Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and the ministers of defence, war veterans and the interior on Sunday laid wreaths at Zagreb's central Mirogoj cemetery in tribute to Croatian defenders and Croatia's first President Franjo Tudjman on the occasion of Croatian Armed Forces Day.
In attendance at the wreath-laying ceremony was also the Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.
Wreaths were laid at the Wall of Pain monument and at the central cross at the cemetery section dedicated to fallen Croatian defenders, as well as at the grave of Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman and the common grave of unidentified victims of the 1991-95 Homeland War.
Croatian Armed Forces and Croatian Army Day and the 32nd anniversary of the establishment of the Croatian Armed Forces are observed in memory of 28 May 1991, the day of the first lineup of the National Guard Corps (ZNG) at the stadium of the Zagreb football club in Zagreb’s Kranjceviceva Street, when the first ZNG brigades were presented to the public.
The highest state delegations will also lay wreaths at a memorial erected at the site of the first lineup of ZNG units at the stadium in Kranjceviceva Street, after which a commemorative ceremony will be held at the Defence Ministry.
Speaking to reporters after the wreath-laying ceremony, Defence Minister Mario Banožic said that the Russian aggression against Ukraine had raised concern about whether the army was sufficiently strong.
“That is why the government led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has been investing in the equipment of all three branches of the armed forces,” he said.
In a comment on President Zoran Milanovic’s statement that the Armed Forces lack equipment and weapons, Banožic said that “Milanovic had the opportunity to do everything for the army while he was prime minister and he did nothing, and now that he does not have that opportunity, he knows best what should be done.”
Asked if the poor relations between them are affecting the atmosphere in society, Banožic said that it is not good “that he has been refusing to sign decisions on certain appointments that have been on his desk for more than a year.”
Defence minister, Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff issue messages for Armed Forces’ Day
Minister Banožic and Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Hranj today issued messages on the occasion of Croatian Armed Forces and Croatian Army Day.
In his message, Banožic said that the Armed Forces had become an inseparable part of the national identity and tradition.
Recalling the first lineup of ZNG units, he said that it was a historic lineup of brave and determined people who firmly believed in the vision of the first Croatian president about an independent and modern Croatian state.
“Today, faced with numerous challenges that are due to significant changes in the security environment and considering the fact that Croatia deserves a strong and modern army, we have put an end to years of non-investment in the defence sector and launched a number of projects to equip and modernise the army,” he said, among other things.
Admiral Hranj said in his message that the victory in the Homeland War was one of the most important events in the history of the Croatian people and one of the foundations of modern Croatian statehood.
Anniversaries like today’s provide a good opportunity to remember the days when Croatia formed its army practically out of nothing, amidst a war of aggression and the struggle for survival, freedom and independence, Hranj said, noting that the army had to be ready to respond to security challenges in the changed environment.