In order to prevent history from being repeated, we must never forget what happened in Srebrenica, Belgian Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin said Saturday marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide that took place in this east Bosnian town after it was overrun by Bosnian Serb Forces in July 1995.
“Twenty-five years ago, more than 8.000 innocent human beings – mainly men and boys – were killed. It was the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War.
On behalf of Belgium and on behalf of the Belgian people, I want to express my solidarity with children, families and friends of victims whose lives were so brutally taken 25 years ago.
We all have a duty both to the victims and to future generations to ensure that crimes like these never happen again. In order to prevent history from being repeated, we must never forget what happened in Srebrenica. And we must call what happened by its name: this was a genocide, as it was established by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Many continue, however, to deny or to minimize the Srebrenica genocide.
The European Commission’s Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership is very clear: “Genocide denial and revisionism contradict the most fundamental European values.” We must, therefore, react when genocides and war crimes are denied. This is the reason why Belgium adopted a law against denial, gross minimization, justification or approval of genocides, crimes against humanity or war crimes recognized as such by an international tribunal.
The fight against impunity needs also to be pursued, which means bringing all war criminals to justice. The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals must continue to play a fundamental role in this process. Belgium recently reiterated, during a meeting of the Security Council, its full support to the Mechanism.
The authorities of the Western Balkan countries should also promote an environment conducive to reconciliation, starting with the teaching of history in schools: children all over the region should be taught the same history regardless of where they live or what their community or religion is.
Reconciliation through justice and full acknowledgement of the past: this was the sound foundation on which the European Union was built.
And it is also by acknowledging the genocide of Srebrenica and by holding all its perpetrators to account that this region will achieve a future of true and lasting reconciliation,” said in his video address.