Montenegro’s Minister of Justice Human and Minority Rights, Vladimir Leposavic sparked controversy following a statement where he claimed that the 1995 genocide of Bosniacs in Srebrenica is not proven unequivocally.
Ana Pisonero, spokesperson for Neighbourhood and Enlargement said that the European Union rejects and condemns any denial, relativization, or misinterpretation of the genocide in Srebrenica.
She recalled that last year was the 25-year commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide “one of the darkest chapters of modern European history.”
Pisonero pointed out that it is time for political leaders in the region to lead the way in honoring victims and promoting reconciliation.
“The EU is a union of values; denial of well-documented and facts about wartime events, including war crimes, or revisionism contradict the most fundamental of those values. Any country aspiring to join the EU is expected to comply with and promote EU values of democracy, human rights, tolerance, and justice. This includes treating victims of genocide with utmost respect and dignity,” she wrote on Twitter.
Leposavic argued that The Hague-based tribunal which classified the massacre in Srebrenica as genocide had no legitimacy claiming it had destroyed evidence about the trafficking of the organs of Serb civilians in Kosovo.
“I am ready to admit that the crime of genocide was committed in Srebrenica when it is unequivocally established,” Leposavic said on Friday in Parliament.
The Dutch embassy in Serbia and Montenegro also reacting saying that it is a fact that in July 1995 in Srebrenica was genocide, as confirmed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
“We strongly urge the government of Montenegro to refrain from questioning this as it is hurtful and to speak against genocide denial & historic revisionism. Moving forward starts with recognizing the truth,” their reaction on Twitter reads.
Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovic said that the Government respects all international verdicts.
“There is no discussion about this topic. Who does not understand this, has no place in state functions,” he wrote on Twitter.
Also, the US and British embassies in Podgorica strongly reacted to Leposavic’s statement.
“The UK remains clear in its longstanding position, that what happened in Srebrenica was genocide. These are facts, established before two international courts, based on overwhelming evidence,” the embassy said on Twitter on Sunday.
The US embassy said was concerned with comments casting doubt about what occurred in Srebrenica in 1995.
“We look for clarity and hope the government will unequivocally condemn the massacre and call it what it was – genocide,” the US embassy said in a post on Twitter.
The massacre took place in July 1995 in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. The murders were committed by units of the Bosnian Serb Army under the control of Ratko Mladic.
Within two weeks of entering the town, more than 8000 were dead- the worst act of mass killing on European soil since WWII. The United Nations peacekeepers were criticized for not doing enough to stop the atrocity. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan later said, “The tragedy of Srebrenica will forever haunt the history of the United Nations.”