ZAGREB, March 2, 2019 – A ceremony was held in Pakrac, in Western Slavonia, about 130 kilometres east of Zagreb, on Saturday to commemorate the 28th anniversary since the start of the Homeland War. Those present were addressed by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Mayor Anamarija Blažević, Pozega-Slavonia County Deputy Prefect Vedran Neferović, and war veterans.
Grabar-Kitarović particularly thanked those who had defended the town against Serb paramilitary forces. “Western Slavonia was a strategically important area for our defence in the early spring of 1991. The Greater Serbia aggressors knew that. They attacked Pakrac and other towns on the axis between Pakrac and Virovitica to carve up Croatia and break it,” she recalled.
“The initial burden of the defence was on the Croatian police who showed the unbreakable spirit of the Croatian people and resoluteness of Croatian authorities to stop the Greater Serbia aggression,” the president said, adding that 1991 was the most difficult.
“That was a key year in which we successfully defended Croatia and laid the foundations of the victorious Croatian army and successfully conducted the first offensive and liberating military operations,” she said. “I have made a formal proposal to create a Western Slavonia Medal of Honour to be given to all defenders who fought on this front,” she said.
The day’s commemoration started with Mass for all defenders killed in the war or who have died since, and was followed by a victory march of Croatian veterans and their families to a local cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony.
The commemoration was organised by local government and the associations of Croatian police veterans from Pakrac and Lipik under the auspices of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
Twenty-eight years ago, Croatian special police forces liberated Pakrac from occupying rebel Serbs who had captured the town’s police station the day before. During the operation, three police officers were wounded while the rebels were forced to withdraw behind the hill overlooking Pakrac.
The event of March 2, 1991 was preceded by the decision of the predominantly Serb Town Council to annex the town to the breakaway Kraijna region, suspending the Croatian Constitution on February 28. This was followed by the recruitment and armament of Serb police reservists. The rebels took down Croatian flags from the police station and municipal offices and raised Serb flags. The next morning Croatian special police arrived and fighting ensued, with the Croatian forces quickly taking control of the police station, removing the Serb flags and restoring Croatian law in the town.
More news on the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.