NEW YORK, JULY 10 – “Srebrenica is not only about our past, but also about our future. We must learn from it to prevent these atrocities from happening again and to build upon the ruins and the deep divisions they left behind. A quarter of a century after Srebrenica and the Dayton Agreements, there is a still the need to talk about and to work for reconciliation”, the Italian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, said during the High Level commemoration event of the 25th anniversary of the worst massacre carried out in Europe from 1945 to today.
In Srebrenica, an enclave that the UN declared “safe area” in 1993, tens of thousands of Bosnian refugees took shelter, surrounded and besieged for years by the Bosnian Serbian army. On the morning of 11 July 1995, the men commanded by Bosnian Serbian general Ratko Mladic conquered the city, causing the exodus of thousands of civilians who, in panic, sought in vain for shelter at the UN base in Potocari, manned by Dutch blue helmets. In the following days more than 8,000 Muslim men were killed, their corpses then hidden in mass graves. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICT) established that the genocide had been meticulously planned. Srebrenica remains a failure for the international community that “will haunt our history forever,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, quoting the words of his then predecessor, Kofi Annan.
“Before Srebrenica, Europe hoped that it had left the worst atrocities behind, to the memory of its elderly and to the history books. After Srebrenica, we found ourselves brutally conscious that history can repeat itself, even in the heart of Europe”, said Stefanile: “After 25 years,the silence on their whereabouts must be broken and the accountability of the perpetrators of those crimes must be pursued”. He invited all political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in the region, to work together with a future-oriented attitude, by countering hate speech and incitement to violence, as well as by fully recognizing women’s role in leadership and decision making: “The future for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as for all the Western Balkans countries, clearly lies in Europe. Italy will continue to stand by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s side, in its path towards the European Union. Advancing towards EU membership comes through reforms, but also and foremost through reconciliation.”. (@OnuItalia)