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31 Mar, 2010 11:14

Serbia apologizes for Srebrenica massacre

Serbia apologizes for Srebrenica massacre

Serbia’s parliament has passed a crucial resolution condemning the 1995 Srebrenica mass murder of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The move is likely to bring Belgrade one step closer to joining the European Union and let the Balkan state finally move on from its past clouded by bloody civil wars in the nineties.

Following hours of bitter debates at the Serbian parliament, the declaration was passed by the majority of MPs. The move has put an end to years of denial by the authorities about the number of killings.

“The parliament of Serbia strongly condemns the crime committed against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica in July 1995, as determined by the International Court of Justice ruling,” the resolution reads as quoted by BalkanInsight.

Earlier, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic had urged lawmakers to adopt the document since it demonstrates Serbs’ “desire to move to regional reconciliation and demonstrate good neighborly relations among the countries in the region,” Reuters wrote.

The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice have ruled that the atrocities committed in the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina were genocide. Serbian lawmakers, however, avoided using this term. While condemning the crimes and apologizing to the families of the Srebrenica victims for not preventing the mass killings, the resolution does not refer to the events as to an act of genocide.

Supported by the ruling coalition, the document was objected to by the opposition. Some MPs demanded that both parties involved in the Bosnian War in 1992-95 should be condemned, reminding that thousands of Serbs were killed at that time and crimes committed against them were no different from those against the Bosnian Muslims. Others were not happy, since the document was too soft because it did not use the term “genocide”. Unable to reach a consensus, the Serb Progressive Party left the assembly before the vote. The Radicals and the Liberal Democrats did not take part in the vote, albeit for different reasons.

The majority of lawmakers, however, feel relieved over the move, seeing it as an end of a tragic chapter in the Serbian recent history and a door to a new future.

“Condemning the crime against the Bosniaks of Srebrenica, while paying respect to the innocent victims and offering condolences to their families will take the burden off future generations which certain individuals have placed on us,” Kolundzija said as quoted by BalkanInsight.

In the declaration the parliamentarians also promised to keep cooperating with the ICTY and called for the arrest of former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who is wanted for war crimes by the UN tribunal. Mladic, who has been on the wanted list since 1995, is charged with “direct involvement in the genocide committed after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995” and “terror inflicted upon civilians during the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo,” the ICTY official website states.

The adoption of the Srebrenica declaration might have caused mixed reactions in the former Yugoslavian states, but it is certainly an important move. According to Srebrenica Municipal President Osman Sujić, it confirms Serbia’s significance in the region, Serbian B92 broadcasting company reported.

“In any case it will bring, in my opinion, a stabilization of a wider region, because Serbia is one of the dominant political factors in the region,” he said.

Natalia Makarova, RT

Read also: Srebrenitsa massacre: Genocide of Muslims of Serbs?