BANJA LUKA, BOSNIA - A top Bosnian Serb politician urged the United Nations on Monday to abandon plans for a British-drafted resolution on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, saying its adoption by the world body would only deepen ethnic divisions in Bosnia.
Britain has drafted the resolution at the U.N. Security Council to mark next month's 20th anniversary of the killing of around 8,000 Muslims in Bosnia, aiming to encourage reconciliation among Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks.
But the draft, mentioning genocide at Srebrenica, has only angered Bosnian Serbs and Serbia, who branded it as "anti-Serb". Serbia has already sent a protest letter against the resolution to the United Nations.
"Nearly half of Bosnia's citizens are against this resolution and I ... request that it is not adopted at the United Nations," Mladen Ivanic, the Serb chairman of Bosnia's tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, said in a letter to the Security Council.
On July 11, 1995, towards the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war, Bosnian Serb forces swept into the eastern Srebrenica enclave, a U.N.-designated "safe haven." There they took 8,000 Muslim men and boys and executed them in the days that followed, dumping their bodies into pits in the surrounding forests.
The Serbs acknowledge that a "grave crime" took place at Srebrenica but reject the genocide label, while the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague has ruled that the massacre - the worst mass killing on European soil since World War II - constituted genocide.
"There is full unity of Serbs in Bosnia that this resolution is anti-Serb," Ivanic said. "Thus its possible adoption will not have positive effects but will additionally divide the Bosnian society."
Ivanic, who is seen as a moderate politician, said he had sent the letter in his own name because the presidency's Serb, uslim Bosniak and Croat members could not agree on the issue.
Local media reported on Monday that Russia, a traditional ally of Orthodox Serbs, had filed a counter-resolution on Srebrenica at the Security Council in an apparent attempt to thwart the British resolution.
Political quarrels over the resolution followed the recent arrest in Switzerland of Srebrenica's Muslim wartime commander, Naser Oric, on a warrant issued by Serbia, which again stirred ethnic tensions in the region.
Twenty years after the war, Bosnia remains a fragile state reliant on external aid, with economy hobbled by a complex and unwieldy power-sharing system and persistent tensions between its two constituent regions, the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic.