President Milanović Receives War Commanders of 115th Croatian Defence Council Brigade Zrinski Tuzla

22. February 2024.

The President of the Republic Zoran Milanović received today the war commanders of the 115th Croatian Defence Council (HVO) Brigade Zrinski Tuzla, Brigade war commander Zvonko Jurić, Brigade war chief of staff Milenko Horvatić, Brigade head of security Niko Jurić, and Battalion war commander Anto Tomić.

The meeting addressed the war record of the Zrinski HVO Brigade, which was made up of volunteers, and at the time was the first and only defence unit in the Tuzla area, founded in 1992 after it became clear that the aggression and the war would spread to the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the war commanders told President Milanović. The reason the Brigade was founded was to protect the Croats in the Tuzla area and neighbouring municipalities of Živinice, Lukavac, Lopare and Banovići. Before the war around 40 thousand Croats lived there, mostly in the rural areas. The commanders of the 115th HVO Brigade Zrinski, which had up to 3,000 defenders while it was active, noted that they defended the Croatian people and areas. Forty-eight of their members were killed, six-four were seriously and one hundred and thirty-seven slightly wounded.

The commanders recalled attempts and pressure to transform the 115th HVO Brigade Zrinski into a unit of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They successfully resisted and the Brigade, until it was disbanded, was under the direct command of the General Staff of the HVO and kept its identity. Although there was tension in relations with the Bosniaks on account of this, there were no conflicts, which the Brigade commanders consider important for the Croats of that part of BiH. They are, however, not pleased that even today in Tuzla there are attempts to diminish their Brigade’s war merits in the war in BiH.

In order to preserve the truth and recall the merits of the 115th HVO Brigade Zrinski, the war commanders announced a celebration on the occasion of its founding in May this year in Tuzla, and invited President Milanović to the event.

Alongside President Milanović was the Special Adviser to the President for Homeland War Veterans Marijan Mareković.

PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Tomislav Bušljeta