Serbs celebrate national “Unity Day” and fly flags across region

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic (left), President Aleksandar Vucic and Army Chief Milan Mojsilovic observe a weapons and equipment display in Belgrade, September 15, 2020. Photo: rs

The Serbian-Bosnian-dominated entity, the Republika Srpska, on Wednesday celebrated a newly adopted public holiday, Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag Day, displaying Serbian flags on institutions and with appeals to Serbs from all countries to display the flag in their windows.

This is the holiday’s second year of celebration, after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced it in August 2020.

At the central event in Belgrade on Wednesday evening, President Vucic, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije were scheduled to speak.

The Serbian Defense Ministry and military also organized a presentation of weapons and military equipment in Usce Park in Belgrade on Wednesday. Besides Vucic, Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and Army Chief of Staff Milan Mojsilovic were present.

The Republika Srpska public broadcaster, Radio Television de la Republika Srpska, reported that citizens of various municipalities in the RS had placed flags on their houses or on windows.

In the main RS town, Banja Luka, on Tuesday evening, Dodik said: “Serbian unity involves our coming together, our struggle with the economy, and the results are not slim.”

Besides him, RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic and Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans Affairs and Social Affairs Darija Kisic Tepavcevic also spoke.

The two parliaments were due on Wednesday to pass a law on the use of the Serbian language in public life and on the protection of the Cyrillic alphabet, which aims to strengthen the use of the Cyrillic script in public life.

In Montenegro, Serbian Unity Day was also widely celebrated, with Serbian flags waving on main streets in Budva and other towns and on private homes across the country.

In the coastal town of Herceg Novi, the Serbian consulate and municipality are planning to hold a rally in front of the Savina monastery to celebrate the holiday.

Montenegro’s pro-Serbian news portals, IN4S and Borba, called on their audiences to display Serbian flags on their homes, while some ruling majority officials displayed Serbian flags on their social media, as a means of mark the party.

However, Montenegro is deeply divided between those who identify as Montenegrins and Serbs, and on Wednesday a deputy from the opposition Democratic Socialist Party, DPS, Andrija Nikolic, accused the authorities of supporting an expansionist Serbian ideology.

“Today’s performance with the Serbian tricolors in Montenegrin cities confirms that the ‘Serbian world’ is an ideology supported by two-thirds of the Montenegrin authorities,” Nikolic wrote on Twitter, referring to the pro-Serbian parties of the coalition government.

In Croatia, where the Serbian community is much smaller as a percentage of the population, the chairman of the Serbian National Council, SNV, Milorad Pupovac, said the new holiday will be celebrated in accordance with Croatian laws.

“The Serbian community in the Republic of Croatia, as an official flag, has the national flag of Serbs, which we have here in the SNV offices, next to which is the Croatian tricolor,” Pupovac said on Tuesday.

Pupovac said they “will do everything to ensure that tomorrow’s date does not in any way disturb relations in Croatia, as well as relations between Croatia and Serbia”.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Monday advised Croats not to respond to calls for people to fly Serbian flags, suggesting that the Serbian president flourished in the confrontation.

“I guess each of us should react to this with an equal measure and then we have something that Vucic has been living on for 20 or 30 years,” Milanovic said.

About Eleanor Blackburn

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