Bosnian and Serbian leaders strive to put painful histories behind them

12:01, June 16, 2010      

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Sulejman Tihic, leader of the largest Bosnian Muslim political party, Party of Democratic Action (SDA), stated on Tuesday during a visit to Belgrade that Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) should not allow past differences to undermine the future, reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug.

Tihic, after his meeting with the Serbian Speaker of the House, Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, said: "We should not forget the past but we must not live in the past."

Djukic-Dejanovic said that "history should be left to the historians" and that compromise and dialogue were required for tackling issues of the present and the future.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said that permanent peace and European integration were mutual goals of the West Balkan region that includes both Serbia and BiH.

"I am convinced that within the European Union we can be united again and develop friendly relations, but until then we should take steps toward reconciliation," Tadic said, after his Tuesday meeting with Tihic.

"Integration of the entire region into the EU means we accept democratic values, and one of them is that those who committed crimes must face the courts," stated the Serbian president.

During the bloody civil conflict after the breakup of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia provided support to the Bosnian Serb population in their struggle against what they perceived as the establishment of a Muslim-dominated BiH. Tihic, who himself was interned in a Bosnian Serb prison for much of the war, expressed satisfaction with Tadic's commitment to attend the upcoming 15th commemoration of the massacre in Srebrenica, in which an estimated 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men were killed.

Tihic stated that stronger bilateral relations between Serbia and BiH had significant implications for the regional battle against organized crime. He said that often those alleging to defend national and ethnic interests were concealing criminal activities.

Tihic also said that Serbia and BiH were complementary in economic spheres and that their "differences could be an advantage. "

Tihic's visit was not, however, without controversy. In Sarajevo, Tihic was openly criticized by Haris Silajdzic, chairman of the BiH presidency, who had scheduled an official trip to the Serbian capital, but canceled it for technical reasons three weeks ago.

Tihic said that his critics were engaging in "populist politics, " and that more could be gained through dialogue and discussion.

Source: Xinhua


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