Russia on Wednesday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have condemned the 1995 Srebrenica massacre as genocide. The resolution, brought forth to mark the 20th anniversary of one of the worst massacres in Europe since World War II, had reportedly angered Serbia and Bosnian Serbs, who denounced it as “divisive.”
“The draft that we have in front of us will not help peace in the Balkans but rather doom this region to tension,” Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., reportedly said, arguing that the resolution was “not constructive, confrontational and politically-motivated.”
Serbia, which is not a member of the Security Council, reportedly asked its “real and honest friend” Russia, a permanent member, to block the resolution drafted by the U.K.
The decision to veto the resolution was criticized by both the U.S. and the U.K, which termed it “a snub to the families of the victims and the survivors.”
"True reconciliation requires facing up to the realities of the past by all sides and determination to learn the lessons for the future," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said. "We owe it to all those who lost their lives in the war to work together to help build a safe and prosperous Bosnia Herzegovina."
In one of the darkest chapters of the three-year Bosnian War, nearly 8,400 Bosnian Muslims were killed when Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic raided a U.N. “Safe Area,” located in the town of Srebrenica in northeastern Bosnia.
Two international courts, including the International Court of Justice, have already labeled the massacre as genocide. Additionally, a U.N. tribunal at The Hague has convicted several people for their involvement in the Srebrenica killings.
“The world looks to us here at the United Nations and to the U.N. Security Council and expects us to uphold that right and to meet those aspirations,” said U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, ahead of the vote. “The United Nations has acknowledged its responsibility for failing to protect the people who sought shelter and relief in Srebrenica.”
The U.S. government, meanwhile, announced that former president Bill Clinton would head its delegation to the commemoration marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre. The event is scheduled for Saturday in Bosnia-Herzegovina.