Croatia: Vukovar bans Serbian language, Belgrade protests

City scraps Cyrillic alphabet but decision is illegal

06 November, 12:46

    Croatian citizens protest in Zagreb against signs in the Cyrillic alphabet used by Serbs in Vukovar town (archive photo) Croatian citizens protest in Zagreb against signs in the Cyrillic alphabet used by Serbs in Vukovar town (archive photo)

    (ANSAmed) - BELGRADE - The Croatian martyr city of Vukovar on the border with Serbia has chosen Croatian as its official language along with the Latin alphabet. The decision to ban the Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet angered Belgrade which slammed the move as 'discriminatory' against the city's significant Serbian minority.

    Slavka Draskovic, head of the government office for the diaspora, called on Zagreb to intervene so Croatian law will be respected. Croatian legislation states that areas where minorities make up at least one-third of the population must be bilingual.

    'Denying its language to the Serbian community is not a solution to escalating tension in Vukovar', said Draskovic.

    'On the contrary, the measure increases the sense of insecurity among Serbians in the city'.

    The measure to ban Serbian was voted by 13 members of the municipal council with Croatian parties 'Hdz' and 'Hsp As' and an independent, three Serbian councillors with the 'Sdss' party voted against while eight Social Democratic councillors with the 'Sds' party abstained.

    For months Vukovar has been at the centre of a strong-arm with Zagreb's central government over legislation concerning minorities and bilingualism which provides for bilingual signs in areas where minorities make up at least one-third of the population.

    But war veterans and the majority of Vukovar's residents say the city - which was destroyed by Serbians in the 1990s war - cannot be considered like others. Serbian and Cyrillic letters are a reminder of the conflict's killings and tragedies and therefore the city should be exempted from the law, they say.

    Cyrillic signs and inscriptions on the city's streets and public buildings have repeatedly been destroyed.

    The government however has persisted in saying that, though it understands Vukovar's special status, the law must be respected.(ANSAmed).

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