On Wednesday, Serbs were invited to fly thousands of red, blue and white national flags, whether they live in the region or around the world, to mark “Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag Day. “.
Opening the full day of celebrations, Populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic inspected military equipment on display in a Belgrade park, praising the military’s readiness to respond to external threats.
He said the military is “five times stronger” than just a few years ago and announced new military purchases.
The show of force by Serbian officials, as well as their calls for the creation of the “Serbian world”, or for the political unification of some 1.3 million Serbs living in Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Croatia with the Serbia have raised concerns in neighboring states.
In the 1990s, Serbian forces with financial and political support from Belgrade waged 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.
Renewed calls for pan-Serbian unity have further heightened tensions in the Balkans.
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said he could “not believe that the Serbs had nothing more important or smarter to do” than to create vacations that infringe on the internal affairs of neighboring states.
Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, the most fervent supporter of the “Serbian world”, was quick to react.
“There is nothing more important than the preservation of Serbian identity,” he said.
The new national holiday coincides with the day when the Royal Serbian Army, along with French troops, defeated the forces of the Central Powers in a famous World War I battle in northern Greece in 1918.