Speaking at the celebration of the unconstitutional holiday of the Republika Srpska (RS) in East Sarajevo, Milorad Dodik, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. entity, declared that “this area belongs to the Serbs who formed their Republika Srpska on 9 January”.
RS Day was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) three times, and the “Venice Commission” declared it discriminatory.
Among the guests at the gathering were members of the Night Wolves organization, close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“I am especially proud of this day, of the people who are ready to defend it. We are not doing this out of spite, but to show that we are ready to fight for our freedom,” Dodik said in eastern Sarajevo at the center’s Jan. 9 commemoration.
The authorities of the RS celebrate 9 January, the date on which in 1992, in Sarajevo, the then Assembly of the Serbian Nation in BiH adopted the Declaration on the Proclamation of the Republic of the Serbian Nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim was to incorporate that part of Bosnia and Herzegovina into Yugoslavia, which was then disintegrating.
The self-proclaimed republic was led by Radovan Karadzic, Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, who were convicted of war crimes at The Hague. Representatives of Bosniaks and Croats did not take part in the adoption of the declaration.
These two peoples see 9 January as the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the beginning of ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide against the non-Serb population on the territory of the RS.
Dodik added that “the RS stayed in BiH because it had to”.
Around two thousand citizens attended the parade.
The national anthems of the RS and Serbia were intoned.
The Serbian delegation was led by Ivica Dačić, Serbian Foreign Minister.
In addition to the above-mentioned Russian motorcycle club Night Wolves, the celebration was attended by members of radical and extremist groups and Chetnik associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Among the flags were those of the pro-Russian separatist self-proclaimed “People’s Republic of Donetsk”.
Schmidt: Celebration of RS Day may have consequences
The High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, warned that the actions and activities of the authorities of the Bosnian entity of the Republika Srpska (RS), who on 9 January commemorate and celebrate Republika Srpska Day, may have consequences.
“The participation and presence of public officials at such celebrations is a clear disrespect of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a clear disrespect of the competences and decisions of the Constitutional Court of BiH, which are final and binding and must be respected by all,” Schmidt said in a Twitter post on 9 January.
Cikotić: “Wagner”, members of the Chetnik movement and Night Wolves are coming to RS Day
BiH Security Minister Selmo Cikotić confirmed to RFE that intelligence information indicates that the commemoration of Republika Srpska (RS) Day on 9 January will be attended by members of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, the Ravnogorsk Chetnik Movement and members of the Russian motorcycle club Night Wolves, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“These are more or less extremist and radical groups that have been present in the area for a long time and we expect them to be there on 9 January. As far as I know, none of them has officially announced it”, Cikotić said.
US Embassy in BiH: RS will destroy itself with the independence story
The Republika Srpska will only destroy itself and those around it by pushing the fatamorphosis of independence, according to the official Twitter account of the American Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on January 9, on the occasion of the Republika Srpska (RS) Day, which was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of BiH.
The president of the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska (RS), Milorad Dodik, said at the academy in Banja Luka on January 8 that “there is no nation for which a court in the world determines when a state was created, so it will not determine when the Republika Srpska was created for us either.”
“Mr. Dodik’s decision to celebrate January 9 is illegal. It violates the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina according to which marking is unconstitutional. The call for the independence of RS, which was repeated yesterday (8. January) with false claims of authority and attempts to undermine the state, Bosnia and Herzegovina is pushing the state on a dangerous path,” it added.
It added that the RS “must fully respect the decisions of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the binding decisions of the Constitutional Court, whether they like them or not”.
The embassy added that Dodik’s decision to reward Russian President Vladimir Putin, the man who launched the invasion of Ukraine that led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and the massive destruction of infrastructure, was reprehensible.
“This is a rejection of the values of the Euro-Atlantic community and of the international order based on law,” they stress.
Who took part in the parade?
The parade in East Sarajevo was attended by RS police officers, members of the RS Civil Protection and representatives of veterans’ and other public and non-governmental organisations.
Earlier in Banja Luka, on January 9, the envoy of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Bishop Sava conveyed the blessing of Patriarch Porfirije and his prayers and wishes for the success and progress of the Serbian people and all who live in the Republika Srpska to the faithful in the Temple of Christ the Savior. In the Orthodox calendar, January 9 is the feast of Saint Stephen, and it is also celebrated as the baptismal feast of the RS.
In Banjaluka, the National Theatre of the RS will stage a performance of “I Want to Live!” by the Russian National Drama Theatre from St Petersburg in the evening.
The official press release states that the performance is “a gift to the audience of Banjaluka and is included in the official programme of the RS Day”.
On 8 January, a solemn RS Day ceremony took place at the Borik Hall in Banjuluka, and earlier, awards were presented to deserving citizens and institutions at the Banski dvor in Banjaluka.
In addition to Banjaluka, 9 January is also celebrated in other cities and municipalities in the RS, as well as in the Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic congratulated the RS on the day and said that “Serbia will, as before, consistently support the implementation of the provisions of the Dayton Agreement, while respecting the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the integrity of Republika Srpska within its constitutional framework”.
Convictions for commemorating 9 January
On 9 January, members of veterans’, civilians’ and war victims’ associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina filed a denunciation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the RS Day celebrations.
The complaint was filed against the City of East Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the entity Republika Srpska, the City of Banja Luka, Milorad Dodik, President of the RS, and Radovan Višković, Prime Minister of the RS.
The 14 signatory associations of the application cite “disrespect of the decisions of the Constitutional Court of BiH, subversion and undermining of the constitutional and legal order of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the illegal organisation of a provocative militaristic parade and the promotion of the rhetoric of division and hatred by the authorities of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian entity Republika Srpska” as the reason for the application.
The application was signed by – Association “Women Fighters 92-95”, Association of Fighters “Bosnae – Green Berets”, SUB Patriotic League, Association of Generals of BiH, Coordination of Veteran Associations of Canton Sarajevo, Association of Parents of Killed Children of Besieged Sarajevo, Association MB Vogošća, Association Haber, Union of Brigade Associations of the 1st Corps of the Sarajevo Canton, civic activist Dušanka Ivanković, Association of Mothers of the Srebrenica Enclave, Association of Civilian War Victims Svjetlost and Association “Defenders of Sarajevo”.”Defenders of Sarajevo”.
The association stresses that it is awaiting a response from the international community and from the High Representative to BiH, Christian Schmidt.
In addition to the Prosecutor’s Office, the text of the report has been forwarded to the Prime Minister of the Sarajevo Canton, Edin Forta, and to the High Representative to BiH, Christian Schmidt.
In early January, veterans’ and non-governmental organisations and associations of victims of the past war in Sarajevo Canton demanded a ban on the 9 January RS Day celebrations and the establishment of checkpoints between Sarajevo and East Sarajevo, announcing protests.
The Ministry of the Interior (MUP) of the other entity, the Federation of BiH, announced that there will be no checkpoints because this is against the BiH Constitution.
Meanwhile, the protests were cancelled after MUP representatives held talks with representatives of veterans’ and NGOs’ organisations.
The holiday was contested three times
On 28 February 1992, the Constitutional Court of the then Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a decision annulling both the Declaration and the Constitution of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, adopted by the Assembly of the Serbian People in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 9 January of that year. In November 2015, the Constitutional Court of BiH ruled that the article of the Law on Holidays of the Republic of Srpska that refers to the RS Day is unconstitutional.
In addition to the merit of looking back at the events of 1992, the Constitutional Court also found that the baptismal feast of the Republika Srpska – St. Archdeacon Stephen – was celebrated at that time, and therefore the secular date is perceived as a religious Orthodox holiday due to the way it is celebrated.
The Constitutional Court of BiH did not deny the right of the faithful to celebrate the baptismal feast of St Stephen, nor the Day of the Republika Srpska, but it did stipulate that the “Day of the RS” could not be 9 January.
The Venice Commission had previously considered in its opinion that it was “discriminatory because it is not in line with the universal values of dialogue, tolerance and understanding”.
The referendum on 9 January was also cancelled
The commemoration of 9 January was the trigger for a referendum in the RS, called by the entity’s National Assembly in July 2016 and scheduled for 25 September.
On 17 September 2016, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted a measure suspending the decision to call the referendum.
Nevertheless, the referendum was held, and on the referendum question “Do you support that 9 January be celebrated and commemorated as Republika Srpska Day?”, 99 per cent of the outgoing citizens voted in the affirmative.
For the Office of the High Representative in BiH (OHR), representatives of the international community, as well as representatives of the European Union and a number of Western embassies, this was a blow to the BiH Constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement.
Subsequently, on 26 October 2016, the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska adopted a separate Law on RS Day, separating it from the Law on RS Holidays.
The date was again set as 9 January, with the emphasis that “Republic Day shall be marked and celebrated as a secular holiday” and that “the Government of the Republic of Srpska shall, by resolution, regulate the manner of marking and celebration”.
Nine Bosniak and Croat delegates to the Council of Peoples of the RS, as one of the two chambers of the National Assembly of the RS, lodged a new complaint with the Constitutional Court of BiH.
In March 2019, the Court ruled that the article of this law that “based on the confirmed will of the citizens of the Republika Srpska, 9 January is designated as Republic Day” is unconstitutional and in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
It was also found to be contrary to the Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Celebration with further announcements of the undermining of state power
The celebration of the controversial holiday takes place against the background of the activities of the Republika Srpska authorities on the unconstitutional transfer of powers from the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina to this entity.
Last December, the Assembly of the RS adopted the Law on Real Estate of the RS, which contradicts the decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH, which ruled that all property in BiH belongs to the state and not to entities. .
In October 2021, this legislative institution adopted the Law on Medicinal Products and Medical Devices, which foresees the establishment of an Entity Agency for Medicinal Products, which has been operating at State level since 2009.
In December of the same year, it also voted on decisions on the “transfer of competences from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the level of the RS”.
At that time, it instructed the Government of the RS to submit to the National Assembly, within six months, a law on value added tax, a law on excise duties, a law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of the RS, and laws in the field of defence and security.
Although the Assembly of the RS has since adopted a decision to postpone activities on the devolution of competences for the time being, the President of the RS, Milorad Dodik, recently announced the continuation of this process.
In January 2022, Dodik received new US sanctions for activities undermining the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina./RSE/