The Victory Day, the Homeland Gratitude Day and the Croatian Defenders Day as well as…
“It was a time characterised by the unity of the Croatian people, a value to be passed on to the future generations. The Croatian Army is one of the most recognised brands of Croatia; Croatia has both a victorious Army and a people of winning mentality, which has been demonstrated many a time“, said the President. The Day of Victory and Homeland Gratitude, the Croatian Defenders Day and the 23rd Anniversary of the Operation “Storm“ were marked with a formal ceremony in Knin on 5 August 2018, 23 years on from the hoisting of the Croatian flag in the Knin Fortress to mark the victorious advancements by the Croatian Army in the largest liberating operation thereto.
The ceremony was attended by the top state and military officials – the President of the Republic of Croatia and Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković, the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, the Minister of Homeland War Veterans Tomo Medved, the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces General Mirko Šundov, the delegations of the State of Israel and of the United States of America, the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Čović, members of the Croatian Parliament, defence attachés accredited to the Republic of Croatia, members of the Croatian Armed Forces, participants of the Operation “Storm“ and other Croatian defenders.
Following the report by Major General Siniša Jurković to the President of the Republic and the formal review of the wartime flags column, the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević and other members of the Government and representatives of the Šibenik -Knin County and towns laid wreaths at the monument to the Croatian Victory “Storm 95″ in the Ante Starčević Square in Knin in remembrance and gratitude to all fallen Croatian defenders, followed by the prayer recited for them by the Military Ordinary Msgr. Jure Bogdan.
The President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in her address expressed deep gratitude to all the participants of the Operation “Storm“, especially to those who sacrified their lives for the freedom and future of Croatia.
“It was a magnificent victory on a unique battlefield; it was the time of unity of the Croatian people and these values have to be passed on to the future generations. The Croatian Armed Forces are one of the most recognised brands of Croatia; the presence of members of the Minnesota National Guard in the parade alongside the Croatian forces is a sign of recognition.
“Croatia has a victorious Army and a people with a winning mentality, which has been demonstrated many a time. Croatia bats above its weight in many aspects, said the President. Extending congratulations and appreciation to the Croatian defenders, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the unity enabled Croatian people to defend and liberate the country and that the cohesion and perseverance of the Croatian defenders should today be taken as incentive and inspiration . Croatia advocates co-operation and good-neighbourly relations which must be based on the truth, reconciliation, justice and the ability to responsibly face the past
The Prime Minister underlined the importance of modernisation of the Croatian Armed Forces and the police, and stated that the Decision on the procurement of the F 16 multirole fighter aircraft was a strategic project that would help Croatia become even more safe and capable of responding to all security challenges. Prime Minister also bid welcome to the Israeli and American partners attending the ceremony.
“The values of the Homeland War, patriotism, determination and optimism should serve as inspiration for the future and greatest monument to all those who fought for the freedom of Croatia“ said the Prime Minister. Stjepan Cumbaj addressed the visitors on behalf of the families of the fallen Croatian defenders, expressing pride over the honour paid to the patriotism and sacrifice of their sons who fought for Croatia, led by patriotism and pure heart“.
The Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković addressed the audience on behalf of the Croatian Parliament and called on all to honour the sacrifice of the Croatian defenders for the freedom of Croatia . The Croatian Army, among the world’s most respected militaries, grew during the Homeland War.We demonstrated faith, determination, courage and responsibility and were strongly united. We are today marking the anniversary in an atmosphere of optimism and unity“, said the Speaker.
The ceremony in the Knin Fortress featured a recollection of the Operation and a roll-call of the defenders fallen or missing in the“Storm“. The church bells rang recalling the moment of entry of the Croatian defenders into Knin and the flag was hoisted on the mast in the Fortress. Also, 23 honorary volleys were fired and eight columns of the Croatian Air Force performed a flypast over Knin. The 2018 ceremony featured a performance of F-16 aircraft of the Israeli Air Force. The ceremony was concluded by an aerobatic sequence of the “Wings of Storm“ Team . The Defence Minister Damir Krstičević recounted the liberation of Knin in 1995, saying that the Operation “Storm“ was the biggest victory of all in the Homeland War, a symbol of military success and heroism. The Homeland War united us and showed that anything can be achieved when the right goal is set. The Minister welcomed the presence of the partners from the United States and Israel and also stated: “We are building the Croatian Armed Forces stronger, and also the security system, we are strengthening our relations with the allies and protecting the Croatian national interests,” said the Minister, extending gratitude to all Croatian defenders for their sacrifice for today’s peace and freedom.
Senior government and military visitors, led by ceremonial columns of the Croatian Armed Forces, police, Croatian defenders and historical units arrived to the Church of Our Lady of the Great Croatian Baptismal Vow, to attend the solemn mass for the Homeland, recited by the Bishop of Šibenik Msgr. Tomislav Rogić and Military Ordinary Msgr. Jure Bogdan. The formal marking of the Victory and Homeland Gratitude’s Day, the Day of Croatian Defenders and of the 23rd anniversary of the Operation “Storm“ also featured several cultural and sporting events, the reveille by the Orchestra of the Croatian Armed Forces through the streets of Knin, a ceremonial drill by the Honorary Battalion,a honorary motorcycle and military oldtimer ride, a static display of weapons and equipment used by the Croatian Armed Forces and a display of defenders associations’ activity.
Representatives from U.S. and Israel attend “Storm“ anniversary
Among the visitors to the ceremony in Knin were the representatives of the United States – the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard Major General Jon Jensen, the Commander of the Figher Wing of the Minnesota Air Force Colonel Christopher Blomquist and the U.S. Defense Attaché to Croatia Colonel Robert Mathers – and of Israel – Director of SIBAT,General (Ret.) Mishel Ben Baruch, the Commander of the “Ramat David” Air Base and the Defence Attaché to Croatia, Colonel Harel Taggar.
Israeli F-16 flypast over Knin on the anniversary of Operation “Storm“
The ceremony also featured a flypast over the Knin Fortress by a formation composed of two Israeli F-16 aircraft and two Croatian MiGs-21, taking off from the 91st Air Base at Pleso near Zagreb, to symbolically bind the glorious past of the Croatian Army and the prospects of the future of the Croatian Armed Forces, which will soon introduce the F-16 C / D Barak aircraft into operational service, guaranteeing the existence of the Croatian Air Force and security of the Croatian air space.
Croatian Armed Forces, police and defenders play football with Croatian national football team coach
The main ceremony of the Victory and Homeland Gratitude and the Croatian Defenders Day and of he 23rd anniversary of the Operation “Storm“ was preceded by non-competition football matches between veterans of the Croatian Army and the Croatian Defence Council, and between members of the Croatian Armed Forces and the police and the “Old Star” Team led by the Croatian national football team coach Zlatko Dalić, who was presented with a photo depicting a MiG flypast over Zagreb on the day of return of the national team from the World Football Championships in Russia by the General Mirko Šundov and with the national flag hoisted on the Knin Fortress during the Championships.