President Milanović: Courage of War Volunteers Saved Croatia from Disaster and Fragmentation of its Territory
The President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces Zoran Milanović attended a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the formation of the 83rd Independent Battalion of the Croatian Army – Zagreb.
“I think that today our people respect Croatian defenders more than fifteen years ago. As time passes things become clearer to people. In fact, people are increasingly envious of the defenders, and of you who were the first to defend and later liberate Croatia,” said President Milanović, recalling that the unit was formed two days after Croatia declared independence, which marked the birth of the Croatian Army, which would succeed the Croatian National Guard.
He also recalled the days in the run-up to Croatia’s declaration of independence, saying that on 7 October the bombing of the Ban’s Court was an attempt to assassinate the state leadership. “After 1945, such things didn’t happen in Europe. We need to get beyond that, but it is known who was behind that and who gave the orders,” the President said, commending the people who enlisted in the Croatian Army on 10 October 1991 in Zagreb because “tens of thousands of people from Zagreb later passed through the Croatian Army, but those who showed up first – that’s what counts the most.”
“And all of them, especially those who died, and everyone who dodged bullets and shrapnel, deserve our admiration because 1991 was a year in which the expectations of Eastern and Central Europe were high. Croatia was attacked. Croatia had to go to war. It was your courage that saved Croatia from disaster, from fragmentation and occupation of a much larger part of its territory. Back then Croatia was armed, but not yet organized. It organized itself very quickly and the strength of one nation was demonstrated – of one common spirit, faith and desire to achieve victory – on top of the power of military equipment and organization. Afterwards it was also difficult and this lasted for a long time, but even then victory was certain and it was only a matter of when it would come,” said President Milanović.
The President pointed out that hardly anything can be compared with the courage and spirit that was there in 1991. “Now we are in the European Union and it’s not bad, but it isn’t spectacular either. We have voluntarily and wilfully given up great authority to Brussels. We are accountable to ourselves and our children for the results, for how much money we will take, and how many of our fundamental rights we will give up,” said President Milanović, emphasizing that Croatian defenders did not fight for European funds but rather for a European Croatia: “They fought above all for Croatia and only for Croatia, for Croatia’s territory and for Croatia’s borders.”
Concluding his address, President Milanović said that thirty years was a long time during which the attitude of the Croatian public towards Croatia’s defenders had changed. “I feel that today the attitude of the Croatian public is more positive and more inclined towards Croatian defenders than it used to be, and that we are now closer to national understanding and acceptance. Truth and history will be written for us by others as well, but they will be writing it for themselves and in vain. We know what the truth is. Our truth is positive and we need not be ashamed of our truth, for it is noble. Our path, your path was just,” concluded the President of the Republic.
For deeds of valour demonstrated in the Homeland War, the President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces Zoran Milanović presented the Order of Nikola Šubić Zrinski to the members of the 83rd Independent Battalion of the Croatian Army – Zagreb. Wartime Commander of the 3rd Company Vlado Čondić expressed gratitude for the decoration on behalf of the 83rd Independent Battalion of the Croatian Army – Zagreb.
Apart from President Milanović, speaking at the event marking the 30th anniversary of the formation of the 83rd Independent Battalion of the Croatian Army – Zagreb were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Croatian Veterans’ Affairs Tomo Medved, Commander of the 1990/1991 City of Zagreb Crisis Management Team Mladen Vedriš, the last Commander of the defense of Vukovar and wartime Commander of the 204th Croatian Army Brigade Branko Borković and Commander of the 83rd Croatian Army Independent Battalion – Zagreb Petar Lovrić. Special Adviser to the President of the Republic for Homeland War Veterans Marijan Mareković was alongside President Milanović at the event.
PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Filip Glas