Disputing Serbian President's controversial statement, that the mass slaughter in Srebrenica in 1995 was not an act of genocide, EU spokesperson says it is wrong to try to rewrite history.
|Srebrenica Mass Funeral I Photo by Beta|
Serbia's new head of state, Tomislav Nikolic has crossed swords with the European Union by reviving the dispute over whether the Srebrenica massacre constituted an act of genocide.
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, spokesperson of the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barosso, said both genocide and crimes against humanity were committed in Srebrenica in 1995, when Bosnian Serbs killed an estimated 8,000 Bosniaks [Muslims] after capturing the town in eastern Bosnia.
Two international institutions, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and the International Court of Justice, ICJ, have qualified Srebrenica as genocide, Hansen noted.
“The European Union has a clear stance and firmly rejects all attempts at rewriting history,” Hansen added.
She said the remarks would be one of the topics at the upcoming meeting of President Barosso and President Tomislav Nikolic on June 14.
Nikolic stirred the controversy when he said that genocide could not be said to have occurred in Srebrenica because no one had proved it.
Speaking to Montenegrin state television on May 31, he said: “There was no genocide in Srebrenica… No one has proved it so far. One officer has been convicted and now all that were in cooperation with him will be convicted as well. But it is hard to tell that there was an intention [of genocide]."
“There was a grave crime in Srebrenica and some Serbs committed it,” Nikolic added.
Negative reactions to Nikolic’s statement also came from the Council of Europe and the Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Pietro Marcenaro.
“By denying the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica, the newly elected President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, has cast a shadow on his presidency,” said Marcenaro.
“Recognition of responsibilities by all sides in the conflicts that ravaged the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995 is a precondition for reconciliation,” he added.
“The resolution passed two years ago by the Serbian parliament condemning the massacre in Srebrenica and apologizing that Serbia did not do more to prevent the tragedy was welcomed by the international community as an important gesture by Serbia on the path towards full reconciliation," he continued.
"Going back on this today can only give rise to tension within the region and endanger Serbia’s path towards full European integration,” Marcenaro concluded.
The ICTY and the ICJ qualified the killings in Srebrenica as acts of genocide in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
Serbia was cleared of direct involvement by the ICJ on February 26, 2007 but was found to have breached international law by failing to prevent the massacre and by failing to try or transfer to the ICTY the persons accused of genocide.
On April 19, 2004 the ICTY sentenced the former Deputy Commander of the Bosnian Serb army's Drina Corps, Radisav Krstic, for aiding and abetting genocide.
The case of “Popovic and others” against seven members of Drina Corps for genocide is currently on appeal.
The cases against Radovan Karadzic, former President of the Republika Srpska, Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, VRS, and Zdravko Tolimir, assistant commander of the Intelligence and Security of the VRS, who are charged with genocide, are still ongoing.
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.
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.
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.
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.