The UN apologized on Thursday for the ovation given to a militant Serb nationalist song performed at a concert honoring Serbia’s presidency of the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said.
Nesirky said that “the United Nations was aware that some people were offended by the song March to the Drina, sung in the General Assembly hall on Monday night.”
Ban afterward stood at the podium alongside Vuk Jeremic, the former Serbian foreign minister and current assembly president, for a photograph with the performers, the Belgrade vocal group Viva Vox.
Ban “expressed sincere regret that people were offended by this song,” Nesirky said, adding that the UN secretary-general “obviously was not aware what the song was about or the use that has been made of it in the past.”
March to the Drina was originally written as a nationalist hymn after World War I, about a battle on the Drina River that now separates Serbia and Bosnia. It features lyrics such as “The battle was fought, Near cold water, Blood was flowing, Blood was streaming by the Drina ... for Freedom!”
It became a favorite of Serb nationalists, and was banned by Yugoslavia’s Communist government after World War II. It was reportedly sung in the 1990s during Serb attacks on Bosnian towns along the Drina River.
After the Yugoslav wars of secession, Serbs voted in 1992 to make it their national anthem. Serbia’s parliament bypassed it as being too provocative and adopted an old song from the country’s royalist period instead.
March on the Drina was added to the UN concert as an encore, and delighted the crowd, which was mostly unaware of its connotations.
Jeremic released a statement later on Thursday saying “some outrageous claims have been put forward.”
“With solemn respect for all the victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, these malicious misinterpretations of the song performed as an encore ... focus on its alleged misuses during the tragic conflicts. They represent regrettable attempts at twisting the meaning of our musical gift offered to the world last Monday and are deeply offensive to the Serbian people,” Jeremic said.
Meanwhile, the Congress of North American Bosniaks said: “The concert is a scandalous insult to the victims of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the orchestra played the infamous and offensive Serb nationalist song March on the River Drina.”
It called on the UN to “remove Vuk Jeremic from his position as the president of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.”
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
‘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
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete