Unveiling a monument to Croatia's first president Franjo Tudjman in Glina on Saturday, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatia had forgiven many things for the sake of peace and future but that war crimes had to be investigated and prosecuted.
"We have forgiven many things for the sake of peace and future but we must investigate and prosecute war crimes, that is what the Croatian state owes the victims," the president said in the town located about 70 kilometres south of Zagreb, where she attended a special session of the town council marking the town's day, Victory Day, Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans' Day.
After the session, President Grabar-Kitarovic and member of parliament Miroslav Tudjman unveiled the monument to the first Croatian president.
Miroslav Tudjman said that his father Franjo Tudjman was no longer only Croatia's first president but was also a symbol of the creation of the Croatian state, its freedom, independence and victory in the Homeland War.
Grabar-Kitarovic said in her address that the future primarily lay in the hands of young people, calling for "a consistent development policy and balanced investments to stop emigration and encourage the return of emigrants."
The president said that Glina had an important place in Croatia's military and cultural history but that it had the most important role during the Homeland War, as evidenced by wounds on the city's face and the hearts of its residents.
Grabar-Kitarovic also opened a memorial room at what used to be a Serb-run prison camp set up at the local penitentiary.
"One of the biggest Serb-run concentration camps was in Glina, with around 2,000 inmates. It is horrible to even try to imagine what they had to endure, the beatings, the humiliation... the crimes committed here have all the characteristics of crimes against humanity, prisoners of war and civilians and humanitarian law," said Grabar-Kitarovic.
It should be investigated who set up the camp
She called on the relevant institutions to investigate who ordered the establishment of such camps, who ran them and who committed individual or mass crimes.
Ivan Turudic, head of the national association of former concentration camp inmates, said that the association would continue insisting that the outstanding humanitarian issue of people gone missing in the war be resolved so that families could obtain answers about the fate of their loved ones.
He called on everyone with information on the fate of the war missing "to summon up the courage and come forward with information."
Grabar-Kitarovic ended the visit to Glina at Gornji Vidusevac, the place of the surrender of the Serb rebel army's 21st Corps to Croatian defenders in Operation Storm.
Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said that the victory in the Homeland War was achieved owing to the unity of Croats in Croatia and abroad.
"... the role of the Croatian Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina is completely clear, it saved that country several times so reopening certain issues is completely unnecessary," Medved said in a comment on recent disputes in relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Those disputes also concern the role of Croatia's first president Franjo Tudjman, Medved said, expressing dissatisfaction that over the last twenty years, in Croatia, too, there "have been attempts to downplay President Tudjman's role and distort history."
General Mladen Markac, as of today an honorary citizen of Glina, said Operation Storm was a politically justified, impeccably implemented and morally clean operation while the Homeland War was a just, liberation war.
He expressed dissatisfaction that life in today's Croatia was not as defenders had expected it to be, blaming this on "de-Tudjmanisation, which has caused dissension within the Croat nation."