World Bulletin / News Desk
Croatia's president said on Wednesday he would not attend the inauguration of his new Serbian counterpart next week in the first sign of regional fallout from the election of nationalist Tomislav Nikolic.
Last month's surprise election of Nikolic, long depicted in the West as the ideological heir to late Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic, sent a chill through a region still coming to terms with the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, in which over 125,000 people died.
The European Union, which Nikolic says he wants Serbia to join, made clear he was on probation. Brussels hopes a coalition government currently being negotiated - with liberal leader Boris Tadic possibly in the more powerful post of prime minister - will be able to keep Nikolic in check.
Nikolic immediately stirred controversy by denying that the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica was genocide and by saying the Croatian border town of Vukovar "was a Serb town".
"Our relations with Serbia have been improving in recent years and I want this trend to continue," Croatian President Ivo Josipovic told reporters. "Unfortunately, for reasons I have already explained, I cannot go to the inauguration, but I want this trend to continue," he said.
Josipovic had earlier told Reuters he would only go to Monday's ceremony in Belgrade if Nikolic renounced his past ultranationalist rhetoric.
Vukovar was reduced to rubble during a three-month siege by Serb militia and the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army at the start of Croatia's war of independence in 1991.
The Croatian leader, whose country joins the EU next year, told the Anatolia news agency: "Unfortunately, the views he held before, and which he repeated in his first comments, from Vukovar being a Serb town to Srebrenica not being genocide, are far from reflecting European values."
The Muslim chairman of Bosnia's rotating presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, was also expected to stay away from the inauguration. An official in Izetbegovic's cabinet said he had not yet received an invitation but had other engagements on Monday anyway.
Izetbegovic had hit out at Nikolic for a television interview last week in which he said the Srebrenica massacre, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War Two, did not constitute genocide, despite rulings by the Hague-based U.N. war crimes tribunal for the ex-Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice that it did.
The EU, which is weighing up whether to open membership talks with Serbia, condemned the remark and the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it was deplorable.
"President Nikolic has an opportunity to set a constructive tone within the region, but such unfounded statements about Srebrenica and other war crimes are counter-productive to promoting stability and reconciliation in the region," it said.
A former cemetery manager nicknamed "Gravedigger," Nikolic was propelled to victory by Serb frustration over economic stagnation, high unemployment and the perceived cronyism of Tadic's Democratic Party.
One month since an inconclusive May 6 parliamentary election, Tadic said on Wednesday he was days away from securing a majority in the 250-seat parliament.
Parties have until September to produce a deal or hold new polls.
The Israeli authorities announced a decision early last month to confiscate 4,000 dunams of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Transport minister Damir Hadzic described the move as a 'historic event'.
Kenyan anti-terrorism police arrested the two on suspicion of plotting an attack in Kenya as they prepared to board a flight at Nairobi aiport on Sept. 18 bound for Belgium.
Egypt-Turkey relations have nosedived since Egypt's military ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi in July of last year.
New Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani re-opened an inquiry into the theft of almost $1 billion from Kabul Bank with a decree.
Nine other people were wounded, seven of whom were taken to hospital for treatment.
Putin said Russia security services had detected a constant growth in cyber attacks, particularly in the last six months, the period in which the crisis in Ukraine has worsened.
Turkish Cypriot students attending an English school in the Greek Cypriot-controlled south Cyprus are told they cannot have time off for Eid as it is a 'Chrstian school'.
Moazzem Begg, 46, who became a high-profile human rights campaigner after being released without charge from the U.S. military prison in Cuba in 2005, had been held for seven months in custody.
Kurdish sources on the battlefront reported seeing dead ISIL fighters at the strike sites southeast of Kobani.
Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg will become the 13th secretary general of NATO.
China’s Consulate-General in Osaka confirmed the sinking of the vessel about 390 kilometers off Japan's Shimane Prefecture.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic rejected the charges in closing remarks at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Poland's new Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said that as well as Poland meeting the technical criteria for euro entry, the euro zone needed to show it was stable.
"The meeting would bring together members from the PLO's executive committee, the central committee of Fatah and secretaries of Palestinian factions," senior PLO member Wassel Abu Youssef said.
In a statement, the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council said that dialogue came upon a "suspicion invitation" and argued that it was not based on "solid foundations."