Wednesday, 22 September 2021

President Milanović: "I think Serbian President Vučić is Proud of His Wartime Role"

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović reiterated in New York on Tuesday that his current Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vučić, had incited to war and that he was probably proud of that.

In a talk at Columbia University on Monday, Milanović said Vučić had been a warmonger, which set off a storm in Serbia.

"You can't ignore which roles some people had in our region in the last 30 years. Blood was spilt, there was arson, killing, and some people incited to that," he told the press on Tuesday, adding that "Croatia has gentlemanly let it go but won't bury its head in the sand as many in Serbia are doing."

"I think Vučić was proud of what he was doing. This is something that should be said from time to time, especially when someone... sends on a daily basis his political holograms, spokesmen and agitators to say on his behalf whatever pops into their heads. That's dirty and methodologically cheap," Milanović said.

Vučić said on Monday that Milanović was saying such things about him, "shallow and low insults", because Croatia is jealous of Serbia's economic success. He said Milanović was bothered by the fact that this year Serbia would surpass Croatia in GDP "by a 300 to 600 million euro margin."

"Serbia has a bigger total GDP even than Luxembourg. But Croatia's and Serbia's GDPs per capita are not even close. Serbia is much closer to Albania there," said Vučić. "In terms of general development, Serbia is not at Croatia's level. Life in Croatia is better and richer than in Serbia by all parametres."

Friendly talk on Bosnia with Erdogan

Milanović spoke to the press after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying they had a friendly talk on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"What I say in public, I say at such meetings," he said, adding that Turkey's foreign and defence ministers were also at the "quite open and very pleasant" meeting.

"What I underlined to Mr Erdogan is that there is no one in Croatia who will throw around stories that Mostar and Herzegovina will separate, which we hear from some others about some other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And that's not smart nor necessary. In Croatia, no one advocates such a policy and such outcomes nor thinks that," Milanović said.

While in New York, he was to have met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, but the meeting was cancelled because Milanović had more important commitments.

That wasn't even supposed to be a meeting but a photo op and a five-minute talk, Milanović said. "At that moment, I assessed that I had something more productive, an informal meeting concerning the region, state business."

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Branko Bačić: Vučić's Call is a Provocation, Illegal to Hang Out Another Country's Flag

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) whip Branko Bačić said on Tuesday that the call by Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić to "Serbs in all Serb lands" to hang out their Serb flags on 15 September, wherever they may be, is inappropriate, unacceptable and a provocation.

"I consider that to be a provocation and inappropriate, all the more so, because it is in violation of the law," Bačić told reporters in the Croatian Parliament, citing the Public Law and Order Act which says that displaying other countries' flags is not allowed.

I expect the Serb community to respect the law

"I expect that our fellow citizens and members of the Serb community in Croatia will respect its laws," said Bačić, underscoring that it is inappropriate and unacceptable for the "president of Serbia to call on citizens of Croatia, notably members of the Serb community in Croatia, to hang out Serbian flags in Croatia on 15 September."

Asked if the police would monitor that, Bačić said that the Croatian police perform their duties according to the law and that he believes that this will be the case tomorrow too.

"It is not particularly hard to check if someone has displayed the flag of another country in their window," said Bačić.

He rejected claims from the opposition that the government should have reacted more sharply to Vučić's call and that it did not do so because of the cooperation with its coalition partner, the Independent Serb Democratic Party (SDSS).

He underlined that HDZ is cooperating properly with its coalition partners. "The ruling majority is stable but that does not mean that we will pass over this kind of call, merely because we are in a coalition with members of national minorities," he said.

Bačić would not comment on a statement by SDSS MP Milorad Pupovac that all Serb minority institutions should hang out the Serbian flag alongside the Croatian flag and that he saw Vučić's call as an encouragement and not as an imposition.

Ruling majority is stable

Ahead of the autumn sitting of the Sabor, Bačić said that the ruling majority is stable and that the government has full support in addressing numerous challenges, from economic recovery and the fight against the pandemic to the reconstruction of earthquake-struck areas.

He expects the government to adopt amendments to the Reconstruction Act by the end of the month to accelerate the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and the Banovina region.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić Says Croatia Trying To Humiliate Serbia With Participation in Kosovo Force

ZAGREB, 7 May, 2021- Serbia wants to have good and fair relations with all neighbouring countries but Croatia's actions and statements by its officials are not expressions of respect for Serbia but an attempt to humiliate it, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday.

In a comment on the statement by Croatia's foreign minister that Croatia would increase the number of its troops in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) because that was important for maintaining peace in the region and on disputes triggered by Serbian Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin's statements, Vučić said that Croatia could have refused to serve in KFOR but opted to do the contrary "in order to additionally humiliate Serbia."

Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry stated earlier in the day that Serbia's strong reaction to the planned deployment of a greater number of Croatian troops in Kosovo was "a hysterical speculation" intended to divert attention from the introduction of the Bunjevci dialect as an official language in the northern Serbian town of Subotica, which it considers an attempt to fragment the Croat community in Serbia.

The Serbian president today wondered "why anyone would need to participate in the KFOR mission or brag about it", alluding to Croatia's involvement in the international peace mission.

"They could have refused to take part in KFOR, but they intentionally made that decision to additionally humiliate Serbia. We get the message," Vučić told Serbian reporters during a visit to Obrenovac.

In a message to Serbs in Kosovo, he said that they "should not worry" and that he would soon talk with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, stressing Serbia's commitment to avoid conflicts and maintain peace.

"My message to all those who think that there will be new Storms, new pogroms and expulsions - I guarantee that that will not happen," Vučić said in reference to the 1995 Croatian military and police operation that liberated areas previously held by local Serbs who rebelled against the Croatian authorities.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Minority Leaders Push for Introducing Croatian as Official Language in Vojvodina

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - The Croatian National Council (HNV) leader Jasna Vojnić has sent a proposal to Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić that the language of the ethnic Croatian minority should be recognised as an official language in the whole territory of the northern province of Vojvodina.

The HNV web portal reported on Friday evening about this initiative launched by the leadership of ethnic Croats in Serbia in response to the plans of the local authorities in the northern Vojvodina city of Subotica to approve the official use of the Bunjevački vernacular spoken by members of a local community who identify themselves as non-Croat Bunjevci.

Under the current law, local government units must grant the official use of an ethnic minority's language and script if that minority accounts for at least 15% of the local population. According to the 2011 census, 13,553 citizens, or 9.57% of Subotica residents, identify themselves as Bunjevci.

Despite the fact that the size of the Bunjevci community did not reach the 15% share in the population requirement and despite the fact that this vernacular does not have a status of a language according to linguistic standards, Subotica Mayor Stevan Bakić of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) moved a proposal to amend the city's statute to introduce the Bunjevac dialect and script as an official language.

The HNV leader Vojnić says that being encouraged by this example of such positive discrimination which is applied in the case of the Bunjevci community, the Croatian community "is looking forward to future initiatives of local office-holders to help minorities to exercise similar rights in settlements where ethnic Croats live."

In this context she recalls that in the city of Sombor, Croats make up 8.39% of the local population, and  in the municipalities of Apatin and Bač 10.42% and 8.39% respectively. Therefore, following the precedent of the positive discrimination towards Subotica non-Croat Bunjevci, Vojnić expects Serbia's authorities to apply such positive discrimination rules in the whole of Vojvodina towards ethnic Croats.

Another ethnic Croat leader Tomislav Žigmanov recently warned that the relevant Slavic or comparative linguistics literature does not call the Bunjevac dialect a language.

Croatia's Ambassador to Serbia, Hidajet Biščević, has said in an interview with Hrvatska Riječ that the initiative fort the recognition of the Bunjevci vernacular as an official language is legally unfounded and that it also contains undesirable negative political and social consequences for the interests of the Croat ethnic minority in Serbia.

The diplomat also said that the initiative is contrary to the agreement between Croatia and Serbia on the mutual protection of ethnic minorities.

In the meantime Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry sent a protest note through its embassy.

"The Bunjevci dialect is not a language. It belongs to the new Stokavian-Ikavian dialect, it is one of the dialects of the Croatian language. The Bunjevci people in Hungary are also a sub-ethnic group who call their language Croatian," Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said at  news conference last Thursday, explaining the reasons for the protest note.

Around 16,000 Bunjevci who deny their Croatian origins live in the north of the Bačka region. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council, whose leaders are close to the  Vučić's SNS party.

The remaining majority of the Bunjevci, including the leadership of the Vojvodina Croats, formally identify themselves as Bunjevci Croats.

In the 2011 census, nearly 58,000 people in Serbia identified themselves as Croats.

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