Croatian President calls out Bosnia while marking Operation Storm

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Zoran Milanović
Source: Zoran Milanović (N1)

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Thursday that Operation Storm was one of the boldest and best-organised feats in Croatian history.

“I often wish that in its efforts, ambitions and successes the Croatian state were as organised and disciplined as the Croatian army was during Operation Storm,” Milanovic said during a ceremony in Knin marking Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, Veterans Day and the 26th anniversary of the combined military and police operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in central Croatia in August 1995.

He said that in 1995 the Croatian army was not a superior military power in terms of technology, but that the human factor was crucial.

“Let us remember those people. There were several thousand of them, a small number of right people who put their lives on the line,” the president said, noting that before the war those people had nothing to do with warfare.

He also cited wartime commanders Ante Gotovina, Rahim Ademi, Ante Kotromanovic, the late Ivan Korade, Damir Krsticevic and political leaders – President Franjo Tudjman and wartime defence ministers Gojko Susak and Ivan Jarnjak.

“Without few good people, key people at key moments, no major undertaking can succeed,” Milanovic said.

Speaking of war crimes committed during the war, he said: “War crimes were committed by all sides, but we should talk about all crimes. People of both Croat and Serb ethnicity were killed.”

He mentioned people killed in Promina in Sibenik-Knin County in 1991-1994, noting that no one had been brought to account for those crimes.

Milanovic said that although 26 years had passed since the war, Croatia still faced different accusations.

“Today, in neighbouring countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, which I want to believe is our friend, we can still see accusations being made against Croatian wartime commanders for unproved or made-up crimes of collective or command responsibility of 26 years ago. Croatia should simply say no to such accusations. These people will not be put on trial in Croatia and we will protect them at any cost. They are our wartime commanders!” Milanovic stressed.

In reference to Serbia, Milanovic said that Croatia would not give up on its people still listed as missing from the war, while other matters could be dealt with through dialogue.

“We cannot abandon the search for several thousand people whose whereabouts we do not know and we cannot agree to people who allegedly disappeared in Croatia but are of another ethnicity being treated in the same way as them. Those are all our citizens, we are not doing this out of spite, but because no government in Croatia can turn a deaf ear and pretend that this does not exist,” Milanovic said.

He said that the Croatian nation is a community of spirit, and not of blood and soil, a community of awareness of their joint journey through the present to the future, stressing that it is not facing extinction or disappearance.

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