BELGRADE – Serbia is observing a day of mourning on Wednesday, on the occasion of marking the day of remembrance for the Serbs who were killed or persecuted during the Croatian military and police operation Storm in 1995.
At noon, all bells in Serbian Orthodox churches will be ringing and sirens will be sounded across the country, to mark a moment of silence for the victims of the 1991-1995 wars.
August 5 has been declared a day of mourning for the victims of the Operation Storm in Republika Srpska as well.
Croatia held a large-scale military parade in the capital Zagreb on Tuesday, to mark the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm. On August 4, 1995, the Croatian army launched Operation Storm against ethnic Serbs from the east of the country during the Croatian War of Independence. According to various estimates, from 214 to 1,192 civilians were killed or went missing.
Over 3,000 troops, 300 units of hardware and 30 aircraft participated in the parade aired on the HRT channel. Croatian leadership, headed by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, along with military and diplomatic officials from 42 countries visited the event.
Serbia called the operation the biggest ethnic cleansing since 1945.
Vucic: I do not want hate, revenge speech to mark this day
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said late on Tuesday that it was difficult to find in Serbia’s recent history a day sadder than the day of Operation Storm on August 5, 20 years ago, when some 250,000 Serbs had been expelled from Croatia, stressing that the crime must be forgiven but never forgotten.
Today we are paying tribute to the victims, more than 2,000 of those who were killed or went missing in one of the biggest pogroms against the Serbian people, Vucic said during the central event in the village of Sremska Raca, on the Sava River, northwestern Serbia, commemorating for the first time the Day of remembrance of suffering and persecution of Serbs.
“I do not want sentiments of hatred, conflict and revenge to be those to mark the day we are commemorating. We are at peace with Croatia, and we will be safeguarding it and wish for the best possible relations in the future,” Vucic said, adding that he hoped that Serbia and Croatia would soon be good friends under the same roof of the European Union.
“But we are here today to send the world a clear message that the crime must be forgiven but cannot and should never be forgotten – at this very place where Republika Srpska and Serbia are united in painful sorrow; on the ground that the 250,000 exiled Serbs walked over with heavy feet in fear of being heavily walked over by the Croatian, as some call it, liberators’ boot,” the prime minister said.