Thousands gathered in Srebrenica to bury hundreds of massacre victims on the 15th anniversary of the worst atrocity in Europe since the Nazi era. (Photo: AP)
The European Union on Monday "strongly" rejected claims by new Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic that the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica was "no genocide".
"The EU strongly rejects any intention to rewrite history," a European Commission spokeswoman said in response to a Nikolic statement Friday. "The massacre in Srebrenica was genocide," she added.
In an interview with Montenegrin state television, Nikolic had said "there was no genocide in Srebrenica."He said that "in Srebrenica, grave war crimes were committed by some Serbs, who should be found, prosecuted and punished."
But the EU spokeswoman said the genocide had been confirmed by both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.The words uttered just hours after he was officially sworn in have raised fears of fresh trouble across the volatile Balkans and appear to set Nikolic on a collision course with the 27-nation EU that Serbia aims to join.
"Political leaders in the Western Balkans need to continuously demonstrate their adherence to the spirit of cooperation and reconciliation in the region," said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton."As everywhere else in Europe, responsible politicians are expected to use responsible, clear and unequivocal rhetoric."