Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in Belgrade on Saturday that 21 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement and verdicts like the one delivered by the Hague war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the case of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the international community should ask itself what it had done in that period to contribute to reconciliation between Serbs and Bosniaks.
"Ask Serbs and Bosniaks (Muslims) in Bosnia and Herzegovina if today, 21 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, they are closer to one another? And ask the entire world what it has done during that time, during which nothing has changed in the sphere of emotions," Vucic said.
"Politicians have learned what to say and when to say it, but everything else has remained the same," Vucic said in a comment on the verdict in the Karadzic case which sentenced the former Bosnian Serb leader to 40 years in prison, underlining that it was more important to talk about human suffering and reconciliation rather than about the verdict's possible legal and political consequences.
Asked if after the Karadzic verdict, which describes the Srebrenica atrocity as genocide, it was time for Serbia to call that crime genocide as well, Vucic said that those who insisted on that did not want to know about the heart of the matter or think about reconciliation.
"It is important that we show respect for all Srebrenica victims, to know what kind of crime was committed there, to talk about it and to not hide it. But crimes against our people should also be talked about. I do not want to draw any parallels, but I think that those who insist on and keep repeating that mantra to cause different legal and political repercussions actually do not want to hear what the heart of the matter is or think about reconciliation and the future but rather think about punishing someone," Vucic said, adding that he did not want to comment on non-final rulings and that he spoke about Karadzic's verdict in the context of regional political relations.
When asked again to state his personal position on the Karadzic verdict, Vucic said that as prime minister he did not have the right to present his own views, and that his government had done and said what was necessary.
Following an extraordinary session on the Karadzic verdict on Friday, the Serbian government issued a statement saying that it "wants to build the best possible future for its citizens, compatriots and the region with all its neighbours and will not allow anyone to use the verdict against Radovan Karadzic as a reason to point the finger at Serbia and Serbs in the Bosnian Serb entity."
It also noted that "after years of work of the ICTY, there remains the bitter feeling that creators of criminal policies against Serbs have not been punished almost in any way."