Since the Bosnian Serbs don’t have their own army, they can always count on the Serbian army, said on Thursday the Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin as he was honoured with the Medal of Republika Srpska on the day the Bosnian entity was celebrating its establishment.
The President of Bosnia’s Serb-majority region, Zeljka Cvijanovic, awarded Vulin for his “efforts and achievements in strengthening cooperation and peace” and his “contributions to the development of general relations between Serbia and Republika Srpska.”
The award ceremony is part of the celebration of the Day of Republika Srpska – a holiday Bosnia’s Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional because it falls on a Serb Orthodox religious holiday and therefore excludes non-Serbs from celebrating it.
On January 9, 1992, the assembly of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the Declaration on the Proclamation of the Republic of the Serb People – today Republika Srpska – as a federal unit within the Republic of Yugoslavia.
But non-Serbs, most of all Bosniaks, perceive the holiday as a celebration of a policy that led to genocide. They argue the 1992 decision served as the basis for Bosnian Serb forces to expel, kill and put non-Serbs into concentration camps in order to create an ethnically pure Serb republic.
The Constitutional Court ruled several times that the holiday is unconstitutional. The last such ruling was in March last year.
Judges ruled that the holiday is discriminating against the mostly Muslim Bosniaks and the mostly Catholic Croats.
The RS leadership, however, organised in 2016 a referendum in the entity at which the predominantly Serb citizens voted in favour of January 9 staying the date for the holiday.
The annual celebration is usually attended by some Serbian official. This year, it is the Defense minister.
“The acknowledgement I received today is not just mine, it is Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbia,” Vulin said in Banja Luka, referring to the Serbian President.
Vucic’s Serbia “does not hesitate to help its Republika Srpska always, everywhere,” he added, emphasizing that he himself was raised in Bosnia to be loyal to Serbia.
“This represents a hope that all Serbs will be united, unified, that they will pull together and that no other political interests, foreign masters, fake leaders, wrong ideologies will ever pit them against each other,” he added.”
“The RS may not have its own army but the Serb people do. There is someone who will take care of her, to protect her, to invest in her industry, help her government,” the Serbian Defense Minister said.