News 05 Aug 11

Croatia Marks 16th Anniversary of Operation Storm

Croatians are today celebrating Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, marking the 16th anniversary of Operation Storm, while Serbia is mourning the victims of the operation.

Tanjug, Croatian Times

Knin, CroatiaThe celebrations follow the unveiling of a monument in Knin yesterday, commemorating the day Croatian forces entered the city on August 5 1995.

The monument, which has been named “Storm”, after the name of the military operation, was revealed before a number of Croatia’s state officials, among them President Ivo Josipovic, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and parliament speaker Luka Bebic.

Around HRK 6 million (€807,000) was spent on the V-shaped monument, which was the work of sculptor Peter Dolic and architect Tonko Zaninovic.

HRK 2.6 million (€ 350,000) came from the state budget, HRK 500,000 (€67,300) was collected in a charity campaign and the rest of the funds were provided by the city of Knin’s administration, the Croatian Environmental Protection fund and donors.

Before the ceremony, Kosor opened an economic forum dubbed “The European Union – seize the chance for Croatia”, at which she said that Croatia’s upcoming entry to the EU opened new perspectives for the country’s economy. She added that the forum in Knin would be held annually to review the country’s economic growth and successes.

War veterans exhibited products in some 70 booths, which were visited by President Ivo Josipovic.

Yesterday, Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej held a memorial service in Belgrade for the victims of the operation, which some media figures put at nearly 2,000 lives. Serbian President Boris Tadic and Jovan Krkobabic, the deputy prime minister in charge of refugee issues attended among other government officials.

Operation Storm (Oluja) began on August 4, 1995, in Croatia and part of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the armies from both countries sought to takeover territories that had been under Serb control since 1991.

About 200,000 people were also believed to have been forced from their homes.

In April, the UN war crimes tribunal has Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac guilty of persecution, murder and other war crimes against Serb civilians and sentenced them to 24  and 18 years in prison.

The court found that Gotovina and Markac planned and led members of the Croatian military forces and special police in an effort to forcibly and permanently remove the ethnic Serb population from the Krajina region of Croatia.

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