BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia and Montenegro clashed Monday over Belgrade’s denial that genocide was committed in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica during the Balkan wars, further straining relations between the two former close allies.
Montenegro’s parliament last week adopted a resolution on the 1995 massacre of about 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb troops that has been branded genocide by a U.N. war crimes court.
Montenegro’s resolution banned public denial of the atrocity and said Serbs in general should not be blamed for genocide, but only those individuals who committed the war crime.
Both the wartime Bosnian Serb army commander, Ratko Mladic, and former political leader Radovan Karadzic have been sentenced to life in prison by the U.N. war crimes court in the Netherlands for genocide in Srebrenica.
However, Serbia’s leadership reacted to the Montenegrin resolution with anger.
Montenegro’s foreign ministry said Monday that the resolution is not aimed against Serbs, but the individuals who committed the worst crime in Europe since World War II.
“It is highly incomprehensible that such accusations come from (Serb) leaders who (allegedly) are striving for good neighborly relations in the region and the European future,” the ministry said in a statement.
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said the Montenegrin statement is “hypocritical and cynical.”
He said that “undoubtedly, the resolution is trying to stigmatize the whole Serbian nation.”
The genocide resolution is in line with Montenegro’s pledge to protect human and minority rights as part of its push to join the European Union. Although Serbia formally has the same goal, its populist leadership has been denying genocide in Srebrenica and forging close ties with Russia and China.
The resolution is threatening the stability of Montenegro’s bickering ruling coalition which is made up of mostly pro-Serb parties, but also pro-Western groups.
Montenegro, the tiny Adriatic state of 620,000 people, split from much larger Serbia in a 2006 referendum.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.