Saturday, 18 December 2021

Serbian Croat Minority Celebrates Its Holiday, SNV Supports It

ZAGREB, 18 Dec, 2021 - The Croat minority in Serbia faces many challenges but it has been making significant achievements and perseveres in protecting its unity, Croat National Council (HNV) head Jasna Vojnić said in Subotica, in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina, on Friday. 

The HNV on Friday marked the day of the establishment of the first HNV, a holiday of the Croat minority in Serbia.

"The house where Count (Josip) Jelačić was born has been bought and is being renovated, offices have been secured to house the association of Croats in Belgrade, construction work on Croatian House has begun, the first crèche has been opened..." Vojnić said, speaking of the results of the current HNV.

Another, invisible achievement is the preserved unity among Croats in Serbia and their representatives becoming credible partners to the state institutions in Croatia, she added.

The event in Subotica was also attended by the deputy head of the Serb National Council (SNV), Croatian member of parliament Dragana Jeckov, who said that the Croat and Serb minorities shared many problems.

"When Croats in Serbia are attacked, Serbs in Croatia feel it very much and, I am sure, vice versa," she said.

"To all those who are not willing to give a helping hand to promote relations - stop and let us minorities live normally," she said.

The envoy of the Croatian prime minister, Milan Bošnjak, commended the ethnic Croat community's achievements and positive steps made by the Serbian authorities, but also warned of situations that make life for the Croat minority more difficult and harm bilateral relations.

In that context he mentioned the decision by the Subotica town government to declare the Bunjevci Ikavian dialect "an official non-Croatian language" and the fact that the issue of representation of Croats in the Serbian parliament had not been resolved yet.

"We look forward to the moment when a Croat will be elected to the Serbian parliament in a separate constituency," Bošnjak said.

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Friday, 6 August 2021

SNV Commemorates Serb Civilians Killed at Uzdolje Near Knin in 1995

ZAGREB, 6 Aug 2021 - The southern municipality of Biskupija and the Serb National Council (SNV) on Friday held a commemoration in Uzdolje near Knin for civilian victims of the 1995 military and police Operation Storm, at a site where eight Serb civilians were killed on 6 August 1995.

In 2017 the SNV branch in Biskupija and the association of the families of missing persons "Protiv zaborava" (Against oblivion) unveiled a memorial commemorating the civilians killed at Uzdolje.

Today a religious service was held for the victims at the site and wreaths were laid and candles lit at the memorial by local ethnic Serb officials and Serb minority MP Anja Šimpraga.

The SNV recalled in a statement that the Documenta - Centre for Dealing with the Past nongovernmental organisation in August 2017 filed a criminal report against unidentified perpetrators for the crime committed at Uzdolje.

"The criminal report, which no institution has yet acted on, relies for the most part on facts about the crime on which light was shed in an investigation by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), primarily by witness statements," the SNV said.

It recalled that the investigation by the ICTY showed that three men, wearing camouflage uniforms with Croatian Army insignia on them and armed with machine guns, arrived by car in Uzdolje's hamlet of Šare in the morning of 6 August 1995.

They started abusing and intimidating elderly people they found in the hamlet, taking away a group of villagers to a location near the Knin-Drniš road, where one of the three men opened fire at them, killing seven, including three women. One person survived and managed to escape to a nearby forest.

Another person, an elderly woman, was killed in her house.

The SNV said it was not clear what prevented prosecutorial authorities to further investigate the crime and called on them to do so.

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Saturday, 3 July 2021

Serb National Council Unveils Memorial to Victims of Ustasha WWII Crime

ZAGREB, 3 July 2021 - The Serb National Council (SNV) unveiled in Donja Suvaja on Saturday a monument to the victims of a crime committed by the Ustasha on 1 July 1941, with SNV president Milorad Pupovac saying "the crime in Donja Suvaja, Osredci and Bubanj was one big evil."

"On 1 July 1941, the Ustasha, led by Maks Luburić, savagely tortured and killed women, children and older inhabitants in Donja Suvaja. We are erecting this monument on the 80th anniversary, in memory of their lives and horrific moment od death, but with faith in the idea of man's victory over hate," it says on the monument alongside the names of 290 victims.

According to an SNV statement, the crime in Donja Suvaja was one of the first mass crimes against women and children committed by the Ustasha, followed by a campaign of cleansing the Lika region, which resulted in an uprising of the people of Lika.

Pupovac said most of the 290 victims were women and children, while the rest were infirm and old. He said the crime took "only two hours" and that Luburić "decided to go a step further" by killing the victims "in the worst possible way, by slaughter and massacre."

"From 29 June 1941 until the beginning of July, all the worst methods were applied here, all the worst procedures seen in war, persecutions and forced resettlement," he added.

Pupovac said Lika also had been the site of the first Ustasha death camp, Jadovno, "which claimed dozens of thousands of lives in less than two months of operation."

"This was not a death factory as with some other peoples in World War II. Donja Suvaja was a horrible hate crime, a crime of extermination."

Pupovac reiterated that the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" was the "most shameful salute in Croatian history and the most shameful expression of the Croatian people's striving for its freedom," adding that it "was not, nor could in be, nor is anything else but a symbol of hate and crime." 

He commended the state leadership's decision to "dedicate more attention to antifascism (this year), as never before, which we could see at Brezovica, where the first Partizan detachment came together."

"Everyone must realise that the blood and meat of that movement, said to have been the largest in Europe, was right here. The souls of these women, children and older people, and of those who since that moment never gave up, from 27 July, until the area of freedom had spread across the whole country at that time, including Croatia, are our anti-fascism," said Pupovac.

He called out "the high-ranking Croatian officials who, at recent commemorations, have been pardoning the crimes and criminals in this last war, just because they are our boys." He called on them not to downplay crimes because "that insults all of us who remember as citizens of this country."

The memorial in Donja Suvaja was erected as part of the SNV's culture of remembrance programme with funds from the government's office of human and national minority rights.

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

Friday, 6 December 2019

SNV Launches Campaign with Cyrillic Messages of Presidential Candidates

ZAGREB, December 6, 2019 - Croatian War Veterans Affairs' Minister Tomo Medved said on Friday that a campaign with posters displaying the names of three presidential candidates and their slogans written in Cyrillic, launched by the Serb National Council (SNV), was unnecessary and did not contribute to a better understanding between Croats and Serbs.

"In my mind, this is unnecessary. I cannot see any concrete form of contribution (to a better understanding)," Medved said adding that he would refrain from any further comment given that this was launched in the build-up to the presidential election.

Several jumbo posters with the names of the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Miroslav Škoro and their campaign slogans written in Cyrillic, were set up by the SNV on Thursday.

This umbrella association of ethnic Serbs in Croatia thus resumed its campaign "Let's better understand each other", launched two months ago with the aim of removing a stigma from the Cyrillic script during the 1991-1995 Homeland War when Serb rebel forces used this script and sprayed Cyrillic letters on buildings and houses in the occupied areas.

The SNV embarked on the campaign following the Constitutional Court's recommendation in mid-2019 that the Vukovar city council adopt changes to the city statute under which Serb councillors should be allowed to ask orally for documents and papers to be delivered in their mother tongue and Cyrillic script. Currently, such requests have to be submitted in writing.

The Council was given until October to make such changes and adopt other necessary decisions that would enhance the Serb minority's right to use its language and script.

On 18 October, the City Council adopted a conclusion saying that understanding, solidarity, tolerance and dialogue between ethnic Croats and Serbs are at a level that enables cooperation and co-existence; however, conditions have not been met to expand the scope of vested individual rights and prescribe collective rights for the Serb minority in Vukovar.

More news about the status of Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

SNV Sympathises with All Who Do Not Forget Their Loved Ones

ZAGREB, August 3, 2019 - On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the 1995 Croatian military and police operation Storm, the Serb National Council (SNV) on Saturday issued a remembrance statement calling for a minute's silence and expressing sympathy with all who remember their family members, neighbours and friends killed in that operation.

"We express sympathy over the lost and abandoned homes. Even though we are not part of the collective memory established by the state, it is up to us to say the victims' names and the names of their villages and towns without fear and with dignity, and to remember them freely," reads the statement, signed by SNV president Boris Milošević.

The SNV leader noted that the war in Croatia did not end with Operation Storm, or with the murder of the last old man or the departure of the last tractor, and that it also did not end with Croatia's accession to the EU.

"The war has never been more alive and the news of its end travels slowly," the SNV says, adding that the news of the war's end has still not reached Croatian courts, members of parliament, schools and those who do not know what to do with themselves in peacetime.

"The war is not over and Serb children who have to bear the stigma of criminals in their schools and feel the guilt for its destructive consequences are the ones who know it best," the SNV says.

It warns that in such circumstances it is not only Serbs, killed and expelled during the Storm and Flash operations and tortured and abducted during the war, who are being forgotten, also forgotten are Croat civilians killed in the war. Their suffering becomes equally invisible and unreal in a society in which the war and war myths become values in themselves while ethnic and religious backgrounds are treated as life achievements, reads the statement.

The SNV has fought and will continue fighting for a remembrance policy in which there will be room for all victims and all those who today suffer injustice due to their ethnic and religious affiliation, the statement says.

"We will eventually have to look at ourselves in the mirror as a society regardless of how much we fear our own reflection," the SNV says, adding that the sooner this is done, the better it will be for the freedom and equality of all people in Croatia.

"The necessity of that act is reflected in the fact that violence was sown in society long ago and is evident in schools, in political speeches, in the media and in the street. History will repeat itself to all those who do not see the connection between the glorification of the war and an almost complete absence of solidarity and empathy," the SNV said.

More info about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Serb National Council in Croatia Celebrates Christmas

ZAGREB, January 6, 2019 - The Serb National Council (SNV) gave a reception on Sunday on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas at which SNV president Milorad Pupovac said it was necessary to pull out of the quagmire of Serbian-Croatian historical topics and that they gathered today with one goal - the good of the Serb community in Croatia, the good of Croatia and for the best possible relations between Croatia and its neighbours.

"For the good of the Orthodox, Catholic and all faithful with whom we live in our country. Peace from God, Christ is born!"

Pupovac said 2018 was "a year of noise in the communication channels with our neighbouring countries" and that it was necessary to do more this year, not just in the exercise of Serbs' rights in Croatia, but also in the advancement of inter-ethnic relations and tolerance.

"We must also do everything in our power to take the relations between Croatia and Serbia, but also Bosnia and Herzegovina and our other neighbours, out of the period of bad decisions because they, it's clear to see, don't benefit anyone, while harming everyone. This year we will dedicate ourselves to that. Both we deputies and Serb institutions in Croatia. We believe that in our government and the governments of the neighbouring countries, we will encounter not just open interlocutors, but serious and committed partners," said Pupovac.

"We will also be dedicated to pulling ourselves out of the quagmire of our Serbian-Croatian, and on this day, I will say Catholic-Orthodox, historical topics. We must not underestimate any one of them, nothing of that, nor look on them with contempt or run away from them, not those related to the experience of the joint state, not those related to World War II and NDH (Independent State of Croatia), not the issue of the tragic break-up of the joint state in war."

Pupovac said the danger to the future of "each of us, each of our peoples" should be underestimated even less "if we continue to interpret moving in the quicksand of our past as progress."

"Yes to re-examining the past, but no to renewing historical evil or celebrating it," he added.

The support which members of the Serb ethnic minority give the parliamentary majority and the government is no small thing considering Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20th century, and through this support they are genuine political and social stakeholders who take part in the regulation of all issues pertaining to minority rights, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday at a Serb National Council reception for Orthodox Christmas.

Christmas "is an opportunity to strengthen faith in peace, solidarity and tolerance as well as unity in the resolution of issues that are important to all our fellow citizens," he said. "Faith in a better tomorrow unites our citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion, and Christmastime is another opportunity for strengthening cooperation and respect."

Understanding and tolerance are the foundations of Croatian society and the government's activity, Plenković said, adding that he was especially pleased that for the third year in a row the government had the support and confidence of all ethnic minority MPs, including Serbs, who "are directly participating in the adoption of public policies."

"That's no small thing because we all know well that the history of Croatian-Serbian relations in the 20st century was fraught and not simple," Plenković said, adding that those relations are directly affected by the quality of Zagreb-Belgrade relations. "Just as the lasting reconciliation between France and Germany didn't happen overnight, it will take more time for the still fresh wounds in the relations between Croatia and Serbia to heal."

He said the issue of persons gone missing in the 1990s war was especially painful and a burden to those relations. "Failure to resolve this issue is markedly slowing down the reconciliation process because it keeps us in the past and prevents us from turning to building a future."

Plenković said returns were another issue which should be completed in all directions. "There's also the question of truth, because without truth there's no dealing with the past, without truth there's no reconciliation, there's no building a common future," he said, adding that "Croatian society needs reconciliation, tolerance, mutual respect."

He said minorities should support the parliamentary majority and be a part of it because it was the only way they could help the government and the parliamentary majority regulate even better the legal, material, financial and institutional issues related to minority rights.

That's the path we will continue on and it's the path which can give Serbs in Croatia a good status, the exercise of their rights and their place in our society, which we should build together as a society and a state in which trust is built together, civil rights are respected and minorities' particularities and identity which make society richer are acknowledged, Plenković said.

Christmas should be the foundation of understanding and mutual respect of all Christian believers in Croatia, he added. "Because faith and hope in a better and more just tomorrow for our families and all of Croatian society are common to us all. So let this Christmas be an incentive to all Christian believers for dialogue, cooperation and the building of a society based on tolerance and trust."

More news on the Serbs in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Serbia Sends Protest to Croatia for Burning of Serb Weekly

The Novosti weekly was burnt a few days ago during a protest of an extreme right-wing party.