25 Years Srebrenica: Austria Commemorates the Victims of the Greatest Genocide in Europe since the End of the Second World War

PeopleOther ♦ Published: July 13, 2020; 20:49 ♦ (Vindobona)

The genocide of Srebrenica, the worst crime in Europe since the end of the Second World War, is currently being commemorated for the 25th time. This day of remembrance serves to commemorate the thousands of murdered people who lost their lives in the days after 10 July 1995.

The face of genocide: Radovan Karadžić (picture from 1994), former president of Republika Srpska, was found guilty on 24 March 2016 of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Mikhail Evstafiev / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

"The genocide of thousands of Bosnians remains a dark stain on European history. Today we remember the thousands of innocent victims and are in thoughts with their families", said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

Although Srebrenica was declared a protected zone by a United Nations Security Council resolution in 1993, two years later Serbian troops took the city and brutally murdered more than 8,000 boys and men.

The identification of the victims continues to this day, as new mass graves are constantly being discovered, and many people still have no certainty about the fate of their relatives. 

"Srebrenica is a wound in many families of the more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims who were cruelly murdered in the July days 25 years ago", said the President of the National Council Wolfgang Sobotka in commemoration of the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995.

"It is also a wound in European history that has not yet healed. The commemoration of the horrors of the Bosnian war must therefore also be a reminder to support the families of the victims and to continue the urgently needed reconciliation work in the region," the President of the National Council explained.

The genocide in Srebrenica 25 years ago during the Bosnian war is considered the most serious war crime in Europe since the end of the Second World War. In July 1995, around 8,000 people - almost exclusively boys and men - were brutally murdered by Bosnian Serb soldiers in the eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave.

"Srebrenica is a caesura in recent history and a break in civilization, the consequences of which are still being felt today," Sobotka continued. "The European perspective offers the countries of the Western Balkans the chance for a lasting peace under the umbrella of the European Union. The Austrian Parliament supports the states of the region on their way towards the EU, for example with the scholarship programme for the parliamentary administrations of the Western Balkans, which was announced for the second time in recent days", the President of the National Council emphasised.

The path to reconciliation in the Western Balkans can only be taken through dialogue, Sobotka emphasises: "In this context, it is essential to hear the voice of the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre.

Emir Suljagić is one of them. His story begins with the words: 'I have survived. I could have had any name, Muhamed, Ibrahim, Isak, it doesn't matter, I survived, many didn't. (...) There is no difference between their death and my existence, because I live on in a world that is permanently and irretrievably marked by their death.

"The only way to honour the victims of Srebrenica and the wars in the former Yugoslavia is to work towards real reconciliation. This requires admitting guilt and asking for forgiveness; denying inhuman crimes is incompatible with this goal", stressed Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

Austria supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in its efforts to build a tolerant and peaceful society.

In addition, it is a foreign policy priority of Austria to accompany Bosnia and Herzegovina and all states of the Western Balkans on their way to European integration.