Serbian President Boris Tadic is hailing the World Court ruling that his country was not guilty of genocide during the conflict of the 1990s in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mr. Tadic called Monday's ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague "very important." He then urged his people to face up to the massacre by Serb forces of up to eight thousand Muslim men and boys following the 1995 capture of the enclave of Srebrenica.
Judge Rosalyn Higgins said Serb forces were in fact responsible for the deaths. But she said it had not been established that the massacre was carried out on orders from Belgrade.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the decision another opportunity for the people of the region to proceed on the path of reconciliation. At the same time he stressed the need for the arrest of fugitive war crimes suspects.
In its ruling the court found that Serbia had violated the UN Convention on Genocide by failing to cooperate with UN prosecutors in the hunt for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and his wartime military chief, Ratko Mladic.
The two fugitives - thought to be hiding in the region with supporters - face genocide charges for a range of wartime atrocities, including the Srebrenica massacre.
Bosnia-Herzegovina filed the suit accusing what was then Yugoslavia of masterminding the widespread ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A judgment in its favor could have resulted in Serbia paying billions of dollars in reparations.