Emir Kusturica
© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
Emir Kusturica
Serbian movie director Emir Kusturica says the West has been pursuing a policy of genocide against the Serbs for centuries

The West has been pursuing a policy of genocide against the Serbs for centuries, Serbian movie director Emir Kusturica said, during a speech he gave at a state awards ceremony in Banja Luka, the capital of Republika Srpska, which is now part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The West has been pursuing a policy of some kind of genocide against our people," he said at the ceremony held on the Republic Day. "The genocide began under Napoleon's rule, who had realized that Russia's influence on the banks of the Danube River would pose serious issues to all of Western Europe and affect his plans to conquer faraway Siberia. He gathered an army of 600,000 and went to Russia but he brought back only 30,000. Since Napoleon came on the scene and since the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, we have been suffering from attempts to separate us from our Slavic brother. This is the reason why it is so important to keep our idea of freedom alive by preserving our language, our church and particularly Republika Srpska, which is the westernmost region inhabited by the Serbian people," the world-famous filmmaker said.

Kusturica called on the Serbs to resist the loss of their historical memory, imposed on them by the West. As an example, he referred to the Mankurt slave, a character of Soviet writer Chinghiz Aitmatov's The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years, urging the Serbs to preserve their history, culture, language and faith.

In concluding his address, Kusturica congratulated Republika Srpska's President Milorad Dodik on Republic Day. "Memory is the foundation of not only the Serbian people, but also of Republika Srpska. Mister President, allow me to offer you my congratulations on Republic Day!" the film director said.

Tuesday marks the 26th anniversary of Republika Srpska. Former Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej and South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov are participating in celebrations taking place in Banja Luka. The events will culminate in a parade by the Interior Ministry's personnel on the city's main square.