Official participation to mark autonomous Serb Republic's national holiday amounts to gross interference in the internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, says Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic.

Bosnian Serbs consider January 9 to be their small state's most important holiday.
Bosnian Serbs consider January 9 to be their small state's most important holiday. (Reuters)

Bosnia and Herzegovina has sent protest notes to the Russian, Chinese and Serbian embassies for sending embassy representatives to mark the autonomous Serb Republic's national holiday, defying a top court ban.

The official participation in these celebrations amounted to a gross interference in the internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic said on Monday in the protest notes.

The notes said the relevant decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina published in the official gazette was included, and it was stated that such actions could disrupt bilateral relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

READ MORE: Bosnian Serbs mark statehood day despite ban on celebrations

Disruption of friendly ties

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged a protest over the presence of representatives of the embassies at the commemoration ceremonies in the city of Banja Luka, which represent an act opposing the upper ruling of the Constitutional Court.

The ministry was therefore forced to strongly condemn this behaviour, which can disrupt friendly relations, said the notes.

More than 800 armed police officers took part in the parade, including members of anti-terrorist units, gendarmerie and cavalry.

They marched alongside students, war veterans and athletes through the streets of the region's largest city Banja Luka.

Among those attending were Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic together with Serbian Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic and ministers from her Cabinet as well as the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to Sarajevo and far-right French deputies.

Discriminatory celebration

Bosnian Serbs consider January 9 to be their small state's most important holiday.

However, in late November 2015, Bosnia's Constitutional Court ruled that celebrating "Statehood Day" could be discriminatory to other ethnic groups in the country.

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established by the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the Bosnian War in 1995. It consists of two Bosniaks, two Serbs, two Croats and three foreign judges, and its decisions are legally binding.

However, Serbs in the region overwhelmingly passed a controversial referendum on a "national holiday" in defiance of Bosnia's highest court in September 2016.

Over 99 percent of the voters in the Serb-majority territory chose to make January 9 "Statehood Day," fuelling fears that the referendum could be a first step towards seeking independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country torn apart by violent ethnic conflict in the 1990s.

Controversial Serb figure

Prosecutors also summoned the region's then-leader Milorad Dodik to testify about the controversial referendum on his entity's "national holiday."

Dodik, a pro-Russian nationalist, has repeatedly threatened to pull out the Serb representatives from Bosnia's armed forces, tax system and judiciary and create Serb separate institutions.

Last Wednesday, Dodik was freshly sanctioned by the United States for corruption and threatening the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia.

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Source: AA