Serbs warn Bosnian Muslim bid at UN court revives old wounds

AP News
Posted: Feb 22, 2017 11:17 AM
Serbs warn Bosnian Muslim bid at UN court revives old wounds

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A decision by Bosnia's Muslim leader to revive a wartime genocide lawsuit against Serbia at the United Nations' top court has rekindled divisions that led to the 1992-95 war, the top leaders of Serbia and Bosnian Serbs warned on Wednesday.

The bid to appeal a 2007 ruling by the International Court of Justice that cleared Serbia of committing genocide in Bosnia, also dealt a major blow to postwar reconciliation and Bosnia's survival as a multi-ethnic state, Serb officials said.

"Our relations have been pushed backward 25 or 22 years," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said. "The little trust we built over the years ... is now gone."

Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim Bosniak member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, has initiated the appeal despite a lack of consent from his Croat and Serb counterparts in the presidency.

"Izetbegovic closed the door for Bosnia and its perspective and switched the lights off," said Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska, the Serb mini-state within Bosnia.

Bosnian Serb leaders have threatened to walk out of joint Bosnian institutions in protest, which would further fuel tensions in the fragile, ethnically divided state.

Bosnia first sued Serbia in 1993, during the war, over its wartime backing for the Bosnian Serb war effort. Some 100,000 people died in the Bosnian war before it ended in a U.S.-brokered peace agreement that created a Muslim-Croat and a Serb entity.

The Netherlands-based court ruled that the 1995 massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims by Bosnian Serbs in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica was genocide. It found Belgrade guilty of failing to prevent the slaughter, but not guilty of genocide.

The Srebrenica massacre was Europe's worst mass killing since World War II.