British attempts to use the upcoming anniversary of the worst war crime in the former Yugoslavia to unite all sides in the wars in mutual forgiveness have collapsed, receiving an angry rebuff from the Bosnian Muslim leadership.
The UK Foreign Office had been quietly circulating proposals in the Balkans, suggesting the leaderships of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia should issue a common declaration of "reconciliation and apology" in Srebrenica, where Serbs conducted a minutely planned massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim males almost 10 years ago.
World and regional leaders are to gather at Srebrenica in nine days' time to mark the 10th anniversary of the worst crime in Europe since the Holocaust. The mass murder, which was the climax to the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, is the sole officially decreed act of genocide in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
British diplomats appear to have badly misjudged the local mood, floating the notion of a common declaration aimed at healing wounds which, in the case of Srebrenica, remain fresh for the tens of thousands of relatives of the dead, many of whom have yet to locate their loved ones' remains.
"This is completely unacceptable," said Edin Dilberovic, foreign policy adviser to Sulejman Tihic, the co-president of Bosnia and leader of the Bosniak or Bosnian Muslim community.
"Srebrenica is the wrong place at the wrong time for a declaration of reconciliation and forgiveness. Srebrenica is special. It was a real, organized massacre. [The British] can't be serious," he said.
Officials in Bosnia and Croatia ascribed the proposal to UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and said it had been floated a few weeks ago by British embassies in the Balkans.
"There's no formal proposal by Straw," a British source responded.
A senior Croatian official said he had been surprised when told of the idea.
"There are only two parties who could and should apologize in Srebrenica -- the Serbs and the Dutch," said Tomislav Jakic, foreign policy aide to President Stipe Mesic of Croatia.
Dutch peacekeepers stationed in Srebrenica in 1995 have been criticized for abandoning the Muslim enclave to the invading forces of the Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic.
Mladic has been indicted for genocide and has been on the run from international justice for 10 years, along with his co-indictee, Radovan Karadzic.
"The [British] idea is that everyone should apologize to everyone else ... It's misrepresenting what happened," Jakic said.
A Bosnian official said the idea was "grotesque."
Srdjan Dizdarevic, the head of the Helsinki human rights committee in Bosnia, said: "This is absolutely stupid, totally unacceptable that on the 10th anniversary there should be forgiveness for everything."
The Serbian parliament has refused to adopt a declaration denouncing the Srebrenica massacre.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable