Hundreds of people, many women and children, were killed by a chemical attack in Damascus on August 21st.
By Drazen Remikovic, Ivana Jovanovic, Merita Bajraktari and Svetla Dimitrova for Southeast European Times -- 29/8/13
A convoy of UN inspectors leaves a Damascus hotel on Wednesday (August 28th) to investigate the site of the chemical weapons attack. [AFP]
Officials and citizens throughout southeast Europe and Turkey are expressing anger and sorrow at the deadly chemical weapon attack last week in Damascus, and drawing comparisons to the events in the Balkans of 20 years ago.
"There are a lot of similarities in the events in Syria with those from Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s when one pure ethnic conflict was actually on the scene. … Of course, the citizens are those who suffer the most because already now we have hundreds of thousands of refugees killed and wounded. The clashes have taken on enormous proportions and need to be urgently stopped," Asim Mujkic, professor at the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo, told SETimes.
Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the incident is a crime that cannot go unpunished. He called the chemical attack a "crime against humanity." Turkey shares a 900-kilometre border with Syria and is caring for about 450,000 of its refugees.
Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian member of the BiH presidency, strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, as did the chairman of Islamic Community in BiH, Husein Kavazovic. After their meeting which was held on Monday (August 26th), both of them said the failure of the international community to stop the violence is devastating and urged the authorities find a solution that would end the human tragedy in Syria.
Serbia MP Gordana Comic of the Democratic Party Parliamentary Group said that the two sides need to stop the violence in Syria and work out a peaceful solution.
“Ideally, but almost unbelievably, parties in conflict in Syria will start dialogue," she said. "But, in reality, they need a mediator for dialogue but not a mediator to continue the conflict," Comic told SETimes.
In a statement, Albania Prime Minister Sali Berisha expressed his dismay over the August 21st chemical attack.
"We have followed with great concern the massacre of the civilian population in this country, in which over 100,000 Syrian citizens have died, among many thousands of whom are Syrian citizens of early Albanian origin, residing in main neighborhoods of Aleppo and also Damascus," Berisha said.
"We, as a NATO member, have been and remain ready to politically support and also support with our other modest possibilities the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance, in any action which has to be taken to end the massacre on the Syrian population and support the Syrian opposition to building a free and democratic Syria," he said.
Bulgaria officials on Tuesday (August 27th) condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and said that the "perpetrators should bear the most severe punishment." It urged Damascus to immediately provide access to UN inspectors to the site of the incident.
"The stubborn unwillingness of the regime to seek a political exit from the crisis is leading to a constant escalation of the violence," Bulgaria Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin said. "Recent events related to reports about the use of chemical weapons against civilians on August 21st, throws the country into a new, extremely dangerous spiral of terror, with unpredictable consequences for the stability and security of the entire Middle East region in the long term."
The UN team in Syria tasked with investigating the attack delayed its second trip to the site on Tuesday, citing security reasons. It was scheduled to make the trip on Wednesday. Syria has denied using chemical weapons.
Gavro Domlijanin, an electrical engineer from Prijedor in BiH, likened the use of chemical weapons to the worst atrocities of the 20th century.
"Chemical weapons are only used by the German and Italian Nazis against their opponents. It is amazing that in the 21st century, such a thing could happen again. If I were a resident of Syria, I would run thousands of kilometres away from the country," he said.
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