stayed with me was with a lovely guy who fought back the tears as he told me his story, before going to pick up his young kids so that they could walk to the cemetery. 

Don't hate but never forget. I want my kids to know what happened and to respect that. We have our past but it is not the first thing tourists need to know when they arrive. We have a great tourism offer based on the future. I am proud to live here but things have to change. I want to leave a better Vukovar for my kids so that they will stay.

We didn't fight for a country like this. It is rotten in every way. Why do journalists come looking for positive Vukovar stories every year on November 18 only? Why never in March?

Unlike most visitors who only come once a year, 3 days later, I found myself back in Vukovar offering an extraordinary young lady called Katarina a part-time job. And I can't tell you how excited I am about hiring her. This is not a charity job offer - far from it. With her help, we will be telling the positive stories of Vukovar and eastern Croatia not just once a year, but throughout the year. Stay tuned. 

So how can we honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice, while providing economic benefit to those living in Vukovar today? And how to keep that smile on that young boy's face, while also allowing those far away to keep that connection to Vukovar and to never forget?


There is a very simple solution that I will be proposing to the Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac, who promised me a meeting when we met in Dubrovnik recently. 

It could actually use the infrastructure of a previously failed initiative by the Kings of Accidental Tourism before Minister Brnjac's time - the CRO Card.   

It is called the Vukovar Card. 

I had lunch with the regional tourist board directors of both Vukovar Srijem and Osijek Baranja counties last week. I told them my idea and asked them if they could produce an award-winning 7-day itinerary of eastern Croatia, which not only gave participants more than enough time to honour and grieve for the tragedy of 1991, but also to give eastern Croatia's visitors a unique tourism experience that will blow their minds. As it did mine on a similar itinerary last week - more soon next week. 

Is this a charity case? Yes, it is. This is eastern Croatia saying no hard feelings about being ignored for 25 years and giving its visitors an outstanding and unforgettable 7 days showcasing a Croatia they hardly knew existed. I have travelled all over this country, and the last week in eastern Croatia with digital nomad videographer Steve Tsentserensky, was probably the best in my 18 years here. 

Many of the diaspora who change their Facebook status for November 18 come to the Adriatic coast each year for 2-3 weeks. So here is the simple suggestion. On one of those visits, for 7 days only, take the Vukovar Card package, experience a Croatia you never knew existed, pay respects to those who fell to free this country, and put money into the local economy of those who are left behind. The tour is sensational.

And there is a bonus if you do. 

For all those tourism businesses on the coast who change their Facebook profile each November 18, offer a 10% discount on some services for holders of the Vukovar Card. Your way of giving back. 

And that, as they say, is that. 

The infrastructure for the Vukovar Card is already there with the CRO Card, as well as the brilliance of Croatian Tourism Month, which ran from October 1 to November 7. The only practical suggestion I would make is to keep this project away from certain failure is to exclude the Croatian National Tourist Board from the project entirely. Otherwise we might have a repeat of the situation recently when a huge national campaign to promote (among other things) our celebrated gastronomy could result in the only thing to eat in half the country being popcorn from Cinestar. Yes, really. Gourmet Croatia: 35% Off Popcorn the Only Offer in Kingdom of Accidental Tourism

Once I receive the 7-day itinerary, I shall request that ministerial meeting. If anyone with more knowledge of how these things work would like to get involved (ideally take over the project completely, as I have plenty of work to do), then please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Vukovar Card.

If I have angered or offended anyone with this suggestion and article (I am aware of how emotive Vukovar is), that was not my intention. I hope, at least, that it would be welcomed by those who matter most - those who gave their lives, and those who were left behind. 

And if in any small way it helps to keep that smile on the little boy's face, it will have been more than worth it.  

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Vukovar Remembers Victims of War Crimes Committed at Velepromet and Ovčara

ZAGREB, 20 Nov, 2021 - A requiem mass was said and wreath-laying ceremonies were held on Saturday on the premises of the Velepromet storage facility,  which was converted into a concentration camp by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serbian paramilitaries and rebels during the siege of Vukovar in 1991. 

An estimated 10,000 people were detained in the "Velepromet" buildings from late 1991 to March 1992 when this camp was closed, according to statistics kept by former detainees' association.

Of those 10,000 detainees, some 700 were killed, and the head of the association Danijel Rehak said today that this was the biggest execution site in Vukovar.

He said that the former detainees had lodged a plenty of reports against perpetrators of atrocities a Velepromet and in Vukovar, and he accused the Croatian prosecutorial authorities for insufficient efforts to prosecute those war crimes.

On Saturday afternoon, residents of Vukovar and families of the missing and fallen defenders and civilians will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the executions at former Ovčara farm.

Ovčara was another site of atrocities committed by the occupying forces on 20 and 21 November 1991. The exact number of the people killed at Ovčara, a former pig farm, is unknown, but 194 cases have been documented before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Of those, the youngest victim was 16 years old and the oldest 77. The majority of victims were patients transported from the Vukovar general hospital to that farm, several kilometres away from the town.

Vukovar was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia in January 1998. The peaceful reintegration began in January 1996 with the assistance of the UNTAES (UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Sirmium). Croatia's parliament decided in 1999 that Vukovar Remembrance Day would be observed on November 18, the day of the town's fall.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Lanterns Floated Down the Danube in Memory of Fallen and Missing Defenders, Civilians

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - Several hundred lit red and white lanterns were floated down the river Danube on Thursday evening in memory of Croatian defenders and civilians killed or gone missing in the defense of Vukovar from the Great Serbia aggression in 1991.

Red lanterns were lit in memory of the missing persons and white lanterns for the fallen defenders and civilians.

According to data collected by the Franciscan monastery in Vukovar, 2,717 persons were killed or went missing in Vukovar in the military aggression of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary groups.

Another 386 persons are on the list of persons detained or gone missing in the Homeland War, having disappeared without a trace in wartime Vukovar.

On the occasion of Vukovar Remembrance Day, tens of thousands of persons from Croatia and Bosnia, and Herzegovina passed through the city in the Remembrance Procession on Thursday on the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the city's defense, police estimates.

For the latest news about Croatia, click here.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Respects Paid to Vukovar and Škabrnja Victims at NATO Headquarters in Brussels

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021- Respects were paid to Vukovar and Škabrnja victims at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and that gesture sends a strong message that the truth about the events of Croatia's Homeland War has crossed Croatian borders, said Defence Minister Mario Banožić, the Ministry of Defence reported on Thursday.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar, Remembrance Day for Homeland War Victims, and Vukovar and Škabrnja Remembrance Day, the Croatian flag was flown at half-mast to commemorate all Vukovar and Škabrnja victims.

Minister Banožić said that the gesture sent a strong message that the truth about the events of the Homeland War had crossed the borders of our country, which was an additional motive for continuing to promote the truth about the Homeland War, especially among young people.

"Today we are reminded of the importance of collective security and how much easier it would have been for us to oppose threats to our territorial integrity during the Homeland War if we had been a member of NATO then. Today, the Republic of Croatia and the Croatia Armed Forces are appreciated among their allies and partners, which show how much we have done in the past 30 years and that with will, effort and perseverance there are no impossible goals," said Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

He underscored that Croatia was a responsible ally that contributed to international missions, global peace, and security, the ministry said.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

NGOs Hold Commemoration of Vukovar Victims in Belgrade

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - The Women in Black association organized a commemoration of Vukovar victims in the center of Belgrade on Thursday, standing in silence with the banner "We'll never forget the war crimes in Vukovar".

Representatives of the Civic Democratic Forum (GDF) joined the Women in Black, and the rally was secured by police, which is seldom when it comes to the association's demonstrations, commemorations, or peace actions.

In addition to remembering the victims of Vukovar, members of the Women in Black pointed out the existence of camps for Croats, who were brought to the territory of Serbia, to Sremska Mitrovica, Stajićevo near Zrenjanin and Begejci in Žitište since the beginning of the conflict, asking for memorial plaques to be placed in those places.

"Serbia and its institutions should grant the request the Women in Black and the Art Klinika association have been making for 15 years, with the support of more than 30 civil society organizations, that a memorial plaque be placed at the location of camps in Stajićevo, Begejci and elsewhere," said members of the Women in Black, seeking support for other forms of symbolic compensation to victims and their families, as well.

According to the Women in Black, Serbia and state institutions should establish the responsibility of the top of the former Yugoslav People's Army for the armed attack on Croatia and initiate court proceedings for the crime of urbicide in Vukovar.

GDF: Serbia doesn't have the strength to face the past

The Civic Democratic Forum said on the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar that not only Vukovar but the entire Yugoslavia had fallen on 18 November 1991.

GDF leader Zoran Vuletić told Hina that "Vukovar is indelible proof of the criminal policy which united the Yugoslav People's Army and bloodthirsty paramilitary groups with its manipulation about the defense of Yugoslavia and incitement of revanchism and nationalism".

"And what must not be forgotten in this shameful chronology of evil, the destroyers set out from Serbia for Vukovar, as the executors of the policy of Slobodan Milošević and like-minded people. The vengeful rampage of the destroyers lasted for months until the city stopped looking like itself, and thousands of people were killed, wounded, or forced to leave, not knowing where to go," the GDF said.

Even today, Serbia does not have the will, strength, or desire to face this memory, Vuletić said.

With occasional heckling and verbal provocations by some passers-by, today's commemoration in the center of Belgrade passed without incidents.

For the latest news about Croatia, click here.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Remembrance Day March Passes Through Vukovar

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - Several tens of thousands of citizens from around Croatia and neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina marched through Vukovar to commemorate the war victims of Vukovar on the 30th anniversary of the city's fall into the hands of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitaries.

Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved said that arrivals in Vukovar awakened emotions every time.

"We express our gratitude to our courageous defenders and in a special way pay homage to the victims who were taken from the hospital to the Ovčara farm, to all our POWs, people who were taken to Serb concentration camps. The thing that is very important, is that today is a day when emotions are present to that measure, on the other hand, we have to work throughout the year for society to have appropriate relations towards Croatian defenders and the victims of the Homeland War, said Minister Medved.

Kata Zadro, the widow of legendary defense commander of the Trpinjska cesta street, Major General Blago Zadro who was killed in 1991, also marched in Vukovar on Thursday. "Vukovar today looks very nice. When I was here before the peaceful reintegration I couldn't find my own street or my house, given the way the city looked like then. Today, everything is renewed but it bothers me because there is no harmony or unity," she said.

According to Vukovar's defense commander Branko Borković, the Vukovar episode is not over because the perpetrators have not been punished yet.

"There are many open wounds. Many mothers, children, grandchildren are still searching for their loved ones. That means a very large number who still have not been found. That is a huge burden that not only burdens us all but is an obligation for the state authorities, regardless of their political background to insist and fight for that," said Borković.

Lyliane Fournier also attended the march. Fournier is the mother of a French volunteer Jean-Michel Nicolier, who was one of the victims taken from the Vukovar hospital and killed at the Ovčara farm.

"I am filled with emotion. We are waiting for the state prosecutor to finish the procedure and to conduct an investigation, to indict my son's murderer. All we have now is a decision by the court in Osijek. I am surprised with how many people are so kind to me and how many people remember my son," she said.

Flag bearers were at the helm of the march carrying the flags of Croatia army units including Croatian historical units dressed in historical uniforms.

As the procession passed in front of the building of Croatian Radio Vukovar, its staff played the last report by its wartime reporter Siniša Glavašević who was killed at the Ovčara farm on 20 November 1991 along with 199 other victims.

Similar to previous years, the country's top officials, President Zoran Milanović, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the procession.

They were accompanied by several cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, representatives of political parties, and many public figures, like Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava, Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanić, and numerous other mayors and county prefects. Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević was also seen at the march.

The Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović, also participated in the commemorations and laid a wreath at the Memorial Cemetery.

After the march, numerous delegations laid wreaths and lit candles in honor of the victims of the Homeland War.

Holy Mass was celebrated by Zagreb Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Šaško.

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

For the latest news about Croatia, click here.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Tens of Thousands of People Attend Vukovar Remembrance Day Procession

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - Tens of thousands of people joined the commemorative procession in the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar on Thursday to pay their respects to the defenders and civilians killed or gone missing at the start of the Homeland War in 1991.

The country's most senior officials, President Zoran Milanović, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the procession. They were accompanied by several cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, representatives of political parties, and many public figures.

The procession passed through the main street near the city landmark, the Water Tower, which now serves as a memorial center. During the war, it was damaged by 640 mortar shells.

As the procession passed in front of the building of Croatian Radio Vukovar, its staff played the last report by its wartime reporter Siniša Glavašević who was killed at the Ovčara farm on 20 November 1991 along with 199 other victims.

As the procession walked through the city, the bells of St. Phillip and Jacob's church rang the entire time.

Upon arriving a the Memorial Cemetery, the state delegations laid wreaths and lit candles in tribute to the war victims, while a memorial Mass was celebrated by Zagreb Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Šaško.

For the latest news about Croatia, click here.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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