A memorial service was held at St. Mark's Church in Belgrade on Wednesday to commemorate Serbian victims of Operation Storm.
«One cannot forget, one cannot forgive, but we must respect each other and maintain good neighbourly relations,» said one Croatian Serb who fled during the offensive.
Another woman commented that «even after twenty-five years, these days are always hard for us, no matter how many years pass, and we always feel sad for all those who have suffered.»
Operation Storm began on August 4, 1995, with a military offensive by the Croatian army and police to re-take control of areas of Croatia that had been seized by Croatian Serb paramilitary forces and become part of the self-declared entity Republic of Serbian Krajina.
During the operation, over 250,000 Croatian Serbs had to forcibly leave their homes and escape to neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina amid incidents of violent crimes committed against civilians. The number of casualties — military and civilian — is disputed by both sides.
While Serbia mourns these events, August 5 is considered a state holiday in Croatia and is celebrated as one of the greatest victories of the ‘Croatian War of Independence.’
Earlier this week, a commemorative plague to the victims of Operation Storm was unveiled in Sremska Raca by Serb officials, on a bridge between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia that served as a border crossing for Croatian Serbs fleeing the military offensive.