The January 9 holiday marks the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared their own state in Bosnia, triggering a devastating four-year war that killed over 100,000 people and left millions homeless.
Although the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared the holiday unconstitutional on November 26, 2015, celebrations have taken place every year on January 9.
In Banja Luka, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Serbian entity, a ceremonial parade attended by more than 2,400 police officers was held in the city’s central Krajina Square.
During the celebrations, both the anthems of Serbia and of Republika Srpska were played. However, the anthem of Bosnia-Herzegovina was not played.
The celebrations were attended by Republika Srpska President Zeljko Cvijanovic and by Milorad Dodik, the current Serbian head of the rotating chairmanship of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, who told the audience that “Serbs have two states — Republika Srpska and Serbia.”
Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin also attended the celebrations.
“Serbia respects Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia guarantees the Dayton [Peace] Agreements [that ended the 1992-1995 conflict], but Serbia above all loves Republika Srpska,” Vulin said.
In a statement issued in Belgrade, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said “Serbia will always love and support Srpska, respecting the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats have insisted that the celebration is not representative for all ethnic groups who live in Republika Srpska.