Belgrade: Serbia's nationalist President Tomislav Nikolic has personally apologised for the first time for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims, but stopped short of calling it genocide.
"I kneel and ask for forgiveness for Serbia for the crime committed in Srebrenica," Nikolic said on Thursday in an interview to be aired on Bosnian national television parts of which have been released on You Tube.
"I apologise for the crimes committed by any individual in the name of our state and our people," he said in the interview.
Nikolic's office confirmed to AFP news agency the authenticity of the statement.
Al Jazeera's Aljosa Milenkovic, reporting from Belgrade, said: "May be it is sounding like a small political earthquake here in Balkans as President Nikolic is apologising for crimes committed by the Serbs during the 1990s violent breakup of Yugoslavia."
"But when one reads more into the interview he still did not recognise what happened at Srebrenica as genocide."
Thousands of Bosnians, mostly Muslims, were killed by Serb soldiers during the Balkan War between 1992 and 1996.
After being elected last May, Nikolic caused a stir in the region by refusing to acknowledge that the massacre in the Bosnian enclave, was a genocide, despite it being ruled as such by two international courts.
Nikolic at the time said "there was no genocide in Srebrenica".