Croatia celebrates, Serbs mourn

Croatia celebrates, Serbs mourn

Croatia marks Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Veterans Day on August 5 to remember Operation Storm, a joint military and police operation that ended a Serb armed rebellion in August 1995, and restored Croatian sovereignty over occupied central and southern parts of the country, local media reported.

The central ceremony will be held on Thursday in Knin and the celebration program was drawn up in cooperation with the Croatian Public Health Institute, given the specific circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with no more than 1,000 people attending.

The entire state leadership is expected to attend the ceremony in Knin, without representatives of the Serb minority who announced earlier they would not attend the event.

Operation Storm was a combined military and police operation that ended a Serb armed insurgency in August 1995 and “restored Croatian sovereignty over occupied central and southern parts of the country, paving the way for the peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia in January 1998”.

The offensive was launched at 5 am on August 4 along the line running from Bosansko Grahovo to the south to Jasenovac to the east, the front line being more than 630 kilometers long. Within the next 84 hours slightly less than 10,500 square kilometers of territory, almost a fifth of the country was liberated.

The operation culminated on August 5, when the Croatian Army’s 4th and 7th Guard Brigades entered Knin, displaying a 20-meter-long Croatian flag on the town’s fortress at noon.

About 200,000 Croatian soldiers and police took part in the biggest operation of the Homeland War. According to the Homeland War Memorial and Documentation Centre, 196 Croatian personnel were killed, at least 1,100 were wounded and 15 went missing.

For a difference from last year celebration, this year Serb representatives in the Croatian Government did not attend the events. For Serbs, there is no reason to celebrate since more than 200 000 citizens fled in front of Croatian forces. Most of them never came back on their property and found a new life mostly in Serbia but also in almost every country in the world. For them, Operation Storm was the biggest exodus of Serbs in recent history.