Bosnian Serbs start marking illegal holiday, Bosniaks indignant


The authorities in the Serb entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday began two-day celebrations of 9 January, a special day for the entity despite a November 2015 ruling of the country’s Constitutional Court that found that holiday in contravention of the Constitution.

At the same time, the entity’s Vice President, Ramiz Salkic, who was elected to this post as the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) representative, warns that the celebrations are going on as a sentiment against non-Serbs is prevailing in that part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On the other hand, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik used this occasion to reiterate his stance that Republika Srpska was not an entity but a state. He insists that the Constitutional Court has not been authorised to make rulings about the Serb entity’s Special Day.

The Court found that the celebration of 9 January was illegal, recalling that it was on 9 January 1992 when the leaders of Bosnian Serbs had attempted to secede the Serb-controlled areas from Bosnia and Herzegovina. On that day, some Serb lawmakers in Bosnia’s parliament tried to declare the establishment of “the Serb republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina” and separate it from areas where local Croats and Bosniaks were a majority and were in power.

Their attempt actually ushered in the war that ravaged Bosnia and Herzegovina until the conclusion of the Dayton peace accords in 1995.

The announcement from Serbia that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will attend a ceremony marking the Serb entity’s Special Day on 9 January, which has been declared contrary to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitution, prompted Bosnian politician Bakir Izetbegovic to wonder if Serbia is ready to pursue a policy of peace and mutual respect.

In late December, Izetbegovic said in a statement posted on the web site of his party – the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) – that the announcement of Vucic’s arrival in Banja Luka for the celebration of 9 January contradicts attempts by Vucic to renounce “the stubborn Serbian policy that caused the collapse of a state (socialist Yugoslav federation) and atrocious wars 25 years ago.”

The SDA official and member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina tripartite presidency accuses the current Bosnian Serb leader Dodik of being a strong proponent of that policy.

During Dodik’s recent visit to Belgrade, Vucic has said that he will be in Banja Luka on 9 January to attend ceremonies marking the Special Day of that entity.

The Serb entity’s parliament was also given a six-month deadline to adjust its law on holidays to the country’s Constitution, however, the local Serb authorities have decided to turn a deaf ear to the ruling.

(Hina) ms