Increasing pressure and uneasy disquiet is building up in many Croats’ hearts as 5 August 2015 approaches – 20th anniversary of Operation Storm, of liberating Croatia from the brutal, murderous, dark forces of ethnically cleansing Serb occupying forces.
The uneasy, painful disquiet, which wants to scream with protestation, comes with the relentless and aggressive campaign waged by Serbia’s leadership, in particular Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, that denies the aggression, war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in Croatia during 1990’s. Serbia also keeps on harassing justice for the victims of aggression by saying that anyone attending the victory parade in Zagreb on 5 August will be considered anti-Serbia and that Serbia will ensure it marks on that day a day of mourning for Serbs killed in that war and Serbs who fled Croatia after the Operation Storm in 1995!
In other words, Serbia has made its vicious mind up to spoil the due glory of Croatia’s victory over brutal Serb aggression. One could say this is to be expected given that Serbia keeps on denying its crimes.
It may be expected, but it cannot be accepted; even if the current Croatian leftist government has evidently been going out of its way, many a time, to ‘accommodate’ Serbian insults against Croatia!
A member of the European Parliament from the opposition HDZ party (Croatian Democratic Union), Andrej Plenkovic, has said that the failure of NATO member states to attend the 20th anniversary of military Operation Storm in August is a failure of the Croatian government’s diplomacy and a message of yielding on the foreign policy front to Serbia, which he says downplays the 1990s wars.
“The politics of Nikolic-Vucic-Dacic (Serbia’s President-PrimeMinister-Foreign minister) are clearly implementing revisionism of what had happened during 1990’s, and that is the Greater Serbia policy and Milosevic’s aggression against the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH),” Plenkovic told reporters on Saturday 18 July in Zagreb.
Plenkovic said another example was the veto “by the instrumentalised (UN) Security Council permanent member Russia on a resolution on Srebrenica which mentions genocide, not because somebody politically wanted to mention it but because it was mentioned in rulings by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice in 2007.”
Plenkovic said such a policy was also visible in a joint decision by the governments of Serbia and the Bosnian Serb entity to proclaim August 5, Croatia’s Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian War Veterans Day, “the day of the Croatian army’s greatest victory“, a day of mourning for Serb victims.
“It’s all part of a broader activity by Serbia and recent messages by (Foreign) Minister (Ivica) Dacic are just a continuation of such a policy.”
He said the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) had a “very clear position” that the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm “should be celebrated in a dignified way as a liberating, defensive military and police operation which not only liberated Croatian territory but changed strategically and in the long term the balance of power in Europe’s southeast.”
Plenkovic said Croatian forces, together with those of the Army of BiH and the Croat Defence Council (HVO), had liberated Bihac, BiH, a UN-protected zone at the time, sparing it Srebrenica’s fate. “Only then were the Dayton peace agreement and the American diplomatic initiative possible.”
The Croatian government’s failure to have “our allies’ units” take part in a military parade on the anniversary of Operation Storm “sends a very clear message that this government has failed, with its yielding to Serbia on the foreign policy front and its insufficiently engaged explaining of Operation Storm’s strategic role for the West and our allies, for stability in the region and peace in BiH.”
He said the HDZ considered this “a big failure” of the incumbent government. Asked if this was only the government’s failure or if the entire diplomacy and the president, who signed the invitations to the allies to attend the parade, had also failed, Plenkovic said this was first and foremost a diplomatic failure of the government and its ministry of foreign affairs.
I do not agree entirely with what Plenkovic says here as do believe there will be NATO member states representation at the victory parade in Zagreb on 5 August but I do agree with his assessment of the pathetic and destructive work done by the current government and its foreign affairs field. It has been too soft and too anti-Croatia when it comes to Serbia’s tantrums and crime denials.
The 20th Anniversary of Croatia’s victory over Serb aggression; the 20th Anniversary of freedom from communism on 5 August will officially be celebrated in the town of Knin in the morning and then with the victory parade in Zagreb late in the afternoon/evening. The victory parade event is the part of the celebrations that has given rise to distressing political quarrels and fighting fueled by the current government’s (Social Democrats) push to hold the parade – which, by the way is the first one ever of its kind to mark the victory over Serb aggression – and HDZ’s (opposition – Croatian Democratic Union) opposition to it at this time.
Serbia’s Prime Minister’s (Aleksnader Vucic) statement last week that attending the military parade in Zagreb, Croatia, on 5 August will constitute an insult to Serbia, and Croatia’s defence minister Ante Kotromanovic offered a reply on Friday 17 July:
“I have refrained from reacting up until now, but today I really must respond. Radical rhetoric is not a good way to communicate. However, there are moments when one simply must direct people towards facts. All this time, our intentions were to keep our national holiday of our country’s liberation away from the international relations. Celebrations of 4th and 5th August are far above that. The comments given by the person who had during 1990’s, with a rifle in his hand, encouraged only the worst and called for killings and hatred – are not trustworthy. I want to be clear regarding these new attempts in balancing the guilt and equating the victim with the aggressor and say – we know very well who the aggressor was, and places like Vukovar and Srebrenica tell us who the victim was. Operation Storm was a legitimate action that stopped, among other things, another massacre that would have been much larger than Srebrenica!”
Those who think that Croatia’s military parade will not succeed on 5 August because soldiers of members of NATO countries will not be marching there are quite wrong in my book! Why would Croatia bother about which country will march with it and which will not for that Anniversary? After all, Croatian soldiers and Croatian military were the only ones who actually liberated Croatia from Serb occupation in August 1995 and they are the ones who should be marching and parading with pride. Anyone else is so very welcome to come and watch and marvel at the courage that still prevails in Croatia despite the vicious aggression flowing from Serbia. Perhaps on 5 August 2015 Croatia will learn who its friends are and who should be left behind and who should not? Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)