Bosnia and Herzegovina's Independence Day was not celebrated throughout the country.
By Bedrana Kaletovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo – 03/03/12
Downtown Tuzla residents enjoy their day off on Thursday (March 1st), the official FBiH Independence Day. [Bedrana Kaletovic/SETimes]
Despite the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (FBiH) official celebration of Independence Day on Thursday (March 1st), Republika Srpska (RS) treated the day as an ordinary day, as did the Croats in the FBiH.
"In BiH, all have a right to celebrate what they want, because we are that kind of a country," Croatian Democratic Union of BiH leader Dragan Covic said.
In a referendum held on February 29th and March 1st 1992, BiH citizens voted to break away from the then Yugoslav federation and in favour of a sovereign and independent state. On April 6th 1992, the European Community acknowledged BiH's independence.
Covic explained that on this national holiday, legally defined as a non-working day, some in FBiH opted to work, signalling the holiday meaning for them.
RS President Milorad Dodik fully supported Covic's denial of BiH Independence Day.
"This is a holiday of the Bosniak people and we do not dispute it, but it is not a holiday celebrated in the RS," he said.
Politicians pay tribute to the people who died in the 1990's BiH conflict, after the declared independence in 1992. [Bedrana Kaletovic/SETimes]
Members of the tripartite BiH presidency held a ceremonial conference dedicated to the day. The conference was attended by more than 200 international community officials and BiH representatives. Serbian presidency member Nebojsa Radmanovic did not participate.
"BiH is an independent state, regardless of whether someone celebrates this holiday," Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic said.
BiH High Representative Valentin Inzko said that as result of the 1992 referendum, financed by the European Community, the day should be respected.
"A new chapter in politics opened up, optimism is coming back, hope. Many projects are coming back, and citizens co-operate better than 20 years ago," Inzko said.
But BiH citizens say they still live in a country that is burdened by the past and is under economic crisis conditions. They hope for better days.
"Each year I hope that my Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrates its birthday in a better social environment," Sarajevo-resident Merima Hadzic told SETimes.
"With the referendum, we show interest to live in the country which has a 1,000-year tradition, and that is why this holiday is my holiday," Miralem Abazovic, from Bihac, told SETimes.