What to except from the 2021 commemoration
© OSRH, Hrvatska Vojska, Croatian Army
August 3, 2021 – YIHR’s Operation Storm Panel will bring together historical experts to discuss the progress of Operation Storm (Oluja) commemorations and future relations between Serbia and Croatia. The public is also invited to participate.
The 26th anniversary of Operation Storm (Oluja) is approaching. Marked on August 5, this 1995 operation returned to Croatia all the occupied territory, with the exception of eastern Slavonia. The event took place in the 1990s during what Croats call the Homeland War (Croatian: Domovinski rat).
In light of the anniversary due to take place this Thursday, the Croatian branch of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) hosted an online panel titled ‘The 26th Anniversary of Operation Storm: Challenges and Obstacles for Reconciliation ” this Wednesday.
As announced on the YIHR website, the panel, to be held via Zoom, will feature a panel discussion moderated by the initiative’s Justice and Reconciliation Programs Coordinator, Branka Vierda, while speakers will be Jelena Đureinović and Sven Milekić.
Dr sc. Jelena Đureinović is historian and coordinator of ” Transformation and Eastern Europe ”, at the Austrian University of Vienna. She got a doctorate. in Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Giessen in Germany. His areas of interest are the politics and culture of remembrance in Yugoslavia and the ex-YU region. In 2020, Routledge published her book ‘Politics of Memory of the Second World War in Contemporary Serbia: Collaboration, Resistance and Retribution’, and she is cooperating with a humanitarian law center in Belgrade as the coordinator of the commemoration program.
Sven Milekić is a researcher at the Science Foundation Fund Ireland and holds a PhD. candidate at Irish University of Maynooth. As part of his research, he is interested in the creation and development of veterans associations and how they formed a dominant narrative about war in the 1990s. In 2010, he received his master’s degree at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb. He cooperates with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), where until 2018 Milekić worked as a journalist, covering topics such as justice, politics, economy and society. Until 2014, he worked as the coordinator of the transitional justice program at YIHR.
Founded at the end of 2008 by a group of young human rights activists in Croatia during consultations and with the support of the regional organization, YIHR is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that believes that the sanctity of human life is the unique foundation and core value of any open and successful society.
“Live in responsible and accountable societies that have learned the lessons of the past and aspire to a positive future based on respect for human rights, civic values and the rule of law,” YIHR says in describing its vision.
The Operation Storm panel (which you must register for to participate) will discuss expectations for this year’s anniversary in Croatia and Serbia, symbolic gestures and real social change, a new civilian casualties law of the war, perspectives on the same law in Serbia, as well as the perspectives of war crimes processes and the concept of “isolated incidents” that could be considered war crimes during and after the operation. Other topics that include building mutual trust and good relationships in the future will also include questions and public participation.
Last year’s anniversary was marked by changes in official policy towards Operation Storm, known in Croatia as Victory Day (Dan Pobjede) and Homeland Gratitude Day (Dan Domovinske Zahvalnosti). In August 2020, the public space was filled with messages on reconciliation, dialogue, the importance of facts, condolences for victims of war crimes and calls for a conversation on different perspectives on the operation. Storm in Croatia and Serbia, ” they recalled from YIHR.
They added that the speech of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on the occasion of the anniversary of last year can be thanked for the above. Plenković also visited Varivode where Croatian soldiers killed nine Serb civilians. President Zoran Milanović and veteran Minister Tomo Medved traveled to Grubori, where six Serbian civilians were killed. At the same time, Boris Milošević’s presence at last year’s Operation Storm commemoration was the first time in history that a senior representative of the Serbian minority in Croatia attended the ceremony.
The downside, however, as YIHR warned, was the special police medal ceremony led by Zlatan Mijo Jelić, who is under investigation for committing crimes against humanity against civilians and prisoners of war.
Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić last year organized the commemoration of what he calls the victims of Operation Storm, but without taking responsibility for the denial of protection to Serbian refugees from Croatia and the forced mobilization of said refugees.
With several drawbacks, but plenty of advantages in Croatian terms as this hugely important historic event draws near, this year’s anniversary will show whether or not the positive progress will continue or whether the unusual overall year of 2020 was just around the corner. ‘an exceptional year.
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