Serbia, Bosnia leaders pledge to boost fragile post-war ties
Bosnia\’s joint presidency and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic pledged Wednesday in Belgrade to improve fragile ties, after a stone-throwing mob chased the Serbian leader from a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.
The three Croat, Muslim and Serb members of the Bosnian presidency arrived in the Serbian capital less than two weeks after the attack against Vucic, which exposed wounds that still run deep decades after the Balkan wars dragged to a close.
"We will do everything to improve our ties, and that is the reason for our presence today in Belgrade," Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the presidency, told reporters.
Meanwhile Vucic said the incident in the eastern Bosnian town had been "forgotten".
"I\’m turning towards our future cooperation. What happened to me is not major compared to what happened to many people (in Bosnia) who lost their relatives" during the country\’s 1992-1995 war, he said.
Bosnia\’s inter-ethnic war between its Muslims, Croats and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives.
The conflict\’s notorious peak was the massacre at Srebrenica in July 1995, when some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces after they captured the town.
The massacre was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
"My hand remains stretched out, I don\’t see an enemy in Izetbegovic, on the contrary," Vucic said Wednesday, urging cooperation.
In Srebrenica on July 11, Vucic had just laid a flower at the monument for the massacre victims when the crowd started to chant "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) and began hurling stones and bottles.
The premier was forced to run for cover, shielded by his bodyguards. Vucic said later that a stone hit him in the mouth but he was unhurt, though his glasses were broken in the assault.
Earlier Vucic has condemned the mass killings in Srebrenica as a "monstrous crime." However, like other Serbian and Bosnian Serb leaders he stopped short of calling the massacre a genocide, a term used by international courts.
The attack on Vucic, strongly condemned by regional leaders, reflected fragile inter-ethnic ties in the area torn apart by a series of bloody wars that accompanied the collapse of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.