Žigmanov says Serbian Minister Should Care More about Ethnic Croat Heritage

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 12, 2019 – The leader of the Democratic Alliance of Vojvodina Croats (DSHV) and a member of the Serbian parliament, Tomislav Žigmanov, on Monday called on Serbian Culture Minister Vladan Vukosavljević to pay more attention to the protection of the Croat cultural heritage in Serbia than to Nikola Tesla, who has recently caused new disputes between Belgrade and Zagreb.

Vukosavljević on Friday accused Croatia of laying claim to Tesla, a US and Croatian inventor of Serb origin, by planning to present him as a Croatian inventor at the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

“We have been following with regret a strange and unsolicited interest of Serbia’s Culture and Information Minister Vladan Vukosavljević in Nikola Tesla, a Serb from Croatia, and his status in contemporary cultural practices in Croatia, a country where political representatives of the local Serb community are part of the governing majority,” Žigmanov told Hina.

Žigmanov fears that “the minister’s national exclusivity and zealotry” will hamper efforts to normalise relations between the two countries.

“On the other hand, Serbian citizens of Croat background would prefer the culture minister telling them how much funding has been set aside and which activities have been undertaken to preserve the local Croat material cultural heritage, particularly sites of worship since a number of Catholic churches is in a dilapidated condition,” Žigmanov said.

Žigmanov also criticised the Serbian minister for having allocated significantly higher funds to the Bunjevci ethnic community who consider themselves non-Croats and who are a considerably smaller community than local Croats.

He wonders why the minister allows the laying of claims to ethnic Croat intangible heritage such as “Dužijanca”, the custom of traditional thanksgiving pilgrimage celebrating the completion of the harvest season, and notes that although local Croats in the region of Subotica have been celebrating those festivities for more than a century, the Serbian authorities are set to register them as the heritage of the non-Croat Bunjevci community.

This past Friday the Serbian culture and information ministry issued a statement condemning what it described as an unacceptable attempt by Croatia to lay claim to Tesla, whom it said the entire world recognised and remembered as a Serb who spent a large part of his life in the United States.

At the Expo 2020 in Dubai, Croatia will present itself as a country of innovative projects, inventions and world-famous scientists, including Nikola Tesla.

The accusations from Serbia prompted Croatian Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek to underscore that Croatia “remembers Tesla with respect, without trying to deny his ethnic background.”

“The Croatian encyclopaedia describes Nikola Tesla as a US and Croatian inventor of Serb descent. Tesla was born in Croatia, he was educated in Croatia and left Croatia for Austria and later for the Czech Republic, Hungary, France and the United States,” the minister said.

She added that unlike Serbia, which has not stopped falsifying history and laying claim to other countries’ great people, Croatia “remembers one of the biggest inventors with respect, without trying to deny his ethnic background.”

Vukosavljević responded by saying that Tesla was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan, “in the Austrian Empire, in an area called the Military Frontier, which was almost exclusively populated by Serbs, and his father was a Serb Orthodox priest.”

“How has a Serb, born in the Austrian Empire, in the area of the Military Frontier, at a time when there was no inkling of a Croatian state, become a ‘Croatian inventor’,” Vukosavljević said, adding that he considered such an interpretation “illogical and historically unfounded.”

More news about the status of Croats in Serbia can be found in the Diaspora section.


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