Serbian president’s praise of Milosevic triggers outrage

Aleksandar Vucic said, ‘Slobodan Milosevic, above, was a great Serbian leader whose intentions were certainly for the best, but our results were very poor.’ (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Serbian president’s praise of Milosevic triggers outrage

  • Aleksandar Vucic called for peace and reconciliation with Kosovo Albanians, but also praised former Serbian leader Milosevic
  • He also criticized the former Serbian pro-Western officials for handing over Milosevic and his generals to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague

BELGRADE, Serbia: The Serbian president’s praise of Slobodan Milosevic as a “great” leader triggered outrage on Monday in neighboring states where his nationalist policies in the 1990s caused bloodshed and destruction.
In his keynote speech while visiting Kosovo’s Serbs on Sunday, Aleksandar Vucic called for peace and reconciliation with Kosovo Albanians, but also praised former Serbian leader Milosevic.
“Milosevic was a great Serbian leader whose intentions were certainly for the best, but our results were very poor,” Vucic said. “Not because he wanted that, but because our wishes were unrealistic, while we neglected and underestimated the interests and aspirations of other nations.”
He also criticized the former Serbian pro-Western officials for handing over Milosevic and his generals to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
Milosevic, who died in 2006 while on trial at the tribunal, is widely considered the most responsible politician in former Yugoslavia for the bloody breakup of the federation and the death of at least 120,000 people in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
Vucic, an ultranationalist during the wars in the Balkans, was Milosevic’s information minister in 1999.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said Monday that praising Milosevic was “a provocation.”
“We heard words of peace, understanding and good neighborly relations,” Thaci said. “But we also heard praise for Milosevic and his generals. The two things don’t go together.”
Kosovo was a Serbian province when Milosevic’s crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1998-99 led to the deaths of more than 10,000 people.
The conflict ended with NATO intervention, which forced Serbia to pull out of the province. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move that Serbia doesn’t recognize. Serbia and Kosovo must mend ties to advance toward European Union membership.
The two sides have been engaged in EU-mediated negotiations, with Vucic and Thaci leading the delegations.
Reacting to Vucic’s praise of Milosevic, European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said Monday that reconciliation in the Western Balkans will only be possible if policies of the past that brought decades of misery and suffering to the region are rejected and overcome.
“All partners in the region have a clear European perspective and therefore are required to respect these principles,” she said.


Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

Updated 23 February 2019
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Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

  • The city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists
  • Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: A series of explosions was heard in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, shortly before the opening of polls in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Multiple blasts were heard at about 6A.M. (0500 GMT), locals said. There was no immediate indication of the cause.

But the city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists and has been repeatedly attacked during their nearly 10-year insurgency that has devastated the remote region.

Polls open at 0700 GMT, with President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general who has vowed to defeat the jihadists, seeking a second term.

Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections.

One resident in the Gomari neighborhood of Maiduguri said: “I heard several explosions coming from the Bulumkutu area this morning but it’s unclear what is happening.

“There have been suspicions that it was an attack by Boko Haram but we don’t know yet.”

He added: “Late yesterday (Friday), some gunmen went into the house of a man in Gomari and shot him dead. We still don’t know the motive.”

Two other residents gave a similar account.

The early morning explosions in Maiduguri come after a Boko Haram attack late on Friday on Zabarmari village, some 10 kilometers outside Maiduguri.

The attack forced residents to flee into the city.