21st anniversary of Operation Plitvice, Jovic's death observed
President Ivo Josipovic said on Saturday that freedom, democracy, justice, peace and respect for human rights were the values that would always guide those at the helm of Croatia.
He was speaking at a ceremony marking the 21st anniversary of Operation Plitvice.
"Every age brings its challenges. The challenges of the present are to build a better living standard for all of our citizens and a prosperous Croatia as well as to stop all those who, even today, still want to turn back the wheel of Croatia's history," Josipovic said after laying a wreath at Plitvice at the site where policeman Josip Jovic, the first victim of the 1991-95 Homeland War, was killed.
"Today we have to tell them no. Croatia will remain a diligent, just country focused on reconciliation and coexistence, democracy and human rights. We want to clearly say that those values do not go hand in hand with the ideas that fed aggression, death and undermined human rights."
Speaking of the problems of the present, Josipovic highlighted "loose ties from the past such as privatisation crime and war profiteering." He voiced confidence that most citizens, regardless of party, religious or other affiliation, had confidence in democracy and the good.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Josip Leko said it was an honour to show respect and gratitude to Jovic and all the victims and the defenders who fought for Croatia's freedom in the defensive war.
Their sacrifice oblige today's leadership to build the Croatia for which the defenders fought, a Croatia of equal rights, conditions and opportunities, Leko said.
Warning that there was still resistance to shedding light on privatisation crimes and other issues which had been accumulating for years, he pledged on parliament's behalf that Croatia would not give up from establishing a better and more just society.
Leko said the most brilliant moments of Croatia's history and the dignity of its war veterans would never be forgotten. He said his message to those recycling dark ideas which were already condemned throughout history was that their ideas did not ensure a peaceful and promising future for today's and future generations.
Deputy Prime Minister Neven Mimica thanked Jovic and all other defenders who gave their lives for a free Croatia. He said their sacrifice taught the value of freedom and patriotism, thanks to which Croatia was able to join NATO and would soon join the European Union - "the best strategic framework for our overall economic and social development."
Mimica said the Homeland War, a defensive and just war, obliged the state leadership to responsibly run the state and respect citizens' will as the only way to achieve the synergy of all social capabilities, while respecting civil liberties and all national interests.
He said that unfortunately, there were attempts in Serbia recently to rehabilitate lost wars and war criminals from the last century, but added that Croatia's history would not be written by others' courts, as Croatian defenders had written it in the 1940s and 1990s.
"Evil will always be evil, and good will always be good. Reviving the idea of Greater Serbia would bring into question all the accomplishments of good neighbourly relations and the cooperation in the region that we advocate," Mimica said.
The 21st anniversary of the first casualty of the Homeland War and the operation dubbed Bloody Easter was also attended by War Veterans Minister Predrag Matic, many of those who fought in the war, and representatives of the Interior Ministry and the Armed Forces.