Srebrenica, 11 July 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "The pain remains acute"


State Secretary Winkler at the ceremony to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre

Srebrenica, 11 July 2005 - "Fifty years after the end of the Second World War, hardly anyone thought it possible for war and ethnic cleansing to break out in Europe. Sadly, the events on the territory of the former Yugoslavia showed us how wrong we were", said State Secretary Winkler today on the occasion of the ceremony to commemorate the Sebrenica massacre. Winkler represents Foreign Minister Plassnik, who is attending a meeting of Austria's Regional Partnership together with her colleagues from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia which is taking place in Budapest concurrently.

"Even now, ten years after these atrocities, the wounds have not yet healed. That is apparent, among other things, from the shock and outrage triggered by the recent broadcast of a video showing the murder of Bosnian Muslims by Serb paramilitaries in Srebrenica in 1995", said the State Secretary.

"I am glad that it has been possible to restore peace in the years since these incomprehensible and inhuman atrocities. Now it is important that Bosnia & Herzegovina increasingly takes its future into its own hands. Reforms based on democracy and the rule of law are absolutely essential in this phase. The reforms are making good progress, and the European perspective offered to the region of South-East Europe is a major driving force behind this process", explained Winkler.

"At present there are still obstacles to the establishment of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union. I hope that the negotiations can begin as soon as possible", concluded the State Secretary.

"The task of our generation of European politicians is to strengthen the European peace project by taking concrete measures to bring about the rapprochement of the Balkan states to the EU. In doing so, however, we must not ignore the horror of Srebrenica - it too is part of our European history and of our common responsibility for Europe's future", added Foreign Minister Plassnik from Budapest.