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news 11 Aug 17

Montenegrin Serbs Back Vucic’s ‘Serb Survival’ Initiative

Serb political leaders in Montenegro said they will join Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s initiative to draft a declaration aimed at ensuring the ‘survival’ of Serb cultural identity across the former Yugoslavia.

Dusica Tomovic
Serbian and Republika Srpska presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Milorad Dodik (left). Photo:Beta/Dragan Gojic.

Montenegro’s NOVA party, which represents the large Serbian community in the country, will participate in drafting Vucic’s proposed ‘survival of the Serbian nation’ declaration, alleging discrimination and political pressure by the Podgorica authorities.

Jovan Vucurovic, a NOVA official and MP in the Montenegrin parliament, told BIRN on Friday that the party will make concrete proposals not only to improve the position of Serbs in the country but also on "cultural and other ways of unifying Serbs from all Serb territories".

The declaration, proposed jointly by Serbian and Republika Srpska Presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Milorad Dodik on August 4, aims to protect the Serbian nation, language and culture but both their administrations claimed it was not inspired by ‘Greater Serbian’ nationalism.

According to their proposal, after broad consultation with Serbs in the region, the document will be finished by end of November. 

On August 8, Nikola Selakovic, the Serbian president’s secretary general, said that the initiators of the document would "propose certain measures that would help to preserve the Serbian language, [Cyrillic] script and identity". 

Selakovic told Serbian broadcaster RTS that Serbia is exemplary in terms of protection of minority rights and “we demand nothing less for Serbs in other countries in the region”.

The announcement by Vucic and Dodik came after a meeting of representatives of Serbs from the region in Novi Sad on August 4, attended by some representatives from Montenegro, which coincided with the commemoration of Serbs who were killed in Croatia’s Operation Storm military offensive in 1995.

Vucurovic said he agreed with Dodik’s comment that Serbs in Montenegro were being subjected to “identity genocide”. 

“Our people, church, culture and identity are directly threatened and exposed to discrimination. But we have shown toughness and we will not let anyone assault us violently,” Vucurovic said.

Serbs make up at least a third of the population of multi-ethnic Montenegro but have found themselves outvoted and politically marginalised under the long-running rule of Milo Djukanovic who, in defiance of their wishes, has distanced the country from historic ally Russia, and from Serbia, and championed both EU and NATO membership.

Serb organisations in Montenegro have also been urging the authorities for years to end what they claim is officially-sanctioned discrimination against the Serbian language and the Cyrillic script in schools.

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