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Serbia thanks Russia for support on remembrance day for killed, expelled Serbs — embassy

Serbia's charge d'affairs in Moscow, Slavoljub Caric stressed it was very important for the Serbs to ensure the Russian people should know the tragic events of the late 20th century

MOSCOW, August 4. /TASS/. Serbia is continuing to struggle against attempts to consign to oblivion the war crimes against the Serbian people and in this regard is grateful to Russia for its support on the issue of preserving the country's territorial integrity, Serbia's charge d'affairs in Moscow, Slavoljub Caric, said on the Day of Remembrance for the killed and expelled Serbs.

He said that Serbia and Republika Srpska today were remembering the victims of World War II and Operation Storm, a military operation undertaken by the Croatian Army in 1995.

"Serbia and Republika Srpska will resolutely struggle together against the silence about Serbian victims. We wish reconciliation and peace, but we will not agree to humiliation and silence. Nor shall we ever permit another Operation Storm against the Serbian people, because it was one of the greatest crimes since World War II that has remained unpunished," Caric said.

Operation Storm left about 2,000 killed or missing and nearly 250,000 homeless. Caric said it was very important for the Serbs to ensure the Russian people should know the tragic events of the late 20th century.

"Support from Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the most important countries in the world is of great significance to us. We very much appreciate its support on the issue of preserving our territorial integrity and continue to develop cooperation with Moscow on different tracks," Caric stressed.

He pointed out that Serbs in Croatia today were faced with discrimination and their basic rights were infringed upon.

"Regrettably the position of Serbs in Croatia as it is, they are denied the right to their language, culture and a decent life. The current trend may eventually make Serbs' life in Croatia economically unbearable. We will continue to insist upon and employ diplomatic means to bring the position of Serbs in Croatia into focus," he said.

Different views on history

Croatia says Operation Storm was a "liberation from Serbian occupation." August 5 is a public holiday there. In this connection, Caric said that Serbia regarded as impermissible the participation of foreign diplomats in official ceremonies: Belgrade declares a day of mourning on this date every year.

"It is impossible to understand the presence of representatives of the international community and diplomatic corps at celebrations marking the anniversary of Operation Storm in Croatia," he concluded.

Caric stated that Serbia was open to a dialogue with neighboring countries.

"Disagreements do not mean that we will not cooperate with Croatia and other countries in the region. Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and our government prove this over and over again. It is important for us to develop good cooperation with Croatia, because we are neighbors and we have a great deal in common in terms of culture and language, although we take very different approaches to different historical events," he explained.

Caric is certain that the rifts between Belgrade and Zagreb will not hinder Serbia's accession to the European Union.

"We hope that Croatia will not use bilateral disputes with the aim of upsetting our admission to the EU. After all, it is an official policy of the European Union: bilateral disputes must not affect this process. We believe that Croatia is well aware of this," he said.