Serbia apologise for Srebrenica massacre

Resolution condemned by Bosnian Muslims as not going far enough

The Serbian parliament last night passed resolution apologising for the 1995 massacre by Bosnian Serbs of 8,000 unarmed Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica.

A bitterly debated draft of the declaration, opposed by Serb nationalists and condemned by Bosnian Muslims for not going far enough, extends condolences to the victims' families and the survivors of the single worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II. The wording condemns the massacre and apologises for Belgrade's failure to do more to prevent the killings, which were carried out by the Bosnian Serb Army and Serbian paramilitaries.

The Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic had urged the move saying it was necessary as "Serbia wants to demonstrate the desire to move to regional reconciliation and show good neighbourly relations among the countries in the region".

However, in a concession to Serb nationalists, the wording put to parliament crucially fell short of describing the atrocity as a genocide, using the terms "crime" and "tragedy" instead. The term genocide is used both by the International Court of Justice, the European Parliament and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

"They (the MPs) shouldn't have bothered to adopt it (the resolution) with such a text," international law professor Vojin Dimitrijevic said. Many Serbs still live in denial that war crimes were committed in their name by their next of kin in the wars of the 1990s.

"The resolution in such a form does not mean a thing for us," said Hajra Catic, head of Women of Srebrenica, the Bosnia-based body representing families of massacre victims.

"Crimes were committed all over Bosnia, but it was genocide in Srebrenica; that is what happened," she said.

Ms Catic lost her husband Junuz, her son Nino and another 10 male members of her extended family in the aftermath of the fall of Srebrenica.

The Serb apology comes at a time when the Balkan nation is pushing hard to join the European Union. One of the political preconditions for accession is the arrest of the remaining author of the massacre, the Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic.

Despite the capture and arrest in 2008 of the Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, who is now on trial for war crimes in The Hague, Mladic remains in hiding and is still hailed by many Serbs as a hero. The parliamentary resolution calls for his arrest and urges the Bosnian Serb authorities to do everything they can to apprehend him.

Mladic's forces overran the UN-protected Muslim enclave in July 1995, separating men and boys from their families, who were allowed to leave. The men were summarily executed in nearby woods and buried in unmarked graves. Not all bodies have yet been recovered; that process continues, as does the painful task of identification.

Serb nationalists called the declaration "shameful" and tantamount to an admission of collective responsibility. "Serbia will sign its own guilt with this declaration", Slobodan Samardzic, a nationalist member, told the debate. "Why do you want to put a mark on the future generations that they will never wash away?" Velimir Ilic, another parliamentarian, asked.

In January 2009 the European Parliamnet called on all EU states to recognise 11 July, the date of the start of the massacre, as "a day of commemoration throughout the EU".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Software Developer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Junior Software Deve...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Store Sales Executive

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Sales Executive ...

Recruitment Genius: Night Porters - Seasonal Placement

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Night Porters are required to join a family-ow...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn