At a meeting marking the 13th anniversary of the Socialist Movement, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin sparked controversy after he called on his government to “unite the Serb world.”
“The task for this generation of politicians is to form a Serb world, that is to unite Serbs wherever they live,” Vulin told meeting attendees, including Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, “for the ‘Serb world’ to form, Serbia needs to be economically successful, well-led and have an army that is able to protect Serbia and Serbs, wherever they live.”
For many, the declaration from Vulin is evocative of previous attempts to “unify Serbs,” all of which resulted in war and bloodshed throughout the region. Critics argue that Vulin’s language is proof of attempts to rehabilitate dangerous and destructive political agendas, whatever the cost.
“Vulin’s statements look like a not-so-washed up version of the policy of Greater Serbia. We all know what misfortune this politics brought to the peoples of Yugolsavia,” warned Srdan Cvijic, Senior Policy Analyst at Open Society European Policy Institute.
The last attempt to form a “Greater Serbia” took place between 1992 and 1995. For almost four years, Serb forces, alongside Serbian paramilitary units, led a devastating campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most estimates put the death toll at 100,000 people killed during the conflict, of whom 80 percent were Bosniaks. In the largest massacre in Europe since the Holocaust, Bosnian Serb forces killed as many as 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in July of 1995.
The Dayton Peace Accords were signed in December 1995, officially ending the war and putting an immediate stop to the conflict. The agreement saw Bosnia divided into two distinct entities: the Bosnian and Croat-led Federation, and the Serb-led Republika Srpska. To this day, a Serb majority lives in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity along the border with Serbia.
In her response to Vulin’s remarks, Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic called on President Vucic to rebuke Vulin.
“President Vucic needs to strongly rebuke his Minister Vulin…failure to do so confirms Serbian support of the policy of destruction of the Dayton Peace Accords,” she declared on Twitter.
Bosnia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Crnadak, has similarly called on Vucic to distance himself from the comments.
In his response to Turkovic, Vulin claimed that he supported a peaceful Serbian unification “without a single bullet” when the “conditions allow for it”. He also called on Turkovic to condemn calls from within the Bosniak political establishment to abolish the Republika Srpska.