Croatia blocks Vukovar proposed ban on Cyrillic

Central government and right-wing natonalists at loggerheads

22 November, 15:33

    (ANSAmed) - ZAGREB, NOVEMBER 22 - The Croatian public administration ministry has blocked an amendment to the Vukovar City Charter that would have exempted the city from applying a law protecting ethnic minority rights to bilingualism. The city in eastern Croatia suffered heavily during the 1990s conflict, and intended to put a de facto ban on the use of Serbian Cyrillic on signs on public buildings. The ministry considers the regulation - which was approved by the Vukovar City Council a month ago with only the votes of the centre-right - illegal, and has sent a request to the government and the constitutional court to assess the constitutionality of it. For months a group of associations of Croatian war vets linked with right-wing nationalist parties have been protesting against the use of Cyrillic in Vukovar. In September, when the first bilingual signs appeared, protests were held almost daily and dozens were destroyed or forcibly removed, sometimes resulting in clashes with the police. On Monday a campaign began to collect signatures to call a referendum that would require 50% (30% under current laws) of the population living in a city to be from the same minority to have the right to bilingualism. The centre-left majority in power at the national level announced a procedure on Thursday that would amend the constitution in the articles pertaining to referendums - which are at the moment very vague - to stop a referendum on the rights of Serbs living in Vukovar. The Croatian constitution does not currently place any limits on the holding of referendums, even if human and/or minority rights are involved.


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