Serbia apologises for Srebrenica massacre
The Serbian parliament on Tuesday (30 March) passed a landmark resolution condemning the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims, ending years of denial about the killings, although it avoided using the term "genocide."
"The parliament of Serbia strongly condemns the crime committed against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica in July 1995, as determined by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling," the text says.
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Proposed by the ruling coalition of pro-Western President Boris Tadic, the resolution was adopted by 127 of the 173 parliamentarians present in the room, after 13 hours of debate.
The lawmakers also expressed "their condolences and an apology to the families of the victims because not everything possible was done to prevent the tragedy."
"We are taking a civilised step of politically responsible people, based on political conviction, for the war crime that happened in Srebrenica," said Branko Ruzic, whose own Socialist party was at the time led by Serbian nationalist Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s.
In 1995, Bosnian Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic executed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried the bodies in various mass graves around the town of Srebrenica.
The Hague-based court has termed the events a genocide and ruled that Serbia was responsible for not stopping the massacre, although it was not blamed for the actual executions.
Serbian deputies however avoided use of the term "genocide" in order to win the widest support possible.
"We wanted a completely different resolution but apparently that is not possible," said Cedomir Jovanovic, of the Liberal opposition, according to Reuters.
Other MPs criticised the bill for failing to condemn what they called similar crimes against Serbs carried out by neighbouring Croatia during the war.
Still at large and revered as a hero among Serb nationalists, Mr Mladic remains Belgrade's biggest hurdle in its efforts to catch up with other former Yugoslav countries on their way towards EU membership.
Catching and delivering him to the ICJ is a precondition for Serbia becoming an EU member.