The 20th anniversary of the Operation Storm is being marked by numerous events today in Knin.
(All photo credits Index.hr)
A thousand doves of peace were released at 6 am from Knin to Vukovar, for 229 soldiers killed during the operation. At the same time, doves were released in Vukovar as well. An early mass for the veterans was served.
As early as 7 am, the traffic was increased on access roads that lead towards Knin. Today the city will witness the greatest number of visitors ever. It is expected that one hundred thousand people will arrive to celebrations, reports HRT. Croatian flags are hoisted on all buildings.
The ceremonies in Knin are attended by numerous high government officials: president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, prime minister Zoran Milanović, speaker of the parliament Josip Leko, ministers Ranko Ostojić, Ante Kotromanović, Predrag Matić, Boris Lalovac, Orsat Miljenić, Ivan Vrdoljak, Arsen Bauk, Mirando Mrsić, Darko Lorencin, Mihael Zmajlović, Anka Mrak-Taritaš, Siniša Varga, Vedran Mornar, and Berislav Šipuš. The ceremonies include various meetings, parades, fair, and sports and entertainment program.
9.57 Pilots of “Wings of Storm” flying group perform stunts in the air.
9.55 The Croatian Navy singing choir performs the song “Forefather’s Rock”.
9.50 Whistles for Milanović and Matić at the fortress.
9.47 The monument to Franjo Tudjman, the first Croatian president, has been inaugurated. President Kitarović and Miroslav Tuđman have released white doves in front of the monument.
In a speech ahead of the unveiling of the monument, it is said that only Franjo Tuđman deserves a monument in Knin, because he is a symbol of defiance of Knin.
9.45 The national anthem is being sung.
9.40 The flag is being raised on the location where members of the 7th Varaždin Brigade died 20 years ago. A minute of silence for the killed and missing.
9.30 The names of the fallen and missing soldiers who participated in the Operation Storm are being read.
9.17 The president and supreme commander of the Croatian Army Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is arriving to the central area. The ceremony of the raising of the Croatian flag is about to start.
9.13 Defense minister Kotromanović said: “This is the most important day in my life, more important than the birthday. On this day we made the foundations of the Croatian state. I’m very happy but also nervous, as usual in this time of year. I see that a lot of people want us to be together and I support Gotovina’s message. I think we have met the main goals, we are a better country than 20 years ago, we must be patient, believe in ourselves. We are hard-working people, and we need to keep going.
As for the parade, we are sorry if we made problems for citizens, in terms of traffic jams, but I hope they will forgive us. I think we showed some good things”, said Kotromanović.
8.56 The President makes her address. “It is my honor to stand on this historic site, on this fortress. I congratulate to you all the Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Soldiers and the anniversary of the Operation Storm. Cicero said: ‘The history is the witness of the times and the teacher of life.’ The nation which has a history cannot be erased from the earth, as some have tried. In particular, I remember those killed and missing in the war, I thank their families for their patience and thank them that they are still working for the benefit of Croatia. This museum will give to next generations a realistic and scientifically documented review of the events leading up to the Operation Storm, as well as the international context of the times.
The role of our dear President Tudjman is well presented. Foreign visitors will be able to see how the freedom was achieved. Dear veterans, inhabitants of Knin, citizens, we write our own history, we are proud of our history and heritage, and we promote and interpret it in the only correct way, by keeping the memory of the great event, just like here in the Knin Museum.”
8.52 Culture Minister Berislav Šipuš announces further expansion of the museum in which 5 million kuna have been invested.
8.50 The mayor of Knin Josipa Rimac makes a speech: “Due to this museum, young people will get to know how the Homeland War and all the operations took place. The Storm has a special place in the museum. Young people will know who was the aggressor and who defended themselves. Today we will inaugurate the monument to the first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman. All of this is a testament to the fact that Croats have returned to Knin.”
8.49 The official program has started. A minute of silence has been observed in the honour for the dead and the missing, as well as for the late former president Franjo Tuđman.
8.45 We are waiting for the start of the official program The president is approaching the museum “Storm 95”, which she will officially open. The Croatian flag is about to be raised. Former president Ivo Josipović is arriving.
8.33 Asked why there are two celebrations, Zoran Milanović congratulated the Homeland Thanksgiving Day to all citizens.
8.31 Many citizens and guests head to the Knin Fortress. That is a place which is etched in the memory of the Croatian people. Everyone will now remember the raising the Croatian flag, which 20 years ago was put there by the legendary Puma brigade, and they will do the same today.
8.25 The Croatian navy choir performs the song “Eye to Eye”.
8.15 Wreaths are being laid. Josip Leko, Zoran Milanović, Anka Mrak Taritaš, Ranko Ostojić, and representatives of the Armed Forces, Police Directorate and other officials have laid wreaths for the killed and missing soldiers in the Operation Storm. A minute of silence commemorated the killed and missing Croatian soldiers. Juraj Jezerinac read a prayer.
08.10 General Gotovina said: “We celebrate peace with dignity. This is a day of victory, veterans and peace. This is a celebration of freedom and security. Yesterday, our armed forces celebrated this occasion with dignity all over Croatia. Today we continue celebrations of the the Homeland Thanksgiving Day. We celebrate our freedom, peace and safety. The Operation Storm enabled that.”
Asked to comment the fact that many young Croats are leaving their homeland, while at the moment many young people can be seen in Knin, Gotovina said that Croatians should be optimistic: “It does not matter that they left, because they will come back.”
“Young people will get to know the world and come back. Croatia’s victory in the war laid the foundation for a house of democracy, where we all have the same rights and obligations”, said Gotovina answering the question whether people should on this day talk about those who fled before the Operation Storm.
08.08 High government officials are arriving to the city square.
08.00 General Ante Gotovina is in Knin as well.
7.57 Knin is full of visitors, and the crowds will only get bigger. Access roads are full of vehicles.
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