The United States has deplored the statement made by newly elected Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic denying genocide in Srebrenica.
Genocide in Srebrenica is not a subjective determination — it is a defined criminal act which the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has confirmed in final and binding verdicts in multiple cases, the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Tuesday. The International Court of Justice also has concluded that genocide occurred in Srebrenica. It cannot be denied, said the statement issued by deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner.
President Nikolic has an opportunity to set a constructive tone within the region, but such unfounded statements about Srebrenica and other war crimes are counterproductive to promoting stability and reconciliation in the region, it added.
The United States called on all parties to take responsible actions in support of cooperation and reconciliation.
In an interview broadcast just hours after he was sworn in as President, Nikolic said that the mass killing of thousands in Bosnia-Herzegovina's eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995 was "no genocide," instead describing it in terms of "grave war crimes."
In a presidential run-off last month, Nikolic won surprise victory over incumbent Boris Tadic, who had earlier made a public apology to the families of Srebrenica victims.
The comments by Nikolic, an ultra-nationalist-turned pro-European conservative, are likely to stir the region's simmering ethnic and religious divides a month before Bosnia prepares to mark the 17th anniversary of the massacre.
The European Union had already reacted to comments by Serbia's new President, saying it strongly rejects any intention to rewrite history.
Serbia was recognized as an official candidate to the EU bloc in March after it signed two cooperation agreements with Kosovo, and extradited to the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal two fugitives -- Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic -- wanted for atrocities committed during the Balkan Wars.
Mladic, a former Bosnian-Serb military chief, is accused of leading forces that systematically massacred more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the supposed safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995 in the most notorious episode of the war.
by RTT Staff Writer
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