Srebrenica: “Army provided no more than an appearance of security”
January 15th, 2009 • The European Parliament has declared 11th July an annual day of commemoration of the massacre which occurred in Srebrenica in Bosnia in 1995. While other politicians used the debate on this declaration to argue for more shows of strength by the EU, the SP's Erik Meijer called for attention to be paid to a quite different aspect of the matter: the raising of illusions and the consequent endangering of the civilian population. The Netherlands’ military action in Srebrenica between 1993 and 1995 could, in Meijer's opinion, never have been a success.
This is the latest comment by SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer, who on Thursday was drowned out by the continual gavel of the European Parliament's Chairman. Erik Meijer was speaking in Strasbourg, much against the wishes of the majority of MEPs who simply wanted to celebrate the EU's military efforts. Criticising the Dutch effort in Srebrenica is simply not done, as was clear from the disapproving remarks with which Erik Meijer's statement was greeted. Despite this, Meijer repeated the same words as he uttered at Srebenica Town Hall in March, 2007.
“I support the resolution calling for a fixed day of commemoration, the 11th July, of the genocide in Srebrenica, precisely because the actions of the EU and its member states created a false sense of security and made the inhabitants think they would not have time to flee,” said Meijer. “Supporters of military interventions prefer not to hear my criticisms.” Because Meijer’s statement was drowned out by the president’s gavel – “perhaps partly because of irritation over its contents” – he also lodged a declaration on paper in order to ensure that his words were correctly reported in the minutes of the meeting.
“Srebrenica is in addition the symbol of the failure of optimistic concepts about humanitarian interventions and ‘safe havens’,” said Meijer. “From the start it should have been clear that a foreign military presence could offer only illusions of security. It made Srebrenica into a base for sorties into the Serb areas surrounding it, while at the same time making it inevitable that it would in the end be absorbed by those same areas.”
Erik Meijer noted in his address that the name of Srebrenica had become world famous as a result of the massacre of 8000 Muslim men in 1995. “Quite rightly, the women and young people who survived these men want to see continuing attention paid to this. After my visit to Srebrenica in March 2007 I asked the European Commission to contribute to promoting tourism projects which would allow Srebrenica to show that it has more to offer than just its history and a commemorative plaque.”