Serbia on Tuesday mourned thousands of victims of NATO bombing as the country marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the 78-day NATO bombing campaign against its predecessor the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
Serbian Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac (2nd L, rear) attends a memorial service for martyrs of the 1999 NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, March 24, 2009. Serbia marked on Tuesday the 10th anniversary of the NATO's bombing campaign against it. [Xinhua]
At midday, air raid sirens sounded throughout the western Balkan country in a mark of remembrance for the victims. All the activities in offices, schools, institutions and public places were stopped and the people paid tribute to all the victims of the NATO air raids launched on March 24, 1999, by observing a minute of silence.
Addressing a special government session dedicated to the victims of NATO air attack, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic described the attack on FRY as one of the most tragic episodes in the second half of the 20th century and as an illegal act that is opposing the international law.
"The NATO bombing did neither solve problems nor provide peace, stability and the rule of law in Kosovo-Metohija," he said, adding that Serbia would never recognize the unilaterally declared Kosovo independence and would fight for its interests in the United Nations.
Ivica Dacic, Serbia's first deputy prime minister and interior minister, said that the bombing was a crime against the Serbian people.
He said that in the same way as the air strikes had been launched against Serbia, some countries had recognized Kosovo's independence in contravention of the principles of international law.
The Serbian government decided in the special session that a memorial would be built in Belgrade dedicated to all victims of the air strikes.
Some 3,500 people were killed during the air strikes, and a total of 12,500 people were injured.