The Croatian Diaspora

Bosnian Croat Leader Attends Event for Controversial Bosnian Serb Holiday

By 9 January 2019

ZAGREB, January 9, 2019 - The authorities of the Bosnian Serb entity on Wednesday organised commemorative events marking "the Republic Day", despite a 2015 ruling of the country's Constitutional Court that declared the entity's holiday to be contrary to the Constitution and discriminatory against the Croats and the Bosniaks.

Today's parade and celebrations in the northwestern city of Banja Luka, the biggest city in the Republic of Srpska (RS), were ignored by foreign diplomats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the exception of Russia's Ambassador. In attendance were also Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Defence Minister Aleksandar Vuilin as well as the top dignitaries of the Serb Orthodox Church, and the local Bosnian Croat leader, Dragan Čović of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnian and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) was also among the guests.

Serbian Prime Minister Brnabić said in her speech that Serbs must stay united regardless of which state they lived in. "We will honour any decision made by consensus of all the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina but we are going to give special care for the citizens of the RS, which is completely natural," the Serbian prime minister said at the ceremony, adding that care for the RS entity did not mean hatred towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The entity's president Željka Cvijanović said that this entity was the expression of "the aspirations for freedom and peace", and said the local authorities would be committed to the defence of the entity's survival.

One of the commemorative events was a parade with 1,500 participants, mainly armed police officers. Some of them wore attire resembling uniforms worn by Serb troops in World War I.

The Banja Luka parade also included firefighters, civil protection staff, war veterans, student and local branches of the controversial Russian motorcycle club "Night Wolves" that is perceived to be close to Vladimir Putin. The club's leader Alexander Zaldostanov has been banned from entering Bosnia and Herzegovina and proclaimed a threat to national security.

No symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina were displayed during the parade or at other commemorative events. On the other hand, numerous flags of the RS entity and Serbia were hoisted and only the official song of the entity and Serbia's anthem were played.

More news on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in our Diaspora section.