Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic personally apologized on Thursday for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims.
He did not, however, admit that it was genocide, despite it being called one by two international courts.
"I kneel and ask for forgiveness for Serbia for the crime committed in Srebrenica," Nikolic said of the massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
More from GlobalPost: Zdravko Tolimir, Srebrenica general, found guilty of genocide
"I apologize for the crimes committed by any individual in the name of our state and our people," he said in an interview to be aired on Bosnian national television, parts of which have been released on YouTube.
Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic met with Nikolic in Belgrade on April 23, calling on him to "face up to" the Srebrenica massacre so that the two countries can move forward.
In order to move closer to EU membership, Serbia has been given the important condition of improving its relations with neighboring countries.
In July 1995, Bosnian Serbs, backed by Belgrade, entered the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, which was protected by the UN. Soldiers killed about 8,000 able-bodied men and deported women, children and the elderly.
In 2007, the UN International Court of Justice ruled that the killings by the Bosnian Serb army were genocide.