Speaking at a gathering of his Socialist Party in the town of Banja Luka, the Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, said that his party was responsible for the creation of Republika Srpska, but that it never supported war crimes.
In his first official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, after visiting Sarajevo, on Monday Dacic addressed the meeting of his Socialist Party in Banja Luka, de facto capital of Bosnia's predominantly Serb entity, Republika Srpska, saying that he was proud of the party’s role in its creation.
“We never supported war crimes, we never supported genocide, we never supported the creation of Greater Serbia. We just supported the rights of Serbs wherever they live, here in Bosnia, in Croatia, in Kosovo and Metohija, we were with you when it was the hardest, “ Dacic said.
“I will do everything for Serbs to live in peace, no matter where they live. I will negotiate a million times, but the international community needs to know its boundaries,” he added.
The statement comes after Andreas Schockenhoff, a member of the German Bundestag and senior official of the Christian Democratic Union, CDU, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in Belgrade on Thursday that before any EU accession talks start, Germany expects Serbia and Kosovo to normalise their relations.
Germany also asks further progress in terms of regional cooperation and reconciliation. The statement of the Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic, that the Srebrenica massacre was not genocide is seen as a step back in regional cooperation.
Henri Bohnet, director of the Kondrad Adenuar Stftung office for Serbia and Montenegro, who organised the visit of the CDU MPs, says that Germany wants to encourage Serbia and the neighbouring countries to establish better contacts.
“They [state officials] need to accelerate regional cooperation and reconciliation and refrain from reinterpretation of historical events as, for example, negating genocide in the context of Srebrenica,” said Bohnet.
The Socialist Party of Serbia, SPS, was formed in 1990 as a merger of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's League of Communists of Serbia and the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Serbia.
In the Hague Tribunal’s indictment against Milosevic he was described as the Greater Serbia ideologue. He was charged with genocide, deportation, murder and persecution on religious, political and racial backgrounds but he died half way through his trial.
The ICTY indictment reads that Milosevic was responsible for the forced deportation of 800,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, and the murder of hundreds of Kosovo Albanians and hundreds of non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia.
Ivica Dacic, former spokesperson of Milosevic, took over the leadership of the party in December 2006 after Milosevic had died while in detention in The Hague in March that year.
Dacic claims he has modernized the party and has put his ultra-nationalist past behind him.