Time for accountability – Europe instead of “Greater Serbia”

Reposted from original source with Youth Initiative for Human Rights permission. 

The silence with which the highest officials of the Republic of Serbia marked 11 July again casts a shadow of shame on Serbia.


Instead of silence being an expression of sympathy and respect for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, the silence of the political leadership of the state of Serbia is an expression of genocide denial, disrespect of victims, and maintenance of keeping alive the nationalist politics of Greater Serbia.

In the absence of the President and Prime minister, their associates spoke out.

Aleksandar Vulin, Defence Minister, said in his reaction to German Ambassador Thomas Schieb’s statement that Srebrenica was a genocide, that he will not allow for the German ambassador to tell Serbs what to think and do, and especially not talk about what genocide is.

Contemporary Germany and democratic Europe were built on the condemnation of the Nazi regime and all the evils this criminal regime committed, inflicting a permanent scar on humanity’s conscience with the horror that was the Holocaust. The process of dealing with the past in German society through democratization and European integration is one we need to learn from, rather than mock it in the banal, uneducated and malicious way Minister Vulin does.

Vladimir Djukanovic, Parliament and SNS Presidency member, posted a horrifying message on Twitter: “I want to congratulate the Serbian people on the day of the liberation of Srebrenica. Thank you, General Ratko Mladic, on the brilliantly executed “Krivaja 95” military operation.”

The Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nenad Popovic stated that “In the scope of new, degrading conditions under which Serbia is required to recognize the false genocide in Srebrenica in order to proceed on its EU path, it is necessary to re-examine the European integration process in order to protect the national interests of Serbia and the Serbian people”.

The rest of the government did not have any comments, remaining strikingly silent and unreachable on this July 11th.

On the other hand – from the European side – where July 11th is marked as the Remembrance Day of the Genocide in Srebrenica, an even clearer message was sent out.

In a joint statement, High Representative Mogerini and Commissioner Han said: Today we commemorate the genocide in Srebrenica. This was twenty-four years ago; yet this tragedy still haunts us. Our hearts and thoughts are with the victims and all those whose lives have been affected by these tragic events.

It is our shared duty to always remember Srebrenica, one of the darkest moments of humanity in modern European history.

[..] There is no place for inflammatory rhetoric, for denial, revisionism or the glorification of war criminals. Attempts to rewrite history in Bosnia and Herzegovina or anywhere are unacceptable.”

European People’s Party President, Jozef Dol, where SNS is an associate member, had a direct message: “Today we commemorate the victims of Srebrenica genocide and remember all atrocities during the Yugoslav wars. We strongly condemn any attempts to glorify or deny these horrific war crimes. These crimes are a painful reminder of how extreme nationalism can tear societies apart.”

President of Serbia and President of the largest Serbian Progressive Party Aleksandar Vucic, as well as the Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, have the responsibility to respond to these statements. We are no longer in the position, nor do we have the hope or expectation that they will suddenly change their values and beliefs. We expect the President and the Prime Minister to make a clear choice between Djukanovic and Popovic on the one hand, and European officials on the other.

The attitude towards the warlike politics of Serbian nationalism is the crossroads of our generation. One path is Europe. The other is the dream of a Greater Serbia that ends in an abyss, in which all the Balkan nations will then end up. There is no middle path; the so-called “middle path” is just a bypass road to the abyss.

The continued presence of Ministers Popovic and Vulin in the Serbian Government implies the abandonment of the European perspective for Serbia. And we have no right to object to President Macron when he visits us tomorrow very skeptical of our swift accession to the EU, when we in our Government hold the minister who has inherited all anti-European values, from nationalism to homophobia. He is openly opposed to the membership in the European Union.

Manipulators from the nationalist spectrum invented the term “genocidal people”, which implies that every time the hell that was Srebrenica is called genocide, the Serbian people get the label “genocidal”.

As always, when it comes to manipulation, the truth is quite the opposite.

They did not commit genocide or other crimes on our behalf. They lied that they acted in our interest, and it’s time to expose that lie. They did so in the name of their ill-fated ambition for the Greater Serbia.

The only way that Serbian citizens and Serbian people around the world can step away from the sins of Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Slobodan Milosevic and other members of their criminal enterprise is to denounce them publicly and to give up their policies. This is primarily the responsibility of our political leaders.

The first steps in this direction are:

  • That the Republic of Serbia respects the decisions of the international courts, as well as the judicially established facts;

  • To recognize the genocide in Srebrenica, not only as one of the significant steps on Serbia’s path to joining the European Union, but primarily out of respect for the dignity of the victims;

  • To stop the President and Prime minister of Serbia and all other state representatives from denying genocide and all other war crimes in BiH and beyond;

  • To stop praising and glorifying convicted war criminals;

  • That the denial of genocide in Srebrenica qualifies as a criminal offense, without limiting criteria;

  • That the public policies that Serbia creates and improves in the process of accession to the European Union truly reflect the intention to punish war crimes;

  • To establish July 11th as the Remembrance Day of the Srebrenica Genocide in the Republic of Serbia.

     

They are not our heroes.

Too young to remember, determined to never forget.

2019-07-18T14:26:19+00:00July 18th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Ivan Đurić
Ivan is the WYMD Secretariat Coordinator, as well as the Program Director within the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Belgrade, Serbia, working on both regional and global issues of democratization, transitional justice and human rights monitoring and implementation. His extensive activism experience begins in 2006, and he joined the Initiative in 2013, helping develop the activist network, human rights program and the regional cooperation program.

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