"I want to say that I am immeasurably proud of my ancestry and of my ancestors who, during World War II, courageously stood up against crimes whose
ferocity is unmatched in history, against their Jewish and Serb fellow citizens," Jeremic said.
Fighting For Serbia
The nod to his Bosniak relatives marks a subtle shift for Jeremic, a high-energy, Harvard- and Cambridge-educated wunderkind who has doggedly pursued a
pro-Serbia agenda in both Belgrade and the UN despite efforts to brand himself as a progressive alternative from the worst extremes of his country's
Jeremic, who spent five years as foreign minister before assuming the rotating UN post in September 2012, is best known for using his diplomatic muscle to
fight recognition of Kosovo, whose independence he rejects and which he has referred to as Serbia's "Jerusalem."
But he has also angered much of the region by taking a critical stance on the role of international courts like the UN's International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Many Serbs accuse the ICTY of harboring an anti-Belgrade bias by focusing on high-profile incidents like the Serbian massacre of Bosnian Muslims at
Srebrenica, while acquitting Kosovar and Croatian authorities accused of crimes against Serbs.
At the urging of Belgrade, Jeremic has used his current UN post to schedule a General Assembly debate next month on the merits of the ICTY that will
include Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic -- who has described the Srebrenica massacre as less than genocide -- as a featured speaker.
Jeremic also recently drew fire after
organizing a performance at the UN of "March on the Drina," a World War I-era Serbian patriotic song that was adopted by Serbian paramilitary units during
the Bosnian Wars in the mid-1990s.
The UN was forced to issue an apology after the performance received an ovation from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other audience members who were
unaware of its historic connotations.
Some political observers in Belgrade have suggested that Jeremic, who lobbied aggressively for the General Assembly presidency, may be embracing his
Bosniak heritage in order to generate Muslim support for a possible bid for the UN's top post in 2016, when Ban's second five-year term expires.
But Bosko Jaksic, a columnist for Belgrade's "Politika" newspaper, says he believes Jeremic has proved too divisive a figure during his time in New York
and is likely instead to return home to pursue a career in Belgrade. (In a separate development, Jeremic is now an eligible political bachelor after being
ousted from his longtime base in Serbia's Democratic Party this weekend amid a power struggle with party leaders.)
"It is true that the next secretary-general of the UN has to come from Eastern Europe, but I don't think he's the right person for the post," Jaksic says.
"Especially having in mind that, in the meantime, there have been some things he did that a number of other countries considered a provocation, or at least