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NAPLES, Italy — Serbia has offered an official apology for the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica.

In a narrow vote televised live Tuesday evening, Serbia’s parliament approved a resolution condemning what many consider to be the worst European human rights atrocity since World War II. The resolution expressed sympathy to victims and apologized for not doing enough to prevent the massacre, according to the official Serbian government Web site. However, the apology did not refer to the killings as genocide — an omission that left some viewing the move as an empty gesture.

"The massacre has not been named by its true name," Munira Subasic of the "Mothers of Srebrenica" victims’ association told The Associated Press. "Genocide cannot be replaced with the word crime."

Some see the move as an attempt to pave the way for Serbia’s admission into the European Union. EU officials said the apology was an "important step" for the country to reconcile its past, and "key for the reconciliation for the whole region," according to the AP.

The U.S. State Department said the resolution represented positive steps toward promoting stability in the region, and praised continued efforts to capture Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian-Serbian army chief accused of orchestrating the Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 men and boys were killed.

Serbian President Boris Tadic expressed the importance of capturing Mladic, saying the apology "shows that Serbia belongs to the European civilization," and its adoption "brings an encouragement to the state to continue to work to eventually arrest Mladic," according to the AP.


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