No Foreign Troops at the Storm Military Parade

Total Croatia News

Some opinion on the lack of foreign troops at Croatia’s 20th anniversary commemoration of Operation Storm. 

The decision of NATO allies not to take part in the military parade which will be held on Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the Operation Storm, shows that Croatia has problems with its diplomatic policies and that it is a “prisoner” of geopolitical developments, according to a report in Vecernji List on August 3, 2015. Also, Croatia has become a collateral victim of the western attempt to – more with carrot than with stick – lure Serbia from the grasp of Russia. It didn’t help that Croatia is considered, as the Americans keep saying, a “valuable ally” which takes part in NATO-led operations, that president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović until recently was a high-ranking official in NATO, and that the top non-commissioned officer of NATO is a Croat, Davor Petek.

“If the Americans decided to come, so would everybody else”, said a foreign diplomat. But the Americans have been sceptical from the very beginning to the idea of ​​sending their soldiers to Croatia. While the discussions between NATO member states were taking place, some even made early announcements that they will come, like the Slovenian defence minister and the Swedish ambassador. Just a few days later, both countries have refused to send their troops.

It is impossible not to link their decisions with the statements of Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dačić who said that all countries which send their troops will be considered hostile.

“Serbia has conducted a diplomatic offensive, threatening even to boycott foreign investment. Belgrade has sought to undermine the parade because they realized that the celebration in Zagreb is something different than the celebration in Knin, and that the Operation Storm would gain international legitimacy”, said a source close to the organizers of the parade.

Unofficially, some of the foreign military attaches have expressed surprise that the invitations for the parade did not arrive much earlier. Foreign minister Vesna Pusić said that failure of allies to come will not represent a blow to the image of Croatia.

“That’s our event. Anyone who wants to come is welcome, and others do not have to come”, said Pusić. She acknowledged that the Ministry of Defence asked for help “only after the problems arose”. The United States will send two generals, the military attaché and the ambassador, Great Britain will send the military attaché and the ambassador, while the Germans will send a war flag. “The joint invitation signed by President Grabar-Kitarović and Prime Minister Zoran Milanović was sent to some members of NATO, and it is up to those countries to decide whether they will send to Zagreb ‘ambassadors, generals, military units or planes'”, said a government source.

“It was too early to go public with information that foreign troops will take part. It was clear that in such a short time it was difficult to complete the whole operation because there are a number of different interests, especially the western interest to separate Serbia from Russia”, explained the former foreign minister Mate Granić, who added that such issues would certainly not arise if it were a celebration of the Statehood Day.

Experienced diplomat Ivica Maštruko does not think there is any special problem. “Representatives of other countries do not take part in military parades, expect in cases of joint operations, such as those from the World War I and II. In this case, it was senseless to expect that foreign troops would participate”, said Maštruko.

Former President Ivo Josipović sees a “domestic policy defeat”. “The government and the president did not convince friendly countries to participate. They avoided the parade, just as many avoided celebrations of the Operation Storm because Croatia has not found a way to integrate the Serb community into the events. I was first who brought representatives of the Serb community to the celebration in Knin. In addition to the celebration of victory and a tribute to Croatian victims, we should also commemorate the civilian victims on the Serb side”, said Josipović.


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