A great storm of reactions was caused by the statement of Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, which he made a few days ago at the commemoration of the military operation “Storm”(”Oluja”), that “Bihac would never have been liberated if it had not been for the Croatian Army (HV).”
Although it is known that Croatia helped Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during the aggression against our country, more precisely, there was mutual assistance between the armies of the then Republic of BiH (RBiH) and Croatia that fought against the common aggressor, this statement of the Croatian president, and especially the way it was conceived, does not reflect the real situation from that time, especially when it comes to the territory of Bosanska Krajina.
A fight against three armies
Milanovic’s claim that the HV played a crucial role in the liberation of Bihac was particularly difficult for the defenders of that city, who were remembered in the historical records of the aggression in BiH as the only military formation in BiH that fought against as many as three armies.
It’s about the Serbian Army of Krajina (SVK) (on the territory of Croatia under the control of Serbian forces) in the northwest, the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) (on the territory of BiH under the control of Serbian forces) in the southeast, as well as the rebel Bosniak forces that sided with the VRS in the so-called Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia in the north under the control of the war criminal Fikret Abdic since 1993.
In such circumstances, Krajina, and especially Bihac, endured for three years, from the summer of 1992 to August 5th, 1995. The supremacy of the enemy’s army was enormous, and Bihac became the scene of the largest number of offensives, terrible battles, and destruction, but also tactical operations that were not seen anywhere during the wars in the Balkans.
The pressure of the aggressor on the defenders of Bihac
But let’s go back to Milanovic’s statements and what exactly they refer to. The fact is that near the end of the war, the HV carried out two military operations, “Winter 94” and “Summer 95”, which preceded Operation “Storm”. The significance of these operations of the Croatian army should by no means be diminished, given that they greatly helped to at least somewhat reduce the pressure of the aggressors on the defenders of Bihac, at least on the other side of the Croatian border.
After that, the 5th Corps liberated Velika Kladusa, putting an end to the so-called “Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia” forever.
Not long after that, the 5th Corps launched the operation “Sana 95”, in which Bosanska Krupa, then Bosanski Petrovac, Kljuc, and Sanski Most were liberated. With these actions, space was opened for the 5th Corps to advance further towards Prijedor and Banja Luka, but this advance was stopped by the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in BiH.
The deciding factor
From this, it is clearly visible that the HV, although it did provide some help to the 5th Corps, was not the decisive factor in the unblocking of Bihac and the liberation of other cities. Moreover, all those towns were liberated by members of the 5th Corps, and according to official information, Croatian military units never entered that territory, which means that Milanovic’s story about the “Croatian liberation of Bihac” does not hold water.
On the other hand, there are some important things for that period that Milanovic forgot to mention, and they relate to whose army was liberating whose territory.
Namely, it is known that, during the aforementioned actions, units of the 5th Corps crossed into Croatian territory and liberated Zeljava, Licko Petrovo village, Vaganac, Dreznik, Frkasic, Meljinovac, Preboj, Grabovac, Plitvice, and Mulinje.
General of the Army of RBiH (ARBiH) Atif Dudakovic handed over the liberated territory to General of the HV Marijan Marekovic on August 6th at the state border of BiH and Croatia, on the bridge over the Korana River in Trzacka Rastela. There are official photo and video materials about this, Klix.ba reports.