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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid