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Russia against politicizing referendum issue in Republika Srpska

September 28, 12:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Most of Bosnia’s Serbs who voted in the September 25 plebiscite supported Republika Srpska National Day to be held on January 9
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A woman casts her ballot in a referendum over a disputed national holiday in the Bosnian Serb town of Banja Luka

A woman casts her ballot in a referendum over a disputed national holiday in the Bosnian Serb town of Banja Luka

© EPA/VLADIMIR STOJKOVIC

MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. Russia is against politicizing the referendum on the main entity holiday of Republika Srpska (one of the two constitutional and legal entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

"We are against artificial politicization of this issue," she said. "We regard the expression of will, held on September 25 in Republika Srpska in the context of implementing the wide powers of the country’s two entities, envisaged by the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Dayton Agreement), including the establishment of public holidays. On the positive side we note the fact that the plebiscite was held without any incidents and that the voter turnout was high - more than 55% of Republika Srpska’s citizens eligible to vote."

Zakharova said Moscow was certain that this step "by no means undermines the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the centralized constitutional architecture established under the Dayton Agreement."

"As a guarantor of the peace agreement for Bosnia-Herzegovina Russia systematically supports its key principles," she said. "We regard as categorically impermissible any possibility the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina might use extraordinary ‘Bonn Powers’ regarding the formalization of the returns from the referendum in Republika Srpska."

Zakharova said that Russia in tight cooperation with the Bosnian parties and in contact with the partners in the Peace Implementation Council’s Steering Board has been pressing for the launch of and constructive progress in the intra-Bosnian dialog on all themes sensitive for Bosnia-Herzegovina and its entities.

"We are for comprehensively using all of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s constitutional, legal, political and consultative mechanisms to this end," Zakharova said. "We see no alternative to negotiated stable solutions on crucial issues of Bosnian settlement."

Republika Srpska National day is marked on January 9. On that day in 1992 the parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Serbs met in session for the first time. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Muslim community made attempts to outlaw the celebrations. The leadership of Republika Srpska put the issue to the vote in a referendum. Most of Bosnia’s Serbs who voted in the September 25 plebiscite supported Republika Srpska National Day.

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