Croatian president honors Serb war dead in BiH
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic made a significant symbolic gesture toward reconciliation in the West Balkan region when he on Sunday paid his respects to Serb war victims in the Bosnian village of Sijekovac, reported the Croatian news agency Hina.
Josipovic lit a candle and laid a wreath in the Orthodox church dedicated to the memory of the 60 Serb victims of a Croat offensive on March 26, 1992. His presence in the church was accompanied by applause by the local villagers of Sijekovac, located just south of the Sava River, near the town of Bosanski Brod, Xinhua reported.
The massacre remains controversial because it occurred prior to open hostilities that eventually erupted into the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and because of the alleged incursion of military forces from Croatia into BiH territory.
"We came here to pay our respects to the victims; piety and compassion toward the families is particularly important because people of all faiths and nationalities are here today, which shows a human approach, dignity, and respect for the victims," said Josipovic.
This was the first time that a Croatian president acknowledged Serb war victims in BiH. Recently, Josipovic made the same gesture when he visited a memorial to Bosnian Muslim victims of a Croat massacre in central Bosnia.
Along with high ranking officials of the Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, President Rajko Kuzmanovic and Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, Josipovic was joined by the leader of the largest Bosnian Muslim political party, Sulejman Tihic, president of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA).
Tihic told those assembled that "there was no collective guilt but there is collective responsibility to bring all those who committed crimes to justice."