Croatia Celebrates Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day

Total Croatia News

On this day in 1995, Croatian military and police forces entered Knin, which was the capital of Serb rebels.

August 5 is celebrated in Croatia as one of the most important state holidays. On this day in 1995, Croatian military and police forces entered Knin, the capital of Serb rebels, and effectively marked the victory in the Homeland War, reports

The operation Storm began on August 4. In the next few days, Croatian forces liberated a large part of the previously rebel-held territory. The highlight of the operation took place on August 5, when Knin was liberated, and this day is marked as a national holiday ever since. The only part of Croatia which remained under rebel control was eastern Slavonia, which was peacefully reintegrated with the rest of Croatia in 1998.

On the other hand, Serbian side claims that Storm was a planned ethnic cleansing operation which resulted in several hundred thousand local Serbs leaving the previously rebel-held areas. The war crimes court in The Hague (ICTY) accused several Croatian military commanders of war crimes allegedly committed during the operation, but they were all eventually acquitted. The same court found that leaders of the Serb rebels were guilty of war crimes.

The celebrations in Knin will last whole day. It is expected that about 100,000 people will come to Knin today. We will update this story as new information becomes available.

The ceremonies started at 8 am, with the Orchestra of the Croatian Armed Forces playing patriotic songs on the streets of Knin. A lot of people have already started arriving to Knin, including the new HDZ president Andrej Plenković.

The central part of the ceremonies began with the raising the Croatian flag on the Knin fortress. The flag-raising ceremony was attended by President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković and Speaker of Parliament Željko Reiner, as well as by many other dignitaries. The state flag was raised by veterans Violeta Grdić from Vukovar and Ante Marević from Metković, which symbolically connected the southern and continental Croatia. The names of 174 killed and two missing persons from the operation Storm were read. Church bells rang at 9.43 am, marking the exact time when 21 years ago Croatian forces entered Knin. After the raising of the Croatian flag, three MIG 21 aircraft flew over the fortress. Ceremonial units which were present at the Knin fortress then started a military parade through the centre of Knin. The parade also involves members of the Armed Forces, police, veterans’ associations and government officials.

The ceremonies continued at the centre of Knin where wreaths were laid at the monument to the operation Storm. President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović gave a speech: “It is a great joy and honour to welcome you here. I welcome all the participants of the operation Storm, as well as members of the Armed Forces and the police who participate in missions around the world. I remember the first Croatian President Tuđman with a particular gratitude, as well as the then Defence Minister Gojko Šušak and all those who died. These days, we can again hear that the modern Croatian state has been created by structures of former Yugoslav secret police. These claims are coming from those who said that Croatia is an accidental state. That is not true! This country was created by the will of Croatian citizens and with the magnificent victory of Croatian veterans, culminating in the operation Storm. The Croatian people throughout its history have led many battles. The operation Storm sent a message about the importance of having a well-trained, motivated and well-equipped army. Croatia, fortunately, is no longer threatened and is now a member of NATO, but we must be ready to react quickly. It is time to maximize the investments in the modernization of all branches of the armed forces based on NATO standards. There will be no real progress as long as party interests are above national interests. If we can achieve necessary progress in the willingness of all political actors to contribute to the unity, especially in the economic and demographic policy, then we will succeed. That is how our patriotism will be measured today”, concluded the President.

SDP president Zoran Milanović was not present in Knin today, but he laid a wreath at the Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb. He said that today was a great day for Croatia. “Knin is one of the cities which were liberated, but it is not the equivalent of Berlin, since Knin was not the seat of the rebellion”, said Milanović. He was asked by reporters about his comment that the celebration in Knin was a party celebration, alluding to HDZ. “The question is whether this is true. Croatian people will come to their own conclusion. Of course, it is an insult to the people, but by those who organize this party celebration. There are of course people in Knin who come there with patriotic motives and not to a party rally. But unfortunately, in recent years it has become a party rally for HDZ”, said Milanović. He said that this year he did not want to come to Knin. “HNS president Ivan Vrdoljak is the only member of the People’s Coalition in Knin, but he went there as a citizen. I think that is the right thing to do. People can enjoy themselves, but there is always time for party events. We will not take part in that”, said Milanović. Asked whether he would return to Knin if he again becomes Prime Minister, Milanović said that it was not an important issue at the moment.


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