French right-wing members of the European Parliament will attend the celebration of January 9, the Day of Republika Srpska, on Sunday even though the holiday has been declared unconstitutional in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thierry Mariani and Herve Juvin announced on Twitter that they have already arrived in Banja Luka, “the capital of Republika Srpska.”
“Personally invited by President Milorad Dodik, we will take part in the ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of Republika Srpska,” tweeted Thierry Mariani, an MEP and member of the right-wing party led by Marie le Pen.
The celebrations started on Saturday with the laying of wreaths on monuments and handing awards to institutions and individuals, as well as a solemn academy.
On January 9, authorities have planned a religious mass that will be led by the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Porfirije. Apart from the two French MEPs, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Chairman of the Serbian Parliament, Ivica Dacic, will attend the celebrations.
The holiday was declared unconstitutional by the country’s Constitutional Court in November 2018 but authorities in Republika Srpska continue to ignore the ruling, despite criticism from the country’s Bosniaks and the international community.
The holiday marks the creation of Republika Srpska in 1992, a move Bosniaks see as a prelude to the bloody 1992-95 war that took more than 100,000 lives.
Bosnia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the holiday was discriminatory against non-Serbs in Republika Srpska because January 9 it is also a Serbian Orthodox religious holiday – the day of St Stephen, the patron saint of the entity.
Bosnian Serbs vehemently rejected the ruling and organised a referendum in September 2016, where the majority of the entity’s citizens voted in favour of the holiday.
The Constitutional Court then declared the referendum itself as illegal but the Republika Srpska Parliament passed the Law on the Day of Republika Srpska, which named January 9 as a secular holiday.
That law was ruled unconstitutional in March 2019.
Bosnian Serb leaders view the country’s Constitutional Court as an anti-Serb biassed political tribunal and ignore many of its rulings.