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Survivors, Mothers of Srebrenica,
Relatives and friends of those who lost their lives,
Today, we commemorate the victims of the Srebrenica genocide.
Just over two decades ago, here in the heart of Europe, a manmade atrocity unfolded before our eyes. Today, the name ‘Srebrenica’ triggers images of families forcefully separated, of men and boys as young as fifteen systematically killed, of women and girls left behind in devastation and in fear of their own security.
Our thoughts today are with the survivors and with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We must never forget those dark days 22 years ago.
We are living in a world where facts and truth are being manipulated. We are living in a world where the rule of law and respect of fundamental human rights are ignored at the expense of narrow nationalistic interests and short-sighted political gain.
It is the common duty of us as Europeans, and of the entire international community gathered here, to remember what happened here at this place. The European Union was founded to ensure there would be no more mass killings and genocide on European soil. Yet we failed 22 years ago. And as Europeans we all bear responsibility for that. It must never happen again.
An act of remembrance is essential to ensure that genocide never happens again, here or anywhere else. But it is not enough.
Teaching future generations about these events is necessary as well. We also look back in order to be able to move forward.
While the name ‘Srebrenica’ inevitably reminds us on the victims of the atrocities here, one day, hopefully in an optimistic future, it should also trigger images of a thriving economy, of a municipality that works for all its citizens, of a beacon of tolerance, acceptance, and peaceful coexistence.
Such a future requires continued dialogue, courage and determination. It would require difficult but necessary reconciliation.
And the European Union is here to support you on that difficult road.
But today, our thoughts are with the past, with the survivors and families and friends of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide.
To you and to them I extend my deepest sympathies.