As a member of the Government, a Serb from Croatia, aware of the burden of war heritage in the society felt by Serbs in Croatia, and not only them but also all the citizens of the Republic of Croatia, I must think rationally and responsibly and try to contribute to a better society and culture of peace, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Croatia and a member of the SSDS Boris Milosevic wrote on Facebook Saturday regarding his attendance of the anniversary of Operation Storm in Croatia on August 5.
"It was not easy for me to make this decision, both because of the personal family tragedy, and because of all the Serbs who lost someone in the 'Storm', those who are in exile and those who had returned, even though the return process was obstructed. I know the fate of those people well because I have been helping to solve their problems for almost my entire professional and political career, for the past 18 years," Milosevic wrote.
"I am going to Knin with an open heart, sincerely, hoping that this Government can take such an important step, a step towards the future, a better society, a society of understanding, respect and tolerance, and that we can emerge from the trenches in which we are buried, stop the hatred, stop the war," Milosevic, one of the political leaders of the Serbian community in Croatia wrote.
He noted that "unfortunately, the war is not over for many in the society", and that "children of Serbian nationality know this best, for they have to suffer stigma in their schools because of something that their parents have nothing to do with, and who must feel guilty just because they are Serbs."
"Just as my generation felt during and after the war. I'm going because I want to make their future easier. I'm going because I think the time has come for the policy of understanding and respect for others to defeat a policy of hatred." Milosevic emphasized.
According to him, the "Storm" is not only a military-police operation but also a "huge collective trauma".
Milosevic pointed out that he is willing to accept every gesture that "goes towards confirming ourselves with common tolerance and respect as a democratic society which can achieve coexistence and prosperity, regardless of any difference, including that in the interpretation of common history."
The combined military and police operation Storm was launched on 4 August 1995 and it liberated areas in northern Dalmatia, Lika, Banovina and Kordun that had been controlled by Croatian Serb rebels for four years.
In only 84 hours, Croatian forces, with about 200,000 people, liberated slightly less than 10,500 kilometres of territory, almost one-fifth of the country, which helped put an end to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and enabled the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region.
The operation was launched at 5 am on August 4 along the line running from Bosansko Grahovo to the south to Jasenovac to the east, the front line being more than 630 kilometres long.
Serbian media claim that approximately 2,000 people had been killed or gone missing during and in the aftermath of Operation Storm. They also claim that more than 220,000 people had been expelled from Croatia.