Serbian Parliament condemns Srebrenica massacre

Serbian Parliament condemns Srebrenica massacre

The Serbian Parliament passed a resolution early Wednesday with a paper-thin majority to condemn the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica 15 years ago, DPA reported.

The declaration, which offered apologies to families of the victims of the worst atrocity in Europe since the World War II, was backed by 127 legislators in the 250-seat assembly.

Some 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed by Serb forces at Srebrenica in July 1995, toward the end of the three-year war pitting Serbs against Muslims and Croats.

The resolution, which does not use the term "genocide", aims to help Serbia distance itself from the past and move closer to the European Union. It pledges support for the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the general who commanded Serbs at Srebrenica, and apologizes for not doing enough to prevent the massacre.

Serbian nationalists vehemently opposed the declaration, insisting that the reports of killings at Srebrenica were overblown and that any massacre was not different from atrocities committed against Serbs in the Bosnian war.

The Serbian parliament is set to debate another resolution condemning crimes committed against Serbs in the Bosnian war.

Leading Serbian human rights activist Natasa Kandic criticized the lack of the term "genocide" and told daily Danas that Serbia "missed a historic opportunity" to show the world it has left the past behind.

Daily newspaper Blic reported that the thin majority was achieved with political haggling, which included striking a deal on a long- standing political dispute about members of parliament simultaneously holding outside jobs. The deal creates an exemption for some members of parliament, allowing them to hold outside jobs.

Bosnian analyst Janko Velimirovic told Politika daily that the Serbian parliament "should have waited for all the facts" and finally "separate the truth from manipulation" before adopting a resolution.

"No one in the Serb Republic (the Bosnian Serb entity) denies that a huge crime was committed over Muslims in Srebrenica and that crime can never be justified," said Velimirovic, a head of the Centre for research of war crimes in the Serb Republic.

But the parliament should have waited for the full truth on Srebrenica "as Muslim officials gave no one, including the Hague tribunal, a list of people who left Srebrenica," he added.

"It is still not determined how many Muslims were shot after they were taken prisoners or have surrendered and how many were killed" in fierce battles Bosnian army and Serb Republic army fought, he told Politika.

Mladic remains on the loose in Serbia despite a genocide indictment by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Serbia remains reluctant to arrest him, though that is a key condition for its closer ties with the EU.

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