On Saturday August 1, the majority of tabloids (Večernje novosti, Informer, Kurir) and the Politika daily launched, on their front pages, a negative campaign against Boris Milošević, former president of Serbian National Council in Croatia, and currently Deputy Prime Minister of the Croatian Government for the announcement of his attendance at the official celebration of the Storm operation anniversary.

The negative tone, intended to present Boris Milošević as “the traitor of Serbian people”, supported by the statements of Milorad Dodik and Ivica Dačić, politicians who have ensured their long survival on the political scene by increasingly drastically promoting nationalism throughout their careers and on that basis gained personal, political and material benefits.

The tabloids and nationalist politicians avoided mentioning on their front pages that Croatian President Zoran Milanović and the other Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for veterans Tomo Medved will attend the commemoration of Serbian civilian victims of the Storm in Grubori a few days later.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights fully supports the presence of the Serbian National Council’s delegation in Knin, as well as that of the delegation of the President and Veterans Minister for the first time in Grubori.

Croatian and Serbian official truths about the Storm are different and exclude each other. Twenty-five years later, two different national truths have been enforced thanks to the propaganda machinery, in a manner and with the aim of making the coexistence and co-operation of the two peoples impossible. The Croatian truth says that an occupied part of Croatia, as an internationally recognised state, was legitimately liberated through this action. The Serbian truth says that the Storm was an operation of ethnic cleansing, resulting in 200,000 citizens of Serbian nationality having to escape from Croatia, while hundreds of civilians lost their lives.

Any attempt to find understanding between two official truths, which are not mutually exclusive, but both are basically true, can contribute to the establishment of truth about civilian victims of war and fate of missing persons, and for this reason it is extremely important. Also, it contributes to the building of understanding among people, which is the basis for building lasting peace.

Participation in two official celebrations and commemorations of the Croatian and Serbian politicians is an important step towards mutual respect and understanding. This is the ultimate interest of the Serbian minority in Croatia and the only ones that can suffer damages from such a move are the Serbian nationalists in Belgrade.

It is shameful that the Serbian nationalists put their personal interests before the interests of the people who live in the neighbouring countries. Belgrade, and today also Dodik who represents Banja Luka, have never shown ambition to improve the lives of the Serbian community in the region, but exclusively to promote the interests of official Belgrade and personal interests of nationalist politicians.

This extreme nationalism, Dačić, Dodik, and like-minded persons live on, had led us to war for which our parents said was impossible. They could not have imagined that the war would really occur.

In the times of smouldering hostilities in the region, when all of us think that war is not possible – our obligation is to support any initiative aimed at peace building.

Cover photo: snv.hr/oluja-u-haagu