On the 1st of March 25 years ago, the citizens of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RBiH) decided in a referendum that their homeland is independent and sovereign, and thus followed the example of Slovenia and Croatia which have already separated from Yugoslavia, which turned into a “Great Serbia” led by Slobodan Milosevic.
In the referendum, which was held on the 1st of March in 1992, turned out 64.3 % of eligible voters, and for the independence of BiH voted 99.4 % of them. Many Bosnian Serbs, as instructed by their political leadership, boycotted the referendum, believing that they will disable the correctness and legality of it, while a good number of them still went to referendum. But despite that, the referendum was held in accordance with the law so that on the 1st of March 1992, BiH declared its independence.
The decision to hold a referendum was preceded by months of tense situations and threats. The decision to hold a referendum on independence in the Assembly of SRBiH was adopted at the time of the dissolution of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) when the former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia and Croatia have already declared their independence. It was a time of intense but largely unsuccessful conversation of six presidents of the Presidency of Yugoslav Republics on finding a way out of the Yugoslav crisis.
On the fate of the former Yugoslavia, including BiH, was discussed on the international level. In the Dutch city of The Hague on the 5th of November 1991 was held the Conference on Yugoslavia, followed by the Arbitration Commission of the Conference adopting the assessment on a dissolution of the country. In practice, this meant that Yugoslavia has no longer a legal identity on the international level.
According to the decision of the Assembly of SR BiH, the referendum was conducted by the Republic Electoral Commission and Municipal Election Commission. Then SDS has done everything to prevent the citizens of Serbian nationality from participating in the referendum. Supporters of the SDS opposed the referendum, and many of them were already well armed. They set up barriers on roads in order to prevent the delivery of referendum materials.
Member States of the European Community recognized BiH on the 6th of April 1992. The United States recognized BiH a day later, on the 7th of April.
BiH became a full member of the United Nations on the 22nd of May 1992.
However, already in the first days of Bosnian independence, aggressor forces under the direct command of Slobodan Milosevic, who ruled with the help of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic in the then so-called Republika Srpska, started attacks on Sarajevo and BiH. The hell with which Karadzic threatened BiH and Bosniaks were ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement on the 14th of December 1995 in Paris.
Decree on the law that declares the Independence Day of BiH on the 1st of March as a public holiday was signed by the First President of the Presidency of BiH Alija Izetbegovic on the 6th of March 1995, shortly after the end of bloody aggression and exactly three years after the Republic Electoral Commission of SR BiH confirmed the results of the referendum on determining the status of BiH.
Followers of politics which boycotted the referendum and advocated for the division of BiH still challenge this day, and therefore it is not celebrated in the entity of RS.