Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Serb Minority Representatives Warn about Rise in Hate Speech

ZAGREB, November 6, 2018 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović received on Tuesday a delegation of the Joint Council of (predominantly Serb) Municipalities (ZVO), who informed her of their view on the status of the ethnic Serb minority in Croatia, particularly the eastern parts of the country that were peacefully reintegrated into Croatia's constitutional and legal system in 1998, the Office of the Croatian President said in a press release.

"The delegation expressed concern over what they see as a rise in hate speech and expressions of intolerance against the Serbs as well as over incomplete implementation of the laws that regulate the rights of ethnic minorities," reads the press release.

The president expressed her conviction that some of the problems were caused by the unfavourable economic and demographic situation in the areas that were peacefully reintegrated, explaining that those problems affected all residents and should be solved by concerted action of the state-level and local authorities.

She underlined the importance of the permanent development of the culture of dialogue and full social integration of ethnic minorities.

"Since all unresolved issues from the recent past still affect coexistence, it is necessary to investigate all war crimes, which are not covered by the statute of limitations or amnesty, and in that process there must be no room for collective stigmatisation as responsibility is always individual," the president was quoted as saying at the meeting.

For the overall progress in coexistence, it is of the utmost importance to continue inter-state dialogue between Croatia and Serbia and keep making joint efforts in the search for all missing persons, Grabar-Kitarović said.

For more on the position of Serbs in Croatia, click here. If you are interested in reading more about relations between Croatia and Serbia, click here. More info about the political events in Croatia can be found in our dedicated section.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Veterans Outraged by Zagreb Mayor's Meeting with Serbian Politician

ZAGREB, November 5, 2018 - The Association of Zagreb war veterans who defended Vukovar sent an open letter on Monday to Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić expressing outrage and disappointment at Bandić's reception for the head of the town council of the Serbian town of Jagodina, Dragan Marković Palma, who together with Serbian paramilitary leader and war crimes indictee Željko Raznatović a.k.a. Arkan established the Party of Serb Unity in 1993.

The war veterans association criticised Bandić for receiving the Serbian politician whom they described as "a proven Chetnik" and "Arkan's errand boy". They also pointed out the fact that the reception in Zagreb on 2 November coincided with the observation of the 27th anniversary of the fall of the village of Lužac near Vukovar into the hands of Serb paramilitary forces led by Arkan in 1991.

On Sunday, the Split-Dalmatia County association of war veterans who were detained in Serb-run concentration camps described Bandić's decision to receive the Serb politician as abominable. That association said that the reception in Zagreb was an act of rubbing salt into the wounds of war victims.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Meved said on Monday that officials have to take account with whom they meet. “If indeed this is the same person, from what we can see on social media, that is absolutely unacceptable and I am personally very critical toward relations of that kind. We are aware that we have to normalise relations with Serbia. I am an advocate of cooperation, particularly in finding missing persons. We, however, have to take account with whom we meet and who those people are. If they participated in the armed aggression against Croatia, then it should be dealt with by some other authorities," Medved said.

Asked what message that meeting was sending, Medved said that he couldn't say as he wasn't familiar with the circumstances that led to the meeting or with the contents of the talks. "I was in Vukovar that day and I don't know the circumstances that led to the visit. I don't know the contents of the talks. I truly cannot comment in any greater detail. I am in contact with veterans' associations. In fact, those who have some knowledge of this event are reacting in an appropriate manner," he said.

The HVIDRA association of disabled war veterans on Monday criticised Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić for receiving Palma, whom they described as "a self-confessed Chetnik", saying that this was an affront to all veterans and victims of the Homeland War.

It is particularly incomprehensible that he came to Zagreb at the invitation of Mayor Bandić himself. "In doing so, Mayor Bandić humiliated the Croatian defenders and their families, Croatian institutions and our country, at a time of preparations to commemorate the sacrifices of Vukovar and Škabrnja," HVIDR said, calling on Bandić to apologise "to all those who sacrificed for the freedom of our country."

For more on Croatia-Serbia relations, click here.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Croat Minority Elects Croatian National Council in Serbia

ZAGREB, November 4, 2018 - The list called "Croats Together" led by the Croat community's activist Jasna Vojnić, won on Sunday all the seats in the Croatian National Council (HNV), which is the 29-member umbrella organisation that represents the 58,000-strong Croatian community in education, media, culture and the official use of the language in Serbia.

The leaders of the Croatian minority were chosen indirectly, by 77 electors, at a session held in the Serbian National Assembly at noon on Sunday.

The electors are ethnic Croats who have gathered at least 60 certified signatures of support from their community. Of those 77 electors, 74 voted for the "Croats Together" slate led by the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV) and a few other Croat associations and prominent members from their community.

The DSHV leader Tomislav Žigmanov said after the election that the victory was ensured despite "obstructions in the organisation of the elections, spreading of defeatism and unfavourable political circumstances". Being committed to our unity we have managed to win the confidence of a large number of citizens, he added.

Jasna Vojnić said that "the new, fourth Croatian National Council will evenly develop the institutions in all communities where members of the Croat minority live." "The Council is meant to be a link with the Catholic Church, the motherland and with the majority nation as well as with all other ethnic minorities," she said.

In addition to the Croats, all other 22 ethnic minorities are also choosing their leaderships on Sunday.

The new HNV was elected indirectly because there were not enough Croatian voters to be registered in a separate voter roll which may enable them to hold direct elections. Furthermore, three more minorities elected their leadership by electors; and those are the Montenegrin, Macedonian and Russian minorities, whereas 18 ethnic minorities elected the new leaderships by direct vote.

To read more about the Croat minority in Serbia, Click here.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Croat Minority in Serbia to Elect New Leaders on Sunday

ZAGREB, November 2, 2018 - The Croat minority in Serbia on Sunday is choosing a new Croatian National Council (HNV), the 29-member umbrella organisation that represents the Croatian community in education, media, culture and the official use of the language.

The leaders of the Croatian minority will be chosen indirectly, by electors. These are ethnic Croats who have gathered at least 60 certified signatures of support from their community.

The Serbian Electoral Commission has found that 82 members of the Croatian community have gained elector status. They will meet in the Serbian National Assembly at noon on Sunday to elect the new HNV.

The new HNV will consist only of candidates from the "Croats Together" slate led by the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV) because it will be represented by 78 of the 82 electors. The remaining four electors come from the Croatian Civic Alliance and the Croatian Independent Slate.

The DSHV has gathered about 5,200 signatures of support.

Slaven Bačić, who has led the HNV in the last two terms, is not running for president of the HNV.

The new HNV is being elected indirectly, by electors, because there are not enough Croatian voters registered in the voter roll.

In addition to the Croats, all other 22 ethnic minorities will also choose their leaders on Sunday.

The status of Croats in Serbia has been in focus in recent years, and it is often influenced by the state of wider relations between Croatia and Serbia, which have hardly been fantastic lately.

If you want to know more about the status of Croats in Serbia, click here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Serbia Accuses Croatia of Selling Its Military’s Hotel

We will not do nothing and allow Croatia put to a public auction the former Yugoslav military resort in Baška Voda, said Zoran Ristić, the president of the “Stolen Property” association from Serbia. He said that the hotel was actually Serbia’s property, reports Večernji List on Octobr 31, 2018.

In the article “Croats Are Selling Our Military Hotel”, the Večernje Novosti daily from Serbia write that “the famous military resort in Baška Voda is the first piece of real estate that the Croatian authorities have put up for sale by public tender under the new law on state property management.” The law allegedly allows for the lease of real estate “belonging to companies, institutions and banks from the former Yugoslavia, which Croatia transferred to its own ownership in 1991.”

Ristić pointed out that the former Sutjeska hotel, later renamed Croatia, was built in Baška Voda by the Hidrogradnja company from Sarajevo, and that it gave it to the Yugoslav federal ministry of defence in the late 1980s to finish the construction, with a request that company’s workers would be allowed to use it during the summer months. Later, Hidrogradnja added another floor to the hotel, which was financed by the military.

“Before the war, the then Yugoslav defence ministry, whose legal successor is Serbia’s defence ministry, entered its ownership of the hotel in the land registry in Makarska. The hotel has three floors, with 180 rooms, and 12,500 square metres of gross surface,” Ristić explained, adding that "at the outset of the war, the hotel, just like all other Serbian properties, was taken over by the Croatian state which transferred the ownership to itself.”

He said that the Croatian government announced a public invitation for purchase of the hotel on September 13, and that the deadline for applications expired on October 26, with three bids received. The highest price, of about two million euro, was offered by the Marea Alta company from Makarska, owned by Herzegovina entrepreneur Petar Ćorluka, also known as the “the king of the toilet paper” since he made his fortune as owner of the well-known Violeta brand. Other two bids were reportedly received from the Adria Coste Tourism company from Zagreb and Maros Nekretnine from Slatina.

Ristić explained that he had sent information about the case to Serbia’s Directorate for Property, which collects data on the properties of Serbian institutions and companies in Croatia.

“This hotel has not yet been subject to court proceedings and that is probably why it was the first to be offered for sale. But we are not going to just sit and do nothing,” said Ristić. The association has already contacted the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, challenging Croatia for discrimination, and is preparing for arbitration proceedings in The Hague.

Večernje Novosti claim there are around 180 cases being considered by the Croatian courts involving restitution of property owned by companies and institutions from Serbia.

For more articles on relations between Croatia and Serbia, click here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Croats in Serbia Mark Josip Jelačić's Birthday

ZAGREB, October 17, 2018 - The Croat community in Serbia held ceremonies in Novi Sad and Petrovaradin on Tuesday evening to mark the birthday of Ban (Viceroy) Josip Jelačić, who had served as the governor of Croatia from 1848 to 1859.

Monday, 15 October 2018

“Right-Wing Parties in Croatia Affecting Serbia-Croatia Relations”

ZAGREB, October 15, 2018 - Right-wing political parties in Croatia have been evidently growing stronger and exerting strong pressure, which affects Serbia-Croatia relations and contributes to the continuation of an anti-Serb hysteria in Croatia, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said on Sunday.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Minister Promises No Lenience towards Serbia on EU Accession

ZAGREB, October 13, 2018 - Serbia has to meet all criteria for accession to the EU and there will be no concessions in that regard, and the MOST party is making up an affair, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić told a press conference on Friday after the MOST party accused the government of betraying national interests regarding Serbia's EU negotiations.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

“Croats in Areas Bordering Serbia Should Own Arms,” Says HDZ MP

ZAGREB, October 3, 2018 - A parliamentary debate on a bill on firearm possession on Wednesday went off on a tangent, focusing on "historical topics", after Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Stevo Culej said that "every able-bodied Croat in areas bordering with Serbia should have a firearm within their reach," with Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Nenad Stazić retorting that Culej was making fascist statements.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Serbian President Talks with Serb Minority MP Attacked in Zagreb

ZAGREB, September 29, 2018 - Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said that he would not want to "add fuel to the flames of poor relations between Serbs and Croats" and that efforts should be made to improve these relations in the future.

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