Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković dedicated a part of yesterday’s speech on the occasion of the celebration the Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day to paying respect to the victims of war crimes committed by the Croatian side. He has thus given a great contribution to the conciliatory marking of the 25th anniversary of the Operation Storm.

We believe that Prime Minister Plenković and the Government of Croatia will continue contributing to the achievement of reconciliation and rights of victims and that the Prime Minister will take responsibility for putting the words said yesterday into action. Also, we hope that the approach to dealing with the events of the 1990s, as demonstrated by Croatian Prime Minister yesterday, will motivate political leadership of the Republic of Serbia to change their views and do the same, and recognize the victims killed by the Serbian side during the wars of the 1990s, as well as their rights.

Prime Minister Plenković also reminded in his speech that many Croatian citizens, Serbs, were forced to flee in front of Croatian forces and stressed that reconciliation must be built on facts and justice for all victims, and that it is important to continue the prosecution of war criminals.

These are important messages for societies which rest and seek to rest on the rule of law, respect for human rights, peace and active promotion of recognition and realization of rights of all victims of the wars of the 1990s.

As a country that won the war that was imposed upon us, with many innocent civilian victims, we mourn all victims, especially civilians, and not only Croats, but also Serbs and all other nationalities. We remember with sadness and reverence the hundreds of thousands of refugees expelled from their homes.  We mourn especially the victims of war crimes committed by those on the Croatian side, which unfortunately also happened. Each and any such act is painful for victims’ families and an ugly scar on the just face and defense nature of the Homeland War. We are also aware that our victory in “Storm” was traumatic for many Croatian Serbs. While most Croats see it as forced refuge, many Serbs see it as refuge from Croatian forces. The Croatian state made great efforts to ensure the return of those Croatian Serbs who wanted to return to their homeland. But it is also true that there are still difficulties that need to be overcome in order for them to be able to return and there are staff yet to be done. We also know that many Croatian Serbs in the non-occupied areas of Croatia during the war shared the fate of their Croatian fellow citizens, and many also served in the Croatian Army. It is also important that Croatian Serbs see “Storm” not as exodus of their people, but as an event that marked the end of the war. In the end, due respect should be shown to innocent Serbian victims, without calling into question the legitimacy or the just nature of the Homeland War. On the contrary, in this way, we show generosity and humanity of a victor who, in spite of everything, regrets each. We expect the same from the representatives of Serbs in Croatia, who should show clearly reverence for the Croatian victims. Croatian society needs to move forward, reconciliation must be built on facts and on justice for all the victims. All those crimes that do not become statute-barred will continue to be prosecuted.” – Andrej Plenković, 5 August 2020, Knin