Serbia Commemorates Victims of Croatia’s Operation Storm :: Balkan Insight
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he hopes Serbs will forgive but never
forget the crimes committed against murdered and exiled victims of the Croatian
military’s Operation Storm 22 years ago.
Milorad Dodik and Aleksandar Vucic arrive at the commemoration ceremony. Photo:
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s
Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, commemorated on Friday evening the
22nd anniversary of Operation Storm during the war in Croatia in 1995.
“When I see how many of us are commemorating… in peace and with dignity,
without the desire for revenge and ugly words, I feel proud of my nation,”
Vucic said at the commemoration in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad.
The ceremony, attended by several thousand people, was held in a neighbourhood
where large numbers of refugees settled after fleeing Croatia in 1995.
Dodik meanwhile accused the international community of being responsible for
‘anti-Serbian’ projects all over the former Yugoslavia that led to the
persecution of Serbs during the 1990s wars.
“Storm was the final act of the official policy of the Independent State of
Croatia [Croatia’s World War II Nazi-allied regime] to kill, convert or banish
the Serbs,” he said at the commemoration.
The ceremony was also attended by the prime ministers of Serbia and Republika
Srpska, Ana Brnabic and Zeljka Cvijanovic, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej
and state officials.
On Saturday, commemorations for the victims of Operation Storm will be held in
churches all over Serbia, and sirens will be sounded at noon.
Zagreb views Storm as a military triumph that liberated its territory from Serb
rebels - the crowning victory of what Croatia calls its ‘Homeland War’ for
independence from 1991-95.
Many Serbs however regard Operation Storm as a crime, describing the exodus of
more than 200,000 refugees who fled the Croatian offensive as ethnic cleansing.
After the majority of Serb civilians fled, the Croatian military and police
killed 677 mainly elderly Serbs who had remained behind, according to the
Croatian Helsinki Committee.
In 2001, the Hague Tribunal indicted three Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina,
Mladen Markac and Ivan Cermak for war crimes perpetrated during Operation
Storm, but all of them were eventually acquitted.
Only one Croatian soldier has been convicted of committing war crimes during
the operation - Bozo Bacelic, who was sentenced to seven years by a Zagreb
court for killing an elderly couple in August 1995, in front of their house on
Croatia is holding its official commemoration of its victory during Operation
Storm on Saturday in the town of Knin.