Homeland War Hero decoration to be introduced

VUKOVAR, 27.3.2012.

Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic said in Vukovar on Tuesday that a Homeland War Hero decoration would be introduced, bearing the name of Blago Zadro, the commander of the defence of Vukovar's Borovo Naselje neighbourhood who was killed in action. Kotromanovic visited the eastern Croatian town with War Veterans Minister Predrag Matic, Health Minister Rajko Ostojic and Tourism Minister Veljko Ostojic. They laid wreaths and lit candles at the mass grave at Ovcara farm and at the Homeland War Memorial Cemetery.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Matic said the Homeland War Hero decoration would be higher than the Nikola Subic Zrinski and Prince Domagoj decorations. "It will be given to those who are the most deserving for Croatia's defence and the criteria will be very strict."

"After the Homeland War, Blago Zadro, Marko Babic and other Croatian defenders must be heroes of the Homeland War," said Kotromanovic, adding that the decoration would be bestowed on defenders who were killed or died and had performed their duty honourably and been moral authorities. Asked about the millions the Defence Ministry claimed from many of its lease-holders, Kotromanovic said attempts were being made to put this in order. We must meet our obligations, but the obligations towards us must also be met, he added.

Commenting on his first 100 days in office, Kotromanovic said the ministry had been reorganised and downsized by 100 people, while the General Staff was also being reformed to reduce the number of generals and brigadiers. He said eight generals and 20 brigadiers would leave the military this year. "The Croatian Army is ready to carry out all of its tasks. This year we will make a decision on a multipurpose combat aircraft and the purchase of two patrol boats... In 2014 we will define the final version of the Defence Ministry, which must be quicker and more efficient," Kotromanovic said, adding that the military would be "a tiny bit smaller", not in people carrying out tasks but in administration.

Tourism Minister Ostojic said Vukovar's water tower, one of the symbols of the town's defence in 1991, would be preserved. "Everyone who wants to find out what happened in Vukovar in 1991 must come to this town," he said, adding that all tourism projects from Vukovar submitted to his ministry for financing or co-financing would be given special attention, and that the ministry was willing to finance the Vukovar Memorial Home.

The health minister said the unprofitability of Vukovar's General Hospital should not be considered, despite its financial difficulties, because of its services in the 1991-95 war. He added that the position of its manager, Vesna Bosanac, was not in question either.

After the press conference, the four ministers met with local officials and were scheduled to visit Vukovar's General Hospital. (Hina)