Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.jpg
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic
Photograph: HINA / Milan OBRADOVIĆ / BETAPHOTO / mm

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic described in Belgrade on Friday as "sheer impudence" Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's statement that Operation Storm had been "ethically clean" and that it had "relieved (Serbs) of the heavy centuries-long burden of Greater Serbia projects."

Speaking at an event marking the operation's 21st anniversary in Knin, Grabar-Kitarovic said the 1995 military operation had been "politically justified, ethically clean and militarily brilliant" and that she was "convinced that, in time, Croatian citizens of Serb nationality will become even more aware that Storm relieved them of the heavy centuries-long burden of Greater Serbia projects."

Dacic said such a statement showed that "for Croatia it's ethically clean to kill thousands of Serbs and expel more than 220,000."

"It's sheer impudence to say that Storm relieved Serbs. How? By depriving them of life, leaving them without houses and flats, farmland and forests, without pensions, by expelling them from the old country? And from whom were they liberating those towns and villages, when Serbs were the absolute majority there?" Dacic said in a press release.

He reiterated Serbia's position that Operation Storm, in which occupied parts of Croatia were liberated in the summer of 1995, was "the biggest ethnic cleansing in Europe after World War II." "Where have 400,000 Serbs disappeared to in 20 years?" Dacic said, referring to censuses showing that Serbs accounted for 18.45% of Croatia's population in 1931 and only 4.36% in 2011.

Dacic reproached Croatia for being proud of that, as shown, he said, by the Ustasha salutes in Knin today, "instead of feeling guilty and sympathising."

He said Serbia would never accept the ideas of Ustasha ministers from the time of the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia, adding that those ideas were still present in Croatia.

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