Critics condemn minister’s call to unite ‘Serb world’

Many view Serbian interior minister’s remarks as a ‘reboot’ of Slobodan Milosevic’s ‘Greater Serbia’ politics, which led to war and conflict in the 1990s.

'The task for this generation of politicians is to form a Serb world, that is to unite Serbs wherever they live,' Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said [File: Darko Vojinovic/AP]

Bosnia’s minister of foreign affairs has called on the Serbian president to distance himself from controversial comments recently made by Serbia’s interior minister calling to “unite the Serb world”.

“The task for this generation of politicians is to form a Serb world, that is to unite Serbs wherever they live,” Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Sunday, speaking at a meeting marking the anniversary of the Socialist Movement.

“For the ‘Serb world’ to form, Serbia needs to be economically successful, well-led and have an army that is able to protect Serbia and Serbs, wherever they live,” Vulin said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was also present at the meeting.

Later on Sunday evening, Vulin reiterated on Serbian broadcaster Pink TV that he believes all Serbs should be united under one state, Serbian news website Danas reported. To create political unity, all Serbs need to unite and respect decisions from Belgrade, he said.

Many in the region found his statements to be alarming as previous attempts to “unify Serbs” have resulted in war and conflict.

Responding to the controversial remarks on Monday, Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic called on Vucic to rebuke Vulin.

“Failure to do only confirms that Serbia’s official state policy is to destroy the Dayton peace agreement with the goal of annexing parts of Bosnia to Serbia,” Turkovic wrote on Twitter.

“[It’s] an ominous threat to Bosnia and Herzegovina who suffered from aggression and genocide 26 years ago!”

From 1992-1995 Serb forces along with Serbian paramilitary units, with financial and political support from Serbia proper, led a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the goal of forming a “Greater Serbia”.

The attacks culminated in genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995, as ruled by international courts.

The Dayton Peace Accords signed in December 1995 officially ended the war, but they broke Bosnia into two entities – the Bosnian and Croat-led Federation and the Serb-led Republika Srpska.

A Serb majority lives in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity today. The eastern part of Republika Srpska borders Serbia.

“This rhetoric makes statements by the Serbian president who claims that Serbia wishes peace and good neighbourly relations with Bosnia, meaningless,” Turkovic said.

At the meeting Vulin also said it is important to support Vucic in the next elections “to protect this kind of Serbia” as “no one else should become president of all citizens of Serbia and all Serbs”.

Many political figures have condemned Vulin’s remarks including Vojislav Jankovic, member of the Main Board of the Democratic Party of Serbia.

“The policy of the ‘Serb world’ is a continuation of the disastrous policy from the 1990s. That policy has led to the destruction of the state, society and countless family tragedies,” Jankovic wrote on Twitter.

“The abuse of national feelings for pre-election purposes is a shameful political base of this regime.”

Predrag Boskovic, a member of parliament in neighbouring Montenegro, wrote on Twitter: “Unfortunately, [Serbia’s] neighbours felt the consequences of these kinds of politics in the most brutal way – through huge human casualties, material destruction and with an economy lagging behind modern civilisation.”

Citing Vulin’s comments on strengthening the army, Ivan Vukovic, mayor of Montenegro’s capital Podgorica said on Twitter: “The Serbian minister of the police is openly threatening.

“Reaction?” Vukovic asked, while tagging the official Twitter account of Montenegro’s government.

Bosnian political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic called Vulin’s comments a reboot of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s “Greater Serbia” ideology.

“Irredentism now Serbia’s official foreign policy,” Mujanovic said on Twitter.

Later on Monday, Bosnian website Klix reported Vulin had responded to Turkovic, saying that Serbia will unite “peacefully … when conditions allow for it”, comparing it to the unification of Germany.

He called on Turkovic to distance herself from statements made by two Bosnian politicians of the same party, claiming that they will recognise the state of Kosovo.

Source: Al Jazeera