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.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's call comes after Palestinian lawmakers accused Israel of an anti-democratic crackdown as the Gaza war rages, with dozens of elected officials detained, placed under investigation or restricted in their movements.
Officer Dan Page called black people “little perverts” while holding a copy of the Bible and implied that Muslims were murderers.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), citing government figures, said that 36,441 people had lost their homes in the floods as of Aug. 21.
Norway's Espen Barth Eide will be taking over as the UN's Special Adviser on Cyprus from Australia's Alexander Downer.
Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk confirms that there are no casualties among the stadium staff.
Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May said she was preparing new laws to tackle militants at home and to stop them going abroad to fight.
Forces of renegade General Khalifa Haftar who has launched a military campaign against rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi claimed the attack.
Police said Stephen McLaughlin and Timothy Murphy, both aged 34 and from Northern Ireland, were charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into the United Kingdom.
Two civilians were killed and four others injured in a border clash between the two nuclear powers.
Local fishermen raised the alarm at dawn on Saturday morning and the coast guard managed to rescue 16 migrants who were still alive in the water, surrounded by bodies.
The return of the trucks may help ease the tension to some extent in time for talks in Ukraine's capital on Saturday between visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian leaders over how to end the crisis in the ex-Soviet republic.
At least seventeen people were killed in the attack.
Prayuth did not mention his appointment as prime minister.
Germany's Vice Chancellor, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel, said "A clever concept of federalisation seem to be the only practicable way."
Over the past two days, Sanaa has been at the center of intense protests and sit-ins – called for by al-Houthi – to demand the dismissal of the current government.
The White House publicized details of the raid on Wednesday, a day after IS fighters posted a video showing Foley being beheaded.