Srebrenica attack shows Balkan wounds still run deep

The attack on the Serbian prime minister in Bosnia that marred Srebrenica massacre commemorations exposed the deep divisions still lingering decades after the Balkans' inter ethnic wars ended.

AFP| Updated: Jul 13, 2015, 00:15 AM IST

Belgrade: The attack on the Serbian prime minister in Bosnia that marred Srebrenica massacre commemorations exposed the deep divisions still lingering decades after the Balkans' inter ethnic wars ended.

Regional leaders and media condemned yesterday's attack which saw premier Aleksandar Vucic chased from the memorial for the 1995 slaughter of some 8,000 Muslims, by a bottle and stone throwing mob.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said today that the incident recalled the run-up to the bloody 1990s conflict in Bosnia that killed 100,000 people.

"No one should remain indifferent towards the savagery of this incident which recalls those of 1992", Nikolic said in a statement.

Nikolic added Vucic was attacked because he came "with his hand extended in a gesture of reconciliation."

The premier earlier told reporters in Belgrade he was not hurt by a stone that hit him in the mouth and that only his glasses were broken in the attack.

Vucic had just laid a flower at a monument for thousands of the massacre victims buried there when the crowd started to chant 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great) and began hurling stones, forcing the prime minister to run for cover shielded by his bodyguards.

Serbia's Vecernji Novosti daily wrote today that the "stone that hit Vucic in Srebrenica only further deteriorated already fragile ties between Serbia and Bosnia."

Meanwhile Bosnian papers condemned the incident, saying that it overshadowed the commemoration of the massacre, the worst in Europe since World War II.

It "caused irreparable damage to those who least deserved it -- Muslim victims of a genocide," commented the influential Dnevni Avaz daily.

Bosnia's Grand Mufti Husein Kavazovic voiced hope that despite the attack the Serbian prime minister would continue to act for "needed reconciliation between Muslims and Serbs, and turning of a new page" between the two peoples.

Vucic had earlier condemned the "monstrous crime" in Srebrenica, where the thousands of Muslim boys and men were murdered by Serb forces who had captured the eastern Bosnian town in July 1995 as the war neared an end.

However, the form ultra nationalist who turned into a pro-European advocate stopped short of calling it a genocide, as the killing has been described by international courts. Serbia and Bosnian Serbs have refused to call the massacre a genocide.