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EU Warns Serbia On War Criminal Teaching At Military Academy


Retired General Vladimir Lazarevic was sentenced to 14 years in prison by a UN war crimes tribunal for atrocities committed by Serbian troops in Kosovo during the 1998-99 war.

The European Union has warned Serbia that the appointment of a general who was convicted of war crimes as a military academy lecturer is against the principles of the EU, which Belgrade wants to join.

Retired General Vladimir Lazarevic was sentenced to 14 years in prison by a UN war crimes tribunal for atrocities committed by Serbian troops in Kosovo during the 1998-99 war.

Lazarevic was released in 2015 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement on October 30 that "we expect political leaders to honor the victims of the past conflicts and sincerely promote reconciliation in the Western Balkans."

"Political leaders have to lead all efforts in overcoming the difficult legacy of the past and constructively foster mutual trust, dialogue and tolerance," she said.

"Serbia, as [an EU] candidate country, cannot deviate from these principles. The appointment of a convicted war criminal to the Serbian Military Academy goes exactly against these principles."

Although Serbia formally seeks EU membership, some of its top politicians and government ministers have been advocating the return to the nationalist policies of the 1990s while increasing their defiance against the West.

Lazarevic was the commander of Serbian troops in Kosovo during Belgrade's intervention against ethnic Albanian separatists. More than 10,000 people were killed.

The bloodshed stopped only after a 78-day NATO bombardment in 1999.

Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence, which was declared in 2008.

Lazarevic last week gave his first lecture at the academy, which was titled The Heroism And Humanity Of Serbian Soldiers In Their Defense Against The NATO Aggression.

With reporting by AP
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