Serb Republic marks 22 years since it was founded

The Serb Republic (Republika Srpska, RS) and Serbia need unity in all that is good, Serbian Patriarch Irinej said in Banja Luka on Thursday.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

He called on Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina "to remain faithful to God and their religion."

Following a liturgy he served to mark RS Day and Feast of St. Stephen (Stefan), its patron saint, he noted that a large number of political parties exist in the entity.

"It is a shame that they are quarrelling, and they should share the same objective for the benefit of the people," Patriarch Irinej said.

He urged RS officials to work on everything that is for the good of the people, which suffered greatly in the war.

"Today, we are forced to live scattered around the world... and the Church is there to embrace the people, guide it and preserve its name, language and culture. This has been its great mission in the past, and will be in the future," Irinej said after the liturgy.

The service was attended by RS President Milorad Dodik, Parliament Speaker Igor Radojičić, Prime Minister Željka Cvijanović, Serbian Minister of Justice and State Administration Nikola Selaković and other guests.

A ceremony will be held later on Thursday in the Banski Dvor Cultural Center, followed by a reception at the RS government building. Serbian PM Ivica Dačić is expected to attend.

Speaking for the entity's public broadcaster RTRS on Thursday, President Dodik said the RS would "exist and be ever stronger," and that its independence should be placed as the state and political goal.

Before that, he continued, the Dayton agreement should be respected and "what can be used should be used from it." Dodik added that Bosnia-Herzegovina "cannot survive - because there is not enough political love for it."

"No solution made on the level of Bosnia-Herzegovina is good for the RS which feels the enormous burden of the fact it is in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the answer to the stripping of its powers in the previous period must be made exclusively by political means," he said, and warned that the RS will, "if this sequence of events continues", submit its demand for independence - "considering that Bosnia-Herzegovina will come to nothing."

Commenting on a morbid "greeting card" sent by Bosniak associations - showing human corpses and bones, and claiming the RS was "built on it" - Dodik said that it came from Bosnia's other entity, the Federation, "and not from the RS, which is not guided by a policy of ethnic hatred":

"That others think the RS should not exist is their problem. The RS is a good place for everyone who lives here, and a significant number of Croats and Bosniaks live here - they don't have to love it, but it's important that they respect its laws."

The Fena news agency reported that the marking of the RS Day was "not acceptable" to Bosniaks living in the entity.

Deputy RS Assembly President Ramiz Salkić said that the Bosniaks' refusal to attend the celebrations was "not a denial of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Constitution, but a legitimate way of demonstrating non-acceptance of decisions that have been made in the past without Bosniaks and against their interests."

The RS chose January 9 as its day to mark the proclamation of the Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Srpska Republika BiH) in 1992.

During the political crisis in this former Yugoslav republic following its secession, the Serbs who opposed in October 1991set up the Assembly of the Serb People in Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed by the November proclamation that all municipalities and other territorial units where more than 50 percent of the population voted against in the referendum on Bosnia's independence were becoming a part of Serb autonomous territories.

After the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, the peace accord reached in Dayton, Ohio, organized the country into the Serb entity, RS, and the Muslim (Bosniak)-Croat Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (FBiH).

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