- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

Never again, again

Every year, on the anniversary of one of the worst massacres of the 20th century, the ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina wonders whether the world will ever learn from the mass graves of the victims at Srebrenica and the broken spirits of the survivors.

“The free and democratic world needs to stand on the side of the weak and not allow atrocities like this to happen. It’s as simple as that,” Ambassador Bisera Turkovic said in a recent interview.

Mrs. Turkovic told our correspondent Katie Stuhldreher that the annual commemoration of the massacre at Srebrenica takes an “overwhelming” emotional toll on the survivors and the relatives of the 8,000 men and boys killed by Serbian forces on July 11, 1995, during the Bosnian war in former Yugoslavia.

The ambassador noted that the annual event includes proper burials of those exhumed from the mass graves and identified for reinterment. This year, 500 bodies were identified and buried in marked graves, she said.

The tragedy shamed the international community because the United Nations had declared Srebrenica to be a “safe haven” for Bosnians, then did nothing to stop the slaughter, she said.

“What hurts the most is that the international community allowed such unbelievable atrocities to happen on its watch and that after the war Srebrenica was not given a special status,” Mrs. Turkovic said.

“Srebrenica is the personification of humans’ inhumanity. The world should never allow such atrocities to happen anywhere in the world.”

The ambassador said that 11 years later, many Bosnians remain embittered when they recall that the civilized world declared after the Holocaust that it never again would allow such mass killings.

“In Srebrenica, and in Bosnia as a whole, ‘never again’ … was allowed to happen,” Mrs. Turkovic said. One of the challenges her government faces is to ensure that young Bosnians remember the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents during the war.

“Bosnia’s youth must know what happened to their country and, as its future leaders and protectors, make it a more peaceful and prosperous place,” she said.

Serbs cooperate

The U.S. envoy for war-crime issues said he is impressed by Serbia’s cooperation with officials prosecuting former Serbian leaders in connection with atrocities during the Bosnian war.

“I am impressed very much by the work that they have done thus far and the efforts that are ongoing to revolve war-crimes cases,” Clint Williamson, ambassador-at-large on war crimes, told reporters last week in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital.

“It is clear to me that they understand the seriousness of resolving the remaining war crimes and particularly bringing Ratko Mladic to justice.”

Gen. Mladic, Serbia’s wartime military commander, has been on the run since the war ended in 1995.

Mr. Williamson said Serbia’s cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which meets at The Hague, will help the country in its efforts to join NATO and the European Union. This month, the European Union suspended membership talks with Serbia over its failure to capture Gen. Mladic.

“The U.S. government and our partners in the EU very much want to see Serbia move toward the EU and toward NATO,” Mr. Williamson said.

“There’s one huge obstacle to this progress, and that is the fact that Ratko Mladic remains at large. He is holding this entire country hostage.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Tomorrow

• President John Kufuor of Ghana, who is to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Wednesday, he addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is accompanied by Papa Kwesi Nduom, minister for public-sector reform.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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