Bosnian town where 8,000 Muslims were massacred should become ‘bridge of cooperation,’ Serbia’s premier says.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic this week announced that his country would donate 5 million euros ($5.4 million) to Srebrenica, the UN-designated “safe area” where Bosnian Serb forces executed an estimated 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.
“We want Srebrenica to become a bridge of cooperation,” Vucic said when attending a regional investment and development conference in the Bosnian town, The Associated Press reported. “Nobody can return the brothers to their sisters, the children to their mothers, but what we can do is to look into the future, make it different, take care of those 20,000 people who still live here.”
At an 11 July commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre – Europe’s worst since the Holocaust – Vucic, a hardcore nationalist during the war years of the 1990s who has set out to improve relations with the other former Yugoslav states – was pelted by stones and compelled to leave the town’s memorial cemetery.
Vucic revisited the cemetery on 10 November to lay flowers in memory of the victims. Mayor Camil Durakovic said the town “did not even expect so much money” from Serbia, which he said would “change the lives of the residents of Srebrenica,” the AP reported.
Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said the investment forum showed that “we don’t think about Srebrenica only in terms of . We want this town to become a place where people can coexist and have a beautiful life,” Balkan Insight reported.
Some were skeptical of the move, alluding to Serbia’s refusal to call the massacre a genocide, “despite the fact that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the United Nations International Court of Justice have both deemed it such,” Newsweek reported, noting that Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has refused to use the term in connection with the mass killings.
Ahead of the Srebrenica commemoration, Vucic called the Srebrenica massacre a “monstrous crime” and said Serbia wanted to become Bosnia’s largest trading partner, Radio Free Europe reported.
In September, for the first time since the massacre, Serbia laid charges against fighters suspected of taking part in the killings.
Families of several Bosnian Muslims killed in Srebrenica have turned to the European Court of Human Rights after a Dutch appeals court ruled that the commander of the UN battalion charged with protecting the area and two other Dutch officers should not be prosecuted, AFP reported.
Srebrenica lies in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity. Most of the region’s Muslims were driven out during the Bosnian war.