As Elton John said in one of his greatest hits, “sorry” seems to be the hardest word to pronounce. As a matter of fact, the international peace accord known as the Dayton Agreements signed in 1995 after the Balcan War was not enough to change mind and souls of whoever may be recognised as sinner or guilty.
War in Bosnia Erzegovina found its most tragic event within the lands of Srebrenica. The city was named as a “safe area”, controlled by UN troops even if eventually it didn’t helped at all. More than 8,000 men were taken away that day, tortured and brutally killed during the next days by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika of Srpska. The Scorpions, a paramilitary unit from Serbia, who had been part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, also participated in the massacre.
After facing such an horror, parties rushed to find an agreement in order to establish an equilibrium. Peace immediately froze divisions and situation. All the NATO countries, Russia and others also left. What was a deep and hatred conflict against religious differences and ethnicity, became a still situation where Serbian orthodoxys, Croati catholics and Bosnian muslims live together but separated, with many more social groups that are completely emarginated.
“Truth is that Dayton Accords are a quick and totally unfair solution, that’s the thing” says Tomo Vuksiv, Bishop of the Military Order in Bosnia Erzegovina. The country is now divided in two big entities: the Serbian Republic and the muslim-croatian Federation. The new Bosnian constitution contemplates three presidents, one for each community and religion. People not belonging to one of these three “constitutive peoples” have no right to vote, like Jews and Roma people. That’s why in 2009 Strasbourg European Court for Human Right condemned Bosnia as a country violating the rights of free elections and non-discrimination.
Far from what we were expecting after the end of this war, this tiny forgotten part of Europe is still struggling with huge social and integration problems. And what is more, after twenty years from these events some ghosts are still popping out from the past, disturbing the current facts.
Last July two events took place, different but intertwined. First, Russia vetoed a commemorative resolution that was about to be approved by the United Nations. The resolution was drafted by Great Britain for the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. The resolution text showed the term “genocide”. Serbia as well as Russia considered the definition as “offensive” and “controversial”. Serbian president Molrad Dodik phoned Vladimir Putin apparently expressing his disappointment. “ The resolution text is such a bad draft that it cannot be corrected. Russia is behaving consequently” he said.
Some days later, the Serbian first minister Alksandar Vučić was hit by stones and bottles while participating to the 20th commemorative ceremony of Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia Erzgovina, at the Potocari Mausoleum. The leader was forced to leave the place. All his mediation efforts have been vanished.
What we may learn from this is that the greatest part of Serbians would admit that Serbia committed in some brutal facts during the Balcans war, but they all add that each party did so. They can not accept the word “genocide”. Eventually, this is the word that Bosnian muslims need to hear before believing that Serbians have really understood the wickedness of this crime. And a real “sorry”, would be great too.