SREBRENICA, Bosnia Herzegovina – Outrage erupted at Saturday’s commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, as a shouting crowd threw bottles and rocks at Serbia’s Prime Minister, forcing him to flee.
It was a heated moment in an otherwise solemn event where world dignitaries and thousands of others gathered in Bosnia-Herzegovina to remember the largest single atrocity in Europe since World War II — the slaughter of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys by a Bosnian Serb army 20 years ago.
Visiting Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic tried to join other politicians paying respects at the Srebrenica graveyard, where more than 100 newly found remains were to be buried with 6,000 other massacre victims.
As he walked to the site, people hissed and yelled, unprepared to accept an official from a country that once directed the Bosnian Serbs militants.
“Takbir!” a man in the crowd shouted. “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”) the crowd responded repeatedly, gradually getting louder.
As Vucic made his way into the graveyard, people tossed rocks and bottles at him. His dark-suited security staff rushed him up the graveyard’s steep hill, among the victims’ gravestones.
At the top, the staff ushered him into his car as objects continued to fly, and a driver hurriedly spirited him away.
The scene came days after Russia, a Serbia ally, vetoed a U.N. Security Council measure that would have labeled the massacre as genocide.
Vucic returned to Belgrade, where he told reporters that a stone hit him in the mouth, but that he was OK.
“I regret that some people haven’t recognized my sincere intention to build friendship between Serbian and Bosniak people,” he said. “… I still give my hand to the Bosniak people. I will continue with that … and always be ready to work together to overcome problems.”
Vucic’s presence Saturday earned a statement of empathy from the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who attended the commemoration.
“My solidarity to @avucic who made the historical choice of being present in #Srebrenica,” she posted on Twitter. “Peace can be built only on reconciliation.” – CNN