Activities - Press Releases



Although the precise date of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel's visit to Serbia is still unknown, it is soon expected. There is little doubt this visit will prove to be very important, both for further development of bilateral relations between the two countries and the relations of Serbia and the European Union, the latter often referred to as Serbia's European agenda. No less present will be the topics covering actual developments in the region. With the crisis in Greece unrelenting, the region is experiencing a new one – this time in Macedonia. Further to this, political extremism, organized international crime and terrorism are on the rise. The heroin-transiting route goes through Macedonia, parts of Serbia, in particular Kosovo and Metohija, through Albania and some other countries in the region, to end up on the streets of Western Europe. That same route is also a major corridor for the transit of tens of thousands of refugees from the Near East, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, including so-called political asylum seekers. Scenes of badges and chants to so-called Greater Albania are on the rise on various occasions in Kosovo and Metohija, Albania и Macedonia, and slightly less so in Greece and Montenegro.

Speak loudly or keep silent as one may, or downplaying the above or some other incidents, it seems that the region has plunged into times of serous turbulences, if not destabilization proper.

The questions are obvious: to which extent are these events spontaneous versus being orchestrated; to which extent are they consequences of vividly deep socio-economic crisis, or of mass unemployment and disorientation of the youth, and to which extent the result of out-of-region powers "pulling strings"; why the mechanisms of preventive actions were not activated; what are possible outcomes; in case of escalation and, possibly, even more severe development of situation, how to prevent spillover or domino-effect, as this could hardly be controlled or contained to this region alone?

We believe that this question will also be tackled in talks during the Belgrade visit of Dr. Angela Merkel. Further, we hope that the joint efforts will result in realistic and useful initiative and outcomes. Reference to joint efforts implies Serbia's important geo-strategic position and capacity for partnership in areas and ventures of common interest. We deem that, in this, Serbia deserves by far greater understanding and support.

While keeping the pace with the public and political developments, we believe we are not mistaken to infer that the major segment of public in Serbia holds that – and this is historically important – it would be most beneficial for reconciliation, greater understanding and overall wider cooperation, if Chancellor Merkel would find it appropriate to issue a public apology to the Serbian nation during this visit, for crimes and enormous devastation inflicted by German occupying forces during both World Wars and NATO aggression in 1999, where Bundeswehr has had a leading role.

Not only decades, but also a century has passed since; yet, the Serbian nation still deeply and painfully remembers it all, and feels for its millions-strong victims being ignored, as there has never been any remorse or apology declared by any German official. If we understand the Serbian public at all, the majority expects apology from Germany for the crimes committed by German occupiers on the territory of Serbia. After Russia and Poland, Serbia comes third by number of human casualties perished during World War Two, and, as is historical fact, has given a vast contribution to the Allied victory over Nazis and Fascists

The forthcoming visit of Dr. Angela Merkel is already seen as appropriate opportunity for a public apology also because it comes in the midst of the series of marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi-Fascism, the centenary of the World War One, and the 16th anniversary of NATO aggression.

Serbian people are aware that the highest German officials have already publicly apologized for the victims of Nazi-Fascism: to Poland (Chancellor Willy Brandt, in Warsaw), to France (in Oradour), to Greece (President Johannes Rau, in Kalavriti, 2000, President Joachim Gauck, in Ligkiades, 2014), to Czech Republic (President Gauck, in Lidice, 2014), to Italy (President Gauck, in Sant'Anna di Stazzema).

Indeed, it would be very difficult to explain that Chancellor Merkel's official visit to the country and the nation that have so terribly suffered under occupation of Hitler Soldatesque, in the year of numerous jubilees, passes without due homage to the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi-Fascism, without tribute to millions of victims, and without public apology to the Serbian nation. This is paying a moral and civilizational debt to history, and also a far more important contribution to the reconciliation and the future, namely, the future of Serbian - German relations and the future of Europe. Here we talk about a Europe vying for reconciliation, and the vision of peace and equality.

The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals
Dragomir Vučićević, retired Ambassador,
President of Assembly of the Belgrade Forum