News / Europe

Serb President Seeks Forgiveness for Serbian Crimes

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, center, with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, left, and President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, Banja Luka, Bosnia, Dec. 26, 2012.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, center, with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, left, and President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, Banja Luka, Bosnia, Dec. 26, 2012.
Reuters
Serbia's nationalist president has implored forgiveness for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, in his deepest apology yet for crimes committed by Serbs in the wars that destroyed Yugoslavia.
 
"I'm on my knees," President Tomislav Nikolic told a television interviewer. "I am on my knees and asking for a pardon for Serbia for the crime that was committed in Srebrenica. I apologies for the crimes that any individual has committed in the name of our state and our people."
 
The contrite statement by Nikolic, once a disciple of the Greater Serbia ideology that fueled the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, marked a sharp change of tone that could help the slow process of reconciliation between Serbia and Bosnia as they edge towards a common goal of European Union membership.
 
Serbia's relations with its neighbors are under close scrutiny from the EU, which gave it a tentative green light on Monday to start accession talks this year.
 
Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic publicly upbraided Nikolic on a visit to Belgrade this week and said he should face the truth of what went on in Bosnia before the region could move on.
 
Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, told Bosnian state radio he was "positively surprised" by Nikolic's apology and said it should help improve ties between the two countries.
 
Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys died in Srebrenica, a former U.N. "safe haven" that fell to Bosnian Serb forces under wartime commander Ratko Mladic. The victims were rounded up, executed and bulldozed into pits over five days in July 1995.
 
Genocide comments

A former member of an extreme nationalist party, Nikolic has previously upset Serbia's neighbors and drawn fire from the West when speaking of what went on during Yugoslavia's collapse. After taking power last year, he denied that the Srebrenica massacre constituted genocide, as a United Nations court has ruled.
 
Pressed in the new interview on that issue, he replied: "Genocide must be proven." But he added that "everything that happened during the wars of the former Yugoslavia had the characteristics of genocide."
 
Bosnian media reported that Nikolic had also pledged to visit Srebrenica, but not on the July 11 anniversary of the worst mass killing on European soil since World War II.
 
Around 100,000 people were killed during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, when Mladic's forces, using the big guns of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army, seized swathes of land and drove out non-Serbs. Fighting between Serb, Croat and Muslim forces tore the country apart.
 
Nikolic's predecessor as president, Boris Tadic, visited Srebrenica and pushed through a parliament resolution in 2010 apologizing for the massacre. That text also stopped short of calling it genocide.
 
Nikolic made his comments in a short video trailer released on a Sarajevo web portal by independent Bosnian production "Interview 20." The full interview is due to air on Bosnian state television on May 7.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid