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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid