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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs