Srebrenica At The Crossroads
For the first time since Bosnia-Herzegovina's brutal 1992-95 war, the town is poised to usher in a mayor who refuses to acknowledge that an act of genocide ever happened there. Around the world, Srebrenica has become a modern byword for genocide, which is how the United Nations war crimes in The Hague has classified the slaughter. Srebrenica a small provincial municipality became the focus of national attention, according to preliminary results from the October 2 election, Mladen Grujicic, a 34-year-old Bosnian Serb, is on track to become the town's next mayor.
The shadow of the past looms large over Srebrenica. Over several days in July 1995, Bosnian Serb militias commanded by Ratko Mladic carried out the execution of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys from the town, Europe's worst massacre since World War II. Srebrenica, a Muslim-majority town before the war, fell within the territory of Bosnia’s Serb Republic under the peace deal; its 7,500 population is now 55% Serb and 45% Bosniak (Muslim). Bosnia’s other autonomous entity is the Bosniak-Croat Federation.
Two decades later, Bosniak and Bosnian Serbs live side by side, but many Bosniak felt uneasy when a preliminary vote count after the election on October 2 showed that a that the new mayor of Srebrenica will be Bosnian Serb, Mladen Grujicic. Some Bosniak politicians and the media speculated that after these elections Bosniaks will begin to leave the Srebrenica. But is this true?
Waiting for the final results of the local elections, Srebrenica residents say how actually peace and economic development is most important, more than how would be called Mayor of Srebrenica. They expect that anyone who sits in the chair in the Srebrenica Municipality will respect the Memorial and over 6,300 victims of the genocide that have been buried in it. Bosniak and Bosnian Serbs live together in peace, people will leave the town for other reasons. New Mayor needs to exploit the economic potential of Srebrenica, utilize agricultural resources and tourism, as well as industry, must give young people a reason to stay and raise a family in Srebrenica.