25th Anniversary of Operation Maslenica Celebrated in Zadar

Total Croatia News

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Source: The Office of the President

ZAGREB, January 22, 2018 – The togetherness and heroism of units from all parts of Croatia which liberated the Zadar hinterland 25 years ago, reconnecting Croatia’s north and south, can and should be a signpost and a model for acting for Croatia’s benefit, President and Armed Forces Commander-In-Chief Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Zadar on Monday at a ceremony commemorating the military and police Operation Maslenica.

“Not just this operation but others too during the Homeland War testify to the patriotism, courage and moral virtues of Croatian people. They remind us that for Croatia there are no insurmountable obstacles when we are together and when we have clearly set goals, when we, as our Maslenica heroes did, tirelessly, despite the victims, persistently aspire to the progress of our homeland every day,” Grabar-Kitarović said.

Twenty-five years ago, in only 72 hours the armed forces and the police reconnected the north and south of the country, pushing away the enemy from Rovanjska, Novsko Zdrilo, Maslenica and the Jadranska Magistrala road along the coast.

With Operation Maslenica, the aggressor forces were pushed back into the then occupied parts of Croatia where, two years later, they experienced a complete military defeat in Operation Storm, Grabar-Kitarović said, adding that Operation Maslenica paved the way to the final liberation of the Zadar hinterland and the entire country, also creating the prerequisites for its reconstruction.

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“Croatia has all the prerequisites for success,” she said, congratulating the war veterans of Zadar who took part in the operation. She also congratulated and thanked the people of Zadar for staying in their city and resisting the aggressor in the toughest days of the siege. “Just as you then believed in Croatia and the strength of our defenders, we need the same faith now in the fight to stay and survive in Croatia.”

Grabar-Kitarović also congratulated the members of the armed forces, saying they had the responsibility to build and further modernise the military in honour of the fellow fighters killed in Operation Maslenica. The operation and the fights for the Zadar hinterland that continued for months afterwards claimed the lives of 127 defenders. “They showed us all how one loves, builds and defends Croatia,” she said.

The parliament speaker’s envoy, Deputy Speaker Milijan Brkić, who took part in the operation, especially thanked the then commander of the special police, General Mladen Markač. “Had it not been for Croatian defenders, policemen and soldiers, there would be no present-day Republic of Croatia. Our defenders in Croatia, but also in our other homeland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, carried by patriotism, achieved magnificent victories in the Homeland Defence War,” he said, adding that the fight continued today, but with entirely different means, to provide conditions for a better life, notably of young people.

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Brkić thanked the defenders for freedom, peace, and their sacrifice, saying it should be an encouragement, notably to politicians, to build a better and more prosperous Croatia with stronger economic recovery and progress. He wished for a higher birth rate and for young people and young families to stay in Croatia.

The prime minister’s envoy, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, who also took part in Operation Maslenica, thanked all the defenders who took part in the operation, saying it was a watershed in the Homeland War as it reconnected the north and the south and showed that the army had reached a level of organisation and equipment that made it possible to carry out complex military operations.

We also showed the world that we can liberate occupied territory by ourselves and gave our political leadership, led by President Franjo Tuđman, a strong lever to bolster our political positions on the international scene, while also “strengthening the faith of defenders and the whole Croatian nation in the victorious character of the Croatian police and army,” Krstičević said. “The secret of that victory and all Homeland War victories were our people… The Croatian soldier is a brand recognised both in our nation and in the world and our task is to guard, develop and upgrade that brand,” he added.

Krstičević said Operation Maslenica showed what determination, honour and togetherness meant and what a victorious spirit looked life, adding that they were demonstrated on a daily basis by the operation’s commander, General Ante Gotovina.

Gotovina said one must not forget that the cause of the Homeland War was the military aggression against Croatia. “The nature of every war entails sacrifice. That’s why the war wasn’t our choice but a necessity, and by winning the Homeland War we achieved our independence, security and freedom for all people who live here, independently of ethnicity or faith. That’s why the Homeland War is the foundation of Croatian statehood.”

Caring for security and guarding freedom is a lasting obligation and they are the prerequisites necessary so that all forces can focus on the economic and social development of the state, he said. “And I wish us success on that path.”


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