Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska marked its annual veterans’ day by paying homage to soldiers who died during the 1992-95 conflict.
|Veterans' day ceremony in Banja Luka/Photo by BIRN|
Republika Srpska’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Dzombic told the ceremony in Banja Luka on Friday that 23,000 Bosnian Serb fighters had lost their lives during the war and that their contribution to the creation of the Serb-run entity should never be forgotten.
“If there were no fighters, there would be no Republika Srpska or Serb people in this region,” Dzombic said at the ceremony.
“This is why we must care for the fighters who survived. The [Republika Srpska] government is implementing projects such as housing assistance and veterans pensions to former soldiers,” he said.
Nedeljko Mitrovic, a representative of an organisation that works on behalf of the families of dead Bosnian Serb troops and civilians, said that the Republika Srpska entity was the “pride” of all former fighters.
“We must remember all our veterans. Their families are facing many problems. The search for missing persons is going slowly, and this is a big problem for them,” said Mitrovic.
A delegation from the Republika Srpska government, along with NGO representatives and local people, laid flowers at the St. Pantelija cemetery in Banja Luka.
The army veterans’ day was marked in other towns across Republika Srpska a day earlier.
In the southern town of Trebinje, municipal officials and local people brought floral tributes to a memorial centre for fallen soldiers on Thursday.
Trebinje veterans minister Rajko Capin said that families of dead fighters in the town still did not have adequate housing and had become the “most socially vulnerable group” there.
“This is why the city has found a location where we will construct a building which will permanently solve this problem,” said Capin.
Commemorations and religious ceremonies also took place in Prnjavor, Novi Grad, Derventa, Visegrad and Pale.