ZAGREB, August 2, 2020 — Croatia Serb Deputy PM for Social Affairs and Human Rights, Boris Milošević (SDSS), explained on his Facebook page why he will attend the “Operation Storm” celebration in Knin on August 5.
As Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković confirmed a few days ago, Boris Milošević will attend the anniversary celebration. The Minister of Croatian Veterans, Tomo Medved, will be at the war crimes commemoration in Grubori.
Milošević’s post on Facebook comes a day after SDSS MP Anja Šimpraga gave a memorable speech in the Croatian Parliament. She described fleeing Knin as an eight-year-old child. Ivan Luzar of Telegram reproduced Milošević’s Facebook post in its entirety.
The Story of a Serb from Croatia
“I am going to Knin as the Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia who is in charge of human rights. As a member of the government and a Serb from Croatia, I understand the burden of the war legacy felt by Serbs in Croatia. This burden is experienced not only by them, but by all citizens of the Republic of Croatia. Therefore I must think rationally and responsibly and try to contribute to a better society and culture of peace.”
“It was not easy for me to make this decision, not only because of my private family tragedy, but for all Serbs who lost someone in ‘Operation Storm’. I also think of those in exile and those who returned (to Croatia) even though their return process was obstructed. I know the fate of these people because I have helped them for most of my 18-year professional and political experience.”
‘My grandmother’s killer was released after serving 3.5 years’
“These days as I was thinking about what to do, I remembered my ‘Operation Storm’ experience. I experienced ‘Storm’ in my hometown of Šibenik, while worrying about my father, who was a Croatian soldier back then. I also worried about my friends in the Croatian Army, and about relatives who were fighting on the other side.”
“Back then, I thanked God that my father had returned alive and well and that everyone I knew was well.”
“After my father returned home from the war, we went to the village of Bribirske Mostine. There I saw the looting of abandoned Serb houses. We visited my Grandmother, my father’s mother who stayed there after the ‘Storm’. She did not want to leave her house, nor did she want to come with us to Šibenik.”
“At the beginning of September, I went to Rijeka to attend university. Late in the afternoon on September 7, my sister called me. She had gone with her father-in-law to visit our grandmother and they found her dead. My grandmother had been killed by a firearm at close range. They found the killer by accident because he was bragging about the murder. He also believed that no one would investigate the murder of a ‘Chetnik’, as he himself called her. He received a sentence of 7.5 years, and was released in 3.5 years after receiving a presidential pardon.”
‘I’m going to Knin with the burden of a family tragedy’
“Considering the burden of this family tragedy, and the pain of my late father, my decision to go to celebrate the ‘Storm’ in Knin was even harder to make. I received my Croatian citizenship only after the ‘Storm’, although I was born and have lived all my life in Šibenik.
“I am going to Knin with an open heart, sincerely, with the hope that this government can take an important step. This is a step towards the future, for a better society: a society of understanding, respect and tolerance. I hope that we can emerge from the trenches in which we are buried. After 25 years, it is necessary to stop hatred, to stop the war.”
“And the war for many in this society is, unfortunately, not over. Serb children (in Croatia) know best. They suffer the stigmatization in school for something their parents had nothing to do with. They are compelled to feel guilty just because they are Serbs, just as my generation felt during and after the war.”
‘Storm is also a massive collective trauma’
“I am going because I want to make their future easier. I go because I think the time has come for the politics of understanding and respect, and to defeat the politics of hatred.”
“The storm was not only a military-police action, it is also a huge collective trauma. For Croats, it is a symbol of the beginning of a long-awaited peace and an end to the occupation. For Serbs (in Croatia), it was the trauma of a new exodus, suffering, fear, uncertainty and the impossibility of returning to their homes.”
“I am aware that my appearance in Knin will not alter the two different views of ‘Storm’ for the majority. However, I will accept any gesture which leads toward common tolerance and respect for ourselves as a democratic society. I welcome a gesture which helps achieve co-existence and prosperity, regardless of difference. From there we can unite in the interpretation of our common history.”
“Regarding my trip to Knin, it is much more important to build an atmosphere of reconciliation and dialogue. We, as a society, must acknowledge and accept all victims regardless of nationality.”
August 1, 2020
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