Liberation from Serb cruel, ethnically cleansing of Croats, murderous, destructive occupation of a quite large part of Croatian sovereign territory turned 21 on Friday 5 August 2016. The August 1995 Operation Storm delivered victory for a free development of democracy and a sure or lasting exit from communist Yugoslavia. So, who would spoil Croatia’s freedom 21st birthday party? The aggressor of course – Serbia! Of course Serbia isn’t going to say: Happy Birthday, Croatia! Happy 21st anniversary of freedom from our murderous hordes that attacked Croatia and Croatians – of course Serbia isn’t going to say it. A decent person would, but not the one who denies his/her wrongdoing and aggression. So I really get annoyed with the media that keep giving Serbia’s leadership the space where it can continue its vile attacks, albeit verbal this time, against Croatia – still.
On Friday (5 August) a ceremony in Knin, proudly commemorated the 21st anniversary of Operation Storm, when in August 1995 the Croatian army took back around one third of the country’s territory, held by Serbs since the start of the war in 1991.
About 200,000 Serbs fled the region, which had been “ethnically cleansed” of Croats four years before via murder, destruction and forced expulsion of people from home. Although Serbs continue to tell the world these 200,000 were forcefully expelled from that region after Operation Storm the Hague international criminal tribunal had found that there were no forced deportations of Serbs from Croatia then. Understandably, if Serbs told the truth that they left Croatia in an organised manner, being asked to leave Croatia by their political leadership in Serbia and make it look like they were forced to leave, they would need to pause and examine their own deeds that preceded August 1995 – sheer war crimes for which a number of their leaders have been convicted by the Hague tribunal.
A giant Croatian flag was raised on Knin fortress in the presence of the military chiefs, acting Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. This was a symbolic gesture representing liberation and victory. Nobody in the world except Serbs (the occupier/aggressor) would deny Croatia this victory celebration.
While President Grabar- Kitarovic full speech in Knin on 5 August 2016 can be accessed at the President’s Office Webpage, here are some excerpts which deserve particular attention and applause:
“…Right at the beginning, I want to send a clear message to those who claim that the Croatian State is accidental, and have even gone a step further by claiming that the modern Croatian State was created by criminal UDBA structures: modern Croatia was created by the will of the Croatian people and the vast majority of Croatian citizens, expressed in the referendum of 1991 and in the magnificent victory of Croatian defenders, the culmination of which was the military and police Operation Storm that we proudly celebrate here in Knin. Thank you to those who gave their lives for our freedom and a future of peace! We owe our lasting gratitude to them and to all the Homeland War veterans,” the president said, alluding to the repulsive and repeated allegations by the Social Democrats’ leader, Zoran Milanovic (who is once again going fort Prime Ministership at coming elections) that Croatia came to be accidentally and that former operatives and chiefs of the notorious/murderous Yugoslav secret service (UDBA) were at the helm for creating independent and democratic Croatia. Milanovic is a nasty piece of work and I am pleased the president found it important to shoot criticism and reprimand against him even if some have said that this turned her speech into a political speech, favouring the HDZ/conservative candidates for coming elections. I tend to differ from them because Milanovic’s comments had affected negatively every Croatian who fought for freedom and every victim who gave his/her life for the freedom fight of Homeland War.
“…Before all else, we celebrate this anniversary as our day of freedom and peace. We had to fight for our freedom and peace in war, by defending and liberating the country from the joint criminal enterprise of the unitarian Yugoslav and Chetnik forces, who had perpetrated horrible evils throughout Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina already in the Second World War,” president Grabar-Kitarovic continued.
“I would like to take this opportunity to once again clearly say: we respect every victim, because every human life is of equal value and each family feels the same sorrow for their loved ones. At the same time, it must be clear that Operation Storm was and will historically remain a politically justified, ethically pure and a brilliantly conducted military operation that liberated the previously occupied Croatian national territory. It was an honourable victory for a just cause! Through it, we demonstrated our determination to be free and our ability to be sovereign. We did not allow – to quote our great poet Matos – for Croatia to be ‘a foreigner in her own homeland.’
Even though the greater Serbian aggression caused much suffering, death and destruction, the Croatian state policy did not order, undertake or approve any retaliatory action, but expressed readiness for reconciliation and forgiveness. In his speech in Vukovar, on the 8th of June 1997, President Tudjman summed it up: ‘victors who do not know how to forgive, sow the seeds of new discords and future evils. And the Croatian people do not want this.’…
Operation Storm had also great international significance as it enabled the liberation of the Bihac enclave and prevented the repetition of the genocide committed by the forces of the Army of the Serbian Republic in Srebrenica. This accelerated the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the consolidation of the political situation in this part of Europe and opened up the perspective of Euro-Atlantic integration for all countries.
Croatia and the Croatian people knew how to forgive: apart from the most ferocious war criminals, all those who had participated in the rebellion against Croatia were pardoned. General and special minority rights were fulfilled and the return of all those who wished to return was enabled. These are the ethics of victors and the ethics of peace! Even though we can humanly understand that for many Serbian refugees Operation Storm is a difficult personal and historical experience, we did not and never will accept that those outside Croatia, as well as those within Croatia evaluate Operation Storm in non-Croatian, and even anti-Croatian terms. This specifically means that we will not accept the falsification of the causes and consequences of the Homeland war. We will not accept any contempt for the generosity that we have expressed, or the neglect of judgments of international tribunals, or any denial of the legality and legitimacy of Operation Storm…”
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic speech on this most important day for Croatia of today could not have been clearer and more sincere. This is so very much needed given that Serbia’s and Serbs’ outrageous attacks and vilification against Croatia sees no pause; it’s relentless. It’s good to know where Croatia’s president stands on these important matters because someone will need to curtail the unprovoked hatred coming out of Serbia. Certainly, Croatia cannot and will not erase the fact that Serbs and Serbia had waged a brutal war against Croatia in 1991 and in 1995 they lost it. If Serbia and Serbs see celebrations of victory at Operation Storm 1995 as provocation then nobody can do anything to stop their madness and utter meanness that emanates from this except Serbs themselves. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)