Serbia, Bosnia seek to boost ties after war crimes tensions
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian and Bosnian leaders said Wednesday they want to resolve problems left over from their 1990s conflict after tensions soared over the conviction of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic and the death of a Croat ex-general at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after meeting with the Bosniak, Serb and Croat members of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency that the talks “have not been simple or easy.” But Vucic added: “We are not here to love or hug each other; we are here to solve problems.”
Dragan Covic, head of the Bosnian presidency, said the meeting in Belgrade has “predominantly focused on how to boost bilateral cooperation and gradually remove problems.”
Officials said ongoing issues include defining the border between Serbia and Bosnia, more than two decades after the 1992-95 war which followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and left 100,000 dead and millions homeless.
Illustrating postwar divisions, posters supporting ex-Bosnian Serb army commander Mladic surfaced on several locations in Belgrade ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. Mladic was convicted of genocide last month by the U.N. court over Bosnian war atrocities and sentenced to life in prison, but many Serbs still consider him a hero.
Separately, Croatia and Bosnian Croats have been mourning the death of Slobodan Praljak, who died after taking what he said was poison moments after judges at The Hague court confirmed his 20-year-sentence for war crimes in Bosnia.