Serbia offers 'apology', short of calling Srebrenica genocide

Serbia's parliament stopped short of calling the killings "genocide".

Serbia offers 'apology', short of calling Srebrenica genocide

Serbia's parliament approved a declaration Tuesday condemning the 1995 Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica under Slobodan Milosevic, but stopped short of calling the killings "genocide".

The declaration passed with a slim majority of 127 votes in the 250-seat parliament, after a daylong debate that underscored persisting divisions in the country over Serbia's role in the 1990s conflict.

"The National Assembly of Serbia harshly condemns the crime committed against the Bosnian residents of Srebrenica in July 1995 ... expressing condolences and apology to the victims' families because not all was done to prevent this tragedy," the declaration says.

The declaration was put forward by the ruling pro-Western coalition, which said it would "promote" regional reconciliation and Serbia's effort to become a member of the European Union.

One Western diplomat stationed in Bosnia when the Srebrenica massacre occurred said passing the resolution without arresting Mladic meant little.

"As a substitute, it's offensive, it's an insult. Done in tandem with a legal step, then it's significant," the diplomat said. "If they think they can let Mladic run free for another 15 years, it's a grave injustice."

Nationalist lawmakers rejected the Srebrenica declaration as "shameful" and "unjust."

Dozens protested in front of the parliament, some carrying pictures of Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, who is on trial in The Hague for the Srebrenica genocide.

"Free citizens"


Bosnians, where 100,000 died during the 1992-95 war, found the Serbian resolution too little, too late.

"Many criminals who slaughtered and killed our children fled to Serbia where they live as free citizens and enjoy full rights," said Munira Subasic, the head of a Srebrenica women's association who lost her son and husband at Srebrenica.

"There is no apology for the crimes. The justice can only be served once all the criminals responsible for the atrocity are named and held accountable," she told Reuters Television.

The execution of Srebrenica's men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops was Europe's worst carnage since World War II. It has become a symbol of the atrocities of the Balkan wars.

The EU also wants Serbia to arrest ex-Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who was charged with genocide by a U.N. court for orchestrating the Srebrenica massacre.

The parliamentary declaration on Srebrenica calls for the arrest of Mladic and urges authorities to do all they can to find him.

Former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic is being prosecuted by the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for allegedly masterminding Serb atrocities throughout the Bosnian war, including the Srebrenica massacre.

Karadzic has refused to enter a plea, but insists he is innocent of charges that he ordered atrocities, including the shelling and sniping campaign that killed thousands of civilians in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the executions in Srebrenica.

In 2009, a European Parliament resolution condemned the Srebrenica massacre as genocide and called on the region to commemorate its July anniversary. The Hague-based International Court of Justice also has ruled that genocide was committed in Srebrenica, and that Serbia had not done enough to prevent it.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mart 2010, 14:05

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