US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis recently praised Croatia’s Operation Storm.
It is a well-known fact that newly-elected Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić does not have particularly warm feelings when it comes to operations Storm and Flash, which Croatia executed in the 1990s to liberate previously occupied territories, reports Express on 17 July 2017.
Vučić commented yesterday on a recent statement made by US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis during his meeting with the Croatian counterpart Dame Krstičević at the Pentagon. “Next month, it will be the 22nd anniversary of the Operation Storm, an operation which is being taught by the US Army as an example of how a well-run military force can change the course of history. We are honoured to have you here due to your role in this operation,” said Mattis, according to a Defence Ministry’s statement.
Vučić said that Serbia “will never accept that the killing and persecution of Serbian civilians were some kind of magnificent act,” reports Al Jazeera Balkans. “I am terribly sorry that such a statement has been given because I believe there is nothing to be praised in the Operation Storm, since more than 2,000 ordinary people, old people and children, were killed at the time,” Vučić said. According to him, “columns of refugees were rocketed at Bosanski Petrovac, which was not even on the territory of then Croatia.”
He said that “the position of the Republic of Serbia is that it was one of the saddest days in the Serbian history. If someone is proud of the result that they have expelled 250,000 people from their lands, killed several thousand people, there is something wrong with that,” said Vučić.
During their recent very successful meeting, US Defence Secretary also said that “Croatia is a small country that contributes significantly to international security and is an example of a great NATO ally.” He and Krstičević discussed the joint participation of the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia and the United States in NATO missions and operations around the world. “We are proud to serve side by side with Croatian soldiers in missions and operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo,” Mattis said, according to the Croatian Ministry of Defence’s statement.
The upcoming 22nd anniversary of the Operation Storm and accompanying celebrations in Croatia and memorial services in Serbia are expected to increase tensions between the two countries once again.