Victims of the so-called “Srebrenica massacre” have been commemorated at Potocari Memorial for the 22nd time since July 11, 1995. EADaily talked to Serbian experts to find out what Serbian people think about that painful issue.
All the sides to the Bosnia and Herzegovina war committed war crimes and all they must be brought responsible, says Dragana Trifkovic, head of the Belgrade-based Center for Geostrategic Studies. “In fact, what we see is selective justice of Western forces and their political courts set up to lay the guilt fully on the Serbian people,” the expert says blaming mostly U.S. and UK. Trifkovic recalls that when leaving his post, David Cameron, the former British MP, said Srebrenica will “never be forgotten”.
“In fact, politically, the Srebrenica issue and condemnation (of Serbs) is of paramount importance to those behind various crimes during the Yugoslavia conflict. Nothing has been done to investigate the role of Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright and their cooperation with Bosnia leader Alija Izetbegovic, as well as contribution by various western organizations to unleashing wars and promoting terrorism. However, taking into account the current state of affairs in the world, there are reasons to believe that circumstances will change,” the head of the Belgrade-based Center for Geostrategic Studies told EADaily.
“There was no genocide in Srebrenica, and we are grateful to Russia for stopping in UN the intention of Britain, first of all, to stigmatize the Serbian people that more than others suffered in the previous wars,” Trifkovic says recalling Russia’s critical role in UN when Britain submitted a draft resolution to recognize the 1995 events as genocide.
The expert says Serbs did not need that war and they need to build good relations based on mutual respect with Bosnian Muslims. “Unfortunately, it is impossible to build such relationships amid West’s constant efforts to foment conflicts by raising Srebrenica issue (as well as other issues),” Dragana Trifkovic says. “It is distressful for the Serbian people to face allegations over Srebrenica every year, especially by those who are responsible for many wars and conflicts in the world, for growing terrorism, collapse of states and genocides of many peoples on the earth. Good relations cannot be built on lie and blatant propaganda,” the expert explains.
In her words, Serbia and Serbs need to tell the truth about the war events in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Metohija, as those who saw chaos in the world are behind those events too.
Nikola Tanasic, a Serbian philosopher, analyst at New Serbian Political Thought magazine, says the frequently asked question “What do Serbs think of Srebrenica?” is not correct. The question itself contains a hint at what the authors of “Srebrenica” media brand (or “Srebrenica Genocide” like Sarajevo and the West call it) pursue. “What they pursue is to manifest that the Serbian people is somehow collectively responsible for the massacre in Srebrenica. No foreign official will ever talk openly about this, but many non-governmental organizations from FBH, first, and from Western countries will do it,” the expert says.
The idea is to lay the guilt for the “only genocide in Europe after World War II” on the Serbian people and to equate it with the Fascists, Tanasic explains. “It is ideal for many European countries that are inherently complicit in the true genocide in Europe against Jews, Gypsies, and some Slavonic peoples (including Serbs in the territory controlled by the Independent State of Croatia) during occupation by the Fascists,” he says.
The Serbian expert suggests that this strategy is not aimed against Serbs as such. They have just found “scapegoats to sacrifice on altar of united Europe” and a formal “enemy of civilization” to shutter to think of its crimes without unpleasant consequences for “civilized and cultural peoples of Europe,” including Germans, Austrians, Dutch (genocide of Jews), or, for instance, Belgians (genocide in Kongo). “Not to mention that they compare one big massacre with one of the most vicious crimes in history of humankind to try to explain their crimes with certain circumstances and downplay their severity. This has repeatedly angered influential Jewish organizations and Western intellectuals,” Nikola Tanasic says.
As to Serbia and Republika Srpska, no one denies the heavy war crime in Srebrenica, the political analyst says. The governments in Serbia and Republika Srpska actively cooperated with The Hague Tribunal and other international institutions to try to expose the crime and punish those guilty, he recalled, adding that The Hague Tribunal appeared to be too incompetent and politicized to meet the task.
According to Nikola Tanasic, the problem is that Serbian officials and people are demanded to extend their condolences “ritually” for something that did not happen. “A big number of prisoners of war (the exact number is yet to be revealed), including a certain number of minors, has been executed or killed by different methods,” he told EADaily. “Nevertheless, there was no systematic annihilation of the Muslim population, since women and children (population not involved in military actions) were allowed to leave the town. A big number of Bosnia and Herzegovina fights refused to lay down arms and withdraw from Srebrenica suffering heavy casualties from Serbian artillery,” the analyst said recalling the events of 1995.
All those people, Tanasic said, irrespective of the way they were killed, including Bosnia & Herzegovina army fighters and other paramilitary units killed in battles for Srebrenica, as well as a number of other victims to the war from other territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina – all were buried in Potocari Memorial and declared victims of “Serbian Genocide.” With its controversial ruling, The Hague Tribunal recognized “annihilation of Srebrenica population” as “genocide” (in fact, nothing of the kind happened in Srebrenica, so it could not be called genocide), the political analyst says. “Yet, speaking about ‘genocide,’ Bosnian Muslims mean ‘Serbian plan of systematic annihilation of the Muslim population throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.’ When the Serbian people are demanded to ‘repent of Srebrenica’, they are in fact demanded to resign themselves to these propaganda and elementary wrong definitions, which is inadmissible, indeed,” Nikola Tanasic says.
Talking to EADaily, he says, “every Serb from both Serbia and Republika Srpska will always feel sorry for every innocent victim of war, for every killed child or elderly man, raped women or killed civilians.” Serbs have always felt sorry for such victims, as they had repeatedly fallen victims to such crimes, including during wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, Tanasic says. However, he is sure that as long as Bosnia and Herzegovina army fighters, including the ones who were involved in not less serious crimes against Serbian people around Srebrenica, are buried at Potocari Memorial, no reconciliation or condolences are possible. “No one in Serbia or Republika Srpska who cares for dignity of his people and the country will ever admit those propagandist definitions and ideas. We will be able to speak about Srebrenica truly, only when the crime in Srebrenica is properly investigated, when the exact number of victims is announced and the civilian casualties are separated from those directly involved in the military actions,” Nikola Tanasic says for conclusion.