Feature

Serbia: We’re still not facing our odious past

Serbia's apology for the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica is a good first step, said an editorial in Belgrade’s Danas, but it is far from complete.

Editorial Danas

Fifteen years after the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica—Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II—Serbia has apologized. The Serbian Parliament approved a resolution last week expressing “sympathy for the victims” and “an apology” for “not doing enough to prevent the tragedy.” It’s a good first step, said Belgrade’s Danas, but the apology is far from complete.

For starters, it fails to name the perpetrator, the Bosnian Serb militia commanded by Ratko Mladic. Most likely “that omission was for political reasons,” so as not to jeopardize Serbia’s relationship with the Bosnian Serb republic. A bigger omission, though, was the failure to use the word “genocide.” The resolution danced around that powerful and evocative word, referring to “the verdict of the International Court of Justice”—which, of course, did label the massacre genocide. Some members of the Serbian parliament evidently still could not bring themselves to admit the enormity of the crime. Indeed, a cynic would argue that Serbia as a whole isn’t really penitent, but merely wants to appear that way so it can get into the European Union. “This chapter of history is still far from closing, and Serbian society remains deeply divided.”

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