Brussels: The European Union Sunday acknowledged that Europe had failed to stop the genocide in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica 27 years ago.
“Europe has not forgotten what happened in Srebrenica and our own responsibility for not being able to prevent and to stop the genocide. In Srebrenica, Europe failed and we are faced with our shame,” EU High Representative Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said in a joint statement today to mark the 27th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
“We honor for the 27th year the memory of all victims and of those entire still missing of the genocide of Srebrenica. We stand together, in grief, with their relatives and friends who survived the genocide,” they said.
Referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU statement said the war in Ukraine “brings back vivid memories of those witnessed in the war in the Western Balkans in the 1990s.” “It is more than ever our duty to remember the genocide of Srebrenica, as part of our common European history,” it stressed.
“In these dangerous times, we wish to see Bosnia and Herzegovina progress on reconciliation, overcoming the legacies of the past, and decisively advance on its EU integration path,” it said.
“There is no place in Europe for genocide denial, revisionism, and glorification of war criminals. All citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve a society where pluralism, justice and human dignity prevail,” stressed the EU statement.
On his part, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, whose country holds the current EU Presidency, said the genocide in Srebrenica is one of the biggest war crimes in Europe since World War II.
“In July 1995, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was a mass murder of captured civilians – genocide in Srebrenica. This event is considered one of the biggest war crimes in Europe since World War II. But it turns out that even today Europe is not safe,” he said on his Twitter account.
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 UN peacekeeping troops.
The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993.
However, Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was convicted to life imprisonment for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by a special international tribunal in 2017 overran the UN zone.
According to media report, Dutch troops had 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 them down and killed 6,000 more people, say media reports.