In Srebrenica, ceremony marks hopes for peace growing out of ashes of grief
Leaders of Balkan nations, including Serbian President Boris Tadic, joined a ceremony with some 50,000 grieving Bosnians yesterday gathered to bury the remains of 755 newly identified victims killed when Bosnian Serbs overran the eastern town of Srebrenica 15 years ago. The Srebrenica massacre stands out as Europe's worst massacre since World War II. But on Sunday, the site for burial shone as the birthplace of a process of reconciliation hoped to bring lasting peace to the troubled Balkans. In Srebrenica, humanity's conscience, as well as the definitions of "safe haven" and "international peacekeeping," were grievously wounded, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the ceremony. Srebrenica had been declared a "safe haven" by the UN two years before the massacre. "We will not forget it and we will not let it be forgotten," Erdogan added. "We will not let this disappear from our minds, so as not to not let ethnic cleansing happen anywhere else in the world." Calling Sarajevo and Istanbul, Belgrade and Ankara, and Zagreb and Izmir sister cities, and underlining that Balkan nations have a shared destiny, Erdogan added: "Every war is bad. But a fight between siblings, between relatives, a fight between friends who share a common history, a common culture and even a common language, is beyond bad." In addition to Erdogan and Tadic, other foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony included Presidency of Bosnia Chairman Haris Silajdzic, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Belgium Prime Minister Yves Leterme – whose country currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency – and French Foreign Minister Bertrand Kouchner.