12:05 / 01.05.2022.

Author: Branko Lozančić

Croatia marks 27 years since Operation Flash

Ceremonies marking anniversary of Operation Flash

Ceremonies marking anniversary of Operation Flash

Foto: HTV / HRT

Croatia marked the 27th anniversary of the Flash military-police operation today, in which Croatian defenders liberated parts of western Slavonia that had been occupied for four years in less than 32 hours on May 1, 1995, with less than 7,200 soldiers and police officers. The operation established control over the Zagreb - Lipovac highway, as well as the railway to eastern Slavonia. 42 Croatian soldiers gave their lives in the operation and 162 were wounded.

Croatian President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanović, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković laid wreaths at the "Crystal Cube of Serenity" memorial.

After the national anthem was sung at the "Crystal Cube of Serenity" memorial, the names of those who gave their lives in operation Flash were read.

President Zoran Milanović, stated that "this is a great victory for the Croatian Army, one in a series of those that followed the attempts to kill and the destruction of Vukovar at the end of 1991."

“A few weeks later, the Croatian Army took the initiative. I want to emphasize that because I think it is important, which it did not lose until the end of the war,” said Milanović.

“With the first operations for the liberation of Western Slavonia, with few soldiers and even less equipment and ammunition, under conditions of international isolation, then non-recognition, and arms embargo - so it couldn’t get worse - the Croatian Army took the initiative all the way to victory, finally in operation Storm and operations Maestral and Southern Move, where until October 1995 Croatian soldiers were being killed, it did not lose the initiative,” he added.

“So, since '91, the Croatian Army had the initiative through operations Flash, Storm, South Maestral and Southern Move, and it ended the war gloriously. The very end of the war cost Croatia victims due to political projects of other countries, primarily the United States, the arrival to Banja Luka, and the losses of the Croatian Army. That stopped the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not the American bombing, but the arrival of the Croatian army behind Manjača and finally the capitulation, albeit informal, of Bosnian Serbs Ratko Mladić and Karadžić and consent to negotiations and unblocking Sarajevo,” said President Milanović.

He said that he was not in favor of ideologizing history, but that these were facts that should be taught to children.

“Once again - glory and honor to those who died here - more than 50 died for Croatia, because they were close to freedom and victory, and they did not live to see it,” he said at the end of the statement.

President Zoran Milanović

President Zoran Milanović

Foto: Ivica Galovic / PIXSELL

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said that "today, at the time of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Croatia's victory in the Homeland War becomes even greater and more brilliant, when we remember the circumstances in which we created the state, when we compare with today and see how brutal it can be when an aggressor attacks a smaller and weaker state."

“Let us also recall the vision of President Tuđman, the heroism of Croatian veterans, soldiers and police officers, but also the readiness of Croatian people to make sacrifices,” he added.

“Croatia took advantage of the historic moment, won the Homeland War, created a state and won freedom and democracy for the Croatian people. Today we remember the military police operation Flash in which we unfortunately lost 51 lives, but these people are firmly embedded in the foundations of the modern Croatian state. The memory of them is still alive and eternal gratitude to them, as well as to all those who are responsible for the freedom of our homeland,” said Jandroković.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković

Foto: Ivica Galovic / PIXSELL

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that today we remember the heroes of the Homeland War.

“It is these "Crystal Cubes of Serenity" that symbolize the memories of those who gave the most for Croatia. They gave their lives for our freedom and democracy. That is why it is important that all generations to come first know very well what happened in the early 1990s during the Greater Serbia aggression,” said Prime Minister Plenković.

“I would like to thank once again all Croatian veterans, soldiers and police officers for everything they have contributed to strengthening the Croatian state. In these few years, along with this beautiful monument, we have tried to fill all the gaps and correct some injustices when it comes to the legal, financial, program, organizational framework of what concerns the rights of Croatian veterans. I thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Croatian Veterans, Tomo Medved, who is doing this in the best possible way. I truly believe that over time we have managed to solve all the problems that plagued Croatian veterans and their families. At the same time, the policy of our Government is to strengthen homeland security, strengthen national security, strengthen the Croatian Army and police. This can be seen in the budget allocations and in strengthening their capabilities and in everything that will make Croatia a safe, reliable partner within the EU and NATO. We see how important security is in these times of brutal Russian aggression and invasion of Ukraine, and how much the consequences of such a situation have on our security, but also on our economic and financial situation, rising energy prices, food, and in that context - inflationary pressures,” said Plenković.

On the occasion of International Labor Day, he congratulated all workers who in the years of extraordinary circumstances, corona crisis and energy crisis, made the Croatian economy agile, resilient and to enable a quick recovery in 2021 compared to 2020, but also who, through agreements in social dialogue, look for solutions, not only to preserve jobs, but also to create new ones.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

Foto: Ivica Galovic / PIXSELL

The operation also liberated Okučani, the center of the enemy rebellion and terrorist attacks by Greater Serbian aggressors in the West Slavonia area. During the operation, the plane of the legendary Croatian Air Force pilot, Rudolf Perešin, who fled to Austria during the strongest attacks on Croatia in 1991 with a MiG-21 plane, was also shot down.

In Bljesak, for the first time in the Homeland War, massive strikes by the Croatian Air Force were used, and a tactical surprise were tanks, delivered by rail, which entered the battle directly.

Due to the military defeat in Operation Flash, on May 2, 1995, Serbian rebels attacked the center of Zagreb with an "Orkan" missile system with a cluster charge, so-called "bells", in which seven people were killed and about 200 were injured. The then leader of the Serbian rebels, Milan Martić, was sentenced by the International Court of Justice in The Hague to 35 years in prison for war crimes, among other things, because of the order to attack Zagreb.

Operation Flash preceded the military-police operation Storm, which followed three months later, on August 5, 1995, and which established state-legal order in the entire territory of the Republic of Croatia, except in Eastern Slavonia. However, these operations and the next few victories of the Croatian Army created conditions in which the process of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region began on 15 January 1996 and ended on 15 January 1998, when the area (eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Srijem), finally returned under Croatian authority.

Source: HRT

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