Serbian Unity Day raises considerations within the Balkans | World information

By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Serbia ushered in a new national holiday with a demonstration of military power on Wednesday and called on all Serbs in the Balkans to unite under one flag, which, decades after similar calls to the bloody wars, caused unease among its neighbors the 1990s.

The Serbs have been told to display thousands of red, blue and white national flags wherever they live in the region or in the world to celebrate “Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag Day”.

Populist President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic opened the whole day of celebrations, inspecting military equipment on display in a Belgrade park and praising the army’s readiness to respond to outside threats.

He said the army was “five times stronger” than it was a few years ago and announced new military purchases.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political cartoons

The muscling of Serbian officials, as well as their demands for the creation of the “Serbian world” or the political unification of an estimated 1.3 million Serbs living in Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Croatia with Serbia, have sparked concerns in neighboring states.

In the 1990s, Serbian troops with financial and political support from Belgrade carried out bloody campaigns in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo with the aim of forming a “Greater Serbia”. The campaign tried unsuccessfully to redraw the internal borders of the former Yugoslavia and create a single Serbian state.

The renewed calls for Pan-Serb unity have further exacerbated tensions in the Balkans.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said he could “not believe that the Serbs have nothing more important or wiser to do” than creating holidays that violate the internal affairs of neighboring states.

Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, the loudest supporter of the “Serbian world”, reacted quickly.

“There is nothing more important than maintaining the Serbian identity,” he said.

The new national holiday coincides with the day the Royal Serbian Army, along with French troops, defeated the Axis Powers in a famous battle in Northern Greece during World War I in 1918.

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