The renovation work, worth €100,000, will be financed by the Serbian government with the support of the government of the northern province of Vojvodina and its capital city Novi Sad, of which Petrovaradin is now part.
After the historical building is fully renovated, it will serve as a memorial to the best known governor of Croatia, the seat of several organisations and a meeting point for local ethnic Croats.
The ceremony of launching renovation work was held on one of the four holidays of the ethnic Croat community – the day of Count Jelačić’s birth.
HNV head Vojnić said that the event should serve as an example of how all other outstanding issues related to the Croat community in Serbia should be dealt with, citing in that context guaranteed seats for the Croat community in the Serbian parliament, proportional employment in state institutions, sufficient funding for the work of local councils, a positive image in the media and the protection of cultural goods of the Croat community.
Gojković said the renovation of Count Jelačić’s birth house was a true symbol of “our wish to contribute to the preservation of the tradition, customs and culture of the Croat ethnic minority in our country.”
“By doing so we are demonstrating our commitment to building better relations and understanding between the Serbian and Croat peoples,” she said, among other things.
The event was also attended by an envoy of Croatia’s Central State Office for Croats Abroad, Dario Magdić.
“I hope and believe that today’s event is a continuation of positive developments that started a year ago, when this building was purchased by Serbia and handed over to the HNV… It shows that we should work and build together, to the benefit of our autochthonous communities and societies,” he said.
Those attending the ceremony were also greeted by Vojvodina Prime Minister Igor Mirović.
The birth house of Count Jelačić is located in the centre of Petrovaradin.
Built in 1745, the house was renovated in 2001 on the occasion of the 200th birth anniversary of Count Jelačić.
The Serbian government purchased the part of the building that was handed over to the Croat community for €600,000.
Petrovaradin is an ancient garrison town and was an important point of military resistance to Ottoman forces during the time of the Habsburg Empire in the 17th century, when it was settled by Croats.
In the early 19th century, Croats accounted for more than 90% of the town’s population, but today they account for only 10%.
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