Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren at a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers in March.
The Netherlands on Monday offered its “deepest apologies” for the role played by Dutch peacekeepers in the Srebrenica massacre, when some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Bosnian Serb forces 27 years ago.
This is the first time that the Dutch government has publicly apologized to the parents of the victims.
Dutch peacekeepers, lightly armed and few in number, had been unable to prevent Bosnian Serb forces from invading the security zone decreed by the United Nations in the late 1990s.
In July 1995, men and boys were separated from the women and taken to places where they were executed.
The bodies were thrown into mass graves .
“Only one party is to be condemned for this horrible genocide: the Bosnian Serb army. But let me be clear. The international community has failed to provide adequate protection to the people of Srebrenica and, as a member of this community, the Dutch government shares responsibility for the situation that led to this failure. And for that, we offer our deepest apologies.
—Kajsa Ollongren, Dutch Defense Minister
Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok announced in April 2002 the resignation of his government following an official report criticizing The Hague's policy during the events leading to the fall of the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. .
A woman walks among gravestones at the Potocari Center, near Srebrenica.
Last month, the Netherlands apologized to the Dutch UN soldiers then present in Srebrenica for the conditions in which they had to carry out their mission, which which had angered the families of the victims.
The massacre, judged as an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was the bloodiest episode of the 1992-95 Bosnian War, which left some 100,000 dead.