Boris’s Blunder

Serbia’s Srebrenica Resolution

Late in the evening on March 30, while the attention of most Serbians was on a major basketball game, the Serbian parliament passed a resolution condemning and apologizing for the "Srebrenica massacre." Nearly three months in the works, the resolution was officially supposed to contribute to truth and reconciliation in the Balkans, transform the Serbian society, and bring Serbia closer to the EU. Not surprisingly, it has accomplished none of those goals. Nor did it satisfy the Bosnian Muslims, who maintain that the events in that eastern Bosnian town in July 1995 amounted to genocide.

That claim, however, has been held up to harsh scrutiny by analysts and researchers in the past three months. For the first time in years, there was a debate in Serbia on what happened in Srebrenica that summer almost 15 years ago. Unfortunately for the government, all evidence and analysis indicate that the official story about a "genocide" against unarmed civilians was at best an exaggeration, and at worst a complete fabrication with malicious intent.

What was intended to be the final victory of Empire over Serbia – an admission of genocide and acceptance of collective responsibility, 11 years after the Kosovo War and four years since the ICJ ruled that Serbia had nothing to do with any atrocities in Bosnia – thus ended up becoming the greatest challenge to Empire’s quisling regime in almost a decade.

Ambition and Reality

The whole saga began in early January, when President Boris Tadic made a surprising announcement that the Serbian parliament would pass a resolution condemning the "genocide" in Srebrenica. He first claimed it was an obligation stemming from the 2007 ICJ verdict clearing Serbia of any and all responsibility for atrocities that happened in Bosnia. Then he argued it was a required step for Serbia’s EU accession. Then he tried to present it as a brilliant political move, claiming the moral high ground over Serbia’s neighbors. Lastly, Tadic said that it would be a part of the process to transform Serbian society in general. It all sounded more like excuses and rationalizations than actual arguments, as if Tadic were merely doing someone else’s bidding and the real authors of the resolution were elsewhere.

That was confirmed in mid-March, when EU’s envoy for Serbia Jelko Kacin blurted out in an interview that the resolution was devised elsewhere, back in December 2009, and presented to Tadic and the Serbian lawmakers as a done deal. Meanwhile, the Turkish newspaper Zaman has claimed that Turkey’s FM Ahmet Davutoglu was also privy to the resolution’s text, long before the Serbian public.

For weeks, officials from Tadic’s party as well as their coalition partners confidently asserted that the resolution would condemn "genocide," and that it would receive widespread support. In reality, public opposition to the resolution was overwhelming, "genocide" was dropped, and the government barely mustered 127 members of the 250-member legislature to approve the resolution late in the evening, while everyone in the country was distracted by a basketball game between Belgrade’s Partizan and Maccabi of Haifa.


Tadic’s expectations, if they were his own or genuine to begin with, failed to materialize. The Muslims rejected the resolution as insufficient, since it did not admit to "genocide." It also failed to satisfy the EU, which obviously expected a more convincing exercise in submission. No matter how much the Serbian government prostrates itself, it is never enough.

As for the vaunted "transformation" of Serbian society, that sort of happened – though not in the way the government intended. The resolution has served to mobilize thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations in Serbia and abroad, to oppose its passage. Meanwhile, diligent researchers have pored over the official evidence of "genocide" at the ICTY and elsewhere, and found it decidedly lacking. Ironically, before the resolution was proposed, much of Serbia subscribed to the mainstream myth about Srebrenica, only doubting the details. After three months of debate, analysis and argument, that myth has been exploded and exposed.

Blaming the… Gays?

Srebrenica is a classic case of facts being trumped by perception management. Manipulation with that Bosnian town ranges from the absurd to the ridiculous. For example, on March 18, during a Senate hearing on the proposed lifting of the ban on gays in the American military, Marine Gen. John Sheehan actually argued that the Srebrenica massacre took place because some of the Dutch peacekeepers stationed there were homosexuals.

In reality, sexual preferences of the Dutch soldiers never figured into the equation. They could have handled the Bosnian Serbs, but had no way of dealing with an entire division of the Bosnian Muslim army garrisoning the "demilitarized" area. As a mere company of Serb troops rolled into Srebrenica, thousands of Bosnian Muslim troops fled – dumping their women, children, and the elderly at the Dutch base in Potocari. Those non-combatants were then evacuated to Muslim territory, alive and unharmed, by the Bosnian Serb troops.

Calling this "genocide," therefore, makes about as much sense as accusing homosexuals among the Dutch peacekeepers of being somehow responsible for it.

The Last Myth

The Bosnian War was a nasty, bloody, and brutal affair, fought over land and ethnic rights. It ended up being mythologized in the West and among Islamic militants, for reasons entirely unrelated to any Bosnian issues whatsoever. With most of the shocking stories from the war long since exposed as propaganda (at the expense of actual survivors of real atrocities, it merits mention), the last remaining myth about Bosnia is that of the Srebrenica "genocide." This myth has been used to silence critics of Empire’s Bosnia policy, but also to justify subsequent Imperial murder sprees, from Kosovo to Kandahar.

Bosnian Muslim nationalists have also seized on Srebrenica to claim the status of righteous victims, going so far as claiming equivalence with the Jewish holocaust of WWII. And though they label everyone who dares question their claims a "genocide denier," it is precisely their attempt to equate this mythic "genocide" with the actual legacy of the Nazis that merits the label.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.