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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A "Hero Welcome" For Ante Gotovina From Hometown Of Pakoštane

The title just about says it all, not much more to add. (If you don't know who Ante Gotovina is, then check out my previous post HERE which explains pretty well everything)  The falsely indicted Croatian Hero-General, who was exonerated just a few days ago from the ICTY, after paying his respects to the victims of Vukovar, he's just arrived in his hometown of Pakoštane.  The scene was a repeat of his welcome to Zagreb from just a few days ago. (See the previous post concerning that too)  I'm pretty sure the whole municipality showed up for this one, considering Pakoštane has only about 4,000 residents. (Around 30,000 visitors arrived later in the evening reportedly)  But then again, this is the guy who had a huge part to play in making free the very ground they're standing on, sort of like a modern day Croatian hybrid version of George Washington/Joan of Arc, so it was expected to be a full house.  His speech was short and basically revolved around thanking the people in attendance for their support and attendance, to enjoy themselves and to optimistic  for the future.

The rumor mills and media are already asking the question "Will he possibly become the Croatian President down the road?.., but that's just the euphoria of the moment think, he hasn't even had enough time to let his hair get greasy yet .  (However, considering his popularity right now, if there was a national vote tomorrow he'd probably win in a landslide, so we'll have to wait and see down the road)  There's even talk of a feature film about his life.  Now that one actually sounds like a good idea to me, it would have everything....courtroom drama, love story, battle scenes, various world locations, world political intrigue, suspense, name it. Sort of like James Bond meets Full Metal Jacket meets The English Patient  meets An Officer and a Gentleman meets Triple xXx. (See the short bio at bottom)

Let the people enjoy these days I say too, righting a grievous wrong is a great moment, and they don't happen very often, that's why they're called  great moments.  The town started preparations earlier in the day for his visit.  There was free food and drinks, entertainment, the smell of roasting meat on the spit flowing in the air as well as flowing beer, wine and rakija.  They celebrated through the night, including a fireworks display. (Oh, and the flares, mustn't forget the flares.  Us Croatians are like that when it comes to big time celebrations, you gotta have flares)  All in all, let them eat cake I say, and enjoy the moment and forget about everyday mundane stuff for a while, it's been a long time coming.  More images and videos at the links.  I'll be back to my usual stuff later.....

(Btw, "Ante Gotovina - Hero" tee shirts come in a variety of styles and colors now, just FYI)




Previous related post: croatian-generals-ante-gotovina-and-mladen-markac-exonerated

The celebrations finished off with with a concert, and of course fireworks and flairs and lasted through the night.  Ante Gotovina's speech was short and basically revolved around thanking the people for their support and coming out, telling the people to enjoy themselves and to be optimistic for the future in the now free Croatia.

Who is Ante Gotovina?...

Ante Gotovina was born on October 12, 1955 in Pašman near Zadar, Croatia. He left Croatia at age 16 to become a sailor. At 18 he joined the French Foreign Legion, an elite military division whose training focuses not only on conventional military expertise but also on its strong esprit de corps, and eventually joined the Parachute Commando Group. He partook in Foreign Legion’s operations in Djibouti as well as missions in the Ivory Coast and other countries in Asia and Africa. After 5 years of service in the Legion, he left with the rank of caporal-chief. He acquired French citizenship in 1979. In the early 1980s he acted as a liaison agent and military instructor in Latin American countries like Paraguay, Colombia, and Guatemala.

After learning about the Croatian declaration of independence in 1991, he returned to Croatia and joined the 1st Guard Brigade of the Croatian military and was in charge of training new recruits. He engaged in heavy fighting in Western Slavonia, first as a defender and eventually as a commander. There, he was wounded and recovered.

In 1992, now colonel Ante Gotovina was the commander of the of Croatian Defense Council (HVO) headquarters in Livno, Herzegovina with task of defending the Livno region. After the successful defense execution in the Livno region, General Janko Bobetko quickly recognized Gotovina's leadership skills. He rapidly progressed militarily and along with the main commanders Janko Bobetko and Ante Roso was one of the main commanders in Operation Maslenica.

As a lieutenant-general he led quite a few successful military operations. He successfully defended Livno and Tomislavgard from Mladić’s army. He broke the Serbian defenses in the Livno area over a 10 month long war. He defended the slopes of Dinara and Šator. He successfully took over Glamoč and Bosansko Grahovo. He took over the surrounding area of Knin, which created conditions for rapid and successful execution of Operation Storm. After that, in the second half of 1995 Govotina was the chief commander of Croatian Army. Operations commanded by General Gotovina changed the strategic balance of power in the Balkans, destroyed the myth of the Serbian invincibility, and enabled the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord.

On August 4th, 1995, Operation Storm commenced. It was a large-scale military operation carried out by Croatian Armed Forces together with the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to gain back the control of Croatian territories which had been claimed by Serbs. The united Croatian forces led by General Ante Gotovina massed their troops around the occupied Croatian territory of Krajina. Croatian President Tudjman announced on the radio that the Croatian citizens of Serbian ethnicity in the occupied territories stay in their homes and not fear the Croatian authorities who will respect their minority rights. General Gotovina’s army shattered through the Serbian defenses forcing 40,000 troops and 400 tanks to flee to Banja Luka. The operation, which was documented as the largest European land offensive since World War II lasted 84 hours and liberated occupied Croatian territories, causing the end of the Serb onslaught on Bihać, preventing a humanitarian catastrophe, and striking the ultimate blow to Milošević’s scheme of a future cleansed so-called Greater Serbia.

Realizing how strong the Croatian army had become, Milošević wanted to remove all Serbs from Croatian territories and populate them in Serbian occupied Kosovo. The bombing of Serbia by NATO forces stopped this process and the fleeing Serbs remained in Serbia. He didn’t want these Serbs to go back to Croatia and he wasn’t able to populate them in Kosovo. In order to justify himself, Milošević needed to incriminate Croatia and he employed Savo Štrbac to collect fake materials and witnesses to accuse as many Croatians as possible. It was a tactic to show that Croatia tried to ethnically cleanse Serbs from Croatian territories.

Following the removal of Milošević from power by the Serbian people, and the end of his failure to create a Greater Serbia, the UN, who simply stood back and watched Milošević’s forces slaughter at will for almost 10 years, created The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands to prosecute those responsible for war crimes. The vast majority of executors of war crimes were Serbs – no less than “90%” - according to the classified CIA report leaked to the New York Times in March, 1995. In an attempt to appear even-handed, the prosecutors began to indict a number of Croatians, including General Ante Gotovina.

Immediately after Operation Storm, ICTY began an investigation into atrocities made during and after military operations. Politically, the most controversial element in the story of Ante Gotovina and The Hague tribunal is that Gotovina’s arrest was a serious obstacle for Croatia to join the European Union. Knowing that this is a politically motivated process, Gotovina refused to participate in it and preferred to go into hiding. After years of hiding, Gotovina was arrested in the Canary Islands, Spain on December, 7 2005. The Hague court trial against Ante Gotovina, Mladen Markač and, Ivan Čermak began on March 11, 2008. They all pleaded not guilty.

General Ante Gotovina was indicted on the vaguest of charges and it is clear to anybody who has studied the case that the indictment was politically motivated from its inception and the allegations are ridiculous. The prosecutors allege that due to Operation Storm ‘thousands of Krajina Serbs were ethnically cleansed,’ regardless of a key Krajina Serb political leader, Milan Babić, testifying that his very own leadership ordered the withdrawal of both the civilian and military Serbian population. This is confirmed in Politika’s August 23rd, 1995 edition, which reproduced a copy of the authentic order signed by the Krajina Serb President Milan Martić, himself. It is alleged that a number of soldiers under the General Gotovina’s command committed atrocities against Serbian civilians during Operation Storm and that he didn’t take in any preventative measures in spite of being warned by foreign observers. There is no single fact, evidence, or document at all that indicates Gotovina ordered any atrocity. Regardless, Ante Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years, Mladen Markač was sentenced to 18 years, and Ivan Čermak was released.

The indictment and verdict against these heroes is built on the doctrine of a joint criminal enterprise, which directly implies that the entire Croatian republic was built on crime. This concept does not process the truly responsible executors of war crimes, but instead solely focuses on commanders, which were not in direct contact with the executors. It’s Hague’s favorite weapon lately. The truth is these heroes defended Croatia from Serbs’ notion of creating ethnically pure greater Serbia beyond its borders. These brave men never set foot outside of Croatian territory but simply defended their homeland.

General Ante Gotovina is an innocent man who defended his homeland.

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