SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Britain said on Tuesday it was drafting a resolution at the United Nations Security Council to mark next month’s 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, angering the government of Bosnia’s Serb Republic.
On July 11, 1995, toward the end of the Bosnian War, Bosnian Serb forces swept into a U.N.-designated “safe haven”, from where they took 8,000 Muslim men and boys to be executed in the days that followed, dumping their bodies into pits in the surrounding forests.
The U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague has ruled that the massacre — the worst mass killing on European soil since World War Two — constituted genocide, a term that the Bosnian Serbs still dispute and Serbia studiously avoids.
Zeljka Cvijanovic, the prime minister of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, where Orthodox Christian Serbs dominate, promptly called the move “an attack”.
Britain’s ambassador to Bosnia, Edward Ferguson, said the exact wording of the resolution was still under discussion.
“We expect that it will commemorate the victims of the genocide at Srebrenica, and those who suffered on all sides in the war, and that it will encourage further steps toward reconciliation and a brighter future for Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said in a statement.
Twenty years after the war ended, Bosnia remains a fragile state reliant on external aid, its economy hobbled by a complex and unwieldy power-sharing system and tensions between its two constituent republics.
Cvijanovic is an ally of Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, whose party has threatened to pursue a referendum on the Serb Republic’s secession from Bosnia.
“When judging such initiatives, you have to consider whether it is stabilizing or destabilizing the situation here,” Cvijanovic told reporters, according to the FENA news agency.
Serbia, which backed ethnic Serb forces in the Bosnian War, adopted a declaration condemning the massacre in 2010, as it sought closer ties with the West, but without describing it as genocide. Its president at the time, Boris Tadic, attended the 15th anniversary commemoration.
It is not yet known who will represent Serbia at this year’s commemoration, but Belgrade has already expressed unease at the prospect of a U.N. resolution, which would require either a ‘Yes’ vote or an abstention from its ally, Russia.
Additional reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo and Matt Robinson in Belgrade; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Kevin Liffey