Sarajevo, 22 January 2023-28
Krug 99 (Circle 99)
POLITICAL PARADE OF SHAME AND MILITANT INTIMIDATION OF JANUARY 9, 2023                In celebration of 9 January 2023, the unconstitutional Day of Republika Srpska, the regime of this Bosnian entity held its first ever parade in the suburbs of Sarajevo – in Lukavica.  (The previous six parades had been held in Banja Luka.)  Judging the reasons behind why and in what manner the parade was performed on the very periphery of Sarajevo, and witnessing who were the participants, what was said at the speaker’s podium and who were the attending guests, the argument can be made that this was a “political parade of shame and militant intimidation.”
               This parade was attended by representatives of the government of Serbia, as well as by political and diplomatic sponsors and creators of the doctrine of the “Serbian world,” one of the key elements of which is in fact Bosnia and Herzegovina, or more accurately Republika Srpska.                It is incomprehensible that the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, agencies of the international community, the Office of the High Representative, even embassies of the states comprising the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) issued no diplomatic reaction of condemnation to the authorities of the government and armed forces of Serbia.  These Serbian entities were in fact represented at the parade by two Ministers of the Government of Serbia, including [Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Ivica Dacic, who was General Secretary of the Serbian Socialist Party when this party’s president was Slobodan Milosevic, and by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Serbia.  In this way, this represents an approval of Serbia’s expansionist policies and an endorsement of the war-mongering projection of the “Serbian World” in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
               The parade of 9 January 2023, in the immediate vicinity of Sarajevo, was a political parade of shame for a number of reasons.  First, this was a commemoration of the crimes of Serbian military units from the period 1992-1995, from mass rapes, ethnic cleansing and cultural destruction to genocide against the non-Serb population on the territory now called Republika Srpska.  This was a commemoration of the war crimes, which resulted in long-term or life-time prison sentences totaling more than one thousand years.  Second, the parade included non-governmental organizations, such as the student organizations of public universities in Banja Luka and Eastern Sarajevo, sports associations and organizations of families with four or more children.  And, third, this event demonstrated the continuity of wartime objectives into peacetime with the aim of creating a mono-ethnic state of the Serbian people.
               The Republika Srpska parade in the Sarajevo suburbs was a form of militant intimidation for several additional reasons.  First, this was a commemoration of crimes and perpetrators of crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in their creation of today’s Republika Srpska, launching the possibility of new mass crimes. Second, the armed para-military group “Night Wolves” participated as a de facto branch of the Russian para-military organization “Wagner.”  Third, the police and gendarmerie units marched in the parade with long guns.  And, fourth, the parade demonstrated the military technology of the armed forces of Republika Srpska, not only with armored vehicles but also with helicopters.                This political parade of militant intimidation sent a clear message to everyone: “Be careful what you do!  Look at how powerful we are!”
               Why does Republika Srpska celebrate January 9th 1992?  Because this is the day of the assembly of the so-called Parliament of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, held in defiance of the Constitution of what was at that time the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  This assembly adopted a “strategic political document” called the “Declaration Proclaiming the Republic of the Serbian People in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the name of the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”  This unconstitutional political act is considered the foundation of today’s Republika Srpska, and it was technically not correct, since the original proclamation was for a Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not today’s Republika Srpska.
               Is Republika Srpska really a “state” constitutionally and exclusively of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the sense of the afore-mentioned proclamation of a Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina?  Republika Srpska is not a state only of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In fact, it is not a state at all.  In fact, it is an administrative part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  And it did not come into being on 9 January 1992, but rather as an entity defined in the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995.
               In any case, the Republika Srpska parade held at Lukavica this year was intended to demonstrate many things.  First, it intended to show that Republika Srpska was established on 9 January 1992.  Second, it intended to show that Republika Srpska is exclusively a “state” of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Third, it intended to show the political readiness of the Serbian political leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Serbian regime to defend Republika Srpska by military means and to accomplish definitively the creation of a state of the Serbian people of Bosnia and Herzegovina sometime in the future.  And, third, it intended to show that existing gendarmerie and police forces are prepared and powerful enough to defend Republika Srpska and to support the eventual establishment of a state of the Serbian people outside the framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
               High Representative Christian Schmidt made a very troubling statement about the parade.  He said: ‘Now we have to move beyond 9 January 2023 and look to the future.  It should be said that 9 January 2024 will not happen in the same way.  That is to say, national and entity holidays can be observed, but this can be done in such a way that nobody loses their head.’
               This is a troubling statement because it announces that Schmidt will provide international legitimacy for 9 January, deemed unconstitutional under the 1992 Constitution and also under the current one, as long as it is observed in some ‘acceptable manner.’  It also means he will recognize the creation of the ethnic state entity Republika Srpska on territory which for centuries has been the cradle of a multiethnic Bosnian state.  It also means that he will lend legitimacy to the numerous crimes, from ethnic cleansing to genocide, committed in the name of creating an ethnic state of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war of 1992-1995.  If he does all this, he will be directly responsible for the strengthening and deepening of a negative peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for all consequences that might arise from that.
               Any kind of celebration of 9 January 1992 is an expression of Greater Serbian ethno-nationalism and of the destruction of the possibility of mutual confidence and reconciliation.                What is the Bosnian response to the provocative political parade of shame and militant intimidation?  The response lies in the civic arrangement of Bosnia and Herzegovina within a system of the political equality of citizens, of all people working for a positive, rather than a negative peace.  The response lies in the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the Euro-Atlantic political and security community.  In today’s real-political environment, the security of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a political issue of the first order.
Summary of Session of 22 January 2023, Professor Doctor Enver Halilovic, (former Rector of University of Tuzla and former Bosnian Ambassador to Russia)
               Adil Kulenović, President
Association of Independent Intellectuals – Circle 99 (Bosnian: Krug 99), a leading Bosnian think-tank, was established in Sarajevo in 1993, in the midst of the Bosnian war (1992-1995), while the capital was under siege. Circle 99 provides a platform to bring together intellectuals of various professional and ethnic identities; university professors, members of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and other prominent figures from Bosnia and from abroad. Multidisciplinary discussions and initiatives are held each Sunday throughout the academic year, in the form of regular sessions about politics, science, education, culture, economy, and other societal issues. The overall goal is to sensitize the public towards a democratic transformation, achieving and maintaining peace, and integration of modern Bosnia into the community of countries fostering liberal democracy. Circle 99 has been declared an organization of special significance for the city of Sarajevo.