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Serbian Leader Vucic Pays Respects To Srebrenica Massacre Victims

  • RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (left) laid a wreath of white roses at the memorial cemetery near Srebrenica on November 11.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (left) laid a wreath of white roses at the memorial cemetery near Srebrenica on November 11.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic paid his respects to the victims of the Srebrenica massacre on November 11, four months after angry mourners forced him to flee commemorations marking 20 years since thousands of Muslim men and boys were slain there during the Bosnian war.

As part of his two-day visit to the town in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vucic honored the victims of the 1995 mass killing by laying a wreath of white roses at Srebrenica's memorial cemetery.

About 300 people attended the event, including Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic, Srebrenica's Muslim Mayor Camil Durakovic, and foreign ambassadors.

No incidents were reported.

The Serbian prime minister is in Srebrenica to attend a development conference aimed at rejuvenating Srebrenica, whose name is synonymous with Europe's worst mass killing since World War II.

During the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, the United Nations set aside Srebrenica as a safe haven for civilians. But on July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops overran the town and killed about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the ensuing days. The bodies were buried in more than 90 mass graves in a bid to mask the scale of the killings. More than 6,000 victims have been exhumed so far.

During ceremonies on July 11 marking 20 years since the massacre, angry Bosnians threw stones and bottles at Vucic, forcing him to run for cover.

WATCH: Vucic Flees Stone-Throwing Bosnians in July Ceremony

Bosnia's tripartite presidency and Srebrenica's mayor strongly condemned the attack during the July event, while Vucic expressed regret that "some did not recognize our sincere intention to build a sincere friendship between Serbs and [Muslim] Bosniaks."

Ahead of the Srebrenica commemoration, Vucic, whose country staunchly resists efforts to label the killing genocide, had called the Srebrenica massacre a "monstrous crime."

The UN International Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that the massacre was genocide.

Bosnia's war between Croats, Muslims, and Serbs claimed more than 100,000 lives.

After the conflict, Bosnia-Herzegovina was established as a state consisting of two largely autonomous entities, the Muslim-Croat Federation and the largely ethnic-Serbian Republika Srpska. Srebrenica is in Republika Srpska.

Serbia and Bosnia, which aspire to European Union membership, are seeking to improve relations more than two decades after the war.

Earlier this month, the two country's governments held their first-ever joint meeting in Sarajevo.

Vucic said Serbia wished to become Bosnia's largest trading partner and announced his country would invest in development projects in Srebrenica, which is home to about 7,000 inhabitants compared with 37,000 before the conflict.

With reporting by AFP
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