Europe has not forgotten its responsibility for not being able to prevent the Srebrenica genocide, senior EU officials said on Saturday.
“Political leaders in the Western Balkans have to lead by example in acknowledging what happened, honoring the victims and genuinely promoting reconciliation by confronting the roots of hatred that led to the genocide,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said in a statement ahead of the 26th anniversary of the July 11, 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces.
“There is no place in Europe for genocide denial, revisionism, and glorification of war criminals, which contradict the most fundamental European values. Attempts to rewrite history are unacceptable.”
The EU officials stressed the need for international courts, as well as domestic courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring countries, to provide justice to the victims and their families.
“Serving justice and building a better society are the best ways of remembering those who were systematically and deliberately murdered,” read the statement.
“There can be no impunity. Genocide is genocide, be it in Srebrenica or elsewhere … Peace can only be built upon justice.”
The officials also reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to help “Bosnia and Herzegovina in establishing a society anchored in pluralism, justice and human dignity and to build a future together in which conflicts and atrocities are no longer conceivable.”
More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.
The Serb forces were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form a state.
The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, overran the UN zone.
Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing some 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone.
About 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people.
Bodies of victims have been found in 570 different places in the country.
In 2007, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that a genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.
On June 8, 2021, UN tribunal judges upheld in a second-instance trial a verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison for the genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination, and other war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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