NEWS Montenegro Minister Refuses to Resign for Srebrenica Genocide Comments
Montenegro’s Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Vladimir Leposavic, said he did not deny the suffering of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacres but only criticised the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Vladimir Leposavic said on Thursday that he will not resign despite pressure from the prime minister to do step down, because he didn’t contravene government policy on the Srebrenica issue and only criticised the Hague Tribunal.
Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic proposed the sacking of Leposavic on Monday after the minister expressed doubt about the international court’s ruling classifying the 1995 Srebrenica massacres of Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces as genocide.
Leposavic, a pro-Serbian politician, argued last month that the Hague Tribunal has no legitimacy because he claimed it had destroyed evidence about the trafficking of the organs of Serb civilians in Kosovo.
But Leposavic said on Thursday that he was not denying the Srebrenica genocide, but expressing his position on the Hague court.
“I respect the binding nature of the decisions of that court, but I reserve the right to express a critical view of its work,” he said.
“By taking a critical view, I do not intend to invalidate the decisions of this court. My intention is to raise awareness through public dialogue in order to recognise and acknowledge the suffering of other victims of the civil war [in Bosnia],” he added.
He argued that he does not “deserve to be silenced” for his comments, and that he had not “endangered the country’s reputation with that criticism”.
The prime minister’s proposal to dismiss Leposavic must now be voted upon in parliament, where the three blocs making up the ruling alliance have a slender majority.
However, of the parties in the ruling alliance, the pro-Serbian For the Future of Montenegro, which has 27 MPs, and Peace is Our Nation, which has ten MPs, said they will not vote for dismissal. The smallest force in the ruling alliance, Black on White, said its four MPs will vote for Krivokapic’s proposal.
Political analysts warned that the proposal to sack Leposavic could pose a great challenge to the government’s stability, as the prime minister will have to count on opposition support for his proposal.
Political leaders of pro-Serbian parties in Montenegro have consistently refused to accept the Hague Tribunal’s definition, saying that Srebrenica killings were a war crime but not genocide.
In 2009, the Montenegrin parliament adopted a declaration accepting a European Parliament resolution on Srebrenica, which adopted July 11 as a day of remembrance in Montenegro for the victims of the 1995 massacres.
But although the declaration condemned the crimes, as well as other crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the word genocide wasn’t mentioned.
In December 2020, Montenegro’s opposition Bosniak Party proposed a parliamentary resolution to recognize the Srebrenica genocide, but the ruling majority voted against it.
In July 1995, more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica were killed in a series of massacres by Bosnian Serb forces, and over 40,000 women, children and elderly people were expelled – a crime that was classified as genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.