milorad pupovac - SDSS.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Mladen VOLARIĆ / mm

Serb National Council (SNV) president Milorad Pupovac said on Saturday that the events in Knin yesterday, during the 21st anniversary of Operation Storm, made many feel trepidation and that the feeling still lasted.

"The messages we heard, the symbols we saw and the actions we witnessed are proof that hostility and hatred dominate, and that the ideology and the movement which are fuelled solely by hatred, hostility and a death wish are free," Pupovac said in Gornje Seliste at a commemoration for those killed and gone missing during and after the 1995 Operation Storm.

The remains of 56 persons killed in 1995 were exhumed from two mass graves in Gornje Seliste last year.

Pupovac said "this society should free itself of trepidation" and that "we will never get freedom if we keep quiet, look away and say that that's democracy... This isn't trepidation only for us, but for this state and its future too."

He said every death, notably of the innocent, but also those who had given their lives in the best faith, made sense only if it was followed by life without hatred, life in well-being and progress. "We can't say that's the state of our society today, notably of the Serb community."

The SNV said it was important not to forget the victims and the sites of their execution, and criticised the slow exhumation and identification of the victims and the inefficient prosecution of war crimes committed in Operation Storm.

Locals, representatives of the SNV and the Serbian Embassy, and local officials laid wreaths and lit candles at the Gornje Seliste cemetery. Mass was said in their honour.

Speaking to the media, Pupovac said the problem with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's address in Knin yesterday was not what she said, but what she did not say. "If I had been in the president's place, I certainly would have prioritised what she heard before her address in relation to what (Social Democratic Party president Zoran) Milanovic said two years ago," he said, alluding to yesterday's address by the war veterans' representative at the anniversary, retired colonel Ivica Glavota.

Pupovac went on to say that he would be glad if Serbia and Croatia were not exchanging protest notes. He said a minimum of respect for Croatian and Serbian citizens, notably those killed, either Croats or Serbs, called for different communication. He said "it's an obligation today to agree on what is in citizens' interest, and that's peace, reconciliation, punishing those responsible for war crimes and turning to the future."

He would not say if he was willing to attend Operation Storm anniversaries in the future. Neither Croatia's first President, Franjo Tudjman, would have gone to Knin to a celebration like yesterday's, or he would have made "good preparations", because he always knew how to keep Croatia from divisions, he said.

Latest news

Famine declared in parts of South Sudan: 100,000 facing starvation

More than 100,000 people are facing starvation in parts of violence-plagued South Sudan, three UN agencies said Monday as they declared famine in parts of the country.

North Korean envoy to Malaysia: 'We cannot trust the investigation'

North Korea "cannot trust the investigation" by Malaysian police into the death last week of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother, Pyongyang's ambassador to Malaysia said Monday.

Kim Dotcom loses latest round in extradition saga

German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has lost another legal round after the New Zealand High Court ruled that he and three of his colleagues can be extradited to the United States, but he said Monday his fight is far from over.

Thai monks clash with police on fifth day of high-profile temple raid

Several monks were injured early Monday in clashes with Thai police at a Buddhist temple where thousands of officers have been searching for a former abbot wanted on money laundering and land encroachment charges.

Cambodia passes bill easing requirements to abolish political parties

Cambodia's parliament passed a controversial bill on Monday allowing the government to abolish political parties whose members have been convicted of criminal charges, a senior opposition lawmaker has confirmed to dpa.

Former VP Moreno wins first round of Ecuador's presidential elections

Leftist former vice president Lenin Moreno has won the first round of presidential elections in Ecuador on Sunday, according to preliminary results released by the country's electoral authority.

Report: US and Russia supply over half of global arms

The United States and Russia supplied more than half of the world's arms over the past five years, a period that saw arms transfers reach their highest volume since the end of the Cold War, a Swedish-based research institute said Monday.

Messi's last minute penalty saves Barcelona from shock draw

Barcelona beat Leganes 2-1 with a last minute penalty from Lionel Messi in the Spanish first division on Sunday.

At least 30 injured after explosion in Bogota

A explosion in the Macarena area of Bogota injured at least 30 people on Sunday, many of them police officers who were guarding a bull running through the streets of the Colombian capital.

Vojvodina institutions hold conference on Bunjevci's non-Croat ethnic background

There are around 16,000 members of the Bunjevci community in Vojvodina who deny their Croat ethnic background. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council which enjoys the support of state authorities, and, since the change of government in Vojvodina, of the provincial authorities as well.

SpaceX rocket blasts off from historic launch pad en route to ISS

A commercial rocket built by SpaceX is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of research equipment, cargo and supplies, NASA said Sunday.

Defence deals worth 1.2 billion dollars announced at key UAE show

Deals worth nearly 4.4 billion dirhams (1.2 billion dollars) were reached at a major defence show that opened Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an official said.