SREBRENICA, BOSNIA —
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic returned to Srebrenica on Wednesday for the first time since being chased away from the town by anangry mob, his visit reflecting increased cooperation between Serbia and Bosnia to ease the town's economic troubles.
Accompanied by Bosnia's top government officials and welcomed by survivors, Vucic laid flowers at a joint cemetery for the victims of the massacre at Srebrenica of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
Police secured the memorial complex and helicopters hovered over the town, which was hosting an investment conference.
When Vucic, a hardline nationalist during the Yugoslav wars, attended a July ceremony marking 20 years since the massacre, he was assaulted by a crowd hurling stones, bottles and insults.
Vucic, who wants to take Serbia into the European Union, said he came to support the development of the eastern town and improve relations both between Bosnia and Serbia and between Muslim Bosniaks and Serbs.
Srebrenica, located in the region bordering Serbia, is part of the country's autonomous Serb Republic under the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian war but is home to many Muslim Bosniak returnees.
He said the Serbian government had allocated 10 million Bosnian marka ($5.5 million) for the town "All citizens of Srebrenica, whether they are Bosniaks or Serbs, will be able to count on more work and better life," Vucic said. "We want to spend the next 100 years in peace. This is our small contribution to our joint future."
Last week, Bosnia and Serbia held the first joint session of their governments, signing several agreements on cooperation in various fields and pledging to work to settle all outstanding issues between them.
(1$ = 1.826 Bosnian marka)