The marking of the unconstitutional Day of the Republika Srpska (RS) on January 9th comes at a time of great political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and is an ideal opportunity for Milorad Dodik to raise his rating once again and further tighten the political situation.
But, the celebration itself shows the weakness of the current RS government, as the “battle” for January 9th was lost, so any reaction from pro-Bosnian parties is unnecessary.
Namely, the essential reason for disagreement over the celebration of the unconstitutional Day of the RS on January 9th is not of a moral nature, even though marking it has that dimension, but the question of whether the RS was formally and legally created by the Dayton Peace Agreement or the illegal Assembly of the Serbian people in BiH. However, the public’s argument was channeled in the direction of the moral correctness of the celebration of January 9th, and in this regard, the continuation of the celebration of the Day of RS on that date continues to provoke harsh reactions.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the political and legal disagreement around January 9th comes down to the question of continuity, ie whether the will of the majority of the Serbian people embodied in the illegal founding of the RS on January 9, 1992, has greater legitimacy than the will of the majority of citizens of BiH confirmed by the referendum on independence on March 1st, 1992.
The signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 clearly defined that BiH “continues to exist”, but that it modifies its internal structure with the Dayton Constitution, which confirms that the RS entity formally and legally was created only at that time, not earlier, which the Office of the High Representative (OHR), as the supreme interpreter, has confirmed on several occasions.
On the other hand, the RS leadership tried, among other things, to circumvent this legal fact by legally defining the Day of the RS on January 9th, trying to move its formal and legal origins back a few years. That is why, and not because of daily political motives, an appeal was submitted to the Constitutional Court of BiH twice. On two occasions, in 2015 and 2019, the court ruled that January 9th was unconstitutional, and the ambition of the RS leadership to prove continuity definitely remained unfulfilled.
The desire to formally and legally confirm the continuity between the illegal RS created by the unconstitutional actions of January 9th, 1992, and the present-day entity RS created by the Dayton Peace Agreement, lies in the fact that the RS authorities see the current situation as temporary, and that at the moment of changing geopolitical circumstances, they will try to make BiHmeaningless, which requires not only force but also legal argumentation.
In this regard, today‘s pompous celebration of the unconstitutional Day of RS is an expression of weakness, not strength, and any defiance will not change the fact that the very existence of the RS entity is based only on the Dayton Peace Agreement.