Address by the President of the Republic of Srpska Željka Cvijanović at the ceremonial academy on the occasion of the Day of the Republic of Srpska:
Dear citizens of the Republic of Srpska,
Today, we celebrate the 29th birthday of our Republic. Even though, every day we are proud of what we have, January 9 is always a special holiday since it is a day that brings us together and unites us in a special way.
It is the same today, although this year we are celebrating the Day of the Republic in a pandemic, with epidemiological measures and in a slightly different way.
However, that will not diminish its significance, and the joy with which this holiday is celebrated throughout the Republic of Srpska speaks best of how much it is rooted in our people and how pointless is the work of those who dispute it.
That is why this year, from Herzegovina to Krajina, from the Drina River to the Una River, with flags held high, we proudly celebrate the peace and freedom in which we live, as well as our right to be on our own.
No one gave us that freedom and that right. We know very well that we do not owe gratitude for the freedom we enjoy to some foreign armies or countries, but to our fathers, our sons, brothers, compatriots and fellow citizens who wanted to leave peace and life to the future generations in our own hearths.
We are obliged to appreciate that sacrifice, to respect the victims, to take care of their families and to remember all those who were up to the task when it was the most difficult.
For them, but also for all those who are yet to come, our obligation is to protect the Republic of Srpska, to build it and to pass it on to the future generations, even more developed and stable than it is today.
29 years since its establishment, we can proudly say that the Republic of Srpska is a modern, democratic, politically and institutionally stable community in which everyone lives freely, regardless of religion, nationality or any other affiliation.
Dear citizens of the Republic of Srpska,
Like the rest of the world, we have been battling a dangerous enemy for the past ten months and tackling the challenges and problems caused by the pandemic.
We have taken appropriate measures to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the Coronavirus. We have trained our health sector to the better care and treatment of the people, we have intervened in the economy to protect jobs, we have preserved budget stability and regularly fulfilled financial obligations without reducing personal income, subsidies and incentives, social benefits.
In such difficult times, it was a serious undertaking for much bigger and stronger countries than the Republic of Srpska.
Although we know that this is neither the first nor the last challenge we face, we must not lose sight of the fact that this pandemic continues to take human lives on a daily basis and seriously endangers not only the health system and the economy, but also the way of life we are used to.
Therefore, it is extremely important that all of us preserve discipline and responsibility in the coming period, in order to cope with this crisis as easily as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my special gratitude to our health workers, who are making superhuman efforts to save every human life and who have been on the front lines since the beginning of this pandemic.
It should be said that, in the year behind us, we have also marked the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which terminated the tragic war conflicts, but also defined the constitutional order and internal organisation of BiH.
Within BiH and abroad, we still have different positions when it comes to the Agreement, its achievements, but also when we consider missed opportunities.
The Republic of Srpska presented its subjectivity and all the necessary elements of statehood into the Dayton Agreement – territory, population and sovereign power within its borders. In return, we received peace and international verification of the Republic of Srpska as an equal entity within BiH with a high degree of autonomy. What we expect and stand for is that this legal, political and historical fact is fully respected.
Unfortunately, this anniversary has once again shown us that even 25 years after the establishment of peace, many inside and outside BiH have not given up on intolerance or unitarisation.
Instead of messages of peace and coexistence, we have received messages of hatred towards the Republic of Srpska, which additionally poisoned the already contaminated situation in BiH, but also strengthened our desire to protect the Republic of Srpska.
We are faced with numerous absurdities in BiH. Therefore, those who advocate consistent adherence to the Dayton Agreement are regularly accused of anti-Dayton actions. Those for whom the Constitution of BiH is a dead letter on paper speak most loudly about the rule of law, and those who dishonour anyone who does not fit into their political ambitions and goals speak about coexistence and tolerance.
Regardless of the disincentive environment, we have our path. It is called a stable, strong and developed Republic of Srpska. We are looking to a future in which we will be partners, not opponents, of each other in BiH and in our region, and in which cooperation and mutual understanding will replace quarrels and conflicts. However, it does not depend only on us.
We are proud of the cooperation we have with Serbia, which is getting stronger, more concrete and more meaningful every day. It is natural that for our people, this connection represents security, a guarantee of survival and preservation of identity. In addition, it is a priority for our further economic development.
Nevertheless, we are open to cooperation with all other countries in the region and beyond. We also want to revitalise our relations with Montenegro, with which we share not only the border, but also strong historical, cultural, spiritual, and even personal and family ties.
Better understanding, better economic co-operation and infrastructural connections with neighbouring Croatia and other European Union countries are also in the interest of both the Republic of Srpska and BiH.
We are also committed to an active participation in the process of the European integration, within which we will retain our competencies and constitutional position, and at the same time implement all reforms that are important for our overall development, respecting the rules of coordination.
Our priorities are to further strengthen strategic cooperation and friendly ties with the Russian Federation, promote traditionally good relations with China, better understanding and cooperation with the United States, but also all other partners in the East and the West, who respect the constitutional position of the Republic of Srpska and who want to build partnerships.
Dear citizens of the Republic of Srpska,
Despite all the challenges and difficulties, I firmly believe that the year ahead will be successful. It is true that no phase in our development path has been easy or simple, but it is also true that we have always managed to overcome difficulties – both political and economic ones. We did not always progress at the desired pace, but we always moved, we never stood still and I am proud of that.
I am also proud of the strong, unbreakable relation between the institutions and our citizens, who understand well that the Republic of Srpska is the only guarantee for our development, prosperity, but also survival in this region.
Just as it is important for the citizens to trust their institutions, it is equally important that institutions and their representatives never lose relation with their citizens and that they can recognise their needs at all times.
Although we have achieved a lot, there is still a lot of work ahead of us. In parallel with repairing the negative effects of the pandemic and preserving the health sector, we must not give up on our infrastructure and development projects.
We must continue to support our economy, taking into account the workers who lost their jobs due to the reduced economic activities caused by the pandemic.
Care for the vulnerable categories remains one of the priorities of our institutions, as well as the implementation of the national programme of demographic renewal, care for the family and further strengthening of institutional ties with our diaspora. We have never closed our eyes to the challenges, and, together with our social partners, we will actively work on overcoming them.
I believe in the Republic of Srpska. I believe in the idea of freedom that lies at its foundations, in its strength that comes from our strong will and the love we cultivate for it, just as I believe in its peaceful, stable and prosperous future.
I congratulate you the Day of the Republic, with the wish that the Republic of Srpska will be better, more successful and more developed every coming January 9.
Long live the Republic of Srpska!