Serbian President Denies Srebrenica Genocide

Posted June 1st, 2012 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Serbia's new President Tomislav Nikolic says the 1995 massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys in Bosnia-Herzegovina's eastern town of Srebrenica was not genocide.

Mr. Nikolic told Montenegro television in an interview aired late Thursday that the killing of some 8,000 victims was a war crime committed by some Serbs who should be found and brought before justice. But he said there was no genocide.

The president who was sworn in earlier Thursday also said he does not plant to visit Srebrenica and condemn the crime because his predecessor has already done that.

Mr. Nikolic was a long-time member of Serbian Radical Party whose founder Vojislav Seselj is being tried by an international tribunal in The Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s.

The new president, once staunchly anti-Western, now says he wants to lead Serbia into the European Union. However, he says he will never recognize the statehood of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that became independent in 2008.

In his first address to lawmakers he said he wanted Serbia with two doors, to the East and to the West.

Mr. Nikolic visited Russia soon after he was elected in the May 20 runoff vote, but his first official foreign trip will be to Brussels later this month.

He has blamed his predecessor Boris Tadic for the poor state of the country's economy.

During the Bosnian ethnic conflict, Srebrenica was a U.N.-protected enclave in eastern Bosnia. Bosnian Serb forces overran the town in July of 1995 and forced Muslims into nearby areas where they separated men from women and summarily executed them. Mass graves were later discovered in the area.