Dodik says hasn't given up on referendum, vote to be held in March or April

The President of the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, has said that he has not given up a plan to call a referendum on the exit of entity representatives from state-level judicial and police authorities, that the relevant procedure has been completed and that a decision remains to be made on when the referendum will be held.

"The referendum will be held. All procedures have been completed and we are discussing a date, in March or April," Dodik told the Belgrade-based commercial TV station Pink.

He stressed that the date marking the establishment of Republika Srpska, January 9, would not be changed despite a ruling to the contrary by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, insisting that the Bosnian Serb entity was not a result of the 1992-95 war.

"(Republika Srpska) is not a result of the war because on 9 January 1992 there were no armed conflicts in Bosnia, so the weight of this political decision has to do with the fact that Republika Srpska was established at a time of peace," the Serb entity president said, recalling that the entity parliament had already refused to implement the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina declaring Republika Srpska Day as unconstitutional because "if the date is changed, the character of Republika Srpska will be changed too."

Dodik said that the Serb entity was being targeted with the aim of destabilising it and making Bosnia and Herzegovina a unitary state.

Commenting on reports that Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic had made him give up the planned referendum, Dodik said that his cooperation with Serbian authorities was good, and that unlike some of their predecessors, incumbent Serbian officials no longer instructed Bosnian Serb authorities on what to do, but rather "give their suggestions and views", letting the entity authorities "work as they find appropriate."

In November 2015, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled that marking January 9 as the day of Republika Srpska was unconstitutional because it expressed only the interests of the Serb people.

The court obliged the entity parliament to adjust, within a period of six months, the entity law on holidays with court practice, but the entity authorities said they would not obey the ruling.

In 2013 the same position on the entity holiday was taken by the Venice Commission, an expert legal body of the Council of Europe, which concluded that marking January 9 discriminated against Croats and Bosniaks as members of the country's constituent peoples whose equality in that entity is guaranteed by the constitution.

January 9, Republika Srpska Day, commemorates the January 1992 decision of a group of Serb deputies in the parliament of the then Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish "a republic of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina", which was later renamed "the Serb republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina", and eventually got its current name that was recognised only in 1995 under the Dayton peace agreement, which put an end to the war in the country.

The January 1992 decision, which had no constitutional grounds, also called for keeping majority Serb parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the union with Serbia and Montenegro, an attempt to prevent the declaration of Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence.

The forcible attempt to keep parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the rump Yugoslavia resulted in war and mass expulsion of non-Serbs from the territory of today's Republika Srpska.

Last update: Tue, 12/01/2016 - 15:11

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