Croatia Remembers the First Victim of Homeland War

Total Croatia News

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Source: Ministry of Defence

On 31 March 1991, policeman Josip Jović was killed.

A ceremony marking the anniversary of what could be described as the beginning of the Homeland War was held on Friday at the Plitvice National Park. On 31 March 1991, police officer Josip Jović was killed there as the first victim of the war.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović attended the ceremony and said that the name of Josip Jović had become a symbol of the courage of Croatian fighters, and the operation at Plitvice became a historical event whose anniversary always brings to mind the courage and determination of people who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the ideals of freedom and independence.

“They have honourably fulfilled their duty and given us the keys to the future. The future is in our hands now. I am sure that, with resolute polices in the protection of state and national interests, we will know how to answer all the challenges ahead and successfully achieve goals that will allow a dignified life to our citizens,” said the President.

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“We continue to see our security framework within the NATO alliance. But, I also want to emphasize that the defensive partnership cannot replace the responsibility that we ourselves have for the development of defence capabilities. Therefore, I wholeheartedly support the plans of the government and the Defence Ministry for development of these capabilities,” she said.

Speaker of Parliament Božo Petrov said that the history will remember the sacrifice of Josip Jović and all other war victims as heroes that will live in thoughts and prayers as long as Croatia exists. “We are aware that there are no words that we could say here today which could ease the grief of Josip’s family and his friends and fellow soldiers, because the grief is as deep as on the day when they received the news. For all those who have given their lives for our country, our task and responsibility is to make it a better place to live,” he said.

Jović was the first victim of the Homeland War killed in action. Croatian police conducted the operation as a reaction to the occupation of the Plitvice National Park and blocking of the D1 state road which connected the north and south of the country by members of the so-called Serbian Autonomous Region (SAO) Krajina. The operation included members of the special police from Rakitje, of which Jović was a member, and of the Lučko anti- terrorist unit.

In the early morning on Easter Sunday, 31 March 1991, which is why the events are called “Bloody Easter 1991”, members of the police headed toward the Jezero Hotel and were ambushed by rebels who opened fire. The exchange of fire lasted for several hours. Jović died, and nine other policemen were wounded. Two years ago, President posthumously awarded Jović the Order of Nikola Šubić Zrinski for heroism in war.


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