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Bosnia's independence day celebrated in only parts of country

(Xinhua)

14:05, March 02, 2012

BELGRADE, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Only parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) celebrated the national independence day on Thursday, making the 20th anniversary of a referendum that led to its secession from Yugoslavia.

Despite being proclaimed a national holiday, the independence day was only observed in parts of the country administrated by Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks). March 1 is officially a work day in the Serb entity and in cantons where Croats represent the majority.

Wreaths were laid at various locations throughout the capital Sarajevo and before the Eternal Flame in the city center.

Zeljko Komsic of the BiH Presidency called the referendum a vote for independence that represented one of the country's most important historical dates, according to the Bosnian news agency Fena. He was quoted as saying it was unfortunate it was not celebrated throughout BiH.

"Whether celebrated or not, BiH is an independent country that exists," said Komsic. "It is a fact, regardless of any disputes pertaining to this day."

Bakir Izetbegovic of the BiH Presidency said the lives lost in "defense of freedom" should not be forgotten. He called on the current generation to repay that debt by building a "prosperous future."

"We should use the time before us to build mutual trust, and create an environment in which every person, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation or political beliefs, can live in complete freedom," said Izetbegovic.

Milorad Dodik, president of the Serb entity, stated that March 1 was a "holiday for the Bosniak people" and Bosnian Serbs would not observe the date. The referendum 20 years ago was boycotted by Bosnian Serbs, and its results were deemed binding although in contravention of the existing constitution at the time.

Dragan Covic, of the leading Bosnian Croat party HDZ BiH said the day would be a working day on territories where Croats live.

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