Croat Minority Praises Serbian President

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 25, 2018 – Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has proven to be a credible, proactive and responsible person as regards demands of the ethnic Croat community brought to his attention on February 20 after his official visit to Zagreb, the leader of the Democratic Alliance of Vojvodina Croats (DSHV) party and member of parliament Tomislav Žigmanov told Hina, noting that not all of the assumed obligations had been fulfilled.

Commenting on Vučić’s statement of Thursday that all 26 demands for the improvement of the status of the Croat minority in Serbia had been met in line with the Subotica Declaration, Žigmanov said that the demands the Serbian president cited had been met owing to “Vučić’s direct engagement.”

Žigmanov said the demands concerned problems encountered by the Croat minority in the context of exercising their minority rights. “That primarily refers to the financing of some associations, the opening of a Croatian language instruction office at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies in Novi Sad, the introduction of new high school educational profiles in the Croatian language, communal facilities and infrastructure… in Monostor and Tavankut, the purchase of a part of the house where Ban Josip Jelačić was born in Petrovaradin, the opening of dialogue with bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and participation of representatives of the Croat community in the work of the government of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina,” said Žigmanov.

“The only outstanding issue is the issue of restitution of the Croat community centre in Sremska Mitrovica to the local Croat community, which Vučić himself has admitted,” Žigmanov told Hina.

At the same time, Zigmanov noted that “Croats in Serbia still encounter problems in exercising their rights.”

“The latest case concerns obstruction regarding the establishment of a Croatian language class in Bereg and the putting up of a bust honouring poet Aleksa Kokić in Subotica,” Žigmanov said, assessing this as “a consequence of an inadequate rule of law and undeveloped minority policies.”

Žigmanov pointed to the first point of the Subotica Declaration on the promotion of bilateral protection of minorities – the Croat minority in Serbia and the Serb minority in Croatia – in line with an agreement between the two countries “which also explicitly speaks about the representation of minorities in legislative authorities at all levels, and executive authorities at the local level.”

“That still has not been resolved,” he said, stressing other issues too such as “the issue of proportional representation in state administration bodies” and “the right to participation in the administration of educational and cultural institutions and the right to the official use of the language and script.”

“Last but not least, we have as a consequence of disagreements and tensions in Croatian-Serbian relations an almost permanent, strong anti-Croat sentiment in a part of the public, which results in fear and unwillingness of Croats to take part in public life,” said Žigmanov, the only representative of the Croat minority in the Serbian parliament, elected on the slate of the opposition Democratic Party.

He said that the Croat community in Serbia “positively views any progress resulting from President Vučić’s direct engagement.”

Vučić said on Thursday that all 26 demands for the improvement of the status of the Croat minority, as foreseen in the Subotica Declaration that he signed two years ago together with his Croatian counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, had been fulfilled.

“I think that we Serbs should be proud of what we are doing to improve the status of the Croat minority in Serbia,” Vučić told reporters, underscoring that the list of demands was “100% completed” and that he would speak about it in greater detail in about three weeks.

The Subotica Declaration on advancing relations and resolving outstanding issues between the two countries was signed in 2016 by Vučić in the capacity of Serbia’s prime minister and Croatian President Grabar-Kitarović, after the two met with representatives of the Serb ethnic minority in eastern Slavonia and the Croat minority in Bačka, Serbia.


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