Croats all over Croatia, and around the world are celebrating Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, and War Veteran’s Day today, commemorating the military victory on 5 August 1995, known as Operation Storm, when the Croatian army took over a self-proclaimed Serb entity in Croatia…
Thousands have descended on the town of Knin, the former capital of the self-proclaimed independent entity, where the focus of Tuesday’s celebrations will be.
“The Day of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving and the Day of Croatian Defenders is a day of pride when we celebrate our freedom. It is a day when we remember with gratitude and respect all our defenders from the Homeland War, especially those who gave their lives and health for our homeland, a day when we remember all people who incorporated their suffering and pain into efforts to preserve our young state,” President Ivo Josipović said in his message to the people, before continuing.
“But after winning the war, we must also win in peace. Winning in peace means building to the fullest extent a democratic and functioning state, a state of equal citizens, a state of human rights and freedoms, a country governed by the rule of law where institutions of the state serve the citizens. Winning in peace means building a state in which every person will be able to live a decent life from their work and enjoy security. Winning in peace means to understand and accept differences and even extend a hand to those who were on the other side in the war, feel sympathy for every victim.
“I am confident that Croatia will win in peace, too. Let this day of pride in our victory and of gratitude to our defenders be a day of optimism, of faith in our unity and our own strength, a sign of our love for our country, Croatia, and all its people,” Josipović said.
Operation Storm began at 5am on 4 August 1995 and in just 84 hours 10,500 square kilometres had been liberated by the 200,000 Croatian soldiers who took part in the operation. A huge Croatian flag was erected on the Knin fortress at 12:00pm on 5 August. 174 Croatian soldiers lost their lives in the operation. On 7 August it was announced that the operation was complete.