Pusić: It’s a Shame Operation Storm Still a Challenge in Croatia-Serbia Relations

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In an interview with the Belgrade-based “Danas” newspaper, published on Thursday, Pusić says that she does not see anything strange in the fact that people in Croatia were happy to see that the war was ending and that the country’s territory would be whole, which “in no way means that one celebrates the fact that the war ended with between 150,000 and 200,000 Croatian Serbs feeling or having been expelled from the country, nor does it mean that crimes committed by Croatian forces are celebrated.”

“As far as Croatia is concerned, Operation Storm was a military operation which de facto ended the war and liberated most of the country’s temporarily occupied areas, thus preventing the establishment of a permanent destabilising element, a kind of Republika Srpska in its territory,” Pusić stressed.

Without that, Croatia would not have been able to become a stable country, “it would not have been able to join the EU, NATO, the euro area, and it generally would not have been able to function.”

Pusić said that “the main responsibility and sin of the then Croatian leadership” is the fact that after the operation “anarchy was allowed in the liberated areas”, lasting three to four weeks.

“Most of the crimes committed against Croatian Serb civilians occurred in that period and that is definitely a stain that compromises more the then Croatian political leadership than the Croatian army,” Pusić said.

Subsequent Croatian governments tried on a number of occasions to include acts of paying tribute to those victims when marking anniversaries of Operation Storm but that should have been done “in a more clear, unequivocal and explicit way,” she said.

“True justice will never be served in the case of people killed in the war.”

“The best thing we can do is to make it possible for their descendants to live in a just, democratic, law-based country, without discrimination and war-mongering,” Pusić said, noting that all countries in the region “will have to make an additional effort in that regard.”

For people born after 1995, the 1990s war “should serve as a history lesson” but it must not “be material for political mobilisation through hate-mongering and incitement of extremist nationalism.”

“Politicians have for the most part been fairly harmful to citizens in our two countries,” Pusić said.

Commenting on statements about historical revisionism in Croatia, Pusić said that any denial of the criminal nature of Croatia’s World War II Ustasha regime “is historical revisionism that should be exposed and identified as such.”

“But that in no way explains or justifies Serbian President (Aleksandar) Vučić’s attempt to use the victims of the Ustasha concentration camp of Jasenovac for the political mobilisation of hate towards neighbours. If anything, Jasenovac should be a place or reconciliation or shared remembrance,” she concluded.


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