Srebrenica Massacre – 20 years ago, but still no consensus

On 11-13 July 1995, 8,000 Bosnians – mainly men and boys – were killed in Srebrenica. The massacre is remembered by most Western countries as the worst genocide in Europe since the end of the Second World War. However, such interpretation is not shared by all countries. For instance, Serbia and Russia deny to call the event genocide until today.

For this year’s 20th anniversary, Srebrenica was commemorated around the world. However, this did not happen without disagreement. The UN resolution draft on Srebrenica – first introduced by the UK – did not pass due to Russian veto in the Security Council. Additionally, the Serb leader Vucic was pelted with stones while taking part in the commemorating ceremony. Both events managed to show  that there still remained heated debate on what exactly happened in Srebrenica. These emotions were also brought forward in our analysis.

Germany: Reconciliation

The most striking theme in media coverage in Germany is reconciliation. This is not surprising, considering the specific German experience of the 20th century. However, the opinions are split on whether Serbia is doing enough for reconciliation.

Serb government leader in Srebrenica. A gesture of reconciliation”

Until today Serbia is failing in the task of recognizing the massacre as genocide.”

The time of small gestures is over.”

The grief and fate of people from different sides is in the center of attention, and positive signs among the people are stressed. Besides the families of the victims, the Dutchbat soldiers are also described to be suffering under Srebrenica.

As Dutchbat soldier you are not a real veteran. As Dutchbat soldier you are a failure.”

Dutchbat soldier

Visibility: in rudimentary Bosnian it is written under the UN soldier in this drawing „I fuck you, but you do not get any chocolate.“ The author of these Bosnian and Serbo-Croatian speech bubbles to the graffiti cannot be settled anymore. (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung/Germany)

Russia: “Vucic gave a hand and got a stone to his face“

German media mainly criticized Serbia for not doing enough for reconciliation. Russian journalists saw this differently. They blamed the protesters throwing stones at Vucic for hindering reconciliation.

Russia didn’t allow Britain to “hang” all the victims of all Balkan wars on Serbians.”

Russia’s veto against the UN Resolution on Srebrenica is seen as peace-keeping and supporting Serbia.

A video statement of the Russian representative Vitaliy Churkin at the UN Security Council with English translation you can find here. (Source: Russia Today/Russia)

Lithuania: Rather neutral coverage linked with criticism of Russia

There were no big surprises in Lithuanian coverage. As expected, Russia was criticized for vetoing the resolution.Lithuanian media also related the massacre to the German genocide:

Serbians are very afraid that the history will remember them as the second nation, after Germany, which has carried out genocide”


„Scanpix“ (source: 15min/Lithaunia)

Estonia: neutral articles, anti-Russian comments

Estonian media was known for being one of the biggest critics of Russia. However, the articles on the failure of the UN Resolution were written neutrally, with anti-Russian sentiments only found in article comments.

When will they kick Russia out of the UN? A meaningless aggressive dictatorship with tiny economy does not fit in there.” (anonymous comment on 11.07.2015 on Delfi News)

U.S.: Russia’s shameful refusal

Among our countries, the U.S. seems to be the most critical of Russia’s veto in the Security Council. NY Times underlined this criticism:

Russia has shamefully refused to call it what it is – genocide – adding to the pain of the victims’ families.”

Demonstrations culminating in an attack on the Serbian Prime Minister were also highly discussed.


Protest banner in Srebrenica with a quote of the current Serb Prime Minister: “For every killed Serb, we will kill 100 Bosniaks” (source: Reuters, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung/Germany)


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