Marking the 30th anniversary of “Plitvice” and death of Josip Jović

The Action “Plitvice” and the death of Josip Jović make a part of history as a perennial symbol of the beginning of the Homeland War.

The 30th anniversary of the Plitvice Lakes Incident 1991 and of the first Croatian victim  of the Homeland War Josip Jović was marked in a commemoration ceremony at Plitvice on 31 March 2021, by laying wreaths and the prayer  of absolution  recited by the Military Ordinary, Msgr. Jure Bogdan, marked the 30th anniversary of the “Plitvice” operation and the death of the first Croatian police officer Josip Jović, who died on Easter 1991, performing police tasks of maintaining order and peace, defending and protecting the security of citizens and the constitutional order of his homeland.

The respects at the memorial monument at Plitvice in memory of the first victim of the Homeland War were paid by the President of the Republic Zoran Milanović as Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces, by the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković heading the delegation of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, with the Defence Minister  Mario Banožić, the Minister of Homeland War Veterans Tomo Medved and with the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, and also by the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Admiral Robert Hranj, by the Commander of the Croatian Army Lieutenant General Boris Šerić, by the representatives of the Croatian defenders associations from the Homeland War and by the representatives of the local government.

Recalling the death of the first Croatian victim President Milanović said the participants were a small group of young people, who weren’t professionals or skilled with weapons, came here aware that they could confront a much more powerful enemy. As time goes by, this courage is greater. Eternal glory and gratitude go to the fallen Josip Jović, who didn’t live to see the Croatian freedom, the Constitution, democracy and membership in the European Union and the Croatian police station in Plitvice. This is where history begins”, said the President.

In his address on the Action known also as “Bloody Easter”, Prime Minister Plenković emphasised that the Croatian police officers arrived to Plitvice 30 years ago precisely to enforce and demonstrate the existence of the legal order in the Croatian territory. “We are also marking the 30th anniversary of the death of Josip Jović today,  one of the many Croatian police officers, police officers, defenders,  soldiers, who sacrificed everything for the freedom of Croatia”, said Prime Minister Plenković, extending gratitude and tribute on behalf of the Croatian government to all defenders for the freedom they won for the Croatian people.

What happened on Plitvice today was a hint of everything that happened in the following years, but also a hint of victory because the action of Plitvice was a winning action “, said the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Croatia Mario Banožić. The action in Plitvice 30 years ago announced the later course of events but also the freedom, as the Action “Plitvice” was a victorious one.

Free, democratic and European Croatian is the merit of the first victim of the Homeland War, Josip Jović, of the Croatian defenders and the first President of the Republic of Croatia Franjo Tuđman”, said Defence Minister Banožić

Minister Banožić also stressed that the Croatian defenders realised the coveted goals and are nowadays praised for their contribution in peacekeeping missions, where they provide peace worldwide, side by side with the allies. For that reason and in honour to all victims of the Homeland War it is our obligation to guard freedom, democracy and independence of Croatia”, concluded the Defence Minister.

The Envoy of the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament and Vice Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Policy Maja Grba-Bujević, a participant of the Action “Plitvice” herself recalled the medical assistance provided to the wounded Croatian police officers that she had taken part in as a young medical doctor.  “On our way from Plitvice we were searched by the JNA members, but we knew we would come back. The Croatian soldiers should be cherished as the most valuable asset, who enabled us to build new and modern Croatia”, said Grba – Bujević.

The fellow combatants recalled the beginning of the “Plitvice” Action, saying that it was also their baptism of fire and said that the action and Josip Jović’ s death remained in history as a lasting symbol of the beginning of the Homeland War.

The President of the Republic Zoran Milanović as Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces gave a reception in the Office of the President of the Republic in remembrance of Josip Jović, the first Croatian defender killed in the Homeland War and to mark the 30th anniversary of the Action “Plitvice”.

President Milanović presented the participants of the Action “Plitvice” with the decorations.

Branko Horvatić and Željko Marić were decorated with the Order of the Croatian Trefoil for for excellence in war, while Zlatko Aga, Dražen Jagečić, Jozo Kovačević and Karlo Kožul received the Order of Croatian Cross for suffering severe wounding in the Homeland War.

Dražen Jagečić delivered an address on behalf of the recipients, and Slavko Butorac extended appreciation to the President “for not forgetting the forgotten”.  

President Milanović in his address to the participants of the Action said: “on a foggy and snowy morning you went by bus, poorly equipped, with no combat experience into mortal danger and that is why you are heroes. We owe eternal gratitude to such people”.