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News 15 Jun 17

Serbia Presents Legal Changes to 'Save' Cyrillic

The Serbian authorities presented legal changes which will introduce fines and benefits to encourage people and companies to use the Cyrillic alphabet rather than Latin script.

Maja Zivanovic

Serbian Minister of Culture Vladan Vukosavljevic. Photo: Beta/Emil Vas.

The Ministry of Culture presented proposed changes on Thursday in a bid to counter decreasing use of the Cyrillic alphabet in the country, particularly among the younger generation.

A Ministry of Culture working group tasked with proposing amendments to the law governing the official use of languages and alphabets said today that Cyrillic is will be declared a “native alphabet”, while Latin will have the status of a support script. 

“Language and the Cyrillic alphabet are one of the essential features of cultural identity and the proposal for amending the law on the official use of languages and alphabets regulates the status of the Cyrillic alphabet," Serbian Culture Minister Vladan Vukosavljevic said on the press conference on Thursday.

According to the Serbian constitution, adopted in 2006, Cyrillic alphabet is in official use, together with the Serbian language, which means that all communication between public institutions, but also between them and companies or citizens, should be in Cyrillic. 

Veljko Brboric, a member of the working group and head of the Serbian language department at the Faculty of Philology, said that the law governing language was important as the law governing traffic.

"Not respecting the law on traffic could have deadly consequences, but disrespecting the law on language could have serious consequences for our culture," he said. 

The proposed changes envisage the use of Cyrillic in educational institutions, media, companies and all public institutions. The alphabet will have to be used in communications between legal entities when one side is a Serbian legal entity. 

It will also have be used in company logos, product names, instructions for the use of the products, and bills.

Milos Kovacevic, a professor at the Faculty of Philology and a member of the working group, said that its aim was to protect Serbian culture and its identity.

"Restoring the dignity of the Cyrillic alphabet is to restore the dignity of the Serbian language, Serbian culture as a unifying factor for all Serbs in areas where they live," said Kovacevic.

In order for the law to change, the proposed amendments must be approved by a majority in the Serbian parliament.

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