dragan čović - hdz BiH.jpg
Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic
Photograph: HINA/ FENA/ Emanuel soca/ ua

Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday celebrated the day of its statehood, marked once again by deep divisions in the country that bear evidence to the fact that even two decades after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement disputes on the state's foundations keep existing.

Statehood Day, November 25, commemorates the session of the National Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ZAVNOBIH) held in Mrkonjic Grad on that day in 1943 when the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a federal unit in the then new Yugoslav federation, was established.

"It is one of the most important days in our history, when Bosnia and Herzegovina's statehood was reaffirmed and when its peoples expressed the commitment to making their country a community guaranteeing full equality to all, and when its territorial sovereignty, integrity and historical continuity were reaffirmed," reads a message issued on that occasion by Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman Dragan Covic.

The Croat chair of the Presidency underlined that Bosnia and Herzegovina developed on the basis of centuries of tolerance and coexistence of different peoples, cultures and religions, and that that tradition had not developed without challenges as was the current challenge of building lasting peace based on the equality of all living in the country.

"That is the only way we can leave behind violence, conflicts and the destructive political logic of the winners and the defeated. Only that way can we leave the past where it belongs and turn to a brighter future," said Covic.

At a reception held for Statehood Day in Sarajevo, the Bosniak member of the state Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, said that regardless of all challenges and problems in the country, its people today lived better than they had before.

"Stop counting bad news because there will always be bad news. I call on you to talk about positive things and to launch a new wave of positive energy," said Izetbegovic, calling for unity on the country's progress.

Politicians and the authorities in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska do not mark November 25 as Statehood Day because they believe that there is no legal continuity between today's Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 1943 Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Their position is that Bosnia and Herzegovina can base its statehood exclusively on the Dayton Peace Agreement of 21 November 1995 and the Serb entity marks that day as a holiday.

Over the past 20 years it has not been possible to reach agreement on a state law on holidays so each entity marks its own holidays, the only two holidays that are marked by both entities being May 1 and January 1.

The Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Mladen Ivanic, insisted on that fact this year again, and, acting in line with his predecessors' practice, decided not to participate in the celebration of November 25, which in all previous years was marked under the auspices of the Croat and Bosniak members of the state leadership.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina has no law on holidays and for me that alleged holiday cannot and should not be marked. For someone to mark it, it would have to be accepted by all constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Ivanic.

Latest news

SpaceX plans to fly two passengers around moon, NASA involved

SpaceX is planning to fly two private citizens around the moon next year, the first manned trip to the Earth's only natural satellite in more than four decades, the private company said Monday.

Key congressman has 'no evidence' of Trump contacts with Russia

The chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said he is not aware of any evidence of improper contacts between Russian officials and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gambia's new President Barrow fires army chief

Gambia's new President Adama Barrow has sacked army chief Ousman Badjie, replacing him with a presidential military aide.

Star investor Buffett takes a bigger bite of Apple, doubling shares

Stock market guru Warren Buffett on Monday revealed that his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway doubled its share of iPhone producer Apple stocks last month.

Minister: Erdogan not welcome in Austria for referendum campaign

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come to Austria to campaign to Turkish citizens living there ahead of a constitutional reform referendum in his country, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Monday.

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish judge remands German reporter in custody

A Turkish judge remanded German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in custody Monday, according to newspaper Die Welt, sparking strong condemnation from the German government and rights organizations.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump says he will present a "public security and national security budget" that hikes military spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.