News 03 Dec 13

Croatian Anti-Cyrillic Campaigners Eye Referendum

Campaigners in Vukovar opposed to the official use of Serbian Cyrillic script say they have gathered enough signatures to call a referendum on the issue.

Josip Ivanovic
BIRN
Zagreb

Ivan Gavric, of the "Committee for the Defence of Croatian Vukovar", said the campaign group had collected enough signatures to call a referendum on changing minority rights law regarding official bilingualism in areas with large ethnic minorities.

Although the results of the two-week drive to collect names are not yet official, Vlado Iljkic, another member of the Committee, said they had already gathered “perhaps even 10 per cent” more signatures than they needed.

Croatian law states that if 10 per cent of registered voters sign such a petition, organisers have a right to call a referendum.

The drive to call a referendum on use of Serbian Cyrillic was launched on November 17 by war veterans angered at the installation of new bilingual signs in Latin and Cyrillic in the town of Vukovar, which was the scene of fierce fighting between Serbs and Croats during Croatia's independence war in the 1990s.

After a gruelling siege, the Serb-led Yugoslav Army took the border town on November 17 1991, expelled the remaining Croats and executed hundreds of men they found incapacitated in the hospital.

Vukovar was eventually returned to Croatian control, after which many Croats returned, but a third of the population remains Serbian, entitling the community to bilingual signs.

The Committee proposes that minority language rights should apply only where at least half of population is from an ethnic minority, instead of a third, as under current legislation.

After the authorities started installing the controversial bilingual signs in Vukovar in September, many were immediately torn down by angry veterans of the campaign to defend the town in 1991.

Gavric insisted that his Committee has no intention to discriminate against anybody but to “synchronize Croatian law with that of progressive, Western EU member-states”.

However, the centre-left government of Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic is alarmed. Embarrassed by the success last Sunday of a referendum against gay marriage, which he opposed, he has condemned the anti-Cyrillic initiative and vowed that the referendum won’t be held.

Independent MP Furio Radin, president of the Committee on Human and National Minority Rights, said the government has already prepared a set of changes that will forbid any such initiatives whose aim is to curb reduction minority and basic human rights.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Investigation 07 Dec 16

Balkan War Crime Suspects Maintain Political Influence

NEWS 29 Nov 16

Bosnian Serb Honours for War Criminals Challenged

News 23 Nov 16

Kosovo Budget Held up by Row Over Veteran Benefits

news 23 Nov 16

Bosnian Military Property Dispute Bars Way to NATO

Analysis 16 Nov 16

Bosnian War Crimes Claims Still Trouble Croatia

News 14 Nov 16

Macedonian War Crimes Convict Runs for Parliament

Background

serb-minority-rights-scripted-out-in-croatia-09-02-2015

Serb Minority Rights Scripted Out in Croatia

The muted response to the Croatian town of Vukovar’s decision to scrap controversial bilingual signs in Latin and Serb Cyrillic script suggests the EU has lost focus on minority rights, analysts claimed.

Croatian Dissident Feared Kidnap by Yugoslav Spies

The trial of Zdravko Mustac and Josip Perkovic, former Yugoslav spy chiefs accused of killing a Croatian émigré, heard that the victim repeatedly told his German lover that he was living in fear.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter