Friday 9 December 2016

Balkan leaders vow to improve post-war ties

Published 22/07/2015 | 17:07

Serbia's prime minister Aleksandar Vucic addresses a press conference after talks with Bosnia's three-member presidency in Belgrade (AP)
Serbia's prime minister Aleksandar Vucic addresses a press conference after talks with Bosnia's three-member presidency in Belgrade (AP)

The leaders of former Balkan foes Serbia and Bosnia have pledged to boost fragile post-war ties shaken earlier this month on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.

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Bosnia's three-member presidency and Serbia PM Aleksandar Vucic held a hastily-called meeting in Belgrade to underscore a bid to put the past behind them and work together for a warless future in the volatile region.

Tensions soared after Mr 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 him.

Bosnian Muslims have also been angered by Serbia's refusal to call the massacre by Bosnian Serbs of 8,000 Muslims genocide, as has been ruled by two UN courts. Serbia's ally Russia has blocked a UN resolution that referred to the 1995 slaughter as genocide.

Srebrenica was a UN 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 Mr 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".

Mr 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.

Press Association

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