Is reconciliation on the cards in Croatia?
Croatia on Wednesday commemorated the 1995 Operation Storm in which Croatian troops won a decisive victory against Serbian rebels who had taken control of a large area in the country. The operation is controversial because of crimes committed against Serbian civilians and their subsequent mass exodus. This year for the first time a representative of the Serbian minority took part in the commemorative ceremony. For commentators this is just a first step towards reconciliation.
A historic step
For Večernji list this is a big step forward:
“In Knin, at the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm, the Croatian political elites opened a new chapter in Croatian-Serbian relations, which had remained as they were at the end of the war until today. ... The government believes 2020 is the right time for a thaw in relations between Croatians and Serbs. To that end, first it gave the Serbian minority party SDSS a government portfolio, and then it brought Boris Milošević to Knin as deputy prime minister [to the commemorative ceremony]. It will soon become clear in everyday life whether this strategy meets with popular approval.”
Time to come to terms with the past
The Croatians must now come to terms with the history of their war, Index.hr urges:
“Today, on the 25th anniversary of Operation Sturm, which effectively ended the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it's high time for those who were born afterwards to ask their fathers and mothers: 'Just what did you do in the war?' This is not the time for stories of heroism and pathos about the defence of the fatherland. ... It's an opportunity to come clean about every dirty detail, every tortured and killed prisoner, every civilian, every old man who thought he was too old to pose a threat to anyone. ... Living memory lasts for thirty years, after which it becomes history and sooner or later returns to haunt those who stay silent, lie and fail to come to terms with their own guilt.”
Not all wounds have healed
The commemoration in Croatia took place on two levels, Delo observes:
“On the one hand at the official, optimistic level, since the entire Croatian political leadership took part. Also due to the presence of the ethnic Serb Boris Milošević and the visit of the Croatian government representative, Minister Tomo Medved, to the Serbian village of Grubori, where the Croatian victors executed six older civilians. ... We've had to wait a quarter of a century for that to happen. But there was also another, by no means negligible level. ... More than 50 percent of Croatians still suffer from the wounds of the past today. The skirmishes between Serbia and Croatia, but also the nightmare in the form of anniversaries of military operations and commemorations, one of the stumbling blocks between the neighbours, are not over by a long shot.”