Croatia: Plenković says Croatia sends out “a new message to the Serb minority”

Croatia: Plenković says Croatia sends out “a new message to the Serb minority”

On the eve of the Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving and the Day of the Croatian Defenders, as well as of the main commemoration in Knin, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković laid wreaths at Zagreb’s central Mirogoj cemetery, sending out the message that the government was paying tribute to all those who gave the most for the country’s freedom.

PM Plenković, Deputy Parliament Speaker Željko Reiner and the head of the prime minister’s office Zvonimir Frka-Petešić, laid wreaths at the Wall of Pain monument, the Central Cross in the Alley of the Fallen Croatian Homeland War Defenders, the grave of Croatia’s first president Franjo Tuđman, as well as at the mass graves of the unidentified victims of the 1991-95 war.

Plenković said the government especially remembered the operation that “enabled the liberation of the then occupied areas, and helped cultivate the conditions for the subsequent reintegration of the Croatian Danube River region and the restoration of Croatia’s territorial integrity”.

“That is why I’m glad that we will all be in Knin to mark the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm”, he said.

Prime Minister Plenković said that it was of crucial importance that, 25 years after Operation Storm, a new message was being conveyed regarding relations between Croats and the ethnic Serb minority, between Serbia and Croatia, and regarding the type of country Croatians are building.

Commenting on the planned attendance of Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević at the central commemoration of Operation Storm in Knin, Plenković said that the attendance of a political representative of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) at the commemoration would send out an important signal.

“Minorities constitute an integral part of the Croatian society and their representatives are our legal and political legacy of the past 30 years”, Plenković said.

Milošević will be the first Serb to attend the ceremony. A few days ago, he told the story of how his family suffered during “Storm” operation, revealing that his grandmother was killed just because she was of Serb nationality. Many Serb officials in Serbia and Republika Srpska condemned his decision to be present in Knin, claiming that this will be “the second killing of Serb victims”.

Asked if Milošević’s participation in the Knin commemoration would lead to a policy of better social integration for ethnic Serbs, Plenković replied that minority representatives, including those of the Serb minority, had been part of the parliamentary majority in the last parliament and that their participation now had been raised to a higher level.

“Based on our mutual trust, we will work, as we did in the last term in office, on promoting equality amongst all citizens and on making it possible for everyone to live in dignity, in line with the 21st century standards. Specifically, that means electricity and water supply in isolated communities”, Plenković stressed.

As for War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved’s visit to Grubori village, where a group of Serb civilians were killed in the aftermath of Operation Storm, as well as to Serb villages without electricity and water supply, Plenković said that it was not a political tradeoff.

“That was an important political and civilisational gesture by the government, showing respect for all victims. We are aware of the faults and crimes that happened in the aftermath of Operation Storm and we believe that it is good to pay tribute to the Serb victims as well”, he said. /ibna