Brief news bulletin no. 8018 croatia remembers yugoslav air strike on president's office 20 years ago zagreb, Oct 6 (Hina) It will be 20 years on Friday since Yugoslav Air Force aircraft attacked the Banski Dvori building, the Office of President Franjo

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07.10.11. 08:26:00 NEWS-HA075833



ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - It will be 20 years on Friday since Yugoslav Air Force aircraft attacked the Banski Dvori building, the Office of President Franjo Tudjman, while he was in a meeting with the President of the Presidency of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesic, and Federal Prime Minister Ante Markovic in the building.

Two Yugoslav fighter jets fired six guided missiles at the Banski Dvori shortly after 1500 hours on 7 October 1991 -- two hit the target while the rest hit the nearby buildings. A part of the roof of the Banski Dvori building was destroyed, while the front of the building and nearly all the rooms were damaged. Particularly damaged was the presidential wing, which housed the President's working offices and a conference room.

The attack was seen as an attempt on the life of President Tudjman because it was primarily directed at his working offices. No one was killed in the building, but several people were wounded.

The attack was carried out ahead of the expiry of a European Community moratorium on the Croatian Parliament's declaration of independence and at the time of all-out attacks by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) on Vukovar, Vinkovci, Osijek, Pakrac, Sisak, Karlovac, Gospic, Otocac, Zadar, Sibenik and Dubrovnik.

At that time, President Tudjman was proposing to Yugoslav Defence Secretary Veljko Kadijevic to cease all offensive operations against Croatia and in return Croatia would lift the blockade of all JNA barracks. The JNA refused Tudjman's proposal and insisted on a unilateral lifting on the blockade by Croatia.

Tudjman explained that the purpose of the blockade of the army barracks was to force the JNA to leave Croatia and that it was also a chance for Croatia to get the weapons which the JNA had illegally seized from it before the first multiparty elections.

Tudjman said that by attending international conferences he had tried to avoid the war and seek a political solution in a peaceful way. He said that the expiry of the moratorium on Croatia meant the entry into force of the Croatian Parliament's declaration of independence based on the results of a referendum in May.

"We are still interested in an immediate cease-fire and a peaceful solution," Tudjman stressed.

The night before the attack on the Banski Dvori building, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned Tudjman and Croatian Prime Minister Franjo Greguric that he had "information about an imminent attack on large industrial centres and even on the capital of Croatia, Zagreb."

Tudjman said it was an attack on the symbol of government in Croatia and the symbol of the thousand-year-long desire of the Croats to have their own state. He said that it was also a crime against culture and an assassination attempt on the President of Croatia. "They probably had a reason but as you can see they failed. Even if they had succeeded, Croatia would have continued living without me, and now it will live with me in its liberation from the occupying forces and in its reconstruction. We will resurrect and rebuild Croatia."

The former Croatian Air Force commander, General Imra Agotic, told Hina that the Banski Dvori building and Zagreb's Upper Town was attacked by two Yugoslav Air Force MiG-21 jets, each armed with 8 missiles, and by two Yugoslav-made G4 jets, each armed with two US-made MK-82 bombs. He said that an investigative commission and eyewitnesses had confirmed that the attack was carried out by four aircraft.

Agotic said that the Serbs must have had intelligence information about the meeting of Tudjman, Mesic and Markovic in the Banski Dvori. He said that one of the four MK-82 bombs that landed on the Upper Town fell close to the room where the three of them had been only a few minutes earlier, adding that they were obviously the targets.

"The missile attack showed their determination to deprive Croatia of leadership a day before the expiry of the moratorium on its declaration of independence," Agotic said.

The then Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Zarko Domljan, told Hina that the attack "was no doubt the culmination of criminal aggression by the Serb-dominated JNA against Croatia, which was backed by the Serbian government and still is, as can be seen from scandalous indictments the Serbian judicial authorities have systematically issued against Croatian veterans, including the latest ones against Vekic, Seks, Glavas and others."

Domljan said that an assassination attempt on political leaders of a country was an act of international terrorism and that it was unbelievable that no one had been brought to account for that crime. "Not even the perpetrators have been indicted, although it is known who flew the planes, who guided the missiles, and who provided the layout of the Banski Dvori building and gave the best time for the attack."


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - Croatian Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic and Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor on Thursday extended their best wishes to all Croatian citizens on Independence Day.

Bebic said that in the past 20 years they had successfully overcome all obstacles, all the way from the declaration of independence to the conclusion of the EU entry talks, never giving up on the vision of life in freedom, democracy and peace.

Independence Day is observed on October 8 to commemorate the day when, 19 years ago, members of Parliament adopted a decision to sever constitutional and legal ties with the former Yugoslav federation.

Bebic recalled that on 8 October 1991, Parliament established that Croatia no longer considered any body of the Yugoslav federation legitimate or legal and that it did not recognise any legal act of any body acting on behalf of the former federation, which no longer existed as such.

The parliamentary decision was adopted three months after the Brijuni Declaration in which Croatia committed to postponing its independence and sovereignty for three months at the request of the European Community, which asked that efforts be made to resolve the Yugoslav crisis peacefully.

On 7 October 1991, when that moratorium expired, former Yugoslav army planes bombed the then presidential office building in the historical part of Zagreb, when then Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, then Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic and then Yugoslav President Stjepan Mesic, who were in the building, survived by sheer luck.

The attack at 1503 hours killed one person who was in front of a nearby restaurant and lightly injured four.

A guided missile exploded in the yard of the presidential office building, now the government headquarters, and several buildings in nearby streets were also hit. Major damage was caused to cultural monuments and a number of cars. Also hit was the office of the then Swiss consul, but no one was hurt.

Zagreb was under air raid alert the whole day. The Mraclin power station and an airfield in Lucko were bombed the day before.

Due to those circumstances and possible new air raids, the historic session of all three parliamentary councils on 8 October 1991, at which the decision was adopted to sever constitutional and legal ties with the former Yugoslav federation, was held in the basement of a building of oil company INA in downtown Zagreb.

"Independence Day is an opportunity to remember all victims of the Homeland War and pay our deep respect to them. On Independence Day, we also express our most sincere gratitude to Homeland War veterans, their immeasurable courage and sacrifice. This is an opportunity to recall the enthusiasm which, led by the far-sighted policy of Dr Franjo Tudjman, carried us to the victory in the Homeland War," Bebic said in his message.


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - Croatia still needs to win another war which is being waged by promotion after the country has won two wars, the first one with weapons and the second one through diplomacy, Deputy Parliament Speaker Vladimir Seks said on Thursday at a special session of the national parliament on the occasion of Independence Day which Croatia celebrates on 8 October.

Croatia should now win the war against "domestic revisionists and falsifiers" of the Croatian path towards its sovereignty and victory in the Homeland War, Seks said.

He recalled that the decision made by the Sabor on 8 October 1991 to sever all state and legal ties with the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) ushered in a new, brighter era in Croatian history.

Thanks to the victory in the Homeland War, Croatia is today a free and independent democracy. However it has not yet accomplished all of its goals and aspirations, he added.

Describing the 1991-1995 war as a threefold war in which the Croatian nation gained independence, he explained that Croatia then waged the war against the Serb occupying forces, as well as against international deniers of Croatia's independence and local revisionists and falsifiers of Croatia's road towards sovereignty and independence.

"The first war was waged with weapons, the second one through diplomacy and the third one through promotion. The Croatian people has won the first two wars, the third one is still being waged. It is up to us to put an end to it in the same way as we did with the two others, namely by winning it," Seks said.

Today Croatia is paying tribute to Croatian soldiers who helped to ensure that the centuries-long dream of the Croatian people for independence became a reality, Seks said, pointing out the role of the first Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in those efforts, whom he described as a historian, scholar, statesman, strategist and visionary.

Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic said in his brief speech before Seks addressed the session that the 8 October 1991 decision was a pivotal event in the struggle for freedom and independence.

In attendance at the special ceremony were President Ivo Josipovic, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, MPs, former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, judicial officials as well as religious dignitaries, diplomats and trade unionists.


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - Chief state prosecutor Mladen Bajic has said that the Croatian prosecutorial authorities (DORH) find that the government's proposal to parliament to enact a law declaring null and void certain documents of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and Serbia will only be beneficial to offenders at large and will thwart further cooperation between the prosecutorial authorities of Croatia and Serbia.

It (the law) will put an end on cooperation, no matter what others think about that," Bajic told reporters in the national parliament after Thursday's special parliamentary session on the occasion of Independence Day.

"Damage is big, we need to talk and not set up barriers," Bajic said.

He warned that Croatia had not resolved similar problems with other countries.

"What about war criminals, what about indictments in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Why does no one talk about that?" Bajic said adding that many more indictments of that kind could be expected in Bosnia.

As for the cooperation between DORH and Serbia's war crimes prosecutorial authorities, Bajic said that their relations had been improving since 2004 thanks to mutual respect and cooperation and efforts to harmonise legal standards.

"In similar vein, in 2006 we signed agreements which are producing excellent results. For instance, Croatia referred 29 cases covering 53 persons to Serbia in line with those agreements. The Serbians have so far issued 20 indictments, Serbian courts have handed down 20 verdicts, eight of which are final," Bajic said.

According to Bajic, from July 2010 to February 2011, representatives of the two countries' justice ministries held several working meetings and set up a task force for the exchange of data.

At one of those meetings in February, it was agreed that cases of former JNA military courts should be delivered to Croatia to deal with them, he added.

Both sides have had an insight in those cases and expressed some reservations if those charges were founded or not, he added.

As part of this cooperation, the indictment against 44 Croatians, including several former and current senior office-holders, was forwarded to the Croatian Justice Ministry, Bajic said, adding that he did not know when exactly the documentation pertaining to that latest case was delivered to Zagreb.

Bajic said that according to procedure it was DORH that should have had a final say on the matter.


ZAGREB, Oct 7 (Hina) - Commenting on the statement by Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic that the government's proposal to parliament to enact a law declaring null and void certain documents of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and Serbia would be detrimental because war criminals would hide behind it, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said on Thursday evening this was not correct because the law was an attempt to prevent intolerable spreading of the jurisdiction of one country to the area of another.

Kosor compared the fight against war criminals to the fight against corruption, stressing that it was her government's position that all war criminals must be brought to justice and that Croatia has zero tolerance for war crimes.


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - Administration Minister Davorin Mlakar said in Parliament on Thursday that the Croatian government's bill declaring null and void certain legal acts of the judicial bodies of the former Yugoslav People's Army, the former Yugoslav federation and Serbia was a response to developments that were not common between countries regulating their criminal legislation because with its legislation Serbia had expanded its jurisdiction to the territory of sovereign Croatia.

"The Croatian government is certain that with its legislation Serbia has expanded its jurisdiction to the territory of sovereign and independent Croatia, which is unacceptable in terms of international law," said Mlakar.

He went on to say that the legislation adopted by Serbia was contrary to the Declaration of Croatia's Sovereignty and Independence, adopted by the Croatian parliament in 1991, as well as to agreements signed between the Croatian and Serbian prosecutorial authorities.

"In order to enable judicial bodies to respond to legal documents adopted by Serbian judicial bodies which may arrive in Croatia, we propose adopting a law the enforcement of which would annul all legal acts of the former JNA, its judicial bodies and the judicial bodies of the former Yugoslav federation and Serbia relating to the Homeland War in Croatia, in which Croatian citizens are suspected of, indicted for or convicted of crimes against values protected by international law," said Mlakar.

Mlakar said that by adopting the law Croatia would not be questioning the fulfilment of obligations assumed under the Constitutional Law on Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and its international obligations.

The law will only make it possible for Croatian judicial authorities to protect Croatian regulations that are jeopardised by another country's acts, he said.

He recalled that earlier in the day the government also formulated a draft declaration to be sent to parliament for consideration calling on Serbia to sign with Croatia, in line with its international obligations, an agreement regulating all judicial issues relating to the said criminal acts, thus annulling its regulations causing collisions of the two legal systems on Croatia's territory.


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - Political parties in the Croatian parliament on Thursday were divided on the government's final bill declaring null and void legal acts of the judicial authorities of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the former Yugoslav federation and Serbia, with positions ranging from that of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) that the bill protected Croatia's sovereignty and its citizens to that of the HDSSB party, which said the bill was irrelevant for the real protection of Croatian veterans from the existing or possible future Serbian indictments.

Ana Lovrin of the HDZ said it was interesting that the parliament, which today held a special session to mark the 20th anniversary of Croatia's independence, was discussing a law "defending us from a new act of aggression, this time an act of legal aggression."

She said the law was being adopted to protect Croatia's sovereignty and Croatian citizens against criminal prosecution by another country.

Goran Beus Richembergh of the Croatian People's Party/Croatian Pensioners' Party (HNS/HSU) said Croatia should insist that war crimes perpetrators be called to account, "and those who did not commit crimes must be enabled to prove their innocence."

He said the bill should have been defended by the prime minister or at least the justice minister, wondering if their absence from today's session meant that the bill could possibly be withdrawn and if the bill was possibly used for election purposes.

Damir Kajin of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) said that challenging absurd indictments with laws like the one proposed by the government was useless and that Croatian officials should resolve the matter through talks with Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin officials. Kajin, too, believes the bill is being used for election purposes.

Administration Minister Davorin Mlakar dismissed Kajin's claims, saying the purpose of the government-sponsored bill was to help judicial institutions not respond to acts of provocation or documents delivered by Serbian judicial bodies. He added that the bill had not been withdrawn from parliament.

Social Democrat Josip Leko wondered if the bill was an appropriate instrument of protection of Croatian citizens from acts by another country, underlining that the Croatian judiciary should respond to the judicial acts in question.

Leko said the bill would not protect Croatian veterans because Croatian nationals against whom indictments had been issued or who faced a possible indictment could find themselves in the same situation as Tihomir Purda or Dr Vesna Bosanac as soon as they left Croatia's territory.

Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) said his party would not support the bill because it would deepen legal insecurity, noting that the declaration proposed by the government earlier in the day might make it possible to withdraw the bill.

The proposed declaration says that Serbia has encroached on Croatia's sovereignty by adopting a law declaring its judiciary as having jurisdiction over proceedings for certain crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and calls on Serbia to sign with Croatia an agreement regulating issues of jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Dinko Buric of the HDSSB criticised the bill, saying that the government did not find it necessary to respond to Serbian indictments until they started to pose a threat for "some of the incumbent high-ranking HDZ officials".

Parliament will resume its session on Friday.


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - The Croatian government on Thursday adopted a decision to launch a procedure for signing a treaty with the 27 countries of the European Union on Croatia's accession to the EU, proposing that the treaty be signed on Croatia's behalf by Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and President Ivo Josipovic.

By adopting this decision the government accepts the Draft Accession Treaty and the Draft Final Act. Under the articles of the treaty, the treaty is to go into force on 1 July 2013 provided that it is ratified by that time by all EU member-countries and Croatia.

The government's decision proposes that the Accession Treaty and the Final Act be signed by Prime Minister Kosor and President Josipovic.

Kosor expressed satisfaction that the decision was being adopted in a week when Croatia was celebrating Independence Day and the 20th anniversary of its independence.

The government's decision creates the basic precondition for the accomplishment of the strategic national and foreign political goal of EU accession, she said.

She went on to say that today's decision was part of the foundations of the work of all Croatian governments and Croatia's first president, Franjo Tudjman.

We have done a huge job since 8 October 1991 and I think that it should fill all former and current members of government and citizens with pride and satisfaction, Kosor said.

She thanked all previous governments and negotiators for their work and citizens for patience.

The PM recalled that Croatia gained EU candidate status on 18 June 2004 and that its accession talks started on 3 October 2005 in Luxembourg with the first Croatia-EU inter-governmental accession conference.

This was followed by a process of analytical review and assessment of the degree of alignment of the national legislation with the EU acquis communautaire, the so-called screening, and the talks were formally closed at the last intergovernmental accession conference, held on 30 June 2011 in Brussels.

The enforcement of Croatia's accession treaty will enable the country to receive significant funds from the EU budget, and Croatia will be required to make contributions from its budget to the EU budget from the date of accession.


ZAGREB, Oct 6 (Hina) - The Croatian government on Thursday proposed adopting a declaration which says that Serbia has encroached on Croatia's sovereignty by adopting a law declaring its judiciary as having jurisdiction over proceedings for certain crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and called on Serbia to sign with Croatia an agreement regulating issues of jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

"In line with the bill declaring null and void certain legal acts of the judicial authorities of the former Yugoslav People's Army, the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia, we propose that the parliament adopt yet another document, this declaration," Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said.

The draft text of the declaration on some issues of cooperation between the Croatian and Serbian judicial authorities, which was sent to parliament for consideration, reads that by adopting a law declaring its judiciary as having jurisdiction over proceedings for certain criminal acts committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia has expanded its jurisdiction to Croatia's territory, thus encroaching on its sovereignty.

With the aim of ensuring further cooperation, trust and good neighbourly relations, the declaration calls on Serbia to sign with Croatia a legal agreement regulating issues of jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in an integral way and in line with international law.

Deputy Prime Minister Slobodan Uzelac abstained during today's vote on the government's proposal, saying that he supported its objective, but noted that one should "solve problems rather than declare them."

Uzelac said he considered unnecessary both the declaration proposal and the bill declaring null and void Serbian legal acts relating to the Homeland War, adding that they were about "opening a door that is already open."

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