BANJA LUKA – Bosnian Serbs are celebrating Republika Srpska Day in defiance of the constitutional court and the international community. The January 9 holiday commemorates the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state in Bosnia.

Bosnian Serb police officers, firefighters and folklore groups paraded through the streets of Banja Luka, the capital of the Serb-run part of the BiH.

Serb leaders participated in religious ceremonies in the city’s main church. That was broadcast live on local television, along with interviews with Bosnian Serb war-time military and political leaders.

Republika Srpska Day was banned last year by Bosnia’s top court. It ruled that the date, which falls on a Serb Christian Orthodox religious holiday, discriminated against the country’s other ethnic groups.

The continued celebration was repeatedly condemned by the top European Union and the U.S diplomats in Bosnia who urged Bosnian Serbs to stop defying the country’s top court.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, who is attending the Republika Srpska Day celebrations in Banjaluka on Monday, said he respected Bosnia and Herzegovina and wanted it to make progress.

Its progress is inconceivable without progress of RS, which, in turn, cannot make good progress without progress in BiH as a whole, he said.

Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik said Monday the RS was primarily interested in its original powers, envisioned by the Dayton Agreement, being restored, and that no one would keep it within Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) if this proved to be impossible.

“Since those powers have been abolished by decisions of high representatives and outside the Dayton Agreement, which has also been violated by decisions of foreign judges, Srpska is resolved to affirm its original Dayton powers,” Dodik told reporters in Banjaluka.