“Bosnia and Herzegovina is entrusted to us,” stated Erdoğan during a meeting of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) provincial heads held in Ankara on Wednesday, recalling the statements of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first president, Alija Izzetbegovic, when Erdoğan visited him on his deathbed. “He [Izzetbegovic] whispered in my ear these phrases: ‘Bosnia [and Herzegovina] is entrusted to you [Turkey].
These places are what remain of the Ottoman Empire’,” said Erdoğan. Commenting on the 17th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, Erdoğan reminded listeners that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a brother country to Turkey, adding, “We will put this trust [Bosnia and Herzegovina] in God with high precision and continue to make all kinds of contributions to peace and prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”Izetbegović was a Bosniak, or Bosnian Muslim, politician, who became the first president of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990 and served in the post until 1996, through the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. He died of heart disease in 2003. Describing Izzetbegovic as “a legendary hero and captain,” Erdoğan begged God’s mercy for him so that he may rest in peace. Erdoğan also stated: “European countries were bystanders in the massacre. Not all of the persons responsible have been caught yet, and European nations have become mere spectators.” On the 17th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has also joined in the mourning of 8,000 Bosniaks gunned down in the incident, scorning attempts to underestimate or deny the genocide committed in its backyard. “We once again strongly condemn this grave humanitarian crime, share the pain of the victims’ families and reject any attempt to underestimate or deny that the genocide occurred in Srebrenica,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry declared in a written statement on Wednesday, as thousands of people gathered at the Potocari Memorial and Cemetery to commemorate the 17th year since the Srebrenica massacre. During the ceremony, at which Turkey was represented by Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, 520 massacre victims were buried at the cemetery. The Foreign Ministry also stated that the international community should learn from the events in Srebrenica, which were the result of extreme nationalism and ethnic hatred, expressing Turkey’s belief that the world will take all necessary measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The massacre involved the slaughter of around 8,000 Muslims, mostly men and boys, captured after Bosnian Serb forces overran a United Nations-protected enclave in July 1995.