Serbian Officials Threaten Violence If UN Adopts Srebrenica Resolution

Serbian Officials Threaten Violence If UN Adopts Srebrenica Resolution

Serbian opposition to the resolution is part of a larger strategy of turning public attention away from its numerous domestic problems.

Recent attempts by the United Nations (UN) to pass a resolution commemorating the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide have been met with vehement opposition from Serbian officials. This constitutes not only a stark manifestation of genocide denial and historical revisionism but is also a calculated geopolitical strategy aimed at maintaining regional hegemony and destabilizing reconciliation efforts within the Balkans. This strategy is particularly alarming in light of recent events, such as a terrorist attack in Kosovo carried out by Serbian criminals (with alleged links to the Serbian state), which served to underscore the fragile state of peace and security in the region.

Nemanja Stevanović, Serbian Ambassador to the UN, issued a thinly veiled threat suggesting that the adoption of such a resolution could incite violence, not just within Bosnia and Herzegovina but across the entire Western Balkans. This insinuation operates on multiple levels; it serves as a direct warning to the international community. It positions Serbia as the gatekeeper of regional stability and, on a broader scale, simultaneously acts as a rhetorical device to challenge the legitimacy and advisability of acknowledging historical atrocities through international resolutions.

The ambassador’s letter, supported by a message from Željka Cvijanović, a Bosnian Serb member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency, echoes this sentiment. Cvijanović claims that Serbia, as a purported “guarantor of the Dayton Agreement,” is vested with preventing any actions that might disrupt regional peace, security, and stability. However, these claims are steeped in inaccuracies and reflect a broader agenda of leveraging post-conflict peacebuilding mechanisms to forestall international efforts that seek to memorialize the Srebrenica Genocide. This stance is deeply intertwined with broader trends of historical revisionism and denialism that seek to undermine the reconciliation processes essential for the region’s peace and unity.

The reference to the initiative being supported by only one ethnic side” in Bosnia and Herzegovina further underscores the intention to polarize and delegitimize the resolution by framing it as ethnically biased. This narrative strategy not only misrepresents the constitutional and political realities within Bosnia and Herzegovina but also seeks to sow division and hinder the country’s efforts toward a unified stance on historical truths and reconciliation.

The invocation of security threats linked to the resolution’s adoption should be taken very seriously in light of the recent terrorist attack in Kosovo. This event has heightened concerns about stability in the Western Balkans, providing Serbia—and potentially its ally, Russia—with a pretext to further polarize and destabilize the region under the guise of preventing similar incidents. The 2015 Russian veto of a UN resolution on Srebrenica in support of Serbia exemplifies how international politics can significantly impact the acknowledgment of historical truths and the pursuit of justice. This veto not only highlighted the geopolitical dimensions of genocide acknowledgment but also demonstrated how states can use their international influence to support narratives of denial and revisionism.

The leadership in Serbia appears to be leveraging the Srebrenica Resolution as a strategic diversion, focusing public discourse on this issue to draw attention away from pressing domestic concerns. By intentionally magnifying the significance of the UN resolution, which is essentially declarative and non-binding, they aim to stoke nationalist sentiments and rally support. This tactic galvanizes their base and obscures the resolution’s true nature and intent. In doing so, they redirect public and international attention away from the country’s critical social, economic, and political challenges, casting the resolution as a focal point of contention and national unity.

Therefore, the Serbian response to the proposed UN resolution must be understood not merely as an isolated act of opposition but as part of a broader strategy that leverages historical revisionism and the politics of denial to maintain influence, control narratives, and potentially destabilize the region. This approach indicates Serbia’s willingness to threaten violence, which, in turn, imperils not only the process of reconciliation and peacebuilding in the Balkans but also the very possibility of international efforts to acknowledge and learn from past atrocities.

In confronting these challenges, the international community must navigate a delicate balance between honoring the victims of atrocities like the Srebrenica genocide and addressing the complex political realities that shape responses to such acknowledgments. The imperative remains clear: to ensure that the truths of history are preserved and honored, not as a means of exacerbating division, but as a foundation for building a more just, peaceful, and unified future for the Western Balkans. 

Dr. Hikmet Karčić is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for the Research of Crimes against Humanity and International Law, University of Sarajevo, and author of Torture, Humiliate, Kill: Inside the Bosnian Serb Camp System (University of Michigan Press, 2022).