Ban Ki-moon and Vuk Jeremic at Monday’s Concert (source: Blic)
Jan. 17, 2013 – The United Nations has expressed regret that a Serbian war song was sung at a concert held in the General Assembly hall on Monday.
The event, commemorating the Julian New Year and Serbia’s presidency of the General Assembly, was attended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, who is Serbia’s former foreign minister.
For the final performance, the Viva Vox choir sung “March on the River Drina,” a patriotic song that recalls a World War 1 battle between Serb and Austro-Hungarian forces on the river Drina, which runs through the Bosnia-Serbia border. The song later became an anthem for ultra-nationalist Serb forces.
A protest letter sent to Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday states that, ”The genocide that occurred in Srebrenica and Zepa, and other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was conducted by Serbian aggressors while blasting this song as they raped, murdered, and ethnically cleansed the non-Serb population.”*
On Thursday, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said: “We are aware that some people were offended by the encore song at the concert held at the General Assembly on Monday and we sincerely regret that people were offended by this song which was not listed in the official program. The Secretary-General was obviously not aware what this song was about or the use that was made of it in the past.”
At the closing of Monday’s performance, Jeremic dedicated the concert to all those who dream of world peace.
A war song seems an unusual tribute to world peace.
– Denis Fitzgerald
* “The women knew the rapes would begin when ‘Mars na Drinu’ played over the loudspeaker of the main mosque… While ‘Mars na Drinu’ was playing, the women were ordered to strip and soldiers entered the homes, taking away the ones they wanted. The ages of women taken ranged from 12 to 60. Frequently the soldiers would seek out mother and daughter combinations.” source: “Seventh Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia: Part II” US submission of information to the United Nations Security Council. 1993.