News 10 Jun 15

Serbs Criticise Planned UN Resolution On Srebrenica

Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-run entity Republika Srpska have expressed concern about a proposed UN resolution to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic. Photo by BETA.

The proposed UN resolution paying homage to the victims of the July 1995 genocide of Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces has sparked critical reactions from political leaders in Belgrade and Banja Luka even though it is still only at the draft stage.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told media on Tuesday that although he wasn’t against memorial days for any crime, including the one in Srebrenica, “we expect that the world will pay homage to the Serbian victims and crimes against them [as well as against Bosniaks during the 1992-95 war]”.

Dacic also called on Britain, which initiated the resolution, to consult Serbia about its wording, and complained that “there were no consultations about this at the UN and the Security Council”.

Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska, said that the resolution was biased against Serbs.

“This behaviour towards Bosnia and Herzegovina is typical of the Brits. Two months ago, I asked the UK ambassador in Sarajevo what kind of text they are preparing, and he pretend to be naïve. And this means that they treat us [Republika Srpska] as a less important and unnecessary nation in Bosnia,” Dodik told Belgrade-based newspaper Novosti.

Zeljka Cvijanovic, the prime minister of Republika Srpska, called the resolution “an attack”.

“When judging such initiatives, you have to consider whether it is stabilising or destabilising the situation here,” Cvijanovic told reporters.

The resolution, initiated by Britain and backed by the US, the Netherlands and several other western countries, aims to establish July 11 as a memorial day for more than 7,000 Bosniaks who were killed in July 1995 after Bosnian Serb forces overran Srebrenica during the war.

“We hope that we will pay homage to the victims of genocide in Srebrenica and all those who suffered on all sides in war and that this will encourage further steps towards reconciliation and better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the British embassy in Belgrade said in a statement.

Although international and Bosnian courts have classified the Srebrenica massacres as genocide, Serbia and Republika Srpska both reject this definition. In 2010, the Serbian parliament adopted a declaration condemning the Srebrenica killings, but stopped short of calling them genocide.

Meanwhile Serbian peace group Women in Black will send an open letter to Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and the National Assembly on Thursday, urging them to declare July 11 a memorial day for the Srebrenica genocide.

Only one Serbian president, Boris Tadic, has visited the memorial site in Potocari near Srebrenica, in 2010.

Nikolic did however apologise to Bosniak victims of the massacres in 2013.

“I am on my knees and begging for a pardon in the name of my people for the crime committed in Srebrenica,” he said in an interview on Bosnian television.

His office said last month that he will not go to this year’s annual commemoration, while it has not yet been confirmed if the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will attend.

Former US President Bill Clinton, who originally opened the Potocari memorial, is expected to attend, as are the presidents of Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia.

Ahead of the 20th anniversary, various peace groups from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro have been organising a series of events on the 11th of each month to commemorate the victims.

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Background

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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