The profound respect, delight and the sense of ultimate justice for freedom WWII D-Day generates in the lands of WWII Allies is nothing less, nothing more than what “Operation Storm 1995” generates for Croatia and Croatians – except for the misguided few.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his historic message to the troops prior to their landing in Normandy on June 6 1944: “You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you”. It was the beginning of the end of WWII – the Allied forces stormed the beaches of northern France in a surprise attack on Nazi-occupied Europe. D-Day brought the beginning of the ending of the horrors of the Holocaust with steel resolve.
Words to the same effect were, I remember, delivered by President Franjo Tudjman to Croatian troops in the lead-up to Operation Storm 1995 against the Serb occupying forces.
I have not yet seen any D-Day commemorations, anywhere, where the enemy (members of the Nazi) are invited to participate. Just imagine if such an invitation went out in Britain, France, USA, Australia …! All rage would be unleashed across those the lands! D-Day is, after all, a day to honour those who fought; who lost their lives in order to liberate Europe from the brutal Nazi occupation.
Indeed, the place and times of any reconciliation between people are such that they must not, under any circumstance, contaminate the honour and remembrance of the moments in history that held the key to freedom, independence and the beginning of the ending of horrors endured by a nation.
Vecernji List reports that Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic has invited to the 17th anniversary commemoration of Operation Storm (5 August) the president of Serbian Democratic Forum, Veljko Dzakula! This man Dzakula was the political leader of rebel Serbs in Slavonia (Croatia) and although in February of 1993 he took part in the unsuccessful attempts by the Croatian government for peaceful transfer to Croatian authority, towards normalizing life for the locals on the battlefield, he was, nevertheless, prior to that – a rebel Serb leader. In the mind of Croatian people, he would have taken a strong political role behind what was to become a horrendous nightmare for Croatia – Serb aggression, occupation, ethnic cleansing, genocide, rape …
While Croatia’s president Josipovic might think (wrongly!) that Dzakula’s presence at the 17th Anniversary commemoration of Operation Storm could bring a certain confirmation of legitimacy for the Operation Storm the fact is that Operation Storm is legitimate without any testimonies from former Serb rebel leader.
The legitimacy is written in all the horror that occurred on Croatian territory at the hands of Serbs from 1991 to 4th August 1995. The legitimacy of Operation Storm is the fact that Operation Storm was waged for the ultimate need of self-preservation of Croatia within its historical and sovereign borders.
It is indeed painful, to the core, that Croatia’s leftist president and current leftist government are seemingly tolerated, albeit only coyly criticised in some media, for this utterly unfair move to bring among the revelers for Operation Storm elements that have the capacity of playing down the deserved honour to be bestowed upon Croatian war veterans on this day. Such contamination of this proud moment in Croatian history is unforgivable!
While I do not need to repeat what has been written many times about the corrupt political moves to equate the victim with the aggressor it is in that light that I see this shameful invitation by Josipovic to Dzakula.
Josipovic has perhaps read (and given utterly misguided credence to) Boris Divjak’s (one of the founders of Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina) 2006 depraved sentence: “The conflict continued throughout much of 1995 but, after Croatia invaded the Serb region of Krajina in early August …” (Page 237, paragraph 3)
Croatia did not invade a Serb region with Operation Storm. Croatia liberated its own region with Operation Storm. Operation Storm is D-Day for Croatia – the day we remember the victory over the suffering and horrors imposed upon Croatians and non-Serbs of Croatia by the Serb aggression and invasion between 1991 and 1995.
Furthermore, Josipovic and Croatia’s leftist government are perhaps still contemplating on withdrawing the Croatia’s lawsuit at International Court of Justice (ICJ) (filed in 1999) against Serbia for genocide. Serbia in its counterclaim at ICJ (2010) claims, besides dredging out WWII Ustashi crimes against Serbs that 1990’s war in Croatia has absolutely nothing to do with, demand that Croatia “amends its Law on Public Holidays, Remembrance Days and Non-Working Days, by way of removing the ‘Day of Victory and Homeland Gratitude’ and the ‘Day of Croatian Defenders’, celebrated on the 5th of August…”
The time in Croatia, and internationally, has indeed come when political manipulation must stop and truth – prevail.
May Croatia’s war veterans of Operation Storm be praised and reveled for eternity for, not only did they liberate Croatia from the brutal Serb aggression but many also, led by Croatian General Ante Gotovina, went on to stop further genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina via operation that lifted the Serb siege of Bihac. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)