US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has apologized to Serbia for the US and NATO bombings of Serb forces during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1999, according to a Thursday report.
Trump, speaking to the Serbian weekly magazine Nedeljnik, said then-US president Bill Clinton had erred in launching airstrikes with NATO against Serbian forces accused of ethnic cleansing.
“First of all let me tell you it was a great mistake to bomb the Serbians who were our allies in both world wars,” Trump told the Serbian weekly magazine Nedeljnik, according to a translation carried by Newsweek. “Serbians are very good people. Unfortunately Clinton’s administration was very damaging to the Serbians, they made a mess in the Balkans. I have apologized before to the Serbians for the actions and our policy primarily Clinton’s. I will strengthen the relationship with the Serbian government. When I take office the foreign policy will change the course for the better.”
US and NATO forces launched air strikes against ethnic Serb troops in 1995 and 1999 in response to ethnic cleansing operations carried out against breakaway groups and civilians first in Bosnia and Herzegovina and later in Kosovo.
The bombing campaigns have been blamed for hundreds of civilian deaths, though they were also seen as key in ending the bloodshed.
Trump is currently running against Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, and has sought to play up Bill Clinton’s infidelities, along with alleged foreign policy missteps by Hillary Clinton when she served as secretary of state.
The quote in Nedeljnik was provided via email by a Trump campaign staffer, according to Newsweek.
Vice President Joe Biden officially expressed his condolences to the people of Serbia on a one-day visit to Belgrade in August but he was met with staunch opposition from Serbian right-wing nationalist Trump supporters who marched in Belgrade, stating that the Republican presidential nominee would steer the US away from an interventionist foreign policy.
“Trump is the alternative to globalization. He will destroy old centers of power in the United States and he is a supporter of Russia,” Vojislav Seselj, head of Serbia’s ultra-nationalist Radical Party, told Reuters at a protest in August, “because he wants an agreement with Russia. These are the reasons the radicals are supporting Trump.”