Croatia: Reconciliation Cannot Be Achieved With Denial Of Truth And Lacking Love For Nation Of People

Ina Vukic, August 2020

 

Many people are asking me these days what is the reaction of the Croatian diaspora to the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of victory in Knin on August 5.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm, was neither visually nor morally nor truthfully a celebration of the great and deeply sacrificial victory over the brutal and obscene Serbian or Yugoslav aggressor! What that celebration was is a false picture of the truth and reality of that time and now!

During the Homeland War, Croats and anti-Croatian Serbs did not sit together in any rows, let alone in the front row of the battlefield, but on opposite sides. On one side, aggressive brutally murderous Serbs, and on the other side, Croats whose lives were endangered in the middle of that Serbian aggression.

Then in Knin on August 5, we saw and heard General Ante Gotovina who, without a shred, without a shred of shame or embarrassment, dishes out some lesson that discipline is needed in war and in peace! Of course, this mention of discipline certainly referred to the HOS (volunteer Croatian Defence Forces), whose defenders of the Homeland War and Operation Storm  were standing at that time on the streets of Knin during the celebration of Operation Storm with police threats directed at them. Because, you see, their slogan For Homeland Ready (Za Dom Spremni), which infused courage and determination for an independent Croatia, bothers the current government of the Republic of Croatia. This slogan was decisive in the defence of the Republic of Croatia, i.e. in the establishment of independence.

Then, General Gotovina, straight-faced, gave himself the right to speak about discipline, which in this case should surely keep HOS defenders, under police pressure and threats behind the lines, the police lines, while others, undeserving others, celebrated part if not the whole victory to which they contributed, to which HOS contributed and deserve to be a part of its celebrations.

So, I have never seen such perversion anywhere in the world. That something like this should happen, that the celebration of victory should be denied to those who contributed to that victory, in national defense or in national victory.

Perversion itself!

It is not just about discriminating against HOS defenders in this case, it is about perversion against the Homeland War, perversion against victory.

HOS Veterans denied access to celebrations
of Victory/ Operation Storm
in Knin, Croatia, 5 August 2020
Photo: Screenshot

And then so that this discrimination and perversion could become even stronger or better – worse! – at almost the same time not far from Knin in Grubori, the Croatian government, that is, Serbian politics in Croatia, organised a commemoration for victims of a crime against six Serb civilians that took place some three weeks after Operation Storm. The crime was committed by individuals who, in fact, with that act of crime violated the policy of the Croatian defence, the policy of Franjo Tuđman, the policy of Gojko Šušak, also now deceased. So, this commemoration in addition to the victory celebration in Knin was simply planned in order to diminish the value and the validity of the victory of Operation Storm. That’s why they sent Tomo Medved (Deputy Prime Minister) there. The appearance of Tomo Medved in Grubori at the commemoration for the victims of a crime committed by disobedient individuals who violated the policies and orders of the Croatian defence. This appearance by Tomo Medved there undoubtedly symbolises also that the top of Croatia wants to attribute this crime committed by individuals to the overall Croatian defence in the Homeland War. And that is nothing else but an another step in equalising the victim and aggressor in the Homeland War.

So, a perversion, perversion which I and I believe many others have not experienced before.

What courage against the Croatian people!

But, all this said, Croatian diaspora was before the Homeland War, during the Homeland War and after the Homeland War “For Homeland Ready” and for God and Croatia,  democratic Croatia, ready!

Some will say that by organising the celebration of 25th Anniversary of the magnificent victory over the brutal Serb aggressor in Knin at almost the same time they organised the commemoration for the victims of crime against six Serb civilians that occurred in the nearby village of Grubore, three weeks after the victorious Operation Storm, is good for reconciliation! Well, my professional opinion derived from my substantial training and experience as a Psychologist, tell me that nothing can be further from the truth. Firstly, the killing of the six Serb civilians occurred on 25 August 1995, twenty days after this Serb-occupied Croatian territory was liberated by Operation Storm, and the commemoration should have been planned for that date! Secondly, the ICTY Appeals Tribunal (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) in the Hague had, in its Judgment in the Gotovina & Markac case, in November 2012, stated that “the state and military leadership had no role in their planning and creation” of this crime. So, why join the commemoration for these victims with the glorious victory of Operation Storm!? Utter perversion and political manipulation in the lame efforts to achieve reconciliation between the Serb aggressor and Croatians whom they attacked, perhaps? But here is the reality: one cannot achieve reconciliation through the denial of truth nor through lacking love for one’s people! And the current government with its Serb minority elected coalition clearly possess both of these characteristics that are not reconciliation-friendly: denial of truth and lacking love for the Croatian nation. Ina Vukic

Below is the video in the Croatian language with English subtitles that I have made with the above record of distressing happenings in Croatia around the celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of Operation Storm. Please visit!

 

Croatia – Freedom’s Triumph Yet To Rise!

Croatia’s Homeland War Memorial Cemetery in Vukovar
Photo: Damir Plavsic

This weekend of 5th August 2018, like the same date days of past 23 years – as Croatia commemorates the 23rd Anniversary of military operation Storm, Victory Day, War Veterans’ Day and Homeland Gratitude Day – is sure to ruffle up many media pro-Serbian and pro-communist Yugoslavia feathers, dredging up persistently false Serb claims that 200,000 Serbs were forcefully deported from Croatia immediately after the successful military operation Storm, which liberated a large portion of Croatia from Serb occupation (self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina). The truth is that the leadership of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina had on 4th August 1995, as Croatian Operation Storm began, officially issued an evacuation order to Serbs in Croatia! Their own guilty conscience was behind it all, no doubt about that.

During this skilful military operation, Storm, protective of all civilian life including Serb, the Serb-occupied Croatian territory was brought back into the Croatian legal order, except for Eastern Slavonija, which was peacefully re-integrated later, in 1998. ‘Operacija Oluja’ (Storm) and ‘Operacija Bljesak’ (Flash), which was carried out in May 1995, were the critical military operations leading to the end of the bloody and brutal war of Serb aggression against Croatia.

Depending on the political spectrum people are in, the Official celebration of this Croatian national holiday, which happens every year in the Dalmatian hinterland town of Knin (the main site of events that occurred during ‘Operation Storm’) provokes passionate reactions from and has various meanings for different people, while Serbia mounts at the same time a day of mourning! The official memory of this military operation refers, as it should, primarily to the victory of the Croatian Army and its success in bringing back the occupied territories under Croatian rule. The narrative adopted by Serbs for their day of mourning rests upon false claims that Serbs were evicted from Croatia! Not even the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia finding (2012 in the case of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac) that there was no forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia at the time has made any difference to this preposterous, scandalous claim.

Serbs order their own evacuation from Croatia, 4 August 1995

On Wednesday 1 August 2018 Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic said to media that “unlike the hysteria that occurs in Croatia during the anniversary of Operation Storm, Serbs will mark our sorrow and tragedy and the calamity of our people in dignity…” Notwithstanding regretful cases of true civilian casualties in war (and in Srebian aggression against Croatia not all Serb civilians were true civilians, for it was the local civilians that often engaged in the killing, in the persecution and torture of Croat neighbours even before military aggression started), what kind of “dignity” can be attached to attempts to murder a nation, aggression, ethnic cleansing, rape, plunder…is only known to Serbs it seems. Those that support their deranged logic and narrative certainly, to my knowledge, have never questioned this!

In Croatia, commemorative culture regarding the 1990’s Homeland War has proved to be a platform for politicians to continue nation-building narratives and strengthen national identity. The associated and real sacrifice, real suffering, the real struggles against the mighty military of former Yugoslavia coupled with rebel Serb civilians who eventually formed military might of their own in order to stop Croatia seceding from communist Yugoslavia make Operation Storm all the more heroic for the independence of Croatia.

However, the former communist destructive forces, the so-called antifascists, persist as main barriers to and killjoys of true independence, which, if given a thorough chance, should have by now lustrated active communist heritage out of Croatian democracy. Hence, in Croatia, there also exist oppositional counter-narratives that challenge the truth narrative and are expressed through counter-commemorations and aggression-denial memorialisation organised by Serbia and the local Serb population in Croatia, and supported by a number of pro-communist Yugoslavia Croats! This year a youth association who pursued the line that Croatia should apologise for its Operation Storm mounted one of such deranged initiatives. In other words, the misguided, but politically maliciously wired youth thinks that one should apologise for defending ones home and life from peril and brutal onslaught! Regretfully, the need to preserve own life and pursue freedom from communist oppression that forced Croatia to defend itself seems to have been forgotten by such sections with the Croatian society.

Croatians have nothing to apologise for when it comes to Operation Storm and every other military operation carried out in defence of the country! And on celebrating the liberation from local Serb separatists and their brutal allies from Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia, one can with objective confidence say that Serbs are bitter and sorry that Operation Storm was a success, and for the failure of their plans for ‘Greater Serbia’.

Looking back at least since year 2000, when the former communists won government in Croatia, annual commemoration of Operation Storm victory have consistently been contaminated with implants of alleged war crimes by Croats during and after the military operation, with attempts and confabulations to criminalise Croatia’s Homeland War, with the agenda to equate the aggressor with the victim! During the period of Ivica Racan’s coalition government, from 2000 until 2003 (with Stjepan Mesic as the country’s president), the prime minister and most ministers avoided Knin commemorations, from fear of pro-West (democracy) policies gaining increasingly firmer ground in the development of Croatia as a free nation; free from communist Yugoslavia. Their main weapon, it would seem, was the fact that “antifascism” was, undeservingly, built into the Croatian Constitution as one of the foundations of the modern Croatian state, ignoring the Homeland War (the War of Independence) as its true and greatest foundation. The “antifascism” weaved into the Constitution was and is, in fact, the murderous and oppressive communism of Yugoslavia, not the antifascism the West has known in its midst! In 2004, the new HDZ government set the precedent that all of the top Croatian politicians (president, prime minister, and speaker of the parliament) should attend the commemoration in Knin, emphasising the importance of this date and place in the national consciousness. Even though the HDZ under Ivo Sanader had taken notable steps at reaching out to Croatian Serbs, including coalitions with the Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS – Samostalna demokratska srpska stranka), the victorious tone of the Victory Day commemorations invariably antagonised the country’s ethnic Serbs. By 2005 commemorations, it was clear that the pursuits to criminalise Croatia’s Homeland War via sending Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac to ICTY had indeed, in eyes of many, albeit unjustified, diminished the value of Operation Storm victory and several contested versions of that past had gained prominence as did antagonism within the Croatian society itself; part of which society are Serbs in whose interest it is to downplay the Serb aggression against Croats. The scenario continues to today, in one way or another someone somewhere attempts to inject the glorious and well-deserved victory of the Croatian military forces with poison – for political gain, undoubtedly!

In all that rather long while more than 1,700 mass graves of Croatian victims of communist WWII and post-WWI crimes in Croatia have been uncovered. The antagonism created around Operation Storm and Croatian Homeland War in general has helped and continues to aid the agenda that opposes prosecution, condemnation of communist crimes. If because of nothing else then because of that communist agenda the commemorations of Croatia’s 1990’s Homeland War need to escalate in their brilliance and shine – this freedom’s triumph must be complete. The completeness of freedom lies in determined pursuits to deliver justice to victims of communist Yugoslavia crimes.

New communist crimes mass grave site in Zagreb – July/August 2018

On Wednesday 1 August 2018 more mass graves of victims of communist crimes were unearthed, this time right in the middle of Zagreb, Savska Street! The human remains of at least 25 victims of criminal communist purges were found in two mass graves and one individual grave, located in a park in the Zagreb neighbourhood of Vrbik. Initial screening of the ground, using specially-trained dogs and geo radars, began after officials received information from the public that victims from World War II or the post-war period could be found there. Due to the large size of the area, the complexity and volume of work needed several phases of the investigation are planned.

This repeated horrific finding hasn’t been reported much in the mainstream media that seeks to cover-up or justify communist crimes. This latest mass grave finding occurred at the same time when former communists and Serbs are busy throwing vitriol at Operation Storm, still doing their corrupt utmost to deny the Croatian nation a deserved basking in the glory of Homeland War victory.

Croatia, indeed, must re-examine the nature of its commitment to freedom achieved with Homeland War. It must conclude that commitment to the freedom is, in fact, the strengthening of its national conscience and morality. In the context of Croatia’s peoples overwhelming resolve in 1990 to secede from communist Yugoslavia it is utterly immoral to protect any part of that Yugoslavia and especially its crimes against humanity.

Deliberate murder of innocent people and the oppression were wrong and remain wrong. Croatia must refuse to ignore or in any way appease the Serb aggression and the brutality of evil men and former communist regime. It must escalate condemnation and prosecution of communist crimes. It must clear these dark remnants of history that stifle freedom and progress.

To that end, happy Victory Day – Croatia! Ina Vukic.

Croatia: Distressing Taste Of Red

Celebrating 22 anniversary
of Croatian Operation Storm
in Knin 5th August 2017
Photo: Dusko Jeremez/Pixsell

As far as many are concerned, wearing a red dress (red being the colour symbol of communism that has mass murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent Croats until 1990) scored no positive points but those of unease for the president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, at the official state celebration 5 August in the town of Knin of Croatia’s victory over Serbian aggressor and communist Yugoslav forces in 1995. This non-point-scoring of the red dress becomes particularly pertinent and offensive when, on the same day, arrests were made in the same town, at the same celebration, of several Croatian men including veterans, who fought in the 1995 liberating Operation Storm under HOS (Croatian Defence Force) insignia “Za Dom Spremni”, for calling out in pride “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) – the salutation persistently and wrongfully being associated with WWII Croatian Ustashe regime, by the former communists especially, even though its roots reach far beyond WWII into Croatian proud history!

While generally a red dress may look good and glamorous, on occasions like this one, where pride in victory over communism and bloody Serb aggression is celebrated, those in power must display absolute and thorough political and moral sensitivity to their people’s plights, to the plights for which thousands lost their lives while hundreds of thousands of Croats and other non-Serbs were ethnically cleansed from their homes and Croatia devastated. Evidently this was not the case in Knin on Saturday 5 August 2017. And that is sad and distressing!

5th August 2017 – 22nd anniversary of Croatia Victory Day also celebrating Day of Homeland Gratitude and Croatian Defender’s Day. Croatia’s entire political leadership, war veterans and about 8,000 people officially celebrated in Knin its victory over Serb rebels and Serb forces in 1995’s military Operation Storm.

 

Operation Storm was the time when Croatian defence forces proved to the world that David could still defeat Goliath.

And that is what the sentiment of these celebrations should have emanated.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and parliament president Gordan Jandrokovic laid wreaths and paid their respects at the monument dedicated to the victory on Knin’s central square. Grabar Kitarovic said that Croatia hopes that one day even Serbs will celebrate Storm as the operation that “ended Greater Serbian aggression”. She said in her speech that she wishes to express her regret for the Serb victims of Operation Storm, continuing: “Croatian people did not want war and does not revel in anyone’s suffering. That’s why Croatian state makes an exemplary effort, with its own resources, to secure the return of all those who want to return. It does that despite the fact that the initiators of aggression against Croatia have not paid a single kuna or, more to the point, a single dinar for the restoration of everything that the Chetniks and the so-called Yugoslav People’s Army destroyed during the four years of artillery shelling, pillage and plunder. Hence, with full protection of national interests Croatia will give its full support for Serbia’s entry into the European Union.”

Croatia’s president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic
in Knin on 5th August 2017
Photo: Net.hr

While reconciliation is a noble pursuit, in the case of celebrating Operation Storm, the end of Croatia’s horrific suffering at the hands of Serbs, talking of self-imposed victims on the side of the aggressor as if they were innocent victims is something that Croatian victims and defenders would find hard and painful to take. Particularly when it means that Grabar-Kitarovic’s talk of Serb victims in Oluja in effect gave a certain validity (undeserved) to Serbia’s commemoration for Serb victims of Operation Storm held in several towns and cities across Serbia on Friday 4th August, which commemoration denies Serb aggression, continues to promulgate lies about forced deportations of Serbs from Croatia and justifies Serb genocide and ethnic cleansing over the Croatian people when they set out to break away from communist Yugoslavia.

If one wants to achieve true and lasting reconciliation then it is essential to clearly delineate between the aggressor and the victim. The events around marking Croatia’s victory over Serb aggression, whether those in Croatia (where accent is given to the victim-hood of the aggressor) or those in Serbia (where Serb victim-hood is accentuated even though such was self-imposed), all give the sense of the undying political exercise of equating the aggressor with the victim. In every war there are victims on the side of the aggressor but it needs to be recognised and maintained that those victims would not be so if the aggression and the need to defend oneself did not occur in the first place. In that sense any Serb victims deserved no mention at Croatia’s victory celebration. The intention of Serb aggression in Croatia was to destroy Croatia and Croats and both the fighting forces and many Serb civilians participated in that destructive energy.

Croatia’s minister for veterans’ affairs
Tomo Medved (Second from R) in Slunj
Photo: Dnevnik 2017

Hence, when it comes to this year’s celebration of Operation Storm 1995 in Croatia I (and multitudes) place my preference on the one held in the town of Slunj where the Croatian minister for veterans’ affairs, Tomo Medved, said that the Croatian forces, in that magnificent military operation, succeeded in destroying the bloody feast of aggression and brought back the citizens from a four-year deportation.

We succeeded, we liberated all of the occupied regions, we made it possible for people to return to their homes, but we paid an enormous price for our freedom, 352 lives, in this area alone, of Croatian defenders and civilians,” Medved said before some 10,000 people.

Yes, Croatia has succeeded in winning the 1990’s military war imposed upon it by Serb and communist Yugoslavia aggressor, however, Croatia stands forced into decades long, largely unyielding, distressing battles against the remnants of communism that suffocate strong democratic progress and keep the distressing and utterly unfair push for equating the aggressor with the victim thriving. No more red dresses or shirts on occasions of official celebrations of Croatian victory over its aggressor, please! Ina Vukic

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