Serbia apologises for massacre

2010-03-31 18:31

Belgrade - Serbia's parliament apologised to the Bosnian Muslim victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre on Wednesday, ending years of denial in a move seen as an important step on Belgrade's road to Europe.

The parliament voted by a slender majority - 127 out of 250 seats in the House - in favour of a text condemning the 1995 massacre of some 8 000 people and issuing an apology to the victims.

The resolution voted in the early hours of Wednesday, however, stopped short of using the word genocide, although it referred to an International Court of Justice decision which does use the term.

"The parliament of Serbia strongly condemns the crime committed against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica in July 1995, as determined by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling," the text says.

Apology

The lawmakers also formally extended "their condolences and an apology to the families of the victims because not everything possible was done to prevent the tragedy".

Human rights activists and observers hailed the apology, which ends years of denial by Serbian politicians about the scale of the killings, but in Bosnia survivors slammed it because it avoids the word genocide.

In Srebrenica - where some 100 women gathered to commemorate the first burial of victims in the special site on the former UN base of Potocari - the mood was bitter.

"This resolution caused a lot of pain and sadness among all those who attended the commemoration since we will never accept a text that does not contain the word genocide," survivor Sehida Abdurahmanovic told AFP.

Others in Sarajevo dismissed the apology as a cynical political move.

The timing of the historic declaration coincides with Serbia's push to join the European Union, hoping to achieve candidate status next year.

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