The Serbian delegation had to leave the commemoration ceremony in Bosnia’s Srebrenica, when some of the attendees started booing them and pelting delegates with bottles and stones.
The Serbs came to lay flowers at a monument to some 8,000 Bosnian men and boys, who were slaughtered after the UN-designated safe haven was overrun by Serbian troops 20 years ago. The intended gesture of reconciliation was marred when some Bosnian visitors started booing the Serbs and pelted them with stones, bottles and other objects.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was injured when a stone hit him in the face, his aide, Suzana Vasiljevic, told AP. His glasses were broken, she said. The delegation was forced to leave when “masses broke the fences and turned against us,” she explained.
Serbia condemned the incident as an “assassination attempt” and called an emergency cabinet meeting.
“This is a scandalous attack and I can say it can be seen as an assassination attempt,” Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Serbian Pink television.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said “It is an attack not only against Vucic but against all of Serbia and its policy of peace and regional cooperation.
The ugly incident underscores the lingering divisions in the Balkans over the deadly wars of 1992-95, which claimed at least 135,000 lives. The Srebrenica massacre was a definitive episode of Serbian atrocities during the hostilities. A UN court defined it as genocide, but Serbia, while condemning the killings themselves, never embraced the definition.
The division was highlighted earlier this week, when Serbia’s ally Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution. It sought to declare the Srebrenica massacre a genocide and condemn the denial of it, saying it would be counterproductive, citing a lack of consensus over the event in the Balkans. Moscow’s move was criticized by some UNSC members such as Britain, but Belgrade praised it, saying Russia prevented an attempt to smear Serbs as a genocidal people.
The Serbs complain that while their atrocities during the Balkan wars are brought into the spotlight, those committed by Croats and Albanians against Serbs are often hushed up.