BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The leaders of former Balkan foes Serbia and Bosnia on Wednesday pledged to boost fragile post-war ties shaken earlier this month on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.
Bosnia’s three-member presidency and Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic held a hastily-called meeting in Belgrade to underscore a bid to put the past behind and work together for a warless future in the volatile region.
Tensions soared after Vucic — a former extreme Serbian nationalist — was attacked during the July 11 commemoration ceremonies in the eastern town, with angry crowds throwing stones and bottles at the Serbian prime minister.
Bosnian Muslims also have been angered by Serbia’s refusal to call the massacre by Bosnian Serbs of 8,000 Muslims genocide, as has been ruled by two U.N. courts. Serbia’s ally Russia has blocked a U.N. resolution that referred to the 1995 slaughter as genocide.
Srebrenica was a U.N. safe haven during the conflict that pitted Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats against each other. Serbia at the time backed the Bosnian Serb war effort and Vucic was an outspoken supporter of the war policies.
Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic said after talks that “we have agreed to do everything to improve relations so that evil will never repeat itself.”
Vucic added that he has “forgotten all about” the incident in Srebrenica. He said that “what happened was hard, but it is nothing compared to what happened to Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs” during the war.”
The 1992-95 conflict left more than 100,000 people dead and millions homeless.