Bosnia and Herzegovina's Statehood Day

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Statehood Day

Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state, its territory, and its borders have a long historical tradition. The Bosnian state emerged in the late 12th century, and over the next two centuries, its territory expanded in all directions. Bosnia’s King Tvrtko I ruled not only the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina but also many surrounding lands in the second half of the 14th century. After the fall of the medieval Bosnian state in 1463, the Ottoman Empire established the Bosnian Sanjak on its territory, which by 1580 grew into the Bosnian Eyalet or Pashaluk, becoming the largest administrative-territorial unit in the Ottoman Empire. The Bosnian Pashaluk encompassed all the surrounding lands that King Tvrtko had once held, maintaining a political-territorial continuity between the Bosnian medieval state and Bosnia as an Ottoman province.

Before the Berlin Congress in 1878, the Bosnian Vilayet effectively and legally coincided with the borders of contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. By the decision of the Berlin Congress, the administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina was entrusted to Austria-Hungary. The borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina remained unchanged and inviolate during the forty years of Austro-Hungarian rule. Within these borders, Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs upon the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. Within this new Yugoslav state, the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina was confirmed and protected, first by the Treaty of Saint-Germain and then by the Vidovdan Constitution.

The first Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in 1921 included a paragraph stipulating that Bosnia and Herzegovina would remain within its current borders, and the existing districts within it would function as regions. However, the full statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 20th century was defined during the founding session of the Anti-Fascist People’s Liberation Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ZAVNOBiH), its wartime parliament, which convened in Mrkonjić Grad on November 25, 1943. In this historic session, Bosnia and Herzegovina was legally constituted as a state of equal citizens—Serbs, Bosniaks (then Muslims), and Croats—whose representatives decided that the country, as a federal unit, would become part of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, on equal terms with the other five republics.

Despite these historical facts, today we witness the denial of Bosnia’s existence. It is our duty to oppose such destructive forces. The Congress of Bosniaks of North America extends sincere congratulations to all Bosnians and Bosniaks in the United States, and Canada on the occasion of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Statehood Day.