'Fresh hope' for Serbia after massacre apology

Serbia's apology for the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims inSrebrenica could help reconciliation in the war-scarred Balkans, its president said yesterday.

Boris Tadic said the historic parliamentary resolution adopted late on Tuesday "clearly shows that Serbs are distancing themselves from that monstrous crime."

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Parliament narrowly approved the declaration condemning the worst carnage in Europe since the Second World War allegedly committed by Bosnian Serb troops led by their wartime commander Ratko Mladic, who has been on the run since 1995 when he was indicted by a UN tribunal for genocide.

The country is still divided over Serbia's role in the 1990s conflict, however, and hard-line nationalists engaged in an acrimonious debate before the vote with members of Mr Tadic's pro-democracy coalition, which is seeking to distance the country from past warmongering under the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Tadic said the apology "shows that Serbia belongs to the European civilisation" and would continue to strive to arrest Mladic.