Bosnia leader slams Serbia's Nikolic on Srebrenica - AlertNet
SARAJEVO, June 1 (Reuters) - The Muslim chairman of
Bosnia's tripartite presidency criticised Serbia's new rightist
president, Tomislav Nikolic, on Friday for playing down the 1995
Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims, Europe's worst atrocity
since World War Two.
Both the International Criminal Tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague and the International Court
of Justice (ICJ) have ruled that the Srebrenica massacre amounted to
But in an interview with Montenegrin state television
posted on its website, Nikolic said: "There was no genocide in
Srebrenica. In Srebrenica, grave war crimes were committed by some Serbs
who should be found, prosecuted and punished ...
"It is very difficult to indict someone and prove before a court that an event qualifies as genocide."
Izetbegovic, who shares Bosnia's presidency with a Croat and a Serb,
said such declarations were insulting to the survivors.
denial of genocide in Srebrenica ... will not pave the way for
cooperation and reconciliation in the region, but on the contrary may
cause fresh misunderstandings and tensions," he said in a statement.
Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic slaughtered
around 8,000 Muslim men and boys after capturing the town of Srebrenica,
declared a "safe haven" by the United Nations, towards the end of
Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
Mladic and the Bosnian Serbs' wartime
political leader, Radovan Karadzic, are on trial in The Hague accused
among other things of genocide for the killings.
"By giving such
statements, Nikolic has clearly demonstrated that he is still not ready
to face the truth about the events that took place in our recent past,"
Nikolic's shock win over incumbent president
Boris Tadic sent a chill through a region that still recalls his last
spell in government - as deputy prime minister in a coalition with
Serbia's late strongman Slobodan Milosevic when NATO bombed Serbia to
drive its forces out of Kosovo during a 1998-99 war.
recast himself as a pro-European conservative since splitting in 2008
from his firebrand ultranationalist mentor Vojislav Seselj, who is also
on trial for war crimes in The Hague, and has said he will pursue
Serbia's drive for EU membership.
A spokeswoman for European
Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said her office was trying
to clarify Nikolic's statement.
"But would like to remind
everyone that Srebrenica has been confirmed as genocide by both the ICTY
and the ICJ. Srebrenica was the largest massacre in Europe since World
War Two, a crime against all of humankind. We should never forget and it
should never be allowed to happen again," she said.
Nikolic also said that he would not attend the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre in July.
always ask the Serbian president if he is going to Srebrenica," he said
in the interview. "My predecessor was there and paid tribute. Why
should every president do the same?"
Tadic oversaw the arrest and
extradition of Karadzic and Mladic. He pushed an apology for the
massacre through parliament and travelled to Srebrenica as part of a
drive to foster reconciliation. (Reporting By Maja Zuvela,; Petar
Komnenic and Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Kevin Liffey)