From Serbia's president, an unprecedented gesture
President Boris Tadic, visiting Zagreb, became the first Serbian official to apologize to Croatia for atrocities committed during the 1990s.By Natasa Radic in Zagreb and Igor Jovanovic in Belgrade for Southeast European Times -- 27/06/07
Serbian President Boris Tadic (right, with Croatian President Stipe Mesic) attended the energy summit in Zagreb on Sunday (June 24th). [Getty Images]
At the weekend, Serbian President Boris Tadic offered an apology to the Croatian people for "all the atrocities committed by Serbs during the wars of the 1990s". The statement, which Tadic made while attending an energy summit in Zagreb on Sunday (June 24th), was the first of its kind by a Serbian official.
"To all the citizens of Croatia and to all members of the Croatian people who were made miserable by the members of my people, I offer an apology and take responsibility for that," Tadic told Croatian national television.
Croatian President Stipe Mesic welcomed the statement, saying it was a positive step forward in bilateral relations. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's regime caused great losses to many countries in the former Yugoslavia, including Serbia, Mesic said.
Zoran Milanovic, leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Party, also praised Tadic's statement, saying it showed evidence of new leadership in Serbia. "This represents a good basis for future relations," Milanovic said.
However, the head of the right-wing Croatian Party of Rights, Anto Djapic, dismissed the apology as coming too late.
Back in Serbia, reactions were mixed. The president did not receive support from his main ruling coalition partner, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DPS). Instead, DPS spokesman Andreja Mladenovic said his party condemned all crimes committed in the wars of the 1990s, adding this was the best approach to "the evil done to all peoples".
"I have no intention of commenting on what the president said. That is his opinion, and he is responsible for his opinions to the citizens he represents and who elected him," Mladenovic said.
But G17 Plus, the third partner in the ruling coalition, welcomed the apology. Party official Snezana Stojanovic described it as "a good stately move".
While all crimes should be individualised, Stojanovic said, moves such as Tadic's would help establish friendship among countries of the region.
Strong criticism came from the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and the late Milosevic's former party, the Socialists. Aleksandar Vucic, the secretary-general of the Radicals, said Tadic "admitted something that objectively doesn't exist".
Socialist Party leaders described Tadic's apology as a "great disappointment", saying Serbs were not the only ones that committed crimes during the regional conflicts.
The Serbian president is not the first regional official to issue such a statement. In June 2000, former Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic voiced his "sincerest apologies to all citizens of Croatia and especially of Dubrovnik ... for all the pain and suffering and material losses inflicted by Montenegrins during the Belgrade-led campaign against Croatia in 1991".
Subsequently, the president of the now-defunct state union of Serbia-Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, apologised on behalf of his country for all wounds of the past.
Quelle: SE Times