Republika Srpska president said the entity is moving towards the “highest possible” level of independence, which he said was a legitimate political goal. Milorad Dodik spoke on the RS Day, banned by the national constitutional court, celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the entity in 1992.
The proclamation of a Bosnian Serb republic took place three months before the 1992-1995 war erupted, eventually claiming 100,000 lives.
“Our goal is the highest possible independence for the RS. We are moving in that direction and that is a legitimate political goal,” Dodik told Serbia’s national RTS television.
Meanwhile, the goal of Bosnian Muslims and “foreigners” is to make Bosnia a highly centralist country, he said: “But these two concepts are simply incompatible.”
In the past Dodik has repeatedly insisted that Bosnia is not a functional country, labeling it a useless state and a failed international project. He has also repeatedly threatened to carry out a referendum on independence for the RS.
Tuesday’s holiday, celebrated with a parade in Banja Luka, is a major cause of concern among Bosnian Muslims. In a controversial 2016 referendum, organized by Dodik, an overwhelming majority of Bosnian Serb voters opted to continue to observe the holiday on January 9. Bosnia’s constitutional court had ruled that the holiday date was illegal for discriminating against non-Serbs and cancelled the referendum, but Dodik pressed ahead regardless.
At the Tuesday event in Banja Luka, medals were awarded to former Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić, President of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) Heinz-Kristian Strahe, Deputy Mayor of Vienna Johan Gudenus, and director Emir Kusturica.
In his address after receiving the medal, Nikolić said “From the bottom of my heart, I wish that the RS gets its independence and full autonomy”.
“If your independence is the path to unification of the RS and Serbia, then I wish that you get your independence. We must not stray away from that path. There will be hundreds of obstacles, but we are only following the will of the people, and their will is clear – Serbia and the RS will decide together about their common destiny,” said Nikolić.