Victory Day

President, PM and parl't speaker attend Victory Day ceremony

05.08.2011 u 18:07


Croatia's President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Ivo Josipovic, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic on Friday attended a ceremony in Knin, which marked Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, War Veterans' Day and the 16th anniversary of the Croatian army and police operation "Storm", saying that today Croatia was celebrating victory because Storm was an operation which liberated occupied areas.

Sixteen army units comprising 1,200 soldiers, veterans and police formed into ranks at the town stadium to symbolise the 16th anniversary of the operation in which the Croatian army and police liberated the town of Knin and the largest part of the formerly Serb-held territory. Also presented to the public for the first time were EU combat units in which Croatia participates by carrying out tasks and missions of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Addressing those present at the ceremony, Prime Minister Kosor said that "without Operation Storm and its commanders we would not be here today, we would not have anything to celebrate and we would not have anything to be proud of."

Sending her regards to Croatian veterans and generals, Kosor sent special regards to generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, which was applauded by those attending the ceremony. Kosor underlined Operation Storm was a victorious, just and honorable struggle for Croatia's liberation.

"We will never allow others to reproach us for our victories. Those were the victories of democracy and freedom over Milosevic's Greater Serbian policy of aggression, destruction and hatred," Kosor said, adding that "it would be good if our neighbours could understand that this is the place where the teeth of a tyrant were broken, which paved the way for democracy also for them."

She stressed that those responsible for crimes, "whether those crimes be war crimes, war profiteering or corruption", must be brought to justice, regardless of their ethnic background. She added that Croatian soldiers fought for a Croatia in which "no one will be above the law."

President Josipovic said Croatia today celebrated victory in a legitimate and just defence of the homeland.

"We celebrate this victory with pride and dignity, regretting all victims and condemning all crimes," Josipovic said, adding that Storm marked the end of an unbearable and unjust occupation of Croatia.

"The brilliant Croatian operation must not be brought into question because of dishonorable actions of individuals responsible for crimes against fellow citizens of Serb nationality. A crime is a crime and it must be punished," Josipovic said.

The foundation of the victory in the Homeland War was "the unity of Croatian citizens, of the Croatian people and all freedom-loving members of our ethnic minorities, including numerous Croatian citizens of Serb descent."

Operation Storm does not celebrate war but peace and freedom brought by the victory, said Josipovic.

Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic recalled in his speech the role of the first Croatian President, the late Franjo Tujdman, in the country's struggle for freedom. "Tudjman called on the entire Croatian people to reconcile, not ideologically, but as human beings, and he called for the unity of the Croatian people, both those at home and abroad. Those were the two main pillars on which President Tudjman realised the unity of the Croatian people," Bebic said.

The Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, Lieutenant General Drago Lovric said Operation Storm was "probably the most important battle in the history of the Croatian people", calling for protecting the truth about the operation which he said liberated almost one-third of Croatia's territory after four years of occupation.

The ceremony in Knin also included a demonstration exercise by the Honorary Protective Battalion and an aerobatic display by members of the Croatian Air Force.