The 25th anniversary of the defense of the western borders of the Republic of Srpska from Croatian aggression was marked in Kozarska Dubica, Novi Grad, and Kostajnica.
The central commemoration, which was attended by the Serb member of the Presidency of BiH, Milorad Dodik, was held in Kozarska Dubica.
Dodik sent a message of peace, which should ensure development, but also memories of all the victims of the Croatian aggression on Serbian ethnic areas.
– The aggression of the then Croatian army was carried out in the desire to break the life and people in this area. This is not the first time that the sharpest attack of Croatian units against the Serb population can be seen in this area. It was certainly an unnecessary operation from the point of view of Croatia at that time, but it was the result of the agreement that Alija Izetbegović and Franjo Tuđman had to break the Republic of Srpska – said Dodik.
After the memorial service for the killed soldiers and civilians, Dodik said that the aggressor in 1995 did not succeed in his intention.
– The message is that they didn’t break us! We stay here and our answer is life and the Republic of Srpska! – said Dodik in Kozarska Dubica.
He said that the Republic of Srpska is keeping pace with other areas and that, regardless of the serious exposure, sanctions, and NATO bombing, it has significantly renewed its social, economic, and infrastructural life.
The Republic of Srpska shows the strength of vitality, which is a pledge and a debt to those who suffered – Dodik pointed out.
He added that 56 civilians were killed in the aggression on the three western border municipalities of the Republic of Srpska, which is more than the soldiers, of whom 51 were killed.
– That shows that the goals were not only military but also civilian. No one was held accountable for those crimes against civilians. On the other hand, Serbs are Satanized, Serbs have always been destined to be guilty, to be prosecuted, but that is something we have to live with. We Serbs have learned the lessons here to turn all the injustices we experienced into our desire for a better and more stable Republic of Srpska. And this day is exactly that – Dodik emphasized.
The Minister of Labor and Veterans’ and Disabled Protection of the Republic of Srpska, Duško Milunović, pointed out that in 50 years, the same enemy attacked Serbs living in this area.
– In the Second World War, a massacre of the population was carried out in this area, and the aggressors had the same intention in 1995 when they crossed the Una River – said Milunović and added that the intention of the aggressors was to completely expel Serbs from the Republic of Srpska, with centuries-old hearths.
He emphasized that elite units of the Croatian army were engaged in that military operation, which was opposed by Serb units of weakened composition, with a significant role of cadets and aviation.
– It was prevented from doing what they did in World War II, but with our great sacrifices. Today, we are celebrating the victory, which essentially preserved not only these parts, but also the Republic of Srpska, and we remember those who heroically defended and defended our borders – said Milunović.
The mayor of Kozarska Dubica, Radenko Reljić, emphasized that September 18 should be written in golden letters and numbers because on that date in 1995, the Republic of Srpska was defended.
In a statement to the press, Reljić reminded of the course of the attack and defense of Kozarska Dubica, in which elite Croatian units were stopped after two days of fighting.
– Croatian units were returned and suffered a great military loss because the Serbian people, army, and police had the desire to stay in this area. We owe great gratitude to the people who gave their lives. If Kozarska Dubica had fallen, the map of the Republic of Srpska would not look like today – said Reljić.
The then commander of the defense of Kozarska Dubica, Pantelija Ćurguz, stated that the battle for the defense of the western borders of the Republic of Srpska was one of the most fateful battles won by the Army of the Republic of Srpska.
– The most fateful because there was no other possibility, there was no other attempt. We understood that on time and today is an opportunity, after 25 years, to express respect for all commands of units, soldiers and fighters, and to remember those who laid down their lives on the defense of the homeland – said Ćurguz.
He emphasized that the effects of this battle resulted in the survival of the Republic of Srpska.
After the memorial service at the memorial cross in the gate of the Church of St. Petka in Kozarska Dubica, a wreath was laid at the memorial on behalf of the institutions of the Republic of Srpska by the Serb member of the Presidency of BiH Milorad Dodik, envoy of the President of Srpska Slobodan Zupljanin and Minister of Labor and Veterans protection by Duško Milunović, and flowers were then laid by other delegations and individuals.
This historic event due to the coronary virus pandemic this year was marked with a shortened program and with the recommendation of the Republic Emergency Headquarters for up to 50 people.
In the area of the western border municipalities – Kozarska Dubica, Novi Grad, and Kostajnica, on September 18 and 19, 1995, 106 people were killed in the Croatian aggression, of which 55 were civilians and 51 soldiers. 39 civilians and 62 soldiers were wounded.
Settlements and towns suffered great destruction and damage, and, according to the data of the municipal commissions, the estimated material damage in Novi Grad is 83.3 million KM, in Kostajnica 40 million, and in Kozarska Dubica 50.4 million KM.
The attack of the Croatian Army on the municipality of Novi Grad began on September 18, 1995, at 9:25 AM. The Croatian Army was in cooperation with members of the so-called Army of BiH and the HVO.
On September 19, 1995, members of the Republic of Srpska Army managed to push the Croatian Army across the Una.
The commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the defense of the western borders of the Republic of Srpska was organized by the Board of the Government of the Republic of Srpska for cultivating the liberation wars, and at the local level, the municipalities of Novi Grad and Kostajnica and the town of Gradiška commemorated those events.