Friday, April 26, 2013

 

Serbian president apologises for Srebrenica massacre


Serbia's nationalist president Tomislav Nikolic has personally apologised for the first time for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims, but stopped short of calling it genocide.

After being elected last May, Mr Nikolic caused a stir in the region by refusing to acknowledge the massacre in the Bosnian enclave - in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces - was genocide, despite it being ruled as such by two international courts.

"I kneel and ask for forgiveness for Serbia for the crime committed in Srebrenica," Mr Nikolic said on Thursday.

"I apologise for the crimes committed by any individual in the name of our state and our people," he said in an interview to be aired on Bosnian national television.

Last year, Mr Nikolic said "there was no genocide in Srebrenica".

Munira Subasic, the president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, said she was "not convinced" of Mr Nikolic's sincerity.

"We do not need someone to kneel and ask for forgiveness. We want to hear the Serbian president and Serbia say the word genocide," said Ms Subasic, whose husband and son were killed in the Srebrenica massacre.

"Only then we will believe that it is a sincere gesture.

"We need Serbia to accept rulings by the international courts."

While this marks Mr Nikolic's first apology on Srebrenica, Serbia has in the past expressed regret over the deaths.

In 2010, the Serbian parliament passed a historic declaration condemning the Srebrenica massacre in a gesture ending years of denial by Serbian politicians about the scale of the killings, but Mr Nikolic at the time did not support the move.

Mr Nikolic's predecessor, Boris Tadic, also apologised to Srebrenica victims during a commemoration event in 2005.

Bosnian Serb wartime political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are currently on trial on genocide charges before the ICTY for their role in Srebrenica massacre.
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