The Council adopted a conclusion which reads that the degree of mutual understanding, solidarity, tolerance and dialogue among residents of Vukovar — the Croats and members of the Serb ethnic minority — had not reached the benchmarks required to upgrade the rights of ethnic Serbs, and this primarily refers to the use of the Cyrillic script.
Under recommendations and instructions delivered by the Constitutional Court, the city council in Vukovar is expected to hold a debate every October to decide whether bilingual officials signs can be introduced in the city, as defined by the Croatian Constitution and the constitutional law on the rights of ethnic minorities.
During today’s debate, Mayor Ivan Penava of the Homeland Movement party said that ethnic Serbs exercised all the rights they were entitled to and that there were still no prerequisites for additional rights.
In my opinion tolerance is such that it enables normal functioning and atmosphere in the City of Vukovar. Any move in any direction can create tension, he said.
The mayor said that for the last 10 years residents of Vukovar had been disputing the outcome of the 2011 population census for the city, as they did not believe that the findings reflected the real state of affairs, including the number of residents of Serb ethnic background.
Democratic Serb Party (DSS) councillor Srđan Milaković said that it was not true that the said population census was contentious and that what was contentious was the overall treatment of ethnic Serbs.
“You will never recognise bilingualism, regardless of the results of population censuses,” the councillor told Penava.
Srđan Kolar of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), who fills the designated position of Deputy Mayor for the local Serb community, said that ethnic Serb were only “a toy in the political relations in Vukovar”.
He went on to say it was not true that local Serbs did not want to see the improvement of interethnic relations, mentioning in that context former Serbian president Boris Tadić’s visit to Vukovar in 2010, when he paid tribute to the war victims. “That is not a small thing, it should not be forgotten,” said Kolar.
Željko Sabo, an independent councillor and former mayor, called for mutual tolerance and respect and for dialogue. “Please sit down at the table and talk at least for the sake of our children, who are separated in schools and kindergartens, which is not good,” Sabo said, describing knowledge of the Cyrillic script as an asset.