Milanović: We Should Speak against Oblivion, Downplaying of Homeland War

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Milanović was speaking in Knin at a reception for Croatia’s wartime commanders, held on the occasion of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and War Veterans Day and the 27th anniversary of Operation Storm, a combined military and police operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in August 1995 and restored Croatian sovereignty over occupied central and southern parts of the country, paving the way for the peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia in January 1998.

At the reception, President Milanović decorated and promoted a number of members of the Armed Forces.

“We should speak… against oblivion and against the downplaying of what we achieved in the Homeland War, relying on facts because Croatia was in a very difficult situation and from 1991 on, nobody has given it anything,” Milanović said in his address at the event.

Croatia is not frustrated by that even though it is still recovering from the war, and nobody has ever thanked it, he said.

He recalled that during the war, people who fought to liberate the country lacked ammunition, which was why they had to be efficient.

“Croatia’s every move was looked at with skepticism, and when I say this, I don’t think I sound like a frustrated president of a small frustrated country, quite the contrary – I speak in a commonsensical way as a leader of a self-confident and finally historically defined country. Our path was a just and right one,” Milanović said.

He recalled that Croatia had been suspected all along of trying to partition Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, he said, was not true.

“The siege of Bihać would have never ended without the Croatian army,” Milanović said, adding that the role of the Croatian army and the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the war was great and that nobody had thanked them for it.

“Bosnian Serbs, who were the enemy in the war, would have never surrendered and been brought to the negotiating table in Dayton… if the Croatian army had not defeated them in the last operation in October 1995,” he said.

In 1995 Croatia did not have a choice. “Croatia did not expel anyone; Croatia did not want it. I am fully confident that a vast majority of people did not want it, but it did not have any choice.”

“Croatia was offered a peace agreement, a plan known as Z-4, which was unfavourable for it, much more unfavourable than the Minsk agreement was for Ukraine,” Milanović said, adding that Croatia had been ready to sign it.

“The then leadership was willing to sign it, President (Franjo) Tuđman… was ready to sign it to prevent bloodshed… Our adversary did not want it. And that is what our children must know and what must be repeated,” Milanović said, adding that he would continue to be open to different opinions and criticism, “but this is how things stand, as far as we are concerned.”

He repeated several times during his address that there was no need for Croatia to apologise to anyone for anything because its struggle had been a just and right one.


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