News 05 Jul 16

Bosnian Authorities Quarrel Over Srebrenica Ceremony

Bosnian Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak has ordered his ministry to stop cooperating with the committee organising next week's Srebrenica commemorations, after it banned Serbian officials from attending.

Rodolfo Toe
The Potocari memorial centre in Srebrenica. Photo: Maurits90/Wikicommons.

Bosnia's Foreign Minister, Igor Crnadak, on Monday ordered the staff of his ministry to stop cooperating with the organisation committee for the Srebrenica commemoration, claiming that its work is damaging Bosnia's relations with Serbia.

"If we consider the recent declarations by the Mayor of Srebrenica, Camil Durakovic, who said the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, is not welcome in Srebrenica, it is clear that [this] threatens one of the main priorities of Bosnian foreign policy, which is the development of good relations with neighbouring countries," Crnadak said.

"I cannot accept that the foreign ministry of Bosnia becomes part of this inflammatory and anti-European atmosphere created by Durakovic," Crnadak added, noting, however, that the ministry will continue "to assist [foreign] ministers and other high representatives during their stay in Bosnia ... according to the law and international obligations."

The decision by Crnadak, who is the secretary general of the Bosnian Serb Party of Democratic Progress, PDP, sparked fresh controversy after last week Durakovic said officials from Serbia were not welcome at the commemoration.

Taking place on July 11 at the Srebrenica memorial centre at Potocari, it honours more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys killed by the Bosnian Serb Army under Ratko Mladic in what the UN has since qualified as an act of genocide.

"This is the position of the organisation committee, which refers to all those people who deny that genocide was committed in Srebrenica - and who are not welcome," Durakovic told Al Jazeera Balkans last week, referring to Serbia's refusal to call the massacre in Srebrenica an act of genocide.

He also noted that "this decision represents the absolute right of the victims to say how they want things to be organised."

Durakovic's statements drew angry reaction of officials from Republika Srpska, the majority-Serb entity of Bosnia.

Last Friday, the president of the entity, Milorad Dodik, told the Belgrade-based newspaper Politika that nobody from the Republika Srpska government would now participate in this year's commemoration.

He accused the Mothers of Srebrenica, one of the most important associations of victims of Srebrenica, which is part of the organisation committee, of being a political association.

"The Mothers of Srebrenica are supposed to represent the victims of Srebrenica, and I understand that, but these mothers... are a political association who propose political solutions," Dodik said.

During this year's commemoration, according to the organising committee, the remains of another 127 victims who have been identified over the past year will be buried inside the Potocari memorial centre.

The commemoration, which is due to take place next Monday, will be preceded by the annual 'March of Peace' from the town of Sapna to Potocari.

Last year when Serbian premier Vucic attended the commemoration, he was pelted with bottles and stones by angry mourners and had to flee.

It will start on July 8 and is expected to attract around 3,500 participants, the organising committee told Bosnian media on Monday.

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Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.

The Indictment Against Ratko Mladic

Indictments in 1995 and 2000, further amended in 2002 and 2010, charge the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army with genocide and other crimes.

Ratko Mladic: From Promising Officer to Bloodstained Warlord

When Mladic ordered his army to bomb the people of Sarajevo until they ‘go insane’, he revealed the murderous intentions that would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre.

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