News 13 Jul 15

Attack on Vucic at Srebrenica Widely Condemned

The attack on the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Srebrenica will set back reconciliation and create new instability in the Balkans, politicians and experts warn.

Denis Dzidic, Katarina Panic
BIRN
Sarajevo, Prijedor

Bosniak politicians on Sunday condemned the incident in which stones and water bottles were thrown at Serbian Prime Minister Aleskandar Vucic as 136 victims of the Srebrenica massacre were being laid to rest.

Vucic attended the ceremony but received an angry reception as a result of tensions building up to the 20th anniversary of the crime, which he refuses to call an act of genocide despite verdicts by international courts.

Bosniak presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic said the attack had left him feeling betrayed, because he personally told Vucic that it would be safe for him to come to Srebrenica.

“Bosniaks know how to welcome a guest, to guarantee his safety, and this was not it,” Izetbegovic said.

His ethnic Serbian colleague on the presidency, Mladen Ivanic, said the attack was the reason why he himself declined to attend the ceremony. “It was not out of disrespect for the victims. I saw the tensions, the political games, and wanted no part of it,” Ivanic said.

Srebrenica mayor Camil Durakovic personally apologized to Vucic and said the incident was not the work of true Srebrenica natives.

“This was done by sick minds who abused this dignified event. Vucic hugged Srebrenica mother Munira Subasic and attended the ceremony to honour the victims. He even placed a symbolic flower on his jacket to show his sympathy for our pain,” Durakovic recalled.

While the incident was taking place, Bosnian Muslim cleric Husein Kavazovic spoke to the crowd, begging them to start praying and leave the delegations alone, and some of the mothers of Srebrenica also tried to protect the Serbian Prime Minister.

The Bosnian Serb President, Milorad Dodik, condemned attack on Vucic and said those guilty for the attack should be arrested. However, he noted that he was touched by the reaction.

Dodik said that if the attack on Vucic had been successful, it could have had “serious consequences for the future and for stability”.

The Bosnian Muslim Religious Community also condemned the attack on Vucic, calling it a “humiliation of the victims.

“Those who come to honour the victims should have full security and dignified treatment," it said.

"Regardless of the incident, Vucic and other Serbian representatives should come to Potocari, where they will be respected, but should not come empty handed, but with a recognition of the genocide,” the Islamic Community said in a statement.

Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic called for a swift investigation.

“Initial information shows there were some problems with the organization and security,” Mektic said.

Problem for reconciliation and stability

Political analyst Milos Solaja said the Srebrenica commemoration had been overly politicized in the build-up and predicted further problems in the future.

"We will need a lot of time to work on this and start on the right way,” Solaja told BIRN.

Human rights advocate Aleksandra Letic told BIRN that while she understood the unhappiness of victims because of who Vucic was, the incident had set back the reconciliation process and normalization of relations between Serbs and Bosniaks.

“For Vucic this was a great and unexpected political PR but, more importantly, relations between Bosniaks and Serbs and political relations will now be burdened by this event in which the hand of reconciliation was stoned. Whether the hand was offered truly, whether Serbia understood what facing the past really means, is now irrelevant. What we will recall is the stones,” Letic said.

“These stones will have reawakened the passions between Serbs and Bosniaks and the biggest suffering will again fall on the victims - who will be hit more by the stones than Vucic,” she added.

The international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE and OHR offices, issued statements condemning the attack and asking for all sides to work on reconciliation.

“The future is in reconciliation, tolerance, respect and progress,” High Representative Valentin Inzko said.

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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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