Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said in Okucani on Sunday at the celebration the 21st  anniversary of a combined military and police offensive, known as Operation Flash, that they gathered today to pay tribute to all killed soldiers and civilians without whom Croatia would not be a free country, underscoring that the people who were leading the country today must secure prosperity.

The ceremony was also attended by parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner, Veterans Minister Tomislav Medved and Croatian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mirko Sundov as President and Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's special envoy.

Oreskovic thanked war veterans for their decisiveness, underlining that it was up to the generations leading the country today to secure prosperity.

Oreskovic told the press the government would see that the Armed Forces receive proper technical equipment stressing that in the coming years more money would be secured in the budget for the Armed Forces.

Parliament Speaker Reiner said Operation Flash was a turning point in the Homeland War.

The results of out liberation operations are freedom and democracy of our country and for that we have to thank those who gave their lives for it, Reiner said.

"A total of 51 soldiers were killed in Operation Flash and even more in Operation Storm and these people made it possible for us to live in freedom and democracy," Reiner said adding that without Operations Storm and Flash, Croatia would not be what it is today.

Those celebration was also addressed by Veterans Minister Medved.

After the ceremony Holy Mass was celebrated by msgr. Jure Bogdan.

The operation was launched on May 1 and ended on May 3, 1995. During less than 32 hours Croatian troops and police regained control of 500 square kilometres of land, including the main west-east motorway and the railway line leading to Eastern Slavonia.

About 7,200 troops and police officers took part in the liberation of Western Slavonia, of whom 42 were killed and 162 wounded. It was the first time during the 1991-1995 Homeland War that the Croatian Air Force had used airstrikes on a larger scale, and the enemy was further surprised by tanks that were brought in by rail and deployed in combat.

Okucani is located about 130 kilometres southeast of Zagreb. During the war it was the centre of the Serb rebellion and a staging area for terrorist attacks in Western Slavonia.

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