Status of Croatian national minority in Serbia is in focus of political relations between the two countries.
Tomislav Žigmanov, president of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina, the main political party of Croatian national minority in Serbia, said that Serbia should publish 186 textbooks for all levels of education in the Croatian language, which would be the best way to open Chapter 26 on education in the accession negotiations between the European Union and Serbia, and for Croatia to withdraw its blockade, reports Jutarnji List on December 15, 2016.
Due to the outstanding issues in the protection of rights of the Croatian minority, Serbia on Tuesday could not open Chapter 26 on education and culture.
Žigmanov said that so far about 90 textbooks have been published and that secondary school programme and pre-school education have not been covered, as well as national supplements to textbooks on history. He added that particular problem were textbooks for Croatian language with elements of national culture.
Stressing that this was not the only problem, he said that only the establishment of the Department of Croatian Language and Literature would fulfil the preconditions for a quality education of Croats in Serbia, particularly since all other national communities in Vojvodina have such departments. “It is necessary to establish language departments which would be able to issue licenses for teachers of Croatian language, because now almost two-thirds of teachers are linguistically incompetent, which means they do not have a single verified document demonstrating they can speak Croatian language”, said Žigmanov.
Asked whether the responsibility for the problem with textbooks could be attributed to the Croatian National Council, Žigmanov said that such allegations come from “minor persons and organizations” which do not know basic things about the functioning of the state. “Serbia is responsible, not the Croatian National Council. These are malicious insinuations which serve to divert attention from the responsibility of the state, the Ministry of Education, the Institute for Publishing Textbooks, and the Agency for Education Development. They should ensure all the conditions so that textbooks are published”, said Žigmanov.
He also warned that the goal of Croatia was not to be an obstacle to Serbia in its European integration. “If Serbia respond to inquiries sent by the Croatian side to the European Commission, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Davor Ivo Stier said that the blockade could be lifted at the beginning of next year, so I do not see any reason for such tensions”, said Žigmanov. According to him, it seems that in Serbia it is beneficial to have an anti-Croat attitude, but people forget that citizens of Croatian nationality living in Serbia feel pressure and fear due to such attitudes.