Serbia debates Srebrenica massacre apology

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Serbia's parliament is debating a resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 - the worst incident of the Bosnian war.

The text apologises that Serbia did not do more to prevent the tragedy.

The killing of nearly 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) was carried out by Bosnian Serb forces - allies of then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Meanwhile a Dutch court has rejected an attempt to hold the United Nations responsible for the massacre.

Facing the past

The parliamentary resolution comes after years of denial in Serbia that the Srebrenica massacre even took place, says the BBC's Belgrade correspondent, Mark Lowen.

The pro-Western government in Belgrade now believes this resolution would help paint the country in a new light, he says, showing that it is determined to face its past and aiming for regional reconciliation and EU membership.

The resolution has been criticised by Bosniaks and Muslims in Serbia because it does not describe the massacre as an act of genocide. It has been recognised as such by the courts of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

But Serbian nationalists have rejected the resolution, saying it must also denounce crimes committed by Bosniaks and Croats during the 1992-95 war.

It is thought the resolution has enough support to pass, despite nationalist opposition.

In an attempt to win over the nationalists, the government has promised another future resolution, condemning all crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

'Safe haven'

Several Bosnian Serbs have been convicted over their role in the Srebrenica massacre, when Bosniak men and boys were taken from their families and shot dead. The town had been designated a UN "safe haven" under the protection of Dutch UN troops.

The wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, is currently on trial in The Hague, while the general accused of masterminding Srebrenica, Ratko Mladic, is still on the run.

Lawyers for the victims' relatives have tried to hold the Dutch government and the UN accountable for failing to stop the massacre.

But on Tuesday The Hague Appeals Court upheld a 2008 lower court ruling affirming UN immunity from prosecution, which it said was essential for it to be able to carry out its duties around the world.

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