Friday, 25 October 2019

Vucedol Era: When Eastern Croatian Settlements Most Important in All Europe

October 24, 2019 - One of the greatest archaeological treasures of South-East Europe lies on the banks of the Danube in eastern Croatia, as it has for more than 5,000 years. Meet Vucedol. 

Have you heard of Vucedol?

And if you have, do you now what it is exaclty? A town, a village, a region, a culture, a people? 

Perhaps you are like me and had heard of Vudecol, knew that it had something to do with an ancient civilisation close to the Danube, and that there was a museum somewhere out there in eastern Croatia. 

It was time to fill in this embarrassing gap in my knowledge about eastern Croatia, and a visit to the Vucedol Culture Museum was put on the list of our recent HeadOnEast family visit to discover the wonders of Slavonia and surrounding areas last weekend. 

I was stunned by what I found. 

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It turns out that Vucedol is a small settlement these days just south of Vukovar. Located on the Danube, it is a sleepy place, but one which once was among the most important settlements in all Europe with a civilisation s advanced as any in the world. 

The right bank of the River Danube in eastern Croatia was settled by people of the Vučedol culture in the early third millennium B.C. This leading cultural formation between 3000 and 2500 B.C. strongly influenced the other cultures of the time and has left noticeable marks on the entire heritage of Europe. It coexisted with the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia, the building of pyramids in Egypt, and the early layers of Troy. The Vučedolians were the first people to have mastered time—the first culture that made a calendar! The first astronomers to read the secrets of the heavens. It is shameful how little we today know of the images above our heads… Pit 6, which was later re-numbered as Grave 3, was dug 4 meters away from the edge of the lowest floor of the Vučedol culture. In the grave, or rather, tomb, a total of eight bodies were found. Especially noteworthy among the large number of ceramic finds is the terrine, the most artistically decorated one of all those found so far in the Vučedol culture. On the night of 9 March 2889 B.C., having just passed through the Pleiades, the planets Venus and Mars found themselves in conjunction visible from Earth as a close approach or “posture of love”.

Introduction to the film about Vucedol - The Prehistoric Night of Venus and Mars.

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If you look at the timeframe of ancient sites, Vucedol does indeed appear to be very advanced.

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A rather excellent museum, the Vucedol Culture Museum opened in 2015 on the banks of the Danube next to some of the Vucedol excavation sites. 

And rather a fascinating little place it is, which has so far been visited by more than 200,000 people, a number that should increase considerably as tourism in the east develops, and should better connections to existing tourism materialise. Vukovar is 6km away, for example, and received tens of thousands of river cruise tourists each year, but almost none make it to Vucedol. 

And they are really missing out, for there are some really FASCINATING things inside, all of which make up part of the Vucedol culture, which I found incredible for its sophistication all those years ago. 

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(All the good photos in this article, including this one, by Romulic & Stojcic)

For Vucedol culture is home to the oldest calendar in Europe, an example of which was found on a pot in nearby Vinkovci, itself the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, dating back 8,300 years. Here are 10 things to know about Vinkovci from a recent TCN visit.  

The Orion calendar is based on the constellation of the stars, as you can see in this brief video above. 

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And there are theories that the stars played a role in the practice of human sacrifice after studying some of the skeletons recovered from the Vucedol site. 

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Given that the height of Vucedol culture was some 5,000 years ago, they seemed to be very advanced for that era looking at the exhibits of findings on display. And it is tantalising indeed to speculate what else is still to be found - only 10% has been excavated so far. 

Among the exhibits is a life-size exhibit of a Vucedol cart, which was pulled by oxen, but much more interesting... 

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 ... was this tiny model, an original. A prototype or kids' toy?

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And there was river transport - these beautiful wooden boats cut from one tree, complete with oars.  

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A reconstruction of a Vucedol house. 

Get more of a feeling from this reconstruction video of the original Vucedol settlements. 

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The museum itself has won awards for its design, and I really liked the layout as we moved between its 19 rooms. 

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And the content kept on coming... 

Another find in Vinkovci, the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe - the first example of metal casting.

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The copper-founders had a shaman-like status within the community, and they lived away from the main settlements. 

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A relatively recent discovery from last year - the first case of the infamous Croatian chequers, which adorn the national flag and which were seen by billions on the shirts of the heroic Croatian national team during the World Cup Final last summer.  

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I was surprised by the sophistication and vibrancy of Vucedol fashion - remember we are going back 5,000 years. They were the first to have shoes designed for left and right, apparently. 

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And the dresses of the women would not look out of place in traditional Croatian folklore dress today. How cool would it be for a big fashion house today to come up with a Vucedol range inspired by the designs of five millennia ago?  

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And a rather important pot for beer lovers - evidence of beer brewing dating back to 3,000 BC.

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Beer was obviously popular in these parts throughout history. That oldest town Vinkovci was the birthplace of no less than two Roman Emperors, once of whom - Valens - was such a beer lover that he earned the nickname of Sabaiarius, or 'Beer Belly.' His legend lives on through the excellent Valens craft beer of Vinkovci, which you can find in the town's Orion bar (named after the oldest calendar in Europe). 

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Included in the exhibits are some of the original scribblings of the early archaeologists, and you can see the famous Vucedol dove, which became a symbol of peace for Vukovar. In actual fact, the latest thinking is that was not a dove, but a partridge, due to the drawings, but also due to the partridge's tendency to limp when protecting its nest - similar to the limping copper-smelting shamans affected by arsenic from the metal. 

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Domestic life in Vucedol. 

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According to our guide, although Vucedol culture is centred in eastern Croatia, it was migratory and there is evidence of it elsewhere in 14 countries. Part of those regional differences is reflected in the pottery. Eastern Croatia is VERY flat and that was reflected in flatter lines in the designs, whereas more mountainous regions had their topography represented on the pottery accordingly.  

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And excavation is ongoing on a limited budget. Some of the supporters of a recent project, above. 

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And while it is mouthwatering to contemplate what more remains to be found, when you combine the riches of the surrounding area, the potential for discovery of one of the most important sites in Europe is surely there. Here is one such post-Vucedol discovery earlier this month near Vinkovci, for example  - an intact Roman chariot with horse.  

As I am far from an authority on the subject, I leave you with some videos from Vucedol, including this one with some of the ongoing excavation. 

 

A journey back in time with reenactments. 

And Vucedol in 4k and from the air. 

To follow the latest from Vucedol and any new discoveries, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

HeadOnEast: How to Make the Most from a Weekend in Eastern Croatia

October 23, 2019 - Even for many Croatian residents, eastern Croatia is a relatively unknown destination, so what is there to explore in a weekend? TCN decided to HeadOnEast on a family road trip to find out.

We had been discussing a weekend in Budapest or Vienna. That is one of the great advantages of living in Varazdin - there is so much that is in driving distance. But in the end, we made a family decision to go in an entirely different direction for a weekend of family discovery - Slavonia.

The initial publicity from the HeadOnEast - [email protected] has died down now that Days of Croatian Tourism is behind us and the tourism chiefs are safely back in Zagreb, but those few days reignited my enthusiasm for eastern Croatia, and the family seemed to like the photos I was sending back. Could we have a more fun weekend in Slavonia rather than Budapest or Vienna? We decided to find out. 

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School finished at 13:15 in Varazdin, and we were on the road by 15:00, destination Bilje just outside Osijek, where we would stay with friends. The journey time was much shorter than I had imagined, just over three hours via Zagreb. Slavonia was actually closer than most of the coast. 

The roads were clear and we made good progress and as we turned off the main Belgrade motorway closing in on Osijek, a huge church appeared on the horizon. But really massive. 

Djakovo Cathedral. It was only just off the road, so we decided to stop for a quick wander around. 

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And what a pretty little place Djakovo is, with one of the nicest main squares in Croatia.

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And the cathedral is outstanding, both inside and out. Mass was underway and so we snuck in - this photo above is just from one of the sides, not the main altar. 

We debated on whether or not to visit the famous Djakovo Lipizzaner horses, but decided that we would save that for next time as we wanted to press on.  

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Downtown Osijek of course his its own mightily impressive cathedral from the same era and architect, some 3.5 million bricks in all towering over the city skyline.

There was a really nice vibe around town early on the Friday night, a wonderful place to walk around and explore the historic streets and buildings. 

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Being on the Drava, Osijek has its own 'riva' just as in Dalmatia, a place of space, nature and people watching. A nice little spot for a coffee on arrival. 

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it was my family's first visit to Slavonia and I wanted them to see as much as possible, and the walk along the river to Tvrda, or Fortress, was magical. And although the fortress and old town date back centuries, some rather impressive changes and upgrades are in process, such as this spectacular new square, which was until recently mostly a muddy parking lot. 

And when the old town comes alive, it really comes alive. Things were a lot quieter during our visit, but take a tour of the HeadOnEast gourmet festival earlier this month in the video above. 

Osijek surprised us all with its beauty and the sheer number of historic buildings and wide tree-lined avenues - gllimpses of its past glories. Get more of a feel in this walking tour above, organised by locals with a lot more knowledge than this fat British blogger. 

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And so to our accommodation, and one which we were all looking forward to. A weekend without gadgets in the natural beauty of OPG Mario Romulic just outside Bilje. 

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Mario is a good friend of mine and is diversifying from his very successful career as one of Croatia's premier photographers to open his own organic farm next to his home. It is fantastic! I stayed there a couple of weeks ago for the first time, slept like a log and woke to the clucking of hens. 

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And all around the wooden house, organic produce leading to the family home. The kids loved it, especially the 15 cats (mostly tiny kittens) which were roaming freely with the hens. 

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But we had also come to explore, and the first stop was a visit to the legendary cellars of Ilocki Podrum, Croatia's most decorated winery and purveyors of wine for the Royal weddings of William and Harry, as well as the Queen's coronation back in 1953 - learn more about that and the most expensive bottle of wine in Croatia

But before the tour of the cellars, a little breakfast. A glass of Traminac with the most unusual-sounding breakfast dish I have ever come across. Literally translated - Torn Underpants. They tasted a lot better than they sounded. 

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The Ilok cellars are incredible, the stories even more so, and the wines even more so than that. There is a separate article coming on TCN, but in the meantime, just visit!

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 And plenty were visiting, even in mid-October. Just one of the day's tour groups from the United States. Despite its position as the easternmost point of Croatia, Ilocki Podrum receives some 70,000 tourists a year, 45,000 of them foreign. 

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But while I was aware of the wines, I had no idea that tourism at Ilocki Podrumi was also booming in addition to the wine. The estate of Principovac is located in splendid isolation outside of town, a very popular wedding venue and complete with restaurant, quality accommodation, tennis courts and even some golf. A really great conference centre and place to escape the stresses of life. 

And to party. The New Year's Eve festivities for 500 guests are quite something apparently. Take in the view in the video above.  

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There was just enough time to visit the compact old part of the town of Ilok as well. Really rather pretty and definitely a destination for a relaxing weekend in its own right.  

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Slavonia is VERY flat and we loved the golden autumnal colours as we drove, as well as several very quirky things along the route. The famous Slavonian straw artist has been busy in the region... 

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And then, finally, the chance to fill in one of the biggest gaps in my knowledge of Croatia - Vucedol.

And what a gap it turned out to be. I knew that there was some claim to ancient civilisation in eastern Croatia, but I had never researched it too much, and so the Vucedol Museum was quite a shock. For this modern-day suburb of Vukovar had once been as important as Paris today in terms of settlements in Europe.  

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And the discoveries of Vucedol place it very favourably with other world-famous cultures such as the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge etc. And yet very little is known internationally about Vucedol.  

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A very developed civilisation which gave the world the oldest calendar in Europe, the first metal casting of tools, and some rather funky fashion 5,000 years ago.  

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And rituals of human sacrifice. 

More on Vucedol coming soon, but check out the museum, it is one of the very best in Croatia and a great family attraction. And the enticing thing is this - only 10% of the area has been excavated. Imagine what else is waiting to be found if the other 90% is ever excavated. Croatia could be home to one of the world's most important archaeological sites. 

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From the ancient past to the very recent past, as we visited probably the most famous building in eastern Croatia and symbol of the suffering of the heroic city of Vukovar, which is now under reconstruction.  

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I had planned on exploring Vukovar on a future visit, but as we were so close, we decided to drive through. The iconic water tower in the distance, the Danube separating Croatia from Serbia.  

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And cruise tourism, the type you rarely read about in the news, but growing slowly and bringing tourists to the east - cruises down the River Danube. Still going strong in mid-October.  

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And so to our next stop - to the oldest continuously inhabited town in all Europe, home to some of the more sensational Vucedol finds. Vinkovci, a fascinating town we covered in some detail recently

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And since my visit a few weeks ago, yet one more sensational discovery - wonderfully preserved remains of a Roman chariot and horse.  What other secrets await to be discovered - from Roman times, the Vucedol era, and others?

There was lots to ponder and discuss as we headed back to our organic paradise on Saturday night. 

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Sunday morning was spent with Barba Mario. As far away from the stress of modern life as one could hope to be.  

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We really enjoyed our tour of his wonderful project, which you can learn more about on Facebook. and all the little details, such as this little bug hotel, which provides the right conditions for wild bees to thrive. They are essential as they work in much lower temperatures than ordinary bees, therefore pollinating where pollination would otherwise not happen. 

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And after a tour, a little breakfast - all locally sourced or home-grown.  

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Slavonia is known for many things, including the best hospitality in all Croatia, and while we had planned to leave a little earlier, a tour of Mario's 'Meat Church' and an invitation to lunch proved too hard to resist.  

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And while Mario slow-cooked the meat, we drove the one kilometre necessary to one of the natural jewels of Croatian tourism, Kopacki Rit Nature Park. 

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The weather was perfect, the nature more so - one of the most important wetlands in Europe, with over 300 species of birds. 

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And nicely constructed wooden walkways took you through the marshlands - beautifully done. 

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And we were not alone. Another boat full of tourists heads out into the Kopacki Rit waterways. 

Meanwhile... 

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Romulic the photographer combines with Romulic the masterchef. 

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Cooking as It Once Was. 

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A hearty lunch, great company and fabulous Slavonian hospitality. It was with some regret that we packed our things and headed back west to our regular lives. 

Budapest or Vienna for the weekend? Why not explore the jewels which are much closer to home instead? 

Here are 10 things that I learned about eastern Croatia this month

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Segregated Schools to Remain in Vukovar?

ZAGREB, October 22, 2019 - Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava said on Tuesday that the model of segregated schools and pre-school institutions in Vukovar was implemented pursuant to the law and it remained to be seen whether or when the time would come to take steps to change that model.

"The model of segregated schools and a similar model, although a little less stricter, in kindergartens, are not my personal choice. In my opinion, children should go together and be able to learn their own language, history, culture regardless of which minority they belong to. That (learning the language of one's own ethnic group) should be after regular (school) programmes," Penava said on Tuesday during a visit of the recently reconstructed kindergarten in the Borovo Naselje suburb of Vukovar.

He added that children should play together, make friends and share their time.

The energy reconstruction of the kindergarten cost 1.5 million kuna with 1.1 million kuna secured by the Ministry for Demography, the Family, Youth and Social Policy and the remainder from the Vukovar Reconstruction and Development Fund.

The kindergarten's heating bills before the reconstruction amounted to HRK 40,000 a month and the reconstruction is expected to help cut the bills by 60%.

Children at the kindergarten attend separate programmes - Croatian and Serbian and are divided into separate rooms.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

President Doesn't Think Conditions Are Right for Cyrillic Signs in Vukovar

ZAGREB, October 19, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Friday that major issues should be resolved first and then steps taken for everybody to feel safe before setting up official and street signs in the Cyrillic alphabet in the eastern town of Vukovar.

"I find important the decision made by the Vukovar Town Council that conditions have not been met for Cyrillic signs, having in mind that the constitutional law on the rights of ethnic minorities envisages that all those rights must be in the service of facilitating coexistence between the majority Croatian people and minorities, and that the rights of the Croatian people should be respected," the president said.

I was engaged in efforts to reach the peaceful reintegration (of Croatia's Danube region in the 1996-1998 period). I can say that the results achieved are better than expected. The Croatians and the Serbs, who had enough courage at the time, agreed on coexistence. Croatia was the first to show that it did not want warfare and acceded to some conditions, although I believe that this could have been settled in some other way, the president said.

The Croatian state leadership demonstrated that it did not want a war and that it was committed to peace and coexistence with the Serb and other ethnic minorities, she said.

I believe that the issues about which I warned a few days ago will be resolved, Grabar-Kitarović said, criticising again the national judicial system for "under-performance" in dealing with war crimes. There is no reconciliation nor future without justice, she added.

As for Cyrillic signs in Vukovar, she commented that first some major things should be solved. "I do not underestimate any issue. The Cyrillic alphabet is important to some people, and if I can help in any way on behalf of the majority Croatian people, I will do that," the president said during her visit to the village of Novi Farkašić.

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

Friday, 18 October 2019

Vukovar: Conditions Not Met to Grant Serb Minority Special Rights

ZAGREB, October 18, 2019 - The conditions for granting special rights to the Serb minority and for use of the Cyrillic alphabet in Vukovar have not been met, Mayor Ivan Penava said in the Vukovar Town Council on Friday while presenting proposed conclusions on the degree of understanding and dialogue between the town's Croat and Serb communities.

The proposal sparked an emotionally-charged debate which at one point escalated to the brink of an incident. The conclusions were eventually voted in by a majority of councillors.

The conclusions say that the two communities have reached a degree of understanding, solidarity, tolerance and dialogue that ensures cooperation and a co-existence, but that the prerequisites have not been met to enhance the scope of individual and collective rights for the Serb minority in Vukovar.

The conclusions also note that the fundamental rights of a large majority of the town's residents of all ethnic backgrounds who opposed the Serbian military aggression in 1991, such as the right to human life, dignity and freedom, are still neglected because the prosecution of war criminals is systematically delayed, and that the necessary conditions for the recognition of more special rights for the Serb minority, such as equal use of its language and script, have not been created.

The conclusions say that in light of these facts enhancing the scope of rights beyond those guaranteed by the Vukovar Town Statute and the statutory decision on the official use of the language and script of the Serb minority in Vukovar would be considered as showing disrespect and lack of understanding for the citizens of Vukovar of all ethnicities, which might adversely affect their co-existence in the town.

The conclusions, proposed by Mayor Penava of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), were adopted by 15 votes in favour, three councillors of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) were against, while two councillors abstained from voting.

After the mayor read out the text of the proposed conclusions, a debate followed which at one point reached the brink of an incident.

SDSS Councillor Srđan Kolar said that the debate was going in the wrong direction and called for dialogue. He presented Mayor Penava with a copy of the Town Statute written in Cyrillic, which was formally inaugurated by the Serb National Council (SNV) in Zagreb on Thursday.

Penava threw the Statute onto the floor and then picked it up, showing it to the press and saying that this was an act of aggression by the SNV and its head Milorad Pupovac.

Deputy Mayor Marijan Pavliček, of the Croatian Conservative Party, took off his T-shirt displaying the number of people killed in the Serbian aggression and handed it over to Kolar.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 18 October 2019

SNV Launching Campaign to Remove Stigma from Cyrillic Script

ZAGREB, October 18, 2019 - The Serb National Council (SNV) on Thursday announced the start of a campaign aimed at removing the stigma from the Cyrillic and send the message that using this script privately or publicly does not endanger anyone in Croatia, notably the Croatian majority.

Speaking at a press conference announcing the "Let's understand each other better" campaign, SNV president Boris Milošević said it would promote dignity, freedom, equality and non-discrimination.

The Cyrillic is an important part of the Serb cultural identity and language diversity is one of the foundations of the European Union, so every member state has the duty to promote the use of minority languages and scripts.

"Since the state has not worked on the promotion of a minority language, we decided on this campaign. We want respect for the constitution, Constitutional Court decisions and the conventions Croatia has committed to, as well as the application of the law on national minorities," Milosevic said.

The campaign will last until January 1, when Croatia takes over the Council of the EU presidency.

He said the motive for the campaign was a session of the Vukovar City Council scheduled to discuss the degree of understanding in the town and the use of the Cyrillic, which prompted the SNV to print the city statute in Cyrillic and the Serbian language.

The message is that the SNV wants dialogue and better understanding, regardless of the language and script in use, and that an unrealised legal right is not a right. "We believe that the Cyrillic has its place across Croatia, notably in places with a significant Serb population, including Vukovar," Milošević said.

Vukovar city councillor Srđan Kolar said the Cyrillic could not be and was not an aggressor script which, he added, was something that could very frequently be heard in Vukovar. If the stigma was removed from it, people in Vukovar would live "more peacefully, better."

Independent Democratic Serb Party president Milorad Pupovac said the Cyrillic, as one of the EU scripts after Bulgaria's accession, should not be banned and restricted anywhere in Europe.

This campaign calls for dialogue, the goal being to avoid misunderstandings and start a dialogue on all issues, "including those which can be painful," he said.

"Some want the Cyrillic to be a script of non-freedom in Croatia. For us, it was, is and will be a script of freedom just as any other script. Freedom is to write in it, to read and see it where it should be seen, and for everyone to be free of the bad feelings connected with those who made wrong political and military decisions," Pupovac said.

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

Monday, 7 October 2019

Vukovar Remembrance Day Could Become Croatian State Holiday

This week, the Croatian Government announced plans for potential changes to the holiday calendar as we currently know it, and Vukovar could be set to get its very own day.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of October, 2019, the subject of a potential new holiday would be Vukovar, Croatia's hero city. The draft law that would put things into motion for a state holiday in the name of Vukovar has now been finalised, and the city's residents have been waiting for it for a long time, N1 writes.

Three years after the Croatian Government began toying with such an idea, the draft law has now finally been completed. Defense Minister Tomo Medved has now confirmed it as such. However, the minister hasn't revealed any new details, but it looks like Memorial Day could soon become a national holiday in Croatia. It also seems that the draft law does not define what many in Vukovar expected - bilingualism.

"In this way, people who have experienced trauma in Vukovar, the suffering, Croatian veterans and all others - can be sure that nobody will forget about it," said Ljiljana Alvir from an association which deals with the families of missing persons, of which there are many in the case of Croatia's famous hero city.

''The draft should see the light of day soon. The only problem is that it was promised during a government session in Vukovar back in 2016,'' explained Medved.

"The adjustments were related to the holidays, ie, the calendar of holidays, and I believe that we'll soon release the law on Vukovar and the law on regulated holidays into public procedure. You have had the opportunity to hear from the Prime Minister, he announced certain changes to the law on holidays, and this law is directly related to that law, "claims Croatian Defense Minister Tomo Medved.

The minister so far doesn't want to confirm directly whether or not this means that the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Vukovar, which is celebrated on November the 18th every year, will become a public holiday, but unofficial information indicates that everything is going in that direction.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Croatian Tourism Days Opened in Vukovar

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - Croatia's five Slavonian counties want to develop tourism, they invest in tourism and other infrastructure and in specific types of services, and they have been recording increases in visits, it was said at an event marking the start of Croatian Tourism Days in the eastern town of Vukovar on Wednesday.

The heads and deputy heads of the five Slavonian counties attending the event expressed confidence that tourism could be a lever of development of the entire region, notably its economy.

Croatian Tourism Days will be taking place in the five counties on October 2-4, with Vukovar, Vinkovci and Osijek as the host towns. Attending the opening ceremony at Vukovar's Eltz Manor were several hundred guests, mostly tourism workers from around Croatia, local officials and politicians.

The heads of the five Slavonian counties underlined the need for tourism to help revitalise the region, notably its villages and agricultural production.

Speakers at the event agreed that with the restoration of cultural and historical heritage, notably castles and monuments, and with the promotion of cycling infrastructure, wine and food production, and conditions for hunting and other forms of tourism, the five counties could only prosper.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said that the government would soon present a strategic marketing plan for tourism in Slavonia, which was made in cooperation with the five counties and which would define guidelines for tourism development in that region. The people of Slavonia want to and know how to develop tourism, and some have already done a great deal of work and I thank them for that, he said.

Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) head Luka Burilović said that Slavonia faced several major challenges in the development of tourism, including primarily the development of agricultural and food production, for which it had always been known.

"It is necessary to increase the number of hotels as there are not enough hotels, as well as deal with the issue of labour force and wages and work as many months a year as possible to reduce seasonality. But tourism in not a magic wand that can solve all the problems of Slavonia, a lot of work is needed and it can encourage changes in other sectors as well," he said.

Before the opening event, Minister Cappelli visited Ilok where he signed contracts with 60 recipients of the Tourism Ministry's funds for development of tourism infrastructure.

During Croatian Tourism Days, tourist workers and local officials will visit Kutjevo, Slavonski Brod, Požega, Osijek, Vukovar and Vinkovci.

This is the first time the annual conference of tourism professionals is being held in the country's interior.

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Škoro Comments on Possible New Protest in Vukovar

ZAGREB, September 24, 2019 - Presidential candidate Miroslav Škoro, who visited Vukovar on Monday, was asked by reporters to say if he supported a possible new protest in Vukovar over the failure of state institutions to prosecute war crimes, to which he said that he supported everything Vukovar residents supported.

Škoro was in Vukovar for a screening of a documentary by Jakov Sedlar on suicide among Croatian war veterans.

He noted that high suicide rates among war veterans were to a great extent due to failed policies over the past 20 years.

Reporters also wanted to know what he thought of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's statement that presidential candidates should speak about the future rather than about the past, given after Škoro's statement about Serbia's role in the 1991-95 Homeland War in Croatia, to which Škoro said that people whose conscience was not clear often called for the future and hurried into it.

"There is no future without a clear past regardless of what Mr Vučić says. When he is ready for such a future, I will be there waiting for him with the same request," Škoro said.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Monday, when asked if a protest would be held in Vukovar, that it was difficult for him to say what would be happening in the coming period, but he noted that "there is no alternative to the work of state institutions and respect for the law."

"It is difficult for me to say what will happen in the coming period. It is evident that a certain number of people are deeply unhappy because they have not found the justice they deserve, because some of the people who were involved in war activities and possibly committed crimes have not been prosecuted. Those injustices remain," Jandroković said in an interview with Croatian Radio, noting that Vukovar was a particularly sensitive area.

He noted, however, that there is no alternative to the work of state institutions and respect for the law.

"We must ask the relevant institutions to be just, to find the perpetrators of criminal acts and to punish them, but there is no alternative to the work of state institutions and respect for the law. Street justice would lead to a different kind of chaos and is not good," he stressed.

Jandroković said that the Ministry of the Interior did achieve certain results in locating people who had committed crimes and that they should now be prosecuted, which would be the best remedy for the still present war wounds.

"I would not put this in a narrow political context, this is about a trauma that has remained for 20 or more years," he said when asked how much a protest rally in Vukovar over the failure to prosecute war crimes could harm the ruling Croatian Democratic Union party now that the campaign for presidential elections was about to begin.

More news about Miroslav Škoro can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

World Peace Gong Unveiled in Vukovar

ZAGREB, September 22, 2019 - The World Peace Gong, a symbol of lasting peace in the world, was unveiled in the eastern Croatian Danube river town of Vukovar on Saturday, the 50th such monument in the world.

The monument was installed outside the town library. The project was supported by the local government, the World Peace Committee, the Republic of Indonesia and the sculptor and painter Ante Sardelić Kraljević, who made nine sculptures placed near the Gong which are dedicated to all people killed in Vukovar during 1991-1995 Homeland War.

The Gong was unveiled by the President of the World Peace Committee, Djuyoto Suntani, and the Mayor of Vukovar, Ivan Penava.

"In this way we are sending a message to the world, that after we won independence our great aspiration and ideal is to build lasting peace and for Croatia to become a better country and better society," Penava said.

He said that a satisfactory level of interethnic coexistence was achieved in the town after the war, and what the people of Vukovar were still expecting was Serbia's "acknowledgement of the act of aggression and repentance."

"Only after we receive a message to that effect will we be open to cooperation and good neighbourly relations," the mayor said.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Politics section.

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