Croatian president says Op. Storm was "ethically clean"
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has spoken at Croatia's celebration of the 21 anniversary of Operation Storm.Source: Tanjug
This attack on the Serb areas that resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 people, and the expulsion of over 200,000 others, was marked with a memorial event in Serbia on Thursday.
In her address in Knin on Friday, Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia was created "by the victory of the Croatian people," and "the will of the people expressed in a referendum in 1991," and referred to the 1995 military-police operation dubbed "Storm" as "brilliant and ethically clean."
A large part of her speech has devoted relations between Serbia and Croatian.
Grabar-Kitarevic said the anniversary of Operation Storm was "a day of victory, freedom and peace for Croatia," and that all this "had to be carved in war, defending the country from unitary Yugoslavsm and Chetnikism, which committed terrible evil across Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina."
"I would like to, on this occasion as well, say that we respect each victim, because every life is of equal value, but it must also be known that Storm was politically justified, ethically clean, brilliantly militarily executed liberation and an honorable victory for the right goal," she said.
According to a Tanjug agency report she also showed special respect toward "the first president and poglavnik Franjo Tudjman," saying that with Operation Storm Croatia "demonstrated its determination to be a free state, but also the ability to be sovereign."
"We have not allowed to be subordinated although that was attempted by the Greater Serbian aggression, while the Croatian state policy did not allow an act of vengeance, but expressed readiness for reconciliation and forgiveness," she said.
Pointing out to "the huge benefits of Storm," Grabar-Kitarovic then said the campaign also had big international significance - "because it prevent genocide like that committed in Srebrenica by the VRS forces."
According to her, Croatia and the Croatian people "knew how to forgive, fulfilled universal and minority rights and enabled the return of all those who wanted to return - that's the ethics of the victor, and of peace."
The Croatian president added that the Croatian nation "is not forgetting that many Serbs also participated in the liberation of the country, whose who see Croatia as their homeland."
We are aware, she went on, that the Serb minority is facing various problems - "especially social and especially in the least developed parts of the country, however, there must not be second-class citizens, either Croats or Serbs."
She also "pledged support for Serbia to join the EU," adding that she "wants to believe and appraise that the Croat minority in Serbia has been given its legitimate national rights."
Croatia has in this sense, said its president, "made more than one step forward - but there is always room for improvement."