Croatia: Great Excitement For “The General” Feature Movie

Actor Goran Visnjic (L) General Ante Gotovina (R) Photo collage: croatiaweek.com

Actor Goran Visnjic (L)
General Ante Gotovina (R)
Photo collage: croatiaweek.com

 

It’s been about a week and much of Croatia is buzzing with excitement about the start of the filming of a new feature movie called “The General”. Most say: About time! And indeed it has great significance and potential in spreading and maintaining the truth about Croatia’s Homeland War and its Operation Storm of August 1995, which swiftly and decisively liberated the Croatian territory, occupied and ethnically cleansed of all non-Serbs by the Serb forces. This is a movie and a TV series’ filming of the long-awaited life story of Croatia’s much-loved war hero General – Ante Gotovina.

 

On August 4th, 1995, Operation Storm commenced. It was a large-scale military operation led by Croatian armed forces in order to gain back the control of Croatian territories which had been claimed by Serbs. The united Croatian forces led by General Ante Gotovina massed their troops around the occupied Croatian territory of Krajina. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman announced on the radio that the Croatian citizens of Serbian ethnicity in the occupied territories stay in their homes and not fear the Croatian authorities who will respect their minority rights. General Gotovina’s army shattered through the Serbian lines. The operation, which was documented as the largest European land offensive since World War II lasted 84 hours and liberated occupied Croatian territories, causing the end of the Serb onslaught on Bihac (Bosnia and Herzegovina), preventing a humanitarian catastrophe, and striking the ultimate blow to Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic’s  evil Greater Serbia scheme under the pretenses of wanting to retain Yugoslavia.

 

General Ante Gotovina (L) and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (R) August 1995 - at the Victory of OPeration Storm

General Ante Gotovina (L)
and
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (R)
August 1995 – at the Victory of Operation Storm

Goran Visnjic, a Croatian actor who has prominently appeared in American and British films and television productions is probably the best known around the world for his role as Dr. Luka Kovac on the American NBC television series “ER”. In the movie “The General” he plays the role of General Ante Gotovina, while his well-known father in law Anton Vrdoljak directs the movie. The filming is planned to last until late July this year and the film-sets will include places that saw some of the early 1990’s fiercest battles and defence frontlines for Croatia’s independence and freedom such as Knin, Livno, Sepurine, Zadar, Prkos, Kasic, Islam Grcki, Obrovac, Skabrnja, Sljeme, Lucko, Crna Mlaka, Imotski, Split, Pag, Pirovac, Turanj, Pakostane, Peruca, Rijeka, Erdut, Dalj and Zagreb.

 

Other Croatian actors in the movie and TV series include Tarik Filipovic, Rene Bitorajac, Goran Navojec, Borko Peric, Ivo Gregurevic, Mustafa Nadarevic, Natasa Janjic, Goran Bogdan, Boris Svrtan and Zrinka Cvitesic.

Goran Visnjic during filming of the General - February 2017 Photo: mojTV.hr

Goran Visnjic during filming
of the General – February 2017
Photo: mojTV.hr

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted General Ante Gotovina in The Hague in 2001, for war crimes allegedly committed during and after the Croatian military operation ‘Storm’ in August 1995.

He was arrested on the Canary Islands in December 2005 and transferred to The Hague to stand trial and convicted and sentenced to 24 years by the Hague Trial Chamber in April 2011.

Filming of The General, Croatia - February 2017 Photo: Press

Filming of The General, Croatia – February 2017
Photo: Press

November 16, 2012 The ICTY Appeal Chamber acquitted and set free Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. In the end, the truth prevailed and so did justice as we are reminded from the Judgment delivered on that day by Judge Theodor Meron:

 

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, composed of Judges Theodor Meron, presiding, Carmel Agius, Patrick Robinson, Mehmet Güney, and Fausto Pocar, today reversed by majority, Judges Agius and Pocar dissenting, Ante Gotovina’s and Mladen Markac’s convictions for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war and entered verdicts of acquittal.
On 15 April 2011, Trial Chamber found Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac guilty of committing crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war from July to September 1995 by participating in a joint criminal enterprise to permanently and forcibly remove the Serb civilian population from the Krajina region of Croatia. Mr. Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment, and Mr. Markac was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.

The Appeals Chamber unanimously found that the Trial Chamber erred in concluding that all artillery impact sites located more than 200 metres from a target deemed legitimate served as evidence of unlawful attacks against towns in the Krajina region of Croatia. A majority of the Appeals Chamber further concluded that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that artillery attacks ordered by Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac were unlawful. The majority also held that the Trial Chamber erred in finding the existence of a joint criminal enterprise whose purpose was the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians from the Krajina region.

Accordingly, the majority reversed all of Mr. Gotovina’s and Mr. Markac’s convictions. The majority also declined to enter convictions against Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac on the basis of alternate modes of liability. The Appeals Chamber ordered the immediate release of Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac. 

Mr. Gotovina was a Colonel General of the Croatian Army (HV). In 1995, he served as the commander of the HV’s Split Military District and as the overall operational commander of a military offensive known as ‘Operation Storm’ in the southern portion of the Krajina region…”

Croatia - The General - feature movie

Croatia – The General – feature movie

 

Besides Croatia, where scenes from Gotovina’s childhood and from his participation in the 1990s war will be filmed, some parts of “The General” will be shot in France and Africa, in order to show his life as a member of the French Foreign Legion.

 

The movie, the General, does not have a political dimension… he is an unbelievably interesting character and a separate movie no American film company could come up with could be made of each year of his life,” said the movie director Anton Vrdoljak about General Ante Gotovina, and added that Gotovina had no comments or complaints about the movie script, which was based on the book “The Warrior – an adventurer and general” written by Nenad Ivankovic. Wishing the film crew great days and great success – eagerly waiting to see the movie in 2018. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Candles For The Unforgotten – 25 Years On

Vukovar remembers 25 Years since Battle of Vukovar Top R: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Bottom R: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic Photo collage: Vecernji List

Vukovar remembers
25 Years since Battle of Vukovar
Top R: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Bottom R: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic
Photo collage: Vecernji List

Friday 18 November 2016 more than a 120,000 people took part in the memorial march in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar to the Serb-led Yugoslav army and Serb rebel forces on 18 November 1991 after a three-month siege and slaughter of Croats and ethnic cleansing of Croats from the town. Across Croatia lit candles lined the streets to mark the day 25 years ago when rivers of innocent Croatian blood flowed under the knife of Serb aggressor and the destruction of Croatia reached the point of the senseless and brutal. More than 10,000 people were killed in the Croatian war (1991 – 1995) that started when Croatia declared independence from communist Yugoslavia, triggering a murderous rebellion by minority Serbs to whose aid swiftly came the communist Yugoslavia army seated in Belgrade Serbia.

Remembrance march in Vukovar 18 November 2016 Photo: Screenshot Jutarnji List

Remembrance march in Vukovar
18 November 2016
Photo: Screenshot Jutarnji List

The Battle of Vukovar began on 25 August 1991 when the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitaries mounted an all-out attack on the town. About 1,800 Croatian defenders, including a large number of volunteers from throughout the country, defended the town for almost three months before being overrun by the besieging forces on 18 November 1991. About 4,000 people were killed in the battle.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic lights candles at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery 18 November 2016 Photo: Marko Markonjic/Pixsell

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
lights candles at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery
18 November 2016
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

JNA troops took wounded Croatian soldiers and civilians from the town hospital to a nearby pig farm at Ovcara and executed them in the night between 20 and 21 November 1991. Two hundred bodies have been exhumed from the Ovcara mass grave and 76 persons are still unaccounted for. The youngest victim was 16 years old and the oldest was 84. Among the victims was a woman seven months pregnant.
After the town’s occupation, several thousand Croatian prisoners of war and civilians were taken to concentration camps in Serbia, and about 22,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were expelled from the town.
A total of 309 persons from the Vukovar area are still listed as missing.

From Left: Hero, Dr Vesna Bosanac of Vukovar Hospital 1991 Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia Ivan Penava, Mayor of Vukovar at Vukovar 18 November 2016 Photo:Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

From Left: Hero, Dr Vesna Bosanac of Vukovar Hospital 1991
Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb,
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia
Ivan Penava, Mayor of Vukovar
at Vukovar 18 November 2016
Photo:Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

On the same day, November 18, 2016, several thousand people gathered in the coastal Skabrnja on Friday to commemorate the massacre on 18 November 1991 of 58 Croatian civilians and 26 soldiers by Serb rebel forces led by Ratko Mladic (currently at the Hague, ICTY, for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina including Srebrenica genocide).

Remembrance march 2016 Skabrnja, Croatia Photo: HINA/ ml

Remembrance march 2016
Skabrnja, Croatia
Photo: HINA/ ml

The next day, November 19th, thousands march peacefully in remembrance of massacres and tortures of Croats in Borovo Naselje (next to Vukovar) and Nadin (next to Skarbrnje) when of 19 November 1991 Serb paramilitary forces made up of Croatian Serbs with the help of Yugoslav army seated in Belgrade, Serbia, stormed into these villages and as in Vukovar and Skabrnje the day before – massacred dozens of Croatian civilians, forcing others in their thousands to concentration camps both in Croatia and in Serbia. The same terror occurred in many other places, day by day. It was the time of Serb occupation of Croatian lands by means of murder, ethnic cleansing, rape, destruction… a reign of terror no one can forget and most cannot forgive – the pain is still too fresh and the crimes still unpunished. This is not a good report card for Croatian governments since at least 1998 when the last patch of Croatian Serb-occupied land was reintegrated into Croatia. There are still hundreds upon hundreds of massacred and murdered Croats on the missing list and Serb simply will not reveal where their remains are buried.

Stone monument to those massacred in Nadin on 19 November 1991 Photo: Vladimir Brkic

Stone monument to those massacred in Nadin
on 19 November 1991
Photo: Vladimir Brkic

 

Besides political rhetoric and declarations of condemnation Croatian governments have not really set a firm agenda intent on achieving the result of finding out where the remains of the missing people are and what had happened to them. This agenda should become the Croatian government’s demand to Serbia as part of Serbia’s negotiations to EU membership.

I hope that after 25 years we will receive an answer to the question where our people perished, and then find the perpetrators and try them for their crimes and punish them,” said in Borovo Naselje to HRT TV news Ljiljana Alvir, president of the Union of the Families of the Imprisoned and the Missing.

Ljiljana Alvir Photo:hrt.hr

Ljiljana Alvir
Photo:hrt.hr

She said that when talking about Borovo Naselje, people from Borovo village (near Vukovar), the Serbs who were there (in 1991) and those who still live there, and who participated in the crimes and celebrated their “victory” on 19 November 1991, know where the graves of the missing are. She added that threats are made against Borovo population and the population of similar places, if they reveal where the graves are, that something (nasty) will happen to them. Besides, she said, they also fear that they’ll be indicted of the crimes if they reveal burial places and, therefore, keep quiet.

Remembrance march Borovo Naselje 19 November 2016 Photo:Gordan Panic

Remembrance march
Borovo Naselje 19 November 2016
Photo:Gordan Panic

We expect concrete measures from the Croatian government and pressure against Serbia, especially via the European parliament and to show Serbia that, if it doesn’t solve the question of the missing, it would not enter the EU as member state…” Alvir added.
Perhaps the new Croatian government will achieve more for the road to the revelation of the graves of the missing by appointing the retired General Ante Gotovina as Special Adviser to Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic at a government meeting in Vukovar on Thursday 17 November2016. General Gotovina along with general Mladen Markac were acquitted in 2012 by the ICTY of war crimes charges relating to the 1995 Operation Storm which liberated much of Croatian territory of Serb occupation.

Ante Gotovina Photo: FaH/ Mario STRMOTIC /ds

Ante Gotovina
Photo: FaH/ Mario STRMOTIC /ds

I am very pleased that my great friend and our hero has accepted my proposal and this engagement. I am confident that the general, with his knowledge and competence, will make a considerable contribution to national security and the development of the Croatian Armed Forces. It is my desire to continue encouraging the engagement of former professional soldiers and officers who helped in creating our Homeland and who can certainly also help in maintaining national security,” Krsticevic said in his Facebook post. https://eblnews.com/news/croatia/general-gotovina-appointed-special-adviser-defence-minister-44830 Serbs and Serbia are not going to be happy about this appointment as they continue with their denial of war crimes committed in Croatia but then nothing short of strong measures by Croatia will ever do justice to the victims of Serb-aggression crimes in Croatia.

And that pressure against Serbia should become the focus of all Croatian citizens in the coming months and years, if needed. Remembering those that perished without a trace, year after year, loses its true meaning without real efforts being made in finding their graves and their destiny. And so, I too hope that the Croatian government will turn its political rhetoric about the need to find the missing and start applying some real measures and pressures to actually give that revelation a real prospect. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

“In The Eye Of The Storm” – Ante Gugo Book – Bringing Of Peace To Southeast Europe

Cover of original book by Ante Gugo in the Croatian Language "The Storm Which We Could Not Avoid"

Cover of original book by Ante Gugo
in Croatian Language
“The Storm Which We Could Not Avoid”

 

Croatian war reporter’s, journalist’s and writer’s Ante Gugo’s best-selling non-fiction book in Croatia “Storm Which We Could Not Avoid” first released in 2015 in the Croatian language, twenty years after Croatia’s August 1995 swift and skillful Operation Storm liberated Krajina part of Croatia’s territory occupied and ethnically cleansed by Serb forces in early 1990’s, has now been translated into the English language and its title is “In the Eye of the Storm”.

Ante Gugo had said that his book on the Operation Storm in Croatia arose from a desire to answer the question as to whether it would have been possible to realise the independence of Croatia without a war, that is, where is and how deep does the root of Croatian-Serbian contentions run. “The search for the answer to that question could take the research centuries back or at least to the beginning of the 20th century, to the time of the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Given that such an exercise would result in too big a book, in which the process of the creation of the independent and sovereign Croatia, together with our brilliant military Operation Storm, would be drowned, I decided to draw a line somewhere closer. I decided to even skip over the open expressions of Greater Serbia tendencies within Yugoslavia … I had decided that 23 May 1985 was the spot in a timeline at which all political events except the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the creation of the Republic of Croatia become unimportant. On that day the first meeting of the Committee for the Memorandum of the Serb Academy of Sciences and Arts (widely known as Memorandum SANU) was held and brought the key document that defined Greater Serbia and a foundation for (Slobodan) Milosevic’s subsequent politics towards other nations of former Yugoslavia. That document was his Bible…”

Front Cover of book by Ante Gugo translated into English "In The Eye Of The Storm"

Front Cover of
book by Ante Gugo
translated into English
“In The Eye Of The Storm”

Teeming with facts and clear-cut arguments this is a book of research and fact-based showcase of the political, diplomatic and military struggle for Croatia’s independence – secession from the former and communist Yugoslavia. In addition to presenting the chronology of the 1995 Operation Storm, Ante Gugo has collected and analysed all the crucial and most important events that marked the breakup of Yugoslavia and the creation of the Croatian state. “In the Eye of the Storm” book places the military liberating operation Storm into its deserved historical pedestal upon which the modern democratic Croatia rests. Besides writing this book as an actual witness to the war events Ante Gugo presents a wealth of documents, photographs and maps that strongly corroborate factual reporting of events.

The author, Ante Gugo, has collected and painstakingly researched all the most significant events which characterized the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the creation of the Republic of Croatia, placing them in an impressive historical as well as political context. He deals not only with the Croatian War of Independence (known as the Homeland War) – which culminated in ‘Operation Storm’ and the liberation of a quarter of Croatian territory from four years of Serb military occupation – but also takes into account the five years preceding the outbreak of the Croatian War of Independence, dissecting the events from the second half of the 1980s that led directly to the Serbian war of aggression against Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” wrote Croatian leading newspaper Vecernji List editor Zarko Ivkovic in his Press Release on July 7th 2016.

Back Cover of book by Ante Gugo translated into English "In The Eye Of The Storm"

Back Cover of book
by Ante Gugo
translated into English
“In The Eye Of The Storm”

Many have been a witness to Croatia’s Homeland War, including myself, but not many of us, if any at all, had been a witness to the events and political intricacies and plots and actions that went on at the other side of the war; in the background and in foundations from which the brutal assault and aggression against Croatia had arisen. Hence, Gugo’s book is all the more valuable than the visible and palpable facts of war because it takes the reader behind the scenes, into the political foundations of the horrendous ethnic cleansing and genocide across Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina not seen on European soil since WWII.

 

Ante Gugo sourced factual material for his book from a variety of sources such as newspapers, memoirs, military publications, Croatian ministry of defence archives and compiled a chronology spanning ten years – from 23 May 1985 when Serbian academics decided to put together the Memorandum SANU to 8 August 1995 when the whole Serb 21st Kordun corpus surrendered to Croatian forces. That was the end of Serbia’s dream for a Greater Serbia spread to Croatia’s territory – at least for the time being.

Ante Gugo, 2015

Ante Gugo, 2015

When asked in an interview in 2015 what prompted him to write the book, Ante Gugo replied:
“…A few things prompted me to write the book ‘The storm which we could not avoid.’ The first was the fact that, shamefully, even after 20 years after the Homeland War we have very little prose and research works written on the topic of the creation of the Croatian state and the military victory over the invaders and rebels.

The second was the fact that we have a disastrous educational system that does not respect our basic national values. Our children know almost nothing about the Homeland War, the creation of the independent and sovereign Republic of Croatian and the political processes that preceded it.

The third reason is something that happened when I had already started researching for a book about the military-police operation Storm. I realised then that there were so many unknown or little-known details that influenced those events. Based on those facts we even have a continuance of political aggression against Croatia from both Serbia and Slovenia today. The fact that UN publicly stated in 1993 that there were about 80,000 people living in the occupied territories begs the question of how then was it possible for 250,000 Serbs to have been expelled from those occipied areas as has been alleged.

It is even less known that on 24 January 1991 Slovenian President Kucan signed an agreement by which he gives (Serbia’s) Milosevic the right to realise his idea that all Serbs should live in one state. This agreement meant that approval was given for aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, although only four days earlier Kucan signed an agreement with (Croatia’s) Tudjman on cooperation in defense in case of intervention by the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army).

Hence, I wanted the reality that points to the fact that we were deliberately led into war under the hope that we would finally through war be destroyed as a nation to become more readily available to the public. We simply could not avoid the Storm. Others planned it regardless of how much they may regret it.”

Even after the International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague (ICTY) had in November 2012 acquitted Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac (and the whole of Croatia’s leadership at the time) and found then not guilty of charges of joint criminal enterprise of forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia in August 1995 Serbia and Serbs still to this day continue ignoring the ICTY judgment and continue with spreading lies and myths about forceful deportation of Serbs. Gugo considers that the ease with which Serbs tend to play with and manipulate historic data, especially numbers, is something that needs to be taken seriously… The problem is not in the fact that Serbs lie, the problem is in the fact that we are keeping quiet about it – i.e. “that our (Croatian) diplomacy doesn’t respond to the lies and that they (Serbs) have not yet been shown up to the world as untrustworthy and unprepared for a democratic Europe,” stated Gugo at an interview.

 

6 August 1995 at Knin, Croatia Operation Storm had liberated Croatia from Serb Occupation From left: Gojko Susak (Croatia's defence minister), Ante Gugo (war correspondent.reporter), Franjo Tudjman (president of Croatia)

6 August 1995 at Knin, Croatia
Operation Storm had liberated Croatia from
Serb Occupation
From left: Gojko Susak (Croatia’s defence minister), Ante Gugo (war correspondent.reporter),
Franjo Tudjman (president of Croatia)

With the US born and bred acclaimed author Julienne (Eden) Busic as editor of the translated book by Ante Gugo, and Michael Durgo as the translator, one can be assured of high quality writing and a relative ease to understanding the sense of the times and important issues and sufferings that precursed today’s proud independent Croatia. One can find out how and why the 1995 Operation Storm in Croatia actually brought peace to the whole of Southeastern Europe at the time.
Besides various bookshops the book can be purchased from all Amazon online stores including US and UK as well as on CreateSpace. Kindle and Paperback available.

Links are:
amazon-featured-imagehttps://www.amazon.com/Eye-Storm-Political-Diplomatic-Independence/dp/1535118687/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468119248&sr=1-1&keywords=ante+gugo

 

 

 

amazon co uk

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_4?ie=UTF8&text=Michael+Durgo&search-alias=books-uk&field-author=Michael+Durgo&sort=relevancerank

 

 

 

createspacehttps://www.createspace.com/6378168

 

 

 

A book – absolutely worthwhile having and reading! It’s not a book only about the creation of the modern Croatian independent state amidst enormous political rage and murderous furor from communist Yugoslavia and Serbia but it’s a book that also shows how political ambitions can lead to untold horrors in modern times in which most would like to think they uphold the ways of peace. The dangers to security and safety in today’s world lurk from around almost every corner, it seems – no matter where we live. «In the Eye of the Storm» should indeed be a compulsory read not only for High Schools in Croatia but also for Universities and Colleges everywhere, especially in the studies of social and political sciences and relations. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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