Bosnia’s Constitutional Court declared on Friday the law regulating the celebration of January 9 as the day of Republika Srpska (RS), the Bosnian Serb semi-autonomous entity in Bosnia, as unconstitutional.
Nine Bosniak and Croat members of the upper house of the RS National Assembly requested the court to take a stance towards the disputed celebration which every year deepens the ethnic division in Bosnia.
Bosnian Serbs celebrate January 9 because on that day in 1992 they declared the breakaway Serb state as founded. The so-called Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina took over half of Bosnia’s territory.
The ministate was later renamed Republika Srpska and is according to the current Bosnian constitution an integral part of the country, although Serb leaders claim that is against their will.
Since January 9 is also a Serb Orthodox religious holiday, the two holidays overlap and only Serb symbols are displayed, which violates the rights of non-Serbs living there.
“It is about January 9 as a date,” explained Zlatko Knezevic, the President of the Constitutional Court, confirming that the judges ruled the law regulating that holiday is unconstitutional.
Deputy speaker of the RS National Assembly, Milan Petkovic, said that most RS lawmakers disagree with the decision and that they will continue celebrating on that day.
“I, as a legal expert, believe that such an initiative should have been rejected because it isn't based on the law, but on politics and speculation,” he said.
“The stance of Republika Srpska and its officials is that the Law on the Day of the RS is fully in line with the Constitution of the RS, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the European Convention on Human Rights, and does not offend anybody,” he said, adding that there was no reason to declare it unconstitutional.
“January 9 will remain a day for a celebration which the RS will continue celebrating for a long time,” Petkovic concluded.