More than 100,000 Croats gathered on the main square of its captial Zagreb on Friday evening to welcome home freed Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.
The Generals, who were acquitted this morning in The Hague Court, arrived at Zagreb’s Pleso Airport at 16:05 on the Croatian government plane which was sent to pick up the pair from Holland.
The pair made their way to Ban Jelacic square where more than 100,000 people had been waiting, singing songs, waving flags and celebrating since early afternoon. Gotovina and Markac addressed the crowds just after 17:30 when they arrived.
We are happy that tonight we are together. This is our victory. We had put the dot on the “i” for the homeland war. The war belongs in history and its time to move on to the future. I want to thank the Croatian President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence and Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Embassy in Den Haag, and Croatian institutes that supported us. The future is in our hands, said Gotovina.
I am happy that in the future every Croat in the world can say “we have our homeland and we freed it in a clean way”. In the world we can proudly say “our homeland, Croatia”. Croatia is free. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart, added Markac.
Gotovina and Markac then were guests at a mass held in their honour at Zagreb cathedral before meeting officials at the president’s office.
Watch celebrations on Zagreb’s main square here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEsVYJzJWk