President addresses memorial for Operation Storm victims
"Serbia and Serbs are ready for forgiveness and reconciliation but everything does not depend only on us," President Tomislav Nikolic has said.Source: Tanjug
He spoke during a commemoration gathering on Mt. Fruska Gora, north of Belgrade, organized to honor the victims of Croatia's Operation Storm, launched this day 20 years ago.
Addressing the Serbs driven out of their homes during Operations Storm who now reside in the weekend settlement of Banstol, Nikolic said that "our reputation is clean and our bread ready to go where the stones thrown at us came from."
Furthermore, the president said that "forgiving never means forgetting, but throughout our history we have been known to, in the name of some interests that were everybody's except Serbs', easily renounce and almost forget our victims."
He added that "the greatness and strength of a people is not measured by the number of those killed and forever exiled, weak and unprotected" - and that those who committed crimes have "the stamp of criminals" forever imprinted on their reputation.
"A part of the Croatian people, that part that is even know determining the fate of their state and its relationship with the Serb people, is forced to live with it," Nikolic said, recollecting that a part of the Croatian people will also have to live with "the indelible image of a convoy of 250,000 Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity who beside their bare existence and family photos carried with them only the endless sadness in a convoy of shame of those who exiled them."
"Your hearths were turned by madmen into flames, and your suffering is celebrated as their victory and a day they renewed their state, left to them by (Ante) Pavelic, that was recognized only by Hitler," Nikolic said, it reference to the WW2-era Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH).
The memorial service, and the consecration of the cross of a future church, was led today by Serbian Orthodox Church Bishop Vasilije and by the Karlovci priests.
Addressing the believers, the bishop stressed that "a small church will be built on this patch of land in memory of all those who were tortured, killed, and suffered on the path of truth and their freedom, escaping the enemy."
Vasilije noted that many Serbs driven out of Croatia and away from their homes, their holy places and cemeteries, found places of residence and homes in Serbia "that is always here like a mother to accept her children to its back," and urged "life in unity and peace."
The bishop also said that Nikolic was one of the benefactors of the church, that is being built in the Kraljev Breg settlement near Cortanovci.