Serbian PM to attend Srebrenica genocide commemoration

Aleksandar Vucic says he will attend ceremony to mark 20th anniversary, after a UN vote to condemn massacre is delayed.

An aerial view of the Memorial Center in Potocari near Srebrenica
Serbia in 2010 acknowledged that a "grave crime" took place in Srebrenica, but stopped short of calling it a genocide [Reuters]

Serbia’s Prime Minister has said that he would attend the commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, hours after the UN Security Council postponed debate over a resolution to mark the 20th anniversary.

“Tonight the government unanimously made a decision that if the conditions are met, that I as Prime Minister will represent Serbia in Srebrenica on July 11,” Aleksandar Vucic told a news conference in Belgrade on Tuesday.

Tonight the government unanimously made a decision that if the conditions are met, that I as Prime Minister will represent Serbia in Srebrenica on July 11

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's Prime Minister

A UN Security Council vote on a resolution to condemn the Srebrenica massacre as a genocide has been delayed until Wednesday, as Britain and the United States try to convince Russia not to veto the commemoration, diplomats said.

Vucic’s attendance at the July 11 ceremony in eastern Bosnia will be a landmark for the reconciliation among former Yugoslav republics after the 1990s wars that killed some 135,000 people.

“When I spoke about conditions I was thinking about position of (Srebrenica’s mayor) Camil Durakovic, mothers (of victims) and the Muslim member of (Bosnia’s tripartite) presidency,” he said.

Durakovic and other prominent Bosniaks have voiced their opposition to Vucic’s visit, particularly after the recent arrest of Naser Oric, Srebrenica’s wartime commander in Switzerland, on a Serbian war crimes arrest warrant.

Greater Serbia ideology

Former Serbian President Boris Tadic attended the 15th Srebrenica anniversary in 2010, but Vucic, a former nationalist, is more closely associated with the Greater Serbia ideology that fuelled much of the bloodshed.

On July 11, 1995, toward the end of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, Bosnian Serb troops overran the eastern Srebrenica enclave, a UN-designated “safe area,” executing around 8,000 Muslims in the days that followed.

Serbia in 2010 acknowledged that a “grave crime” took place in Srebrenica and condemned the massacre, as it sought closer ties with the West, but stopped short of calling it a genocide.

More on this story: 20th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide 

Vucic said he had received assurances that the UN resolution on Srebrenica which he described as “humiliating” for Serbia and the Serb Republic would not be adopted “in its present form”.

“During the day, we have had enormous number of consultations with various representatives from countries which are members of UN Security Council and according to our knowledge, resolution in the current form accusing Serbia and Bosnian Serb republic, undoubtedly will not be adopted in the Security Council,” he said.

He also thanked Russia, China, and “other countries” for opposing the resolution.

Serbia and Russia are traditional allies who share the Orthodox Christian faith and Slavic ethnic origins.

Source: Reuters