WESTERN BALKANS – Today we remember thousands of victims of one of the darkest days of our shared history. In July 1995, one of the most tragic crimes committed in Europe since the Second World War happened when the war and its perpetrators, in a small town of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, took away 8.372 lives.
As we remember Srebrenica, we pay tribute to the victims and pledge to never forget them. We share the grief of their families and re-affirm our solidarity with the survivors.
The Srebrenica anniversary is a powerful signal of what the dangers of war, conflicts, and violence bring, and urges for peaceful relations and reconciliation in order to build a future of truth and justice.
RYCO recalls that the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice, respectively in 2004 and 2006, recognized the Srebrenica massacre as an act of genocide. This fact should not be questioned and should be accepted by everyone who wants to make and live in a peaceful Western Balkans.
Furthermore, crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed during the wars of the 1990s and their consequences constitute the biggest burden that our societies face today. 26 years later, justice still needs to be served, trust to be restored, and perpetrators to be held to account.
We reiterate that denying the facts and pushing for revisionism is not helpful and should not have a place in our societies. Denial and revisionism can only pave the way to new conflicts and sufferings and hinder the huge potential of cooperation and development in the Western Balkans.
On this day, RYCO takes the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to respecting and promoting peace, reconciliation and human rights. We invite the six governments of the Western Balkans to join their efforts in finding ways of fostering trust between each other and building a common understanding of our recent past.
We owe it to the young people who are the real carriers of and contributors to peace and prosperity in our region, and we should all stand firm in enabling them to live in the Western Balkans where peace is built upon justice.
It’s up to all of us to learn the lessons of Srebrenica.