Andrej Plenković, obljetnica oluje.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Mario STRMOTIĆ/ ua

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenkovic on Friday commented on Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Zoran Milanovic's failure to attend a ceremony in Knin marking Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day, saying everyone "marks this day as they think they should."

"We were in Knin today, first and foremost to mark the Croatian army's greatest victory and the greatest day for Croatia's freedom," he told reporters in Knin.

It is very important to impart to young people through the educational system the key values of the Homeland War, as it is the basis of everything we have done since 1995, and we must build a future for young generations and stand up for the most vulnerable groups because we owe it to the Homeland War defenders, Plenkovic said. "That's why the HDZ will utilise the period until 2020 for economic prosperity and a higher social standard."

Asked to comment on President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's address in Knin in which, according to the press, she openly attacked Milanovic, Plenkovic said she "held an excellent speech... appropriate to the occasion and dedicated to Croatian veterans, the Croatian Armed Forces. She warned the politicians making inappropriate statements, even abroad, about the Croatian state, that that will not pass muster."

Plenkovic said he agreed with her, notably the statements after a Munich court convicted two Yugoslav-era intelligence agents for the murder of a Croatian dissident. "You have seen that the German court was very clear about the state terrorism of the Yugoslav communist regime."

Asked if archives should be declassified, including those of Communist Party, Plenkovic said that archives in every state were classified "for a certain number of years."

"But I think that the process which many transition countries went through is important for truly dealing with the past. In the European Parliament I deputy chair the Reconciliation of European Histories Group and it's extremely important to establish the historical truth and, as a society, to deal also with those facts which harmed the Croatian people and made it suffer during totalitarian systems."

Asked if he was campaigning in Knin today, Plenkovic said he was there to mark Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and, first and foremost, Croatian Veterans Day.

Asked to comment on an incident in Zagreb last night when, as a member of the press said, those calling themselves peace activists were assaulted, he said that "everyone is entitled to state their opinion in a democratic society" and that the police secured the rally in question.

Asked to comment on a recent public opinion poll showing that the SDP was eight percent ahead of the HDZ, Plenkovic said that "what's very good in that poll" was that the HDZ's popularity was increasing while the SDP's was decreasing. He stressed that the HDZ was part of the European People's Party.

He said the most important thing was for the HDZ to run in September's election with a good platform, good candidates and to win, restoring the party's credibility and voters' trust.

Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said he was surprised that opposition representatives were not in Knin today to mark the national holiday, as August 5 was a very important day in Croatian history.

This is a national holiday for all Croats, for all Croatian politicians, including representatives of the SDP and other parties, he said, adding that Operation Storm had been a magnificent victory of the Croatian army, police and people.

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