UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations apologized Thursday for the ovation given to a militant Serb nationalist song performed at a concert honoring Serbia’s presidency of the U.N. General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said.
Martin Nesirky said that “the United Nations was aware that some people were offended by the song “March to the Drina,” sung in the General Assembly hall Monday night. Ban afterward stood at the podium alongside Vuk Jeremic, the former Serbian foreign minister and current assembly president, for a photo with the performers, the Belgrade vocal group Viva Vox.
Ban “expressed sincere regret that people were offended by this song,” Nesirky said, adding that the U.N. chief “obviously was not aware what the song was about or the use that has been made of it in the past.”
“March to the Drina,” was originally written as a nationalist hymn after World War I, about a battle on the Drina River that now separates Serbia and Bosnia. It features lyrics such as “The battle was fought, Near cold water, Blood was flowing, Blood was streaming by the Drina… for Freedom!”
It became a favorite of Serb nationalists, and was banned by Yugoslavia’s Communist government after World War II. It was reportedly sung in the 1990s during Serb attacks on Bosnian towns along the Drina River.
After the Yugoslav wars of secession, Serbs voted in 1992 to make it their national anthem. Serbia’s parliament bypassed it as being too provocative and adopted an old song from the country’s royalist period instead.
“March on the Drina” was added to the U.N. concert as an encore, and delighted the crowd, which was mostly unaware of its connotations.
Jeremic released a statement later Thursday saying “some outrageous claims have been put forward.”
“With solemn respect for all the victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, these malicious misinterpretations of the song performed as an encore … focus on its alleged misuses during the tragic conflicts. They represent regrettable attempts at twisting the meaning of our musical gift offered to the world last Monday and are deeply offensive to the Serbian people,” Jeremic said.
Meanwhile, the Congress of North American Bosniaks said: “The concert is a scandalous insult to the victims of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the orchestra played the infamous and offensive Serb nationalist song `March on the River Drina.'”
It called on the United Nations to “remove Vuk Jeremic from his position as the President of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development