SDA to challenge the name of Republika Srpska entity before Constitutional Court

Source: N1

The Party for Democratic Action (SDA) will initiate a legal procedure before the Constitutional Court to challenge the name of Bosnia's Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) part, citing discrimination against Croats and Bosniaks living there as the reason.

“The previous practice of the RS institutions showed that the entity’s name was intensively and efficiently used to discriminate against the other two constituent peoples – Bosniaks and Croats,” the SDA said. “Linking the name to only one people living in the multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina is contrary to the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two semi-autonomous entities – the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Serb-dominated RS. The issue with the name stems from the fact that it means the “Serb Republic” when translated. However, the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia (1992-1995) and which contains the State Constitution, stipulates in its original form, written in English, that the entity is “Republika Srpska,” indicating that the name could not be translated as the “Serb Republic.”

That was an attempt to prevent discrimination against Bosniaks and Croats living in that entity. However, the RS media and institutions continued to use the short version of the name “Srpska” (Serb’) which some non-Serb officials said is offensive against the non-Serbs living in the entity.

The strongest Bosniak nationalist party, the SDA further said that the Constitutional Court made an earlier decision on the constituency of the people which stipulated that entities must ensure full equality of all constituent peoples in their legal systems.

“The Bosnian RS entity exists as a multi-ethnic entity in which all peoples must be equal, meaning that one people should not be mentioned in the entity’s name leaving out the other two peoples. The SDA will initiate a procedure to harmonise the entity name with Bosnia’s Constitution, based on the Constitutional Court’s decision on the constituency of the peoples,” the party concluded.

In one of the first reactions to the SDA’s announcement, the RS National Assembly (RSNA) Speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic said this was a nothing but a provocation and that it represents an anti-Constitutional act.

“The SDA’s claims are disgusting and laughable at the same time because they are the ones who refuse to implement the Constitutional Court’s decision issued 12 years ago, stipulating that Serbs must be equally represented in the FBiH,” Cubrilovic said.

The names of the FBiH and RS were made in 1995 in Dayton, and the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement marked the agreement of all parties to Bosnia’s internal structure and the name of Republika Srpska which are thus verified by the State Constitution, Cubrilovic added.

“Initiating a Constitutional Court discussion on the name of the RS would mark the end of the project called Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Cubrilovic noted.