BELGRADE, July 15 (Reuters) - The Serbian parliament has abandoned efforts to adopt a declaration condemning war crimes because parties cannot agree on what to say about the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims.
"This is my personal defeat," said parliament speaker Predrag Markovic after consultations broke down late on Tuesday over how to mention Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.
He refused to allow any debate since it was doomed to end in a divisive vote unless a text were agreed by all in advance.
"No one has the right to score political points on issues such as these," Markovic said. Serbia had wanted to acknowledge Srebrenica before the 10th anniversary of the massacre on July 11.
The Council of Ministers of the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro -- which does not include the two heads of government or respective presidents -- issued a statement on Wednesday condemning "the crime against Bosnian prisoners and civilians".
There should be no collective guilt, it said.
"Those who killed in Srebrenica and who organised and ordered this masssacre represented neither Serbia nor Montenegro but an undemocratic regime of terror and death to which a large majority of citizens put up the strongest resistance."
Some historians would dispute how strong the resistance was. Over half of Serbs questioned in a recent poll said they did not believe their kin had committed war crimes in the 1990s.
But a video broadcast this month showed Serb police torturing and executing six Muslims from Srebrenica in 1995.
It was this shock broadcast, applauded by the West as long overdue therapy, that prompted parliament to try to draft a text showing Serbia is ready to face up to its bloody past.
The video was followed by a surge of media reports that the government was preparing for the surrender or arrest of Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb army commander at Srebrenica wanted for genocide by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Parliament's deadlock exposed the limits of efforts to bring Serbia to terms with the fact that Serbs were responsible for most civilian deaths in the Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo wars.
Many believe it would be dishonourable to hand over Mladic to a court they consider incorrigibly biased against them. But Western powers want Serbia to acknowledge atrocities and close the war chapter, before joining NATO and the European Union. The opposition Democratic Party (DS) of President Boris Tadic had wanted to single out only Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces killed up to 8,000 unarmed Muslims in July 1995. "The crime in Srebrenica is considered in Europe as a symbol of all war crimes," said Dusan Petrovic of the Democrats.
But, asserting the moral equivalence that has been the main plank in a wall of denial for 10 years, other parties said it was wrong not to also mention crimes committed against Serbs in the decade of ethnic war triggered by the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Socialist Ivica Dacic said singling out Srebrenica would be capitulating to "those who want to officially condemn Serbia and Montenegro for genocide against Moslems, Croats and Albanians".
Petrovic said opposition from the ultranationalist Radicals and the Socialists of ex-strongman Slobodan Milosevic was no surprise. But he was disappointed not to have the support of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's ruling party.
Kostunica's party wanted a resolution condemning Srebrenica but also crimes against Serbs in the Balkan wars.
In similar vein, Wednesday's daily Vecernje Novosti carried photos of a Serb beheaded by foreign Islamic mujahideen fighters who came to help Muslims in the Bosnia war, saying they were from a video even more horrible than that of the Serb police.