PM: Hand of reconciliation extended to Bosniaks
Aleksandar Vucic said the attack in Potocari targeting him was "no incident, but a well-organized attack." He also said there were "fools in every nation."Source: B92, Tanjug
Speaking during a news conference in Belgrade on Saturday afternoon, he said he had been that greeted politely in Srebrenica, and that as he was arriving he "heard a few insults."
"When we were leaving suddenly a group of fans of a football club from Serbia and from some cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, shouted insults when I placed the flower, and shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and 'Kill, they began to throw objects, and I wanted to ask: 'Why are you attacking me? Why throw things at me when I reached out to you and I want peace with you?'."
He stressed that "this attack was well organized, but not by the families of victims."
"I saw that the fence was breached earlier, it is not possible they had not seen it earlier. Our cars are broken except the armored one, I was hit in the lip with a stone, my lip is broken, my glasses were broken. I express regret that something like this has happened, some people did not recognize that I work for reconciliation. But regardless of me seeing the kind of hatred I've never seen before, my hand is still extended to the Bosniak (Muslim) people," said Vucic.
"There are fools in every nation, there is no deficit here either," he added, stressing that he "knows that a majority of Bosniaks do not agree with what happened today."
"My message to all Serbs is to walk proudly, never and nowhere show hatred towards their neighbors the Bosniaks. We must live with Bosniaks in the future. There's been enough dead, enough fury. And, I won't talk about the politicians who organized this," he said, and added that although Albanian PM Edi Rama "came to us after the incident they caused" he was unharmed.
Vucic also said that "nothing bad will ever happen in Serbia" to Muslim member of Bosnian presidency Bakir Izetbegovic.
He reiterated that he was "once again offering his hand to the Bosniaks," and "to the people in the Serb Republic" he said the following:
"People do not need to feel humiliated and offended because we held our head proudly and because we knew to abhor those who participated in the crime."
Vucic said that "some politicians in Bosnia fueling the atmosphere were "not aware of what they they could have done to their people."
"I want people to understand that they cannot gain anything with violence, that they today only hurt the families of the victims more than anyone else. What did they do? I'm sorry for the families who are today listening about fools instead of the victims," said the prime minister and added that he had not heard from Mayor of Srebrenica Camil Durakovic "because he was waiting to calm down."
Camil Durakovic earlier in the day apologized to Vucic for the stoning in Potocari, saying this was done by "sick minds who took advantage of this dignified event."
Expressing deep disappointment at the incident, Durakovic said that the attackers were not members of the families that today, on the day marking two decades since the crime in Srebrenica, buried their loved ones.
"Vucic today embraced the mother from Srebrenica Munira Subasic, attended a memorial service for the victims and pinned to his lapel the Srebrenica flower, by which he tried to empathize with our sadness and pain," said the mayor, "distancing himself from the person who committed the incident."
Durakovic also said he would try to contact with Vucic to apologize, as he said, because of "the Bosniaks living in Skelani, Lijesce, Dobrak, Bratunac, and other places that are close to the border with Serbia," the news agency Fena quoted him as saying.
EU High Representative or Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini expressed solidarity with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who was attacked with a barrage of stones at the commemoration to the Muslim victims in Srebrenica, and a number of European officials condemned this assault, according to Tanjug.
"My solidarity to Vucic, who made the historical choice of being present in Srebrenica. Peace can be built only on reconciliation," Mogherini wrote on Twitter.
"I condemn the attack today on Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Potocara (sic) should have been a place for reflection, reconciliation, not violence," Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland wrote on Twitter.
EU Commissioner for Neighboring Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn also said that the commemoration stands as opportunity to extend a hand of reconciliation, adding that dignity and respect need to be preserved.